Ghost hunters

Published 10:49 am Friday, January 23, 2009

Most people have had the feeling, at one point or another, that they are not alone in a room even though they can’t see anyone. Sometimes a door will close or a radio will turn on without anyone around. There are those who will dismiss these occurrences as the result of an overactive imagination, but there are some who believe that there is more to them than that; that there may be something paranormal going on.

The Investigative Paranormal Society of Minnesota (TIPSMN) is a group dedicated to that belief. The southeastern Minnesota group has dedicated itself to the scientific investigation of the paranormal.

In layman’s terms they could be called ghost hunters.

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Recently TIPSMN shared their knowledge and experience at an Austin Community Education class held at the Austin High School annex.

The class, which has brought in people from as far away as Minneapolis and Mason City, Iowa, was the largest class the Community Learning Center had seen for one of its programs, with a limit of 40 people.

“I had good feelings while planning the class,” said Teri Wermager, Austin Community Learning Center and Community Education coordinator. The two-part class was the first time the center needed to put a cap on the number of attendees.

The first part of the class, held on Jan. 19, focused on what a paranormal investigator is, the methods and tools they use and the type of paranormal activity they can find. This included a hands-on “ghost hunt” in the annex.

The second part of the class, to be held Monday, will review the results of the hunt and show the class what goes in to the debriefing process.

Due to the popularity of the class, the CLC is looking to set up future ghost hunting opportunities.

“We will definitely try and do this again,” Wermager said. There was even talk about taking class trip to local “paranormal hot-spots” and teaching in the field.

TIPSMN has been investigating the paranormal since Halloween night 2007, when its founders, Nick Larson and Gary Shaw, went on a ghost hunt for fun. Since that time they have investigated 25 to 30 locations and added four more members to their roster, including Cindy Heimdal, a psychic medium. All the members hail from the southern Minnesota area.

“It’s our vision to prove that ghosts really do exist scientifically,” founder Nick Larson said.

The non-profit group provides its services free of charge. An average investigation will last two to three hours, but that can vary based on the level of activity. During that time members will photograph and video record the area, test for thermal changes as well as use an audio recorder to capture any sounds that could be out of the ordinary. TIPSMN will also use electromagnetic field (EMF) detector, to determine if there are any anomalies creating electrical fields.

After collecting the evidence they begin reviewing all of the information they collected. The review and report writing process can take up to two weeks. The report will brief the client on the activity, or lack their of, discovered by the team.

Each of the investigators has a common interest but a unique motivation. “(I enjoy) going out there, investigating places, meeting the people and hearing their stories,” Larson said.

“My favorite part is going to investigations and catching evidence,”investigator Gary Shaw said.

For Heimdal, her drive comes from the camaraderie of like-minded individuals. She said her favorite part is “getting along with these guys and harassing them.”

Although it is the science that validates their work, it is their passion for what they do that keeps the members of TIPSMN going.

For more information about TIPSMN or paranormal investigation, or to contact TIPSMN for a possible investigation, visit