SEVIERVILLE, TENNESSEE —This Husband Wife duo turned a weekend hobby into a Ghost Hunting Empire. It all started with a disembodied voice once called Staci Morin’s name. Another time, in another place, a misty white someone — or something — yanked Chad Morin’s T-shirt.
Once this husband and wife shared an interest in the paranormal and watched television shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures.” Now they hunt ghosts and help others look, too.
They’ve searched through the dark often enough that they sometimes recount spooky experiences as standard occurrences. Doors slammed by unseen hands. A ball kicked across a floor. Screams, giggles and whispers when no one’s there. Balls of light, dark man-shaped figures.
They’re both paranormal investigators and event planners. Their Sevierville-based company Ghost Hunt Weekends hosts spirit-searching weekends at spots from a Savannah, Georgia, brewery to a historic Paulding, Ohio, jail. They pack ghost-hunting equipment they use and merchandise they sell in their trailer some 40 weekends a year.
Now they work with some of the people they once watched. Some Ghost Hunt Weekends include Middle Tennessee-based Tennessee Wraith Chasers of Destination America’s “Ghost Asylum,” stars from SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters” and psychic medium Chip Coffey of “Paranormal State.”
This isn’t a bunch of people with flashlights and cameras poking about a graveyard looking for scares. Begun in 2011, Ghost Hunt Weekends is as much a destination event as a search for the unknown. Chad Morin used a background in event planning to start the business.
The company sets up events mostly in the South and Midwest. Depending on the location and what’s included in the package, costs range from $69 to $200 a person. Meals, a custom T-shirt, ghost-hunting presentations and all-night spirit seeking with Ghost Hunt Weekend crew members are included. Some weekends include accommodations, perhaps in the haunted location. When celebrities attend, there are are photos, autographs, events and ghost hunting with the stars.
Crew members’ gear bag equipment includes handheld voice recorders, cameras with infrared capability and EMF meters to measure electromagnetic frequency. A “ghost box” buzzes white noise to scan frequencies and possibly unseen voices. “Trigger objects” like balls, dice or vintage playing cards are packed to be put in spots that could attract ghostly action.
Ghost Hunt Weekends has taken ticket-paying seekers to historic Rhodes Hall in Atlanta and Octagon Hall in Franklin, Kentucky. They’ve searched at Georgia’s Jekyll Island, Old War Memorial Hospital in Scottsboro, Kentucky, and Old South Pittsburg Hospital in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, a half-hour drive from Chattanooga.
Several times a month they return to the Victorian-era Thomas House hotel in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, about 75 miles of Nashville. Thomas House was the site of the first Ghost Hunt Weekend; the Morins have collected six years of what they point to as evidence it’s haunted.
They taught themselves how to hunt ghosts. Some of it, Chad says, was instinctive. Some they picked up from television investigators.
It was their interest in the paranormal TV shows that led them to attend some ghost-focused events in the South. But they felt some of those events fell flat. So was born Ghost Hunt Weekends.
They’ve experienced the unexplained. “Sometimes I get a feeling and I’ll know stuff is happening before it happens. But I can’t tune it in; I can’t control it … I just kind of know,” Chad says.
Spirits like Staci. If she calls out ghosts at a spot, they respond. Like when her name was heard spoken a couple of times from a voice box at a Ohio location. “It is a little freaky when you hear that,” she says.
Chad’s T-shirt was yanked when they were doing a pre-hunt inspection at Kentucky’s Octagon Hall.
“We were getting ready to go,” he says. “I felt my shirt pulled so hard that it was making it tight on my stomach. I reached my hand back and felt my shirt pop back.”
Then Staci saw a white mist behind her husband. “It went down and out the door. And where the doorway was, we could hear kids talking in a foyer,” he says.
“Sometimes when you least expect it, things happen,” she says.
Like that time at Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, Alabama. Chad led a group at the closed iron-producing blast furnace when a ball of light appeared, then disappeared. As everyone was wondering what they’d seen, a dark mass of a man appeared.
“All of a sudden there was this dude standing there,” Chad recalls. “He might have been 8 feet tall and he was black, blacker than black.
“I think we were more analytical than frightened at the time, just trying to figure out what it was.”
Yet a weekend brings no guarantees. “We don’t do any fake scare stuff,” Chad says. “If nothing happens, nothing happens. People ask me, ‘Are we going to see a ghost tonight?’ And I’m like, ‘When you go fishing are you going to get a fish?’ It’s the same thing.”
Eighty percent of those who attend a Ghost Hunt Weekend are women age 23 to 57. Many are professionals; lots of people in the medical and law enforcement fields come. “They’re not thrill seekers; they’re not kids,” Chad says.
“What’s the appeal? I think it’s just the mystery, it’s the unknown. Everybody likes a good ghost story,” he says. “People want to find out, they want to find answers to the unexplained.”
What: Sevier County Tennessee business hosts events to hunt for paranormal across the country.
When/Cost: Locations vary; cost depends on location and event package
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