By Stacey S. Manning
The Kentucky Standard


Editor's note: This is the final installment in a series of ghost stories for the month of October.



Wednesday night I sat in a circle on a guest room floor in Ernie and Susan Powell's Bardstown home. Holding hands with the homeowners and four other guests, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when certified ghost hunter Patti Starr talked about the night ahead.


Starr, the former Patti Acord, may be best known as the former general manager of The Old Talbott Tavern.


Patti is part of a three-person ghost hunting team made up of herself, Gary Gowen and Melody Schmidt. They call themselves Ghost Chasers International.


I closed my eyes and listened as Patti started out with a prayer. She prayed that only good spirits would come through. She asked that we be protected by a circle of light.

As Patti prayed, I focused on Susan's hand which was closed in my left hand. I could feel her pulse. Her heart was beating fast. "Good, I thought." I was glad to know someone else was feeling the same anxiety and excitement as I was. The Powell house was dimly lit with candles in each room. Only moments earlier, the seven of us -the Powells, Patti, Patti's husband, Chuck, Gary, Melody and myself - had been sitting around a table listening to Patti explain what her plans were.


Patti began by telling us she does not conduct seances or deal with the Ouija board. She called both powerful and something she does not fully understand. Instead, Patti said she planned on asking the spirits to show themselves to us. She told them we were not there to make fun of them, rather we wanted to make contact and prove their existence.


This was the second time I had been inside the Powells' home. Last year, as part of my series of ghost stories, I talked with Susan about some of the things that have happened in her house.


Susan told me about lights, the television, radios and ceiling fans that would turn on all on their own. She talked about how a bucket of paint mysteriously flew across the room and spilled on the floor and when closet doors in her bedroom flung open and posters flew across the room.


With these stories still fresh in my mind, I took a couple of deep breaths and began to look around.


When Patti finished her prayer, she got up and walked over to a tape recorder. Patti talked into the tape recorder asking if any ghosts were present. After a pause, Patti asked them to say their names. She asked the spirits if they were happy.


We all sat motionless in the circle. We heard nothing, but Patti said she would have to wait until she was able to play the tape back before we would know if contact was made.


Patti left the room, went into the Powells' bedroom and started another recording. We waited on the floor for Patti's return.


Each person in the group was armed with various devices to help determine if a spirit was present. Patti had brought along a thermometer to mark any temperature changes, a laser pointer to help denote any orbs or ectoplasm, a compass, cameras and a video recorder.


In her hands, Patti held two copper dowsing rods. If, as Patti held them, the rods crossed one another or if they went in completely different directions, it was an indication a spirit was present in the area.


Patti began with the dowsing rods in the guest room. The site was selected because a psychic friend of the Powells had told them she felt energy in the room.


Patti walked through the house as we followed her. With the rods pointing straight ahead, Patti moved through each room saying, "Show me the spirits." "Are there ghosts here?" she asked.


I was armed with a digital camera and my regular camera waiting to snap a picture of whatever might appear during the hunt. As Patti moved into the hallway, the rods began to move. I watched as the two rods, that were once perfectly parallel, began to move toward one another.


Patti held her breath and the two rods crossed.


Flash! Flash! Patti's husband and I snapped pictures. Patti stopped and stood still. She began to ask how many spirits were in the house. "Is there one ghost?" she asked. "Are there two ghosts?"


Patti went on. The dowsing rods signaled yes when Patti reached the number five. Patti decided that just one shot at contact was not enough and she started the sequence over. Again, Patti's dowsing rods led her to the same spot. Again, she asked how many ghosts were present in the house and the answer was the same - five.


The group then moved down into the basement where Susan had reported some ghostly activity. As Patti walked around the basement with her dowsing rods, I waited in the corner out of the way. Patti moved directly in front of me. She was facing the other way.


"Are there ghosts here?" she asked.


At the same time, a cold feeling moved across the back of my neck. It was sort of like a breeze, only it lingered causing the hairs on my body to stand up.


With her eyes closed, Patti asked again, "Are there ghosts here?"


To my surprise, the dowsing rod in Patti's left hand turned almost 90 degrees and pointed where I was standing.


Moving to get out of her way, I stepped to the side and the cold feeling left me. Patti walked toward the spot, but the dowsing rods did not move. We went back upstairs.


There was energy in the air.


Patti tried to make contact one more time. Again, she was drawn by the dowsing rods to the same spot in the hallway. Eventually, we left the house and went outside. I followed Patti with my cameras. The dowsing rods led Patti to a spot in the yard. Patti said she couldn't believe the energy she felt there.


I pointed the digital camera toward her. As the dowsing rods crossed, I attempted to snap a picture.


The LCD screen on the camera shut off.


Fiddling with the buttons, I turned the camera back on. The battery indicator showed they were charged. Again, I tried to snap a picture and again the camera turned off. I looked and the batteries that were charged fully, were suddenly dead.


I picked up my other camera, put it to my face and tried to snap a picture. The camera refused to focus.


I adjusted the settings and after several attempts was able to snap a few frames.


Patti called Melody over and did not tell her what she had experienced. Melody took the dowsing rods in her hands and walked through the yard. She, too, was also drawn to the same area.


Ernie told Patti the area she was drawn to was once the site of the Bardstown Institute, a school for Bardstown boys and girls. Patti asked the energy how many spirits were present. She got the same answer as inside the house - five.


"It was amazing," Patti said.


"The energy starts around my ankles and then comes up right out of my hands," she said.


Patti said the energy was so strong, when the dowsing rods began to move, it was as if someone was trying to pull them out of her hands. Melody agreed.


"I've never felt anything like that. It was amazing."


As we moved back inside the house, Patti told the Powells there was definitely a paranormal presence in the house. She said there were five spirits inside the house and five spirits outside the house.


The spirits, Patti said, are not angry and seem to be happy being where they are.


"I got a really strong feeling," she said.


"I think it was a pretty good investigation."


Patti's photographs also revealed entities in the same location as those seen in the main photo on the front page of today's paper. Patti used a different type of camera than the one I used.


At press time Thursday evening, Patti was reviewing the audio tapes. She said there is definitely something on the tapes.



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