It was three nights before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for -- a ghost?!
In a Dec. 22 audio recording by a local ghost-hunting team, the last in a sequence of sounds is bone-chilling.
A car horn blares. A door slams. A furnace kicks on. Then, after a long pause, a little girl's voice says, "Help me."
The home was empty at the time.
The recording did not capture the haunting request by accident. It was part of the ghost-hunting team's investigation into paranormal activity at a Bellevue home.
One of the leaders of the newly-formed team is Linda Goodwin. She said she has had premonitions since she was a child. They come in strange and indecipherable forms, and she claims they usually precede some terrible event.
In 1956, when she was 8 or 9 years old, Goodwin said she dreamt for a week about seeing her grandfather in a casket. She said she described the scene to her mother down to the color of the walls and the flower pinned to his suit.
Then the news came that he had died.
"It startled my mother to think that I had been dreaming of it for a whole week," said 60-year-old Goodwin during an interview at her Thompson Township home. "Then when we got down there and we got in the room where they had him laid out, my mother almost fainted."
The suit, color of the walls and flower were exactly as she had described it.
Last year, after her husband died, Goodwin decided it was time to put her peculiar talents to good use by starting The Ohio Spirit Searchers.
Using digital cameras, voice recorders, a temperature gauge and other high-tech toys, the six members of TOSS investigate the things that go bump in the night.
Since the group was formed last fall, its members have taken on 13 cases -- it would be 14, but one client backed out because "they got scared," Goodwin said.
Free of charge, the investigators spend a night at the home of the alleged haunting and look for scientific proof of spiritual or other manifestations. But 50-year-old investigator Barb Dendinger said her team is just as prepared to debunk bogus ghost activity.
Ghosts were ruled out in one investigation into a woman's claim she heard footsteps every time she rocked in her chair. When the sump pump turned itself on, it shook a pipe that knocked against a wall.
"There are a lot of people who have older homes who hear things and they feel things, and if they feel there are spirits, ghosts or paranormal activity and it's at the point where it's bothering them, we want to help these people," Goodwin said. "We want to ease their mind and let them know, one way or the other, if it's haunted or not."
Pipes are not always to blame for strange noises. Sometimes, Dendinger said, it is beings that live in a world largely outside our realm of perception.
A ghost, she said, was responsible for crying out "help me" at that Bellevue home, and for making a toy car move without any batteries.
The best evidence of spirits the group has found at homes in the area are orbs, which are "circles of light in photographs that are evidence of spirits in the vicinity." In the world of the paranormal investigator, the ball of light is believed to contain the soul or personality of a dead person or animal.
Unlike the Ghostbusters, TOSS does not do anything to rid the ghosts or spirits from homes. All they do is help determine if it's a paranormal phenomena or something else.
If there is something strange going on in your neighborhood, they urge you to call them at 419-202-9900.