By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer
When someone hears an unexplained noise or sights an ominous shadow, some people might ignore it, but others would think twice. According to Becky Nagel, lead investigator for the Central Texas Paranormal Society, spirits still reside in Waco.
The Central Texas Paranormal Society is a Christian group of paranormal investigators based in Waco. The group investigates claims throughout the region from Dallas/Fort Worth to San Antonio using lights, electronic gadgets and equipment, ghost boxes and dowsing rods.
“Our main goal is homes, to get people to feel comfortable in their own homes,” Nagel said. “To help people understand so they’re not afraid. Satan created all the bad stuff. He’s the one that created fear and anxiety and all that horrible stuff we have. [Our goal is] just to get people to not be afraid of what’s going on.”
The group defines paranormal as any “phenomena outside the range of normal experience or scientific explanation or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science’s currently ability to explain or measure.”
When it comes to the faith aspect of her work, Nagel said she believes God gives people free will, which for Nagel explains why spirits come back to visit certain locations. She said she believes that while there is a pearly gate in heaven, there isn’t a fence. God is perfect, Nagel said, and he lets spirits come and go as they please.
“Every single time we ask the spirit why they’re in a house or a building, it doesn’t make a difference where we’re at … every time we ask the spirit, it’s always the same thing: They have good memories. And they go back to these good memories,” Nagel said.
Every home and every spirit is different, Nagel said. She recounted the story of one home in particular where there was a spirit of an 8-year-old girl who had been molested her entire life. Nagel said the girl hadn’t crossed over yet because the two spirits waiting to guide her into heaven were male.
Nagel said the girl wouldn’t talk to any of the men in their group, but when the women went in, she would be talking and they would at times catch her shadow.
“She hadn’t crossed over and she wanted to go to heaven. She just wouldn’t go with them because they were male and she was afraid of them. Eventually we helped her find the light and she did cross over,” Nagel said.
Nagel said the Central Texas Paranormal Society has investigated all of the historical homes in Waco and, according to their investigations, they are all haunted. Nagel specifically mentioned the East Terrace House, once home to Tennessee entrepreneur John Wesley Mann, one of the men Nagel said helped start Waco.
According to Nagel, some of the home’s tour guides said objects would be moved when they came in the morning and some of the home’s night security guards even said they would see a woman on the balcony.
“They call[ed] us in to investigate it and it was 100 percent without a doubt [haunted],” Nagel said.
While some of the staff thought it was the ghost of the original Mrs. Mann, Nagel said she had strong reason to believe it was the wife of one of his sons. Although Nagel couldn’t recall the woman’s name, she said the spirit said it through the ghost box.
CTPS’ investigation opened up more history about the home that was not previously known, Nagel said.
Two other fabled hauntings in Waco are in Cameron Park.
The tale of Lindsey Hollow Road is documented as early as 1920 in the Waco Daily Times-Herald. The nearly 100 year-old story from the Texas Collection tells the legend of a man named Lindsay who had knowledge of a group of horse thieves near the Brazos and Tehuacana bottoms who “kept the whole country in terror.”
The story goes that as Lindsay was riding out through the hollow toward his cabin, “masked men rode up behind him and called him to halt.” Lindsay turned quickly and spurred his horse up the ravine. His body was found the next day riddled with bullet holes, the story says. Ever since, there have been rumored sightings in the hollow.
Perhaps the more famous of the two accounts is the story of the ill-fated couple who haunt Lovers’ Leap.
In 1960, the Houston Chronicle Magazine documented the popular legend of Wah-Wah-Tee, young daughter of a Hueco chief. According to legend, Wah-Wah-Tee was gathering flowers to weave a garland on the banks of the Brazos when she met a young Apache man.
Although the Hueco and Apache tribes were enemies, the Apache man fell in love with Wah-Wah-Tee’s beauty and charm, the Chronicle wrote, and soon she fell in love with him, too. The two lovers planned a secret rendezvous that was foiled when her father and other leaders caught them. The legend goes that they jumped off the cliff and into the Bosque together.
While CTPS works to investigate paranormal claims, Nagel noted the group first tries to eliminate all possible explanations or solutions beginning with electricity. Things like sleeping next to a radio could have a number of effects ranging from giving people nightmares to making them physically ill.
Whether it is a natural occurrence or a supernatural event, Nagel emphasized that the only thing to fear is fear itself.
“God didn’t create fear,” Nagel said. “It’s your home. You need to be comfortable in your home. Taking back your house is the main thing we want to do.”