Paranormal society embodies real-life ghostbusters

Central Texas Paranormal Society investigator Teresa McLean uses dousing rods during an investigation Oct. 13 in Cedar Park. Dousing rods are a way for the investigators to communicate with the spirits living in the house.  Matt Hellman | Lariat Multimedia Editor
Central Texas Paranormal Society investigator Teresa McLean uses dousing rods during an investigation Oct. 13 in Cedar Park. Dousing rods are a way for the investigators to communicate with the spirits living in the house.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Multimedia Editor
By Adam Harris

A glass clinked in the empty kitchen across the Central Texas house. The noise garnered the attention of Becky Nagel, lead investigator for the Central Texas Paranormal Society. The group had been contacted by the parents of twin boys who had been experiencing unexplained incidents.

“They kept talking about things the parents couldn’t see,” Nagel said. Unexplained scratches, strange sounds and uncharacteristic behavior revolved around stories of an unexplained bad man being present in their home.

“The kids were telling them, ‘This guy was in my room’,” Nagel said.

Nagel stood in the hallway across the house when she heard the noise. She made her way to the kitchen when, suddenly, the front door opened.

“There was a solid storm door on the outside that was closed,” Nagel said. The hairs on her arms stood up as a bad feeling rushed into Nagel.

“That was the first time I suggested someone move,” Nagel said. She said she stayed in contact with the family and things were normal in their new home.

This was only one of the many investigations the society has taken on since Nagel’s father started the non-profit group 10 years ago.

“He was a truck driver and was hurt in an accident,” Nagel said. “He passed away Nov. 6 of last year and I took over after the holidays.”

The society investigates inquiries that are made through its website. The team holds a pre-investigation to discuss the severity of the situation and they work to prioritize cases involving children. Following the inquiry and phone calls, the team will, in some cases, visit the home before coming in for the investigation.

The team, which consists of part-time and full-time investigators, goes out every other Saturday for investigations. They cease investigations between Thanksgiving and February to give the team a break for the holidays.

One member of the group joined up following an investigation at her house. Teresa McLean contacted the group about six months ago in regard to her 100-year-old house.

“My granite is from a historical old church, my tile from a hospital and I have an old brick wall from a train depot,” McLean said. “All those features brought energy into the house.” McLean said the first night she moved in, she had a security system installed. That night, the alarm went off and, upon further investigation, all three of her doors to the outside were wide open. Similar occurrences came after this and her curiosity led her to call the Society.

Nagel said other members join by sending a request through the team’s website. On the site there is a form that can be filled out expressing interest in joining the group. The team takes out potential recruits to see how they fare in investigations and the team decides together who makes it into the society.

“Usually we say a prayer to keep spirits from attaching to us after an investigation,” McLean said. “In my investigation, I guess I attached myself to them.” She said the team finds pleasure in helping people not be afraid any more.

The team uses an assortment of tools to measure the presence of spirits during an investigation. Along with multiple instruments to measure electric activity, the team uses a secured infrared camera along with handheld cameras to search for paranormal activity. Nagel said the team also uses a tool called a “Ghost Box” to try to communicate with spirits.

“The ghost box is a radio that constantly scans and spirits can interfere with it,” Nagel said. The spirits, she said, are able to disrupt the white noise and use words to communicate with the group. She said curse words will occasionally come through on the radio as well as voices saying the names of people who used to live in the house.

“Knowledge is power and once our clients know what’s going on, then they have the power,” Nagel said. “It’s not so scary once we go in and get the evidence we need.” Another member of the team, Adam Bryant, has a different reason to help their clients.

“There’s a reason a spirit’s attached to a location,” Bryant said. “The people that are stuck, the spirits waiting for someone who might be waiting for them somewhere else. It’s for closure, not for money.” Bryant said he finds pleasure in helping spirits move on from the locations they investigate.

Bryant said he has been interested in paranormal investigation all his life.

“My mom would catch me talking to people that weren’t there,” Bryant said. “When you’re a child, you don’t get it as well.” Bryant worked independently with makeshift teams before he found the Society. “I’ve been with this outstanding group for about a year now and almost every other week we go out on an investigation.”

Their investigations also function under certain guidelines. Along with prioritizing cases involving children, the group debunks cases if there are scientific factors involved. “You can’t assume it’s a ghost,” Bryant said. Nagel said if the investigation can be debunked with science, then it’s not a paranormal situation.

Nagel also said she understands there are people out there who don’t agree with paranormal situations. “If you believe in the Bible and that you have a spirit, then that’s all you need to believe,” Nagel said. “If God gave us free will and he’s perfect, then why would he stop us from coming back and helping loved ones or those in need?”
More information can be found on the team’s website:

EDITOR’S NOTE: The URL for the Central Texas Paranormal Society was updated after the story was published.