Seeing a ghost may not be a common occurrence for some, but Joseph Gallant, the founder of the Paranormal Researchers of Odd Findings (P.R.O.O.F.) is connecting with ghosts or spirits nearly every day.
Gallant, a Tolland resident, visits cemeteries in the area several times a week. He said he uses an interpersonal approach of discussing his feelings and daily life to reach out to the spirits, a technique that has brought him lots of success.
At the Grant Hill Road cemetery in Tolland, Gallant said he regularly connects with an entity named "Elizabeth," who appears in either photos or speaks through the recordings that he makes.
"They're waiting for us to initiate contact," Gallant said.
While he has had numerous brushes with the supernatural since creating P.R.O.O.F. nine years ago, Gallant said he grew up with a skeptical view of the afterlife.
"I used to believe once, 'when you're dead, you're dead,'" Gallant said. But his beliefs were transformed after his grandmother's death.
Mourning her passing, Gallant went to his grandmother's house with a camera and tape recorder, desperate to make contact again.
At the end of at least an hour of footage, Gallant said aloud, "I love you. I can't move on."
And when he listened back to that tape, a life-changing moment. Gallant heard his grandmother say, "I love you, too. Move forward."
Ever since, Gallant has never stopped his paranormal research.
Ghost Hunting Tips
Gallant stepped in to dispel some ghost hunting myths. In his experience, daytime is the best time for paranormal investigations, despite the night-time searches popular on TV.
And while he has several pieces of more advanced research equipment, he said that anyone can start their own research using a digital camera and recorder. In fact, Gallant also caught an image of his grandmother's apparition in the photos he took outside her home after her death with an ordinary camera.
However, he also stresses that new ghost hunters remember to only enter graveyards at permitted hours and to always respect the stones and grounds of the memorials.
The Business Side of the Paranormal
While P.R.O.O.F. is a non-profit organization and never charges for any of its services, it seems that the research group isn't running out of strange things to investigate.
Gallant said that he and his fellow paranormal researchers are frequently called into investigations on local haunted hot spots. Gallant said he has seen activity in the Norwich State Hospital, the Seaside Sanitarium in Waterford, the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry and was even attacked at the Mansfield Mansion.
Gallant's demonic experience at the Mansfield, CT home, which he will discuss in a TV special, left him with 48 stitches on his back. You can read his account of it on the P.R.O.O.F. website.
But it's not all ghost hunting for Gallant and the other P.R.O.O.F. members. The organization also lectures at schools about the paranormal and will give demonstrations to various groups, even hiring buses to take the participants to hotspots for some practical ghost hunting tips. He has also assisted families with cold cases that have been unsolved for up to 15 or 20 years.
If a family reaches out to him, Gallant said he will provide paranomal, forensic and legal help to the family members of a homicide victim.
Gallant said that P.R.O.O.F. never charges for those services. He explained that if a venue for the event chooses to charge, he asks the business to donate half of the proceeds to a charity of his choice.
So how does all this ghost hunting get accomplished? Gallant said that fundraisers are key to keeping the operation running. P.R.O.O.F. has also donated $75,000 to charity in the last two years alone, according to Gallant.
Passing on a Spooky Passion
At the end of the day, P.R.O.O.F. won't make Gallant any money, but he said it gives him great satisfaction.
"I'm helping people that, without P.R.O.O.F., I wouldn't be able to help," he said. "I feel like I'm giving something back in return."
Click through the gallery above for some evidence from P.R.O.O.F. investigations!