October 15, 2013 | 03:57 PMLYONS TOWNSHIP — The six investigators from Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators rolled up the St. Kilian’s Cemetery driveway about 5 p.m. last week Thursday.
They had been called by ReelLifeTV.net, a subsidiary of the Lake Geneva Regional News and the Resorter magazine.
ReelLifeTV.net produces a series called Underground Lake Geneva. St. Kilian’s, just outside Lake Geneva in the town of Lyons, is regarded by some as the third most haunted site in Wisconsin.
It was thought that a paranormal investigation by WPI would be a suitable for the Halloween edition of Underground Lake Geneva. Phil Bonyata and Philip Sassano were on hand for Underground Lake Geneva. Staff from the Regional News and the Resorter were also present.
The resume of allegedly haunted happenings at St. Kilian’s is impressive. According to a website called beethoven23.tripod.com/Walworth/Stkilians.html, strange happenings have included:
n Ghostly sightings.
n Unexplained shadows seen moving across the gravestones.
n Footsteps that seem to follow people around the cemetery.
n Unexplained sounds.
n Free-floating mists around the gravestones, that disappear when approached.
n Sound of a ringing bell (possibly coming from a nearby residence).
n Strange odors (possibly coming from a nearby swamp).
There is also the unsubstantiated story that the basement of the abandoned church building was used by devil worshippers for black masses.
More substantiated stories deal with local teens and young adults who used the old building and the cemetery for drinking parties away from prying adult eyes. Or, they would go there at night just to scare themselves silly.
Paranormal investigators are very much like the pilgrims of the Middle Ages, traveling from place to place seeking the truth about life and death.
Instead of traveling from shrine to shrine where saints reportedly appeared and performed miracles, these modern pilgrims travel from haunted site to haunted site, where paranormal activities reportedly occur.
Instead of prayers and talismans to aid in their devotions, the investigators use research protocols and electronic devices in an attempt to sense presences from the other side, wherever that might be.
WPI was selected for a number of reasons. The group is local, headquartered in Twin Lakes.
They have a list of rules, which includes maintaining respect for the living and dead, a ban on vandalism and unreasonable horseplay.
Even better, the investigators work for free. They all have day jobs.
Jay Bachochin, founder of WPI, said his visit to St. Kilian Cemetery took him full circle. His first investigation was in St. Kilian.
Bachochin owns a print-graphics-videography shop called Chum Bucket Studios.
Allen Dunski Jr., Silver Lake, is a firefighter, paramedic, search and rescue diver, hazardous materials technician and master carpenter. He also finds time to tend bar.
Bryan Meisinger, is a firefighter, paramedic and assistant fire chief from Antioch, Ill.
Paul Ambrosini, Wadsworth, Ill., has a B.A. in economics from DePaul University. He is an estate planner
Marty Bilecki, Silver Lake, is an investigator-in-training, who works in carpentry and electrical work.
Ray, who doesn’t use his last name, is the mystery man of the group. He admits to living in northwestern suburban Chicago, and lists his occupation as “entrepreneur.”
According to the WPI website, Ray’s reasons for doing paranormal investigations probably reflect those of the other members:
“Numerous times throughout my life I have experienced instances of the unexplained. I’ve always felt that there is something just out of our reach. Something beyond the five senses.”
Four women are also listed on the WPI website as members, but they didn’t show for this investigation.
Started in 2006, WPI has accumulated an impressive array of infrared cameras, gauss meters, a digital video recorder, voice recorders, vibration sensors and motion detectors.
And a device called a Mel Meter 8704, which was designed specifically for paranormal research. It combines a device that reads electromagnetic force and air temperature at the same time. Fluctuations in air temperature and electromagnetic force are supposedly connected to paranormal occurances.
Bachochin estimated the value of the equipment at close to $8,000, all of it bought by crew members at their own expense. While the ReelLifeTV.net filmed some spooky angle shots among the grave stones, the WPI crew prepared for a serious investigation.
Once a church building stood at the site of the cemetery.
Sometime between 1998 and 2000, firefighters burned down the condemned wooden building as a training exercise. What remains of the church is a stone memorial, with a picture of the church, called the “little cathedral in the country,” surmounted by the church bell. And it is very beautiful.
Someone rang the bell on top of the church memorial. A few were spooked by the sonorous clang. Otherwise, it sounded like the call to a wedding. Dunski said the WPI group doesn’t do many outdoor investigations anymore. As the sun sank to the horizon, the wind began to pick up. With each breeze, recording devices would pick up the sound of the blown leaves, he said. Motion detectors would pick up nocturnal animals going about their business in the shadows.
The investigators, armed with infrared eyes, EMF meters and sensitive thermometers, went out in two groups, accompanied by ReelLifeTV and Resorter staff.
A streetlight at the mouth of the cemetery entrance cast an orange glow over the front of the graveyard and made the life-sized Jesus glow an almost unearthly white.
An LED cross in one of the more recent gravemarkers glowed brightly.
The older portion of the graveyard was in deep shadow. As the teams went down into the hollow, they disappeared into shadow, their progress marked only by the red “active” lights on their electronic gear.
One investigator said he noticed some unusual fluctuations on the EMF meter, which measures the strength of electromagnetic fields. At this time, the investigators can’t account for the unusual readings.
Another investigator said he noticed an unusual shadow flitting among the gravesites, too large to be a trick of the light and too fast to be an animal. Whether they were able to get video of the phenomenon is unknown.The only hair-raising shriek came as members of the team pranked Underground’s Phil Sassano, something planned in advance for the video without Sassano’s knowledge.
The air turned cold and the Milky Way and constellations became more visible in the night sky. The video shoot and paranormal investigation were supposed to wrap up by 8 p.m. The crew didn’t pull out of the cemetery drive until 9:15 p.m.
No sign of ghosts.
No sign of the teens and young adults who still use the little cemetery as a meeting place, although one staffer noted that those hauntings usually occurred on Fridays or weekends. Left behind was a quiet resting place, lit by an orange street lamp, guarded by an unearthly white Jesus.