Spirits of the past remain in the present

 By: Jessica Wagner

Published: 26 October 2011
When there was something strange lurking in the hallways. When inexplicable noises didn’t sound good. Who did the Ledger-News call? — Southern Paranormal Investigations of Atlanta (SPIA).


With a desire to know what lies beyond the naked eye and an urge to pinpoint exactly who, or what, roams the halls when the Ledger-News staff leaves for the day, a reporter and a team of paranormal investigators planned to solve the mystery by conducting a seven-hour investigation within the two-story house located in historic downtown Woodstock on the eve of Oct. 22.

The home was built in 1875 by Dr. George Merritt; however, is named after Dr. W.H. Dean, who, along with his descendants, owned the home for more than 100 years. The investigation was conducted on the eve of the death of Dean’s son, Dr. William Lemuel Dean.

(On a clear Saturday night this photo was taken of the Ledger-News parking lot. The mysterious mist, which appears in the shape of a tombstone, was not shown in a photo taken immediately after this one was snapped. This photo has not been altered, except for size)

W.L. Dean died more than a century ago, but the staff here believes that his spirit, as well as the spirits of his loved ones, still roams the office halls today.

Since the Ledger-News moved into the building, located at 103 E. Main St., in 1997, many employees, both past and present, have had unusual encounters. From seeing apparitions of a woman from the 18th-century to uneasy feelings to even hearing chatter when no one else is around, the spooky tales are plentiful.

Much as the employees of the
Ledger -News seemingly have had encounters with the unknown, SPIA founder and lead investigator Karen Fon has experienced many inexplicable, paranormal activities.

Her first was at the age of 8.

“I was at a friend’s house for a sleepover, and I saw an image of a full apparition in the mirror. Ever since then, I’ve had an interest in the paranormal,” she said.

Fon began conducting her own research before joining a metro-Atlanta paranormal team. She branched off and started her own company in 2009.“I knew I wanted to do things differently,” she said.

SPIA consists of Fon and six team members, including investigators Paul Fon, Michelle Baker and Karen Brown, as well as sensitive Susan Gilbert and two investigators in training. They have conducted at least eight investigations locally since October 2009.

(Southern Paranormal Investigations of Atlanta team members Karen Fon, founder and lead investigator, as well as investigators Paul Fon and Karen Brown and sensitive Susan Gilbert stand in front of the Cherokee Ledger-News. The group conducted a paranormal investigation at the historic home that houses the newspaper offices. Photo by Jessica Wagner | Ledger-News)

“Usually when we are called out, it’s because someone is hearing something in the house,” Fon said. “If the person is scared enough to call us, they obviously are terrified to be in their own home.”

Prior to any investigation, which is done at no cost to the inquirer, Fon said she goes through a lengthy interview process and then inspects the home in order to pinpoint an explanation for occurrences.

“I try to get a logical explanation for sounds or shadows, but if I am not able to, then we have to examine other areas,” she said. “It’s important for us to have answers so we can ease their mind.”

Most of the investigations, Fon said, had a logical explanation.

“I would say 85 percent of the homes we have examined can be explained,” she said. “It is either a tree casting a shadow in a room or the house settling. It is a rare occasion to find activity and even more rare to say something is haunted.”

The historic Dean house was one of 15 percent that can be classified as haunted, she said.

“I think (the building that houses the Ledger-News) is haunted,” she said of her preliminary findings. “It is a very active location.”

While Fon believes the location is haunted, she noted there are several different types of hauntings, not all of which are poltergeist or demonic activity.

All activity in the Ledger-News building, she said, is residual.

“Residual hauntings are like a time loop. The spirits are going about their normal day and not even aware that we are here,” Fon said. “There are also some here that are interacting. They are entities that are aware of us and are interacting.”

Prior to developing a preliminary analysis about the building, Fon and her team looked for interacting spirits by having sensitives, also referred to as mediums, walk through the home.

“It’s better for the sensitives to come in first because they are unaware of any claims,” she said. “What they will do is sense a woman, man or halation. It’s a way to pick up on any spirits.”

Gilbert, who said she didn’t have any prior knowledge about the location’s history or the experiences people have had, said she sensed the spirit of a tall, skinny man believed to be Dr. Dean. It is unknown if the spirit is of the elder Dean or his son.

“Mr. Dean is very friendly. He tends to watch over the females here,” she said, adding that Merritt’s spirit also lingers. “He is upset that Dean gets all the recognition.”

Gilbert also said a woman in the house, who she was calling Lou (possibly Louella Dean), doesn’t like it when people touch the stair railing, as she just polished it.

Fon and the SPIA investigators went through every room, hallway and bathroom to get Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) readings.

“Every area has EMFs; it can be appliances, computers, lights, etc. We get a base reading of every room and check the temperature because, if a spirit is around, there will be a spike in energy,” she said, noting .1 and .2 are normal readings. “If the temperature drops a few degrees, we have to question that, as well.”

The EMF spiked significantly on the stairway, going from .1 at the base to .5 halfway up.

On many occasions, Ledger-News employees have said they feel uncomfortable walking down the stairs, as if someone was standing right behind them the entire way down.

Gilbert said it is a former employee of the Dean family named Carl. “He wants to serve you,” she said.

During the audio investigation, two groups of three and the reporter went into 10 areas of the house with audio recorders in hopes of catching an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP).

The first was captured inside an upstairs office. While asking a series of questions, Fon asked, “Are you happy with the people here?” With four females in the room, a male’s voice responds with a clear, “What’s that?” This EVP followed a strange situation.

“Earlier, I put my flashlight down in the hall and asked that it be rolled. It was not,” Fon said. “But in this room, it was on my clipboard next to me. I was not touching it, and the flashlight rolled off the clipboard, rolled across the floor and came back to me. Then it rolled four or five short times; we could not recreate it.”

While SPIA’s investigation revealed paranormal activity, a full report detailing the evening will not be ready for a few weeks. Look for a follow-up article in a future edition of the Ledger-News.

More information on SPIA can be found at www.SouthernParanormalAtlanta.com.