Ghostly Guests?

Paranormal group investigates Coweta residence

by Alex McRae


Alex McRae

This ball normally stays in this basket atop the microwave in Jan Stout’s north Coweta home. Stout knew it was time to check for ghosts when the ball threw itself across the kitchen and started rolling across the floor.

Everybody loves a good ghost story. Some of us might even enjoy meeting a happy haunter like Casper the Friendly Ghost.

The problem is finding one.

Books and movies usually show supernatural beings hanging out in dark, deserted, creepy places like graveyards or abandoned mansions.

But that may not be the case.

Jan Stout suspects her north Coweta dream home might just be a spook-filled split level.

“People look at you funny when you mention ghosts,” Stout says. “Especially when it’s in a subdivision and not an old house. But some strange things have happened here.”

The fun started when Stout purchased a home in the Cedar Creek area in March 2012. The place needed lots of work, and as soon as the house was hers, Stout rolled up the sleeves on her sexiest T-shirt and got to work cleaning, painting, repairing and replacing things.

About three months into the project, Stout’s friend Beth Greene came over to visit and brought her boyfriend along.

Stout says that as everyone admired the new kitchen fixtures, she thought she heard a woman speaking in the next room. Stout knew the room was empty and checked her cell phone to make sure a call wasn’t coming through. She noticed Greene looking at her phone, too.

Stout  looked at Greene and asked, “Did you hear a woman speaking?”

Greene said “yes,” but her boyfriend hadn’t heard anything. Stout thought it was strange, but never dreamed she might have moved into “The Twilight Zone.”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” she says. “I didn’t worry about it.”

On another occasion, Stout showed up to find the water alarm blaring and the kitchen door wide open. She thought it was unusual, but could have been accounted for by a storm the night before.

But in August, while sitting in the living room, Stout was startled by a loud “bang” in the kitchen. She went to investigate and saw a ball rolling across the floor. Since the ball had been resting in a basket atop the microwave the last time Stout saw it, she suspected something unusual was happening 

“I knew this one couldn’t be explained away,” Stout says. “I was there when it happened. And I don’t know what made it move.”

Unusual occurrences continued and things came to a head in September when Stout finished her chores, turned out all the lights and was driving away when she saw lights burning on the home’s second floor.

She went back in and found the lights on in the master bedroom and the ceiling fan roaring full blast. As far as Stout was concerned, her supernatural visitors had crossed the line.

“I got angry,” she says. “I told it running up my electric bill like that is not permitted. I said, ‘If you’re gonna party like that you need to leave some money for electricity on the counter.’ I don’t mind them being here, but I wasn’t going to have them messing with my electricity.”

After a few more incidents, including an episode when Stout’s new dog, Oliver, barked wildly at something Stout couldn’t see, she decided to get help. 

There wasn’t a phone listing for “Ghostbusters,” but she finally contacted Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigations (RGPI), which is affiliated with The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) — the group often featured on Syfy TV’s “Ghost Hunters.” 

RGPI’s sole purpose is to attempt to document and study authentic paranormal activity, as well as help people better understand the reasons behind it, according to Dan Bernstein of RGPI. Bernstein says the group stays busy.

“Due to the reputation our team has built over the past six years of investigating, as well as being a member of TAPS Family,” Bernstein says, “we are often booked months in advance.”

RGPI took Stout’s call, listened carefully and scheduled an interview at Stout’s house.

“They were very nice,” she says. “But once the interview started I was really nervous.”

First, Stout was asked if she had seen anything, been touched by anything or felt cold spots in the house.

Stout answered “no” each time. “I felt terrible,” she says. “I thought that was the end of it.”

But Stout’s responses actually convinced the RGPI representatives that Stout was seeking answers and not publicity. The board of RGPI approved an investigation, and on March 30, 2013, the ghost hunters arrived as darkness fell.

The investigators first toured all the areas where Stout had unusual encounters. Then the RGPI crew set up an array of technological gear designed to detect paranormal activity, and the investigation began as a cold rain fell.

Stout sat outside on the porch as the team worked. After a while, investigators asked if Stout wanted to join them as they tested for EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena. The test digitally records both audible sounds and those on frequencies the human ear can’t detect. 

“I was so excited my heart almost went through my chest,” Stout says. “I said yes.”

The group sat down, placed an electronic voice synthesizer on the table and after a few moments, an investigator asked, “Is there a presence in this room?” After several seconds of silence, the investigator said, “If someone is with us, please tell us your name.”

Moments later a synthesized voice crackled through the speaker. It clearly said, “Charles … Wood.”

The name was a total blank to Stout. But hearing it made an impression.

“I was freaking out,” she says. “But I loved it, too. It got me really excited.”

Moments later, her dog Oliver dashed upstairs and began yelping in terror. Investigators found the dog in the bedroom and more investigation indicated a presence at work there.

After several hours of work the RGPI group packed and left.

Although RGPI does not charge for their services, Stout gave them a generous donation to help fund their future work.

“It was free. But they were great and they really worked hard, so I thought it was the thing to do,” Stout says.

On April 15, RGPI called Stout with the results. It was more than she hoped for.

“They said the EVP recorder had picked up two things we couldn’t hear at the house,” Stout says. “I couldn’t stand it.”

The first sound was the word “no.” 

Investigators told Stout the second recorded word was “Coco” and asked if that word had any significance.

“It took my breath away when I heard that,” Stout says. “Coco was the name of my long dead cat.”

The group also reported some electronic anomalies and said Stout should have them checked by an electrician to make sure there were no mechanical problems in the home.

“I appreciated that,” she says. “It will keep me safe.”

Stout is glad to have her suspicions confirmed and says while she still hasn’t seen a ghost — human or kitty —she’ll be looking more closely. And she’s glad to finally get to the bottom of things.

“People might think I’m crazy for doing this but I wanted to know what’s going on.”

Stout says she was told that people, places and things can be haunted. She wonders if ...

“Who knows?” she says. “Maybe I’m the one who’s haunted. That would be fun.”

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