After almost 15 years, the Ghost Hunters steered by Grant Wilson, returned to Waverly Hills Sanatorium on Wednesday night in a case that sparked an onslaught of unexplained phenomena. Touted "one of the most haunted places on earth," the historic hospital on the outskirts of Louisville, Kentucky, has long been regarded as a "Mecca" for paranormal investigators and the site of the team's most indisputable paranormal encounter to date. But while Wilson and his former team first investigated the location during the show's third season in 2006, the 20th-century sanatorium, used to house tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s and subsequently shuttering in the early 1960s, has since produced more claims stemming from its tragic history of more than 8,000 deaths on-site.
Wilson, alongside his new generation of hunters, heads back in the Season 2 finale, "Return to Waverly Hills," investigating claims of ghostly moans, objects thrown at unsuspecting guests, shadow figures, haunting moans and hissing sounds. With the case yielding several results positing proof of the afterlife during their exploration, co-lead investigator and paranormal researcher, Kristen Luman breaks down details of the team's haunting encounters in an exclusive for PopCulture.com, admitting the Louisville edifice's vibe was something that was felt by all.
"It was eerie sadness because you know that so many people were confined sick, and they knew of their fate," Luman told PopCulture. "The fact that they had so much depression… […] I thought it was wonderful that the doctors and nurses got together and said, 'Let's not keep carrying these bodies out of here for everyone to see. Let's use the chute, so it's less visible.' And it really did, when they did studies afterward, they researched it and discovered that the morale had hiked after they created this chute for their sick patients. They didn't see the bodies being removed and they had their own community there."
But with the infamous chutes and storied history full of loss and pain, comes an abundance of residual and intelligent energy that each member of the team experienced during their investigation of the 180,000 square foot building. From a prankster spirit to a ghost attempting to manifest itself via walkie talkie transmissions and another trying to manifest following an encounter with the Van de Graaff machine, the paranormal investigator is dishing all in an exclusive you cannot miss! Scroll through to find out more about the groundbreaking case.
That 'Waverly Hills' feeling
Though the hospital, staff and patients were primarily separated from the rest of the town due to tuberculosis' infectious traits, Luman admits Waverly Hills was "basically its own town" at the time, complete with a postal service due to isolation measures. But even with the staff's good intentions of making the place a comfortable one for patients and boosting their morale, there was still a weighty feeling when entering with Wilson and the team.
"There's a sort of heaviness; a bit of sadness and eeriness knowing that these people live there knowing that they most likely wouldn't be leaving from there, and they had to wave [out the windows]," Luman said of the hospital's solarium, built to provide fresh air and sunlight for patients — a method in the treatment of TB patients at the time. "That scene in the show where we're on the balcony, and you have these big open windows, big open-air spaces — that's where they would wave to their family because they couldn't get close to them, and that just breaks your heart."
Luman adds that while audiences at home can't exactly see it, above the rooftop, the hospital staff had initially created a playground for children, but was later taken out. "There is an eeriness that comes along with that, knowing how so many people lost their lives there, but then there's also the happiness of how they try to make the best of a bad situation," she said.
The "prankster" ghost
During the one-hour case on A&E Wednesday night, fans were left stunned after the team experienced a prankster spirit during their investigation. First encountered when Brandon Alvis and Mustafa Gatollari investigated the chutes and subsequently finding themselves locked inside the "death tunnel" (much to Richel Stratton's amusement), the New Jersey native once again found himself confronted by the prankster but this time with co-lead investigator, Daryl Marston during a communication session. The two became the target of the spirit upon leaving, who threw a rock in their direction — something that even caught their cameraman off guard.
While Wilson admitted in the episode that the spirit might be pranking guests who visit as a way of coping, Luman reiterates it's all a theory based on the evidence they collected. "We can only base off of theories and the questions that we ask, and the response that we get and the fact that the boys challenged whoever was there, and then they got this rock thrown — 'Try to scare us. See if you can scare us' — and then they got this rock thrown at them, was sort of funny, because whoever was there was answering that call," she said. "And perhaps it was somebody who was silly in life and was also silly in death, or perhaps this is how they spend their time now."
Luman adds that while it's all "basically guesses and theories" from the evidence collected, it's further proof of how the work they do is just "so fascinating" for the team. "I would say that either someone decided to make the best of their time with the investigators coming through, or they always were like that and were perhaps known throughout the hospital when they lived there to have played funny pranks on the doctors, nurses and other patients."
The walkie talkie transmission
During Luman's investigation of the third floor with Marston, the co-lead investigators experienced some unusual activity — particularly surrounding the walkie talkies when they suggested the spirits investigate them. During their attempted communication with a ghost, Marston's walkie talkie began going off, something that Luman further explains to PopCulture is known as instrumental trans-communication (ITC), a type of EVP that interprets as spirit voices.
"[ITC] is when an entity will use our own devices to try to communicate with us, like through a walkie talkie or even through a phone," Luman said. "There's been incidents of where people have had messages left on their machine from somebody who was departed or a phone call… […] Strange things like that, and [Marston and I] decided to work outside the box. I came up with the idea that the entities that are there, they have been through so many investigations and so many people come there to try to talk to them and what would it be like if we turned the tables and said, 'How about you investigate us? Ask us questions. Get to know us. Steal...' I mean, this part wasn't in the show, but I said, 'Steal our clothing. Touch our devices.'"
Admitting that she and Marston took a "good amount of time" warming up that communication method while speaking about themselves to the spirits, she adds how the activity started "pretty quickly" soon after. It was then that they experienced what they did with the occurrence of ITC. "That's when the walkie talkie started acting somewhat haywire, and we've never had that on any investigations Season 1 or Season 2 where the walkie talkie is going off like that, consistently like that," she said. "It's hard to hear on the show, but you heard some sort of murmur while we were listening. You hear static through the walkie talkie, but then it did sound like a voice was trying to come through."
Luman shares that whatever the voice was trying to say through the walkie talkie, it left her and Marston stunned. "That was a first for me," she said. "I've never had that experience with a walkie talkie. I've never experienced that where an entity tried to communicate through our technology in that way."
Positing to Luman how the walkie talkies could have found their correlation to perhaps a former soldier at the TB hospital, she enthuses over the theory, admitting that kind of thinking is how science can be creative. "It's all theory until we can really prove for a fact that it's evidence," she said, adding how the team also went to experts and scientists with their evidence, but they were just as baffled. "To me, that says we've caught something real, and have somewhat given credibility to this theory of what spirit matter, may be made up of or have something to do with photonic events."
Grant's wife Reanna
During Wednesday's season finale, the team also welcomed Wilson's wife, Reanna, to help cover the expansive grounds of Waverly Hills. As an esteemed paranormal investigator in her own right and former nurse, the case was a special one for the couple to work on together, which had Luman also very much excited over. "It was really great. They are the cutest couple," she said, adding how she also always mentions the pair as the hashtag, "couple goals" on her Instagram account. "[It's] because they're just so cute, and they work so well together in coming up with theories and putting their minds together."
The parapsychologist and paranormal researcher adds that what fans might not realize is how Reanna has always been in the background of the team's cases, just not on film. "She would be staying in and hanging out in our base location, and I'd come to her with some of our findings, and [she] and I would put our heads together and come up with theories or what it could be," Luman said. "She, just, like Grant, has this amazing insight to [a case], and she's such a kind, loving person."
Luman shares how the two not only work well together on cases but bond over the paranormal well, disclosing how the two even returned to a case together to find more answers on their own. "Grant and [Reanna] actually went back and wanted to talk to an entity more because they felt like more needed to be explained," she said. "They really have a passion for this and just a gentleness and kindness for these entities — these people who may not be able to communicate as well as they would like to. She's just a wonderful person to be around, and as I said, just adds a whole new level of insight into any investigation."
Did a spirit cross over?
During Wilson and Reanna's investigation together, the two came across an interesting finding with a female caretaker who worked at Waverly Hills communicating via control questions with the Tri-Field Meter. Getting responses right on cue with the aid of their device, Reanna shares how the room became instantly lighter after the heated and vibrant exchange, leading some to think the two helped a spirit cross over. But Luman said it's a lot more complicated than just that. "I go back into my psychology [on this], but does the room feel lighter, or do we feel lighter because we've given somebody that permission?" she said. "It gets mixed. It gets mingled and so, to say that because they said that, that means that everybody can float to a bright light. We don't know."
Luman adds that something the team did pick up on was behavioral cues from the spirits at Waverly Hills after some of the investigators were coughing during the case amid recovery from colds. "We were coughing quite often, and we noticed that the more we coughed, the less activity we got," she said, theorizing how some of the patients might have wanted to stay away or were concerned about the team's health. "We thought that was interesting."
She adds how Reanna was the one who pointed out the correlation between the investigators' cough and the mere fact of being in a TB hospital, complementing how she and Wilson's mind work well together. "After we maybe came to that conclusion or just thought that might be an idea to pay attention to, then we went back in there saying, 'We're healthy, and you can be healthy, too, now, and excuse our cough,' and explained that we weren't sick."
The Van de Graaff helping to manifest entities
With the team using state-of-the-art technology to understand the spirit world better, Luman said she was excited to use the Van de Graaff device, which pumps out energy into the air based on the theory that it helps entities utilize that source for an entity to manifest. Interestingly enough, with the use of the device, they experienced something right after in the form of a rock thrown at Gatollari and Marston.
"A lot of times when we've used that, that's when we've gotten actually something, object manipulation where something is actually moved, and Richel and I used the Van de Graaff in Clifton, Arizona — that's when we got that screw thrown at us, and it's just interesting that we used it in the tuberculosis hospital [and] that's when they got a rock thrown at them," she said. "So, it makes you wonder; we're starting to see a pattern there. The only other time that I can recall us using it in this season was when we were at the camp, and it was in the theater, and you don't even see that because nothing much was experienced there afterward. But it is interesting that a couple of times we have used it, we've experienced that type of activity."
While the machine reaps some incredible activity, she also knows it's something that would perhaps alarm someone from another era, seeing a weird, electricity snapping device that doesn't look safe, though it is. "Using this device, there's a yin and yang to it," Luman said. "It can really provide this energy for the entities if they can feel safe around it. I think that it can also scare them off a bit, too, if it's not explained well enough. So, I think that's very important."
Luman's favorite part of their Waverly Hills investigation
Excited and happy for fans to have finally seen the Waverly Hills case, Luman shares one of her favorite parts of the team's investigation was all the stuff that happened in the chute because it was "very similar" to what Wilson's original group in 2006 had experienced before. "I liked how they showed some of the original team's reaction because it's been said that we get very excited or a little scared sometimes. [But] you see the original team having all the same reactions that we did, really, in this investigation because there were a lot of comparisons, and so I'm glad the audience gets to see that — it was a good choice for editing," she laughed.
Luman adds that she loved how the team could all experience this "paranormal Mecca" together and have pretty much every experience imaginable. "We have the EVPs, and we had visual and we had feelings. I mean, we had pretty much everything you can get at a location and so, once again, Waverley didn't disappoint. It was a really amazing experience."0comments
Reiterating her enthusiasm for the chutes, she shares how the moans heard by Gatollari and Alvis was something not only spooky but an element into their investigation that really got the team excited over the evidence collected. "I liked a lot of the stuff that happened in the chute. I liked the moaning that just sounded like a typical haunted house ghost moan [and] that they got locked in there," she laughed. "Stuff kept happening; I thought that was pretty amazing. And then we got the bangs and the knocks just like the original team had gotten as well and then, again, we got some other things that they didn't get with the communication through the walkie and all of that, so that was a pretty cool experience."
Ghost Hunters airs on A&E and is produced by Lionsgate's Pilgrim Media Group. For more on the groundbreaking reality series, spooks and other paranormal-related news, keep it locked to PopCulture.com and follow us on Twitter @PopCulture for the latest in news and entertainment coverage.