On Wednesday night's Ghost Hunters, things got spookier than usual when the team traveled to the small town of Galena, Illinois to investigate the Galena Marine Hospital, a historic edifice originally built in 1857 now stirring up a number of distressing claims, like heavy footsteps, disembodied voices, shadow figures and light anomalies. After its recent purchase, the 6,300 square foot building situated in the deep forested region of northwestern Illinois has suddenly become a spirited hot spot for supernatural activity, prompting the team to take action.
With the site firing up a number of happenings, including a heat signature from the tower on the FLIR thermal imaging camera, a shimmering blue light phenomenon that left the team baffled, and spine-chilling EVPs, the never-before explored location is most certainly an investigation for the books! In an exclusive with PopCulture.com, paranormal investigator and team researcher, Mustafa Gatollari is sharing details about what went down during "Haunted Hospital" and explaining how paranormal activity started almost immediately upon the team's entry into the hospital, which was originally constructed to care for crew members that had fallen ill while working on the many steamboats that operated on nearby rivers.
The power of a trigger object
"What was interesting about the Galena Marine Hospital is the vibe changes after a while. You walk into there and you kind of feel like you're intruding a little bit or there's something a little cagey," Gatollari told PopCulture. "You kind of feel like you've walked into something that [feels] 'Okay, ugh' and then that feeling goes away after a little while."
Gatollari adds what really made their investigation interesting while evoking jaw-dropping activity was when he and co-team leader, Daryl Marston brought in a trigger object in the form of retired steamboat Capt. John Vize, who not only knew a lot of history about the site, but was someone with a very specific passion. He further shares how this addition brought a very emotional and human element to the investigation, which is something they focus on a lot with their cases as he notes how the "integrity of the investigation is always, always, always first and foremost" for the team.
"When he came in and started addressing them, it's like then that the vibe changed even more and it kind of went from like, 'Okay, we're not alone,' but it didn't feel like someone was cagey," he said. "It just felt like, 'Ooh, there's definitely someone here' and then we heard those footsteps afterwards above us, and then Brandon and Brian captured what they captured on the FLIR."
He goes on to add how the correlation between the two elements was baffling in knowing the team was not alone during their investigation. "It was just crazy that being able to be, 'Okay, I'm in here' — nothing's going on. [But] you bring in a captain, he starts talking about a very specific person in a very specific time period and I guess, if there's an entity there, they felt that this is the person who knows what he's talking about. He understands us. Boom. It was instant contact."
The New Jersey native adds it was then that Brandon Alvis and Brian Murray acquired some interesting footage on the FLIR thermal imaging camera when they got outside, which happened concurrently to his and Marston's investigation with the captain, making everything even more extraordinary. "That was probably, for me, one of the moments where I was like, 'Wow, this feels like a movie!' I turned to the camera, and I'm sure it's not on the cut — I don't think you can even see what I saw. But I literally turned to the camera — it was so unbelievable. I couldn't believe it. I mean, we kept talking about it. We still do. I still talk to Daryl about it. I'm like, 'Yeah, that was insane.'"
The FLIR camera's capture from the lookout point:
It's because of what Alvis and Murray also captured from the lookout point of the tower that Gatollari admits he'd like to go back and investigate further. "I want to know what's going up there. I want to go back up there," he said. "There's some other tests I want to run. What was interesting was there was one moment where we were hearing noises, and I was like, 'I don't know, it doesn't feel paranormal to me. It just kind of feels like there's something trapped up there.' Sure enough, we go, and there was a bird or a bat that was just trapped up there, and it was weird because it was so cold. So, we let [it] out."
He adds though that the vibe of the room changed almost immediately when the team also heard footsteps, sharing that there is definitely something more to that lookout point than meets the eye. Expressing his enthusiasm for wanting to look "more into the history" of Galena, Gatollari shares how there's a lot of "Native American history associated with the land that didn't make it into the episode."
But he has his own theories about it as well, largely tied to the crux of the building's inception around the Civil War. "It is located near a bunch of metal mines. I think that that place was used as a military stronghold point, that nobody talked about and the fact that a Native American was appointed as the head of the hospital by Ulysses S. Grant — that's a huge responsibility and a huge post," he said. "Why would a Native American be assigned to that post during that time? Unless they needed that connection with the natives, to allow them to dig through these mines, which were considered sacred land and they used the minerals in those mines for Native American burial practices."
What was that shimmering blue light?
Gatollari adds that "there's a lot more questions and things we might want to get to the bottom of over there," including that blue, shimmering light that appeared on the second floor of the hospital while he and Marston were trying to warm up outside. To this day, the team historian admits he has "no idea" what that was.
"We tried shining a flashlight. I tried to find light routes, people who could have been in an airplane or anything. Kristen [Luman] and Richel [Stratton] saw it too," he reveals, sharing how his fellow investigators were outside as well. "Everyone was like, 'What was that?' Even members of our crew went, 'What was that blue light?' Nobody knew."
While he still has no idea to this day, he reiterates that the light was "not coming from the cameras" at all and were not orbs. "We tried everything," he said of the team's attempts to debunk it. "There's one thing that wasn't shown on the show too — on the EMCCD camera, it's hard to see. But remember in Fort Stanton, how that kind of image, when you see the person blow on the camera? Well, that same kind of edge of that bleeding, where that same thing happened, where you see a blue-like form on the bottom of the screen and the top left side of the screen, while that weird shimmer effect went on the EMCCD cameras. It was like a shimmer. I have no idea what that is at all."
Showing the EMCCD some TLC...
While Gatollari and the team might not have come to a conclusion about the blue light, he is enthusiastic about the device that captured the intelligent activity and the response that fans have for the EMCCD.
"I am really stoked to see the fans excited about, the fact that we were bringing a very, very scientific approach, and upping the ante by bringing in a device like the EMCCD camera," Gatollari said. "Brandon [Alvis] is very well connected in the scientific community. He is a scientist first and foremost. He loves to get factual data, and then test that data, and put it through its paces."
The EMCCD camera is simply amazing. We’ve seen many things I simply can’t explain with it. #GhostHunters— Grant Wilson (@grantswilson) April 16, 2020
The EMCCD camera catches so much. What a great investigation tool #GhostHunters— Robyn McShane (@RobynMcShane) April 30, 2020
The evidence from the EMCCD camera is so good. #ghosthunters— Kendall Whelpton (@kendallwhelpton) April 16, 2020
That EMCCD camera looks crazy!!! Looking forward to seeing more of this in action.@GhostHunters #GhostHunters@GrantSWilson @Daryl_Marston @StrattonRichel @Brian_MurrayGH @Kristen_Luman @BrandonAlvis @TafGato— Brett Girard (@xDD0X_BRETTx) April 9, 2020
He further shares that the team has been "doing away with some tech that's a little less reliable," and while he assures how not utilizing them is not a knock to those particular devices, the team is just working hard to use stuff that's "really rock solid," especially for what it can mean to the field of how "specific phenomena [is] related."
The spine-chilling EVPs...
As for the EVPs captured, Gatollari was in awe of them and explains that even though spirits don't feel pain, when it comes to them moaning as a form of communication, it's hypothesized on more of how things are manifesting in the moment.
"Anything I can talk about of how that phenomenon comes through is pure speculation on my part, in theory," he said of the audio captured, signaling an intelligent haunting. "But it seems to me that it would almost be like sleep paralysis. You can't really control your movements. You can't really control how the words are coming out. Perhaps, if we are indeed interacting with an entity, it can't really control so well how it manifests or how its sound manifests… […] And I don't know if there's an entity that maybe just doesn't know how."
With the team being the first to investigate the marine hospital on this kind of scale, Gatollari shares the EVPs they did capture at Galena is "pretty, pretty clear" and teases there's more activity in their next cases that will blow the socks off fans. "In a future episode you guys are going to see — I think it's the final episode of this season — where I think the entities have a lot of experience dealing with paranormal investigators, and the way they communicate is very pointed."
Fans will have to tune in to see more from the Ghost Hunters investigations! The series airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on A&E, and is produced by Lionsgate's Pilgrim Media Group. For more on the ground-breaking reality series, spooks and other paranormal-related news, keep it locked to PopCulture.com.