Utah's very own 'Ghostbusters'

The Paranormal Research Group of Utah conducted an investigation at Asylum 49 in Tooele. (Photo credit: Gordon Hughes)
The Paranormal Research Group of Utah conducted an investigation at Asylum 49 in Tooele. (Source: Gordon Hughes)

From so-called documentaries to horror movies, today’s media are filled with ghost stories. Little do some people know, Utah has its very own ties to the supernatural.

The Paranormal Research Group of Utah, however, discounts some of those.

“If you’ve ever watched ‘Ghost Hunters’ or any of that stuff, it’s always bad. There’s always action and noises,” said Felicia McMichael, a lead investigator of the group. “It’s nothing like you see on TV.”

Utah’s Paranormal Research Group, or PRG, consists of McMichael, Gordon “Rocky” Hughes, who was one of the original founders and Kim Mogensen, a co-founder of PRG and a medium that senses the presence of spirits.

The PRG exclusively investigates situations, but they do not participate in other communication with the spirits they encounter.

“We don’t even do cleansings. We have a couple that actually does that for us,” Hughes said.

According to the team, their average case takes four to 12 hours to investigate, and one to two weeks to analyze the evidence.

“We’ll each get a disk of videos and pictures. We mark things and note what we’re seeing in pictures,” Mogensen said.

The team gathers to discuss what they’ve found. Under some circumstances they return to the site to conduct a follow up investigation.

The PRG of Utah uses electromagnetic field detectors, sound recorders, special cameras and trigger objects. These trigger objects are anything that might interest the spirit enough to lure the being out, like a stuffed bear or a doll.

“On one of our investigations at Asylum 49, we used a crayon and we could hear the (ghost) child say ‘that’s a pretty crayon,’” Mogensen said.

The team takes special care to never provoke spirits and to always thank them for their time.

“We tell them who we are and what we’re here to do,” Mogensen said. “They deserve respect.”

The team members claim they are scientific in their ghost hunting methods. Before conducting investigations they interview people familiar with the site to obtain a baseline of information.

The PRG collaborates a lot with others in the field in hopes that they have been faced with similar cases. They share ideas by debunking theories and offering new ones.

“When we present it, no one else was there. Just us. So the burden of proof is on us,” McMichael said.

To help validate their conclusions, the PRG tries to back up each of their claims with multiple forms of evidence such as photographs and confirmation from the medium.

The team also tries to be reasonable in their claims, which means they may have to break the news that a house is not haunted to a resident who is convinced of a spiritual presence.

“There’s usually some kind of a normal explanation for residential ‘hauntings,’” McMichael said.

The group had a patron at one time who was prescribed heavy medication by a doctor, which may have caused her to believe her house was harboring spirits. The group found no evidence of that.

The PRG of Utah does not charge for its services. The members believe asking for a fee would not be ethical, so they pay for their equipment themselves.

All of the members have other jobs – whether as a phlebotomist, dispatch supervisor, stay-at-home mom or Air Force mechanic.

“I wish this were a full time gig!” Hughes said.

The Paranormal Research Group of Utah is listed on a variety of different paranormal investigating websites and has a Facebook page through which they can be contacted.