LAFAYETTE — Just before midnight Saturday, the electromagnetic field detector went crazy.
Members of Louisiana Spirits paranormal investigators were huddled in the “Leah Room” of T’Frere’s Bed and Breakfast on Verot School Road, hoping to connect with a mischievous ghost resident named Amélie Comeaux.
The team had spent two hours rigging up cameras, electromagnetic field detectors and the like and were now in the “lights out” phase, perusing the dark, hoping for answers.
In the center of the bed, thought to be Amélie’s bed, was a multi colored electromagnetic field detector, which picks up spikes in the room’s energy, a possible signal that a ghost may be present. Just before midnight, the machine started buzzing wildly, which continued for many minutes, much to the investigators’ delight.
A series of words emerged from another machine, called an Ovilus, that records energy spikes and processes the energy change into language. Investigators picked up “grandmother,” “Pat,” “15,” words that also came through in other parts of the house.
Louisiana Spirits had been invited to T’Frere’s by the inn’s owner, Richard Young, in the hopes of reaching Comeaux, a former resident who allegedly lost her husband and child to yellow fever, then contracted a fever herself and died after falling into a well located in the rear of the property.
Some people believe she fell in, others say it was a suicide, so it’s believed her burial was not in a church cemetery. Some suspect she may have been buried on the T’Frere’s property.
Louisiana Spirits will spend weeks viewing the hours of video and listening for electronic voice phenomena from several hand-held recording devices to find evidence that Amélie Comeaux still lives at the corner of Verot School Road and Camellia Boulevard.
Holly Trahan, who has worked at T’Frere’s for the past 10 years, is convinced the ghost is Comeaux and believes the entity is harmless.
“Amélie was never a poltergeist,” Trahan said, referring to ghosts who mean harm. “She’s never been a ghost who is mean. She’s more like the prankster. She is friendly.”
When Trahan first started work at T’Frere’s, she said a door to the bathroom she was cleaning suddenly closed. She couldn’t open the door even though it locked from the inside. Remembering the ghost tales she had been told, Trahan asked the French-speaking Comeaux to let her out.
“I said, ‘Ouverte la porte,’ and magically, the door opened,” Trahan said.
Numerous accounts of incidents have happened over the years, Trahan said, but nothing more than mischievous pranks. Pots and pans were heard banging against one another one night, but nothing was found out of place. Visitors reported having their toes pulled in the night, doors opening on their own. The parlor piano would suddenly play church hymns, Trahan said.
Once, an exterminator visiting the attic caught a glimpse of the petite French woman, who asked him to “Viens voir!” or “Come see,” Trahan said. Needless to say, the man bolted from the house.
Louisiana Spirits picked up names on their “spirit box” or Instrumental TransCommunication device while visiting the attic. They heard “Emily” or “Amélie” on the machine that translates energy into words.
“It constantly takes samples of the environment,” said Louisiana Spirits founder Brad Duplechien. “Through the static energy, people can use the energy to speak through. It’s basically like a smarter voice recorder.”
Many times during the investigation, Louisiana Spirits members asked questions, hoping that voices not audible to the human ear would be caught on their recording devices, questions such as “What is your name?” and “Anybody here want to talk to us?”
Other times, members would walk through rooms and check for energy fluctuations from readings they conducted at the start of the investigation. Several times, rooms showed increases in energy on the electromagnetic field detector.
“We’re looking for spikes,” Duplechien explained. “If an entity is trying to manifest, it picks up energy around it.”
The team then compares these spikes with other readings, such as temperature drops, electronic voice phenomena and video, then presents the findings to Young, the inn’s owner.
Louisiana Spirits members perform investigations at no cost, spending their own money for the numerous pieces of equipment they utilize. Some of the ghost hunting equipment was purchased at GhostStop.com, team members said.
They also teach ghost hunting techniques through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Continuing Education Department, taking students on a field trip to a haunted location.
The jury’s still out regarding who haunts T’Frere’s and why, but team members said they came away with plenty of evidence of ghost activity in the more than 100-year-old inn. For instance, team member Scotty Rosatto picked up unusual energy spikes in the front bedroom, after ruling out electrical outlets, appliances and rational vibrations.
“This is why we question what we question,” he explained. “There was no reason for what I was getting.”