Ghost Hunters of Milwaukee
Off the Cuff with Tea Krulos
Longtime Shepherd Express contributor Tea Krulos has always looked out for the stories less told and waded into the creeks that branch off the mainstream. For his first book for Chicago Review Press, Heroes in the Night, Krulos tagged along with the caped and masked “superheroes” patrolling the streets of many American cities. In his latest, Monster Hunters, Krulos accompanies intrepid bands of amateurs in search of ghosts, Bigfoot and UFOs. Rather than call Boswell Book Co. for a date, Krulos organized the First Annual Milwaukee Paranormal Conference with himself as one of a dozen speakers.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I don’t know. I definitely saw some strange things along the way and heard some compelling stories. I went in skeptical and I came out much the same.
What were some of your stranger experiences?
I got involved with a group that traveled to Kentucky to investigate Bobby Mack’s Music World, a notoriously haunted honky-tonk run by a country music guy who performs there every Friday night. The place has a gruesome history and crawling around in the cellar is on every ghost hunter’s bucket list. It is a creepy place. What I witnessed was a member of the team—she went blind for a few minutes and her hands went cold, like some kind of possession or fear paralysis. She was genuinely frightened—I could see that.
Who are Milwaukee’s ghost hunters?
I found a well-organized group called Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, or PIM. Most of the members are married with kids. Some are religious. One is an atheist. They’re looking for an adventure hobby and they entertain many theories about ghosts.
I did 12 investigations with them in the course of a year, including private residences and well-known places like the Riverside Theater, the Brumder Mansion and the Central Library. They bring tons of gear with them: night-vision cameras, infrared cameras, an electromagnetic field detector, a thermometer to measure temperature fluctuations, audio recorders. The great thing about PIM are the detailed reports they post on their website. It’s a strange mix of science and supernatural speculation.
Did they detect anything unusual?
There was some creepy audio from a haunted farm in Illinois. They were about to go up a folding ladder into an attic and the recorder picked up a whisper: “I don’t want her to crawl up the ladder like that.” They’ve gotten some chilling whispers. I don’t know what they are. Skeptics call it noise pollution.
Was PIM skeptical of you?
Definitely at first. They should be skeptical of reporters—there have been plenty of “look at the weirdo” stories. I appreciate their caution. They invited me to a team meeting and when I got there all eyes were on me. It was like a job interview. I had to explain my past writing and I was sweating! Next day I got an email saying, “You’re in. Welcome aboard.”
The First Annual Milwaukee Paranormal Conference will be held Saturday, June 6 from 12-7 p.m. at the Irish Cultural & Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave. Speakers will include Krulos; UFO author Donald R. Schmitt; Linda S. Godfrey, who tracks a mysterious creature spotted near Elkhorn; PIM’s Noah Leigh; Milwaukee ghost lore expert Allison Jornlin; and others. For more information, go to milwaukeeparacon.com. Admission is free.