When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?
You could try calling Judi Danser, member of the Northern Appalachian Paranormal Society (NAPS) paranormal investigations (but locally dubbed the “Ghostbusters of Pittsburgh”). Fortunately, The Insider had the privilege of speaking with her and learning about her background and expertise in paranormal investigations.
Q: What got you interested in paranormal activity?
A: So I have a daughter, she’s now 22. … In our house, she was probably three then, [she] kept pointing to the corner and telling me, ‘Grandma Ida.’ That was my grandmother that passed away in the 1980s. My daughter wasn’t born until 1999 … But I think that was my grandmother’s way of letting me know that she was there and watching over us and just popping in for a visit.
Then, my daughter had a toy phone, and she would talk on the phone and just jibber jabber away. … I had a picture of my grandfather’s father as a young man with his parents and probably siblings, and I just randomly said to my daughter, ‘Who are you talking to on the phone?’ and she walked over to that picture. She pulled our direct descendant out of a photo of 14 people. The picture was probably in the late 1800s. But I thought, ‘I’m going to test her.’ My mom … has a photo of the same family … So I took [my daughter] down to my parents. I’m like, ‘Okay, who are you talking to on the phone?’ and she picked the same direct descendant out.
Q: Are there any haunted locations that stand out to you in particular?
A: Hill View Manor. They have hot spots in the building that are more active than other areas.
What’s neat about Hillview is they actually have people that come back to the site that worked there and confirm stories or tell different stories about different people. So we do know … some of the actual history of the residents, and they confirm things that we picked up during investigations.
Q: Are there any other local places you conduct tours at?
A: We have done investigations at Bushy Run Battlefield, Hillview Manor in New Castle, Pa., and Baltzer Meyer Historical Society in Greensburg. We even [taught a class about investigations] recently at the Cattfeinated Cat Cafe.
Q: Is there certain equipment you use when conducting tours?
A: We have K2 meters, which pick up on electromagnetic frequencies. Everybody gives off energy. The theory behind the K2 meter is people give off a certain level of energy and entities have a different level. You can have something come up to it, and the level will change, the lights go up to red.
We also have REM pods, which kind of work on the same idea. … It’s like a puck you set on the ground that has a little antenna, and the closer something gets to it, the more it reacts, and the different lights go off.
We also have a paranormal music box. It looks like a coffin, and it has a sensor in it. … If something, even if a person or movement, gets up close to it, music plays in the box. So, that’s something fun that we used.
Q: You mentioned investigating these locations with your daughter. Would you say that she is one of the main inspirations for your interest in this field?
A: She is. She absolutely is. I didn’t want to shut off that ability because I think we all have it but that we all maybe see things or experienced things we can’t explain. There’s no scientific reason for us. We’re like, ‘Oh, it can’t be.’ But I think if it happens, it happens. … It’s real.