See larger Who you gonna call? — Do you believe in ghosts? If so, do you have any proof? On a recent Saturday night investigation at Capt'n Con's Fish House on the northern tip of Pine Island, a group of paranormal investigators from the Lee County Ghost Hunters are searching for that proof. The building is more than 100 years old and has been a home, a boarding house a post office and a bar in previous lives. The workers there say they believe the place is haunted and have seen strange occurrences of noises and shadowy figures. And so they called the ghost hunters — including Lee Ehrlich, who on this night is manning infrared security monitors in the dining room at about 3 a.m. — barely noticing how creepy the situation is. Most of the six-person investigation is spent waiting, listening and watching. Outside, the wind howls and waves crash against the nearby pier. Every dinghy and wind chime on the island sounds as though they're moments from flying off. Inside, a buffet of bizarre odors surrounds the investigators. Ironically, the restaurant is decorated for Halloween with ghosts, cobwebs and maniacal-looking statues everywhere. Creepy is an understatement. Unlike most ghost hunters, eager to slap a paranormal label on any strange occurrence, these ghost hunters insist their approach disproves more ghosts than they uncover. Using thousands of dollars in equipment, the members — 10 in all — scrutinize every allegedly haunted location with skepticism, says Morgan Beall. And the service is free. 'We have experienced that about 80 percent of it is psychological with people, and not something we can actually observe,' explains Beall, an environmental consultant by day. 'People believe they are seeing things.'And yet: 'With the sheer volume of reports out there, there has to be some explanation behind it,' he adds. 'I also am learning that there are a lot of things that are beyond explanation.' The ghost-hunting group was founded in 2001 by cosmetologist Honey Archey, and now they say they're booked solid investigating otherworldly reports from businesses, residences, museums and government buildings all along the Gulf Coast. 'It's like fishing,' say Ehrlich, a Cape Coral contractor. 'You fish a lot and you catch a little. The thing is that when you do get a hit, it is fascinatingly exciting. It's exhilarating.' These brief climaxes come in the form of recorded observations, some of which don't surface until hours later, when all of the footage is painstakingly reviewed. It may be something as simple as a drop in temperature or humidity. A jump in electromagnetic activity. Maybe unexplained orbs, light streaks and shapes in photographs. Or tiny moans and barely decipherable words in the background. This is the proof ghost hunters seek. But the evidence always leads to more questions. 'We are all looking for unrefuted proof, just so that those of us who have had an experience know that we are not crazy,' says Susie Pennington, one of the ghost hunters. 'We want the truth.' To see paranormal evidence from previous investigations: leecountyghosthunters.org. Published Oct. 30, 2006

Photo by DAVID ALBERS, Daily News

Who you gonna call? — Do you believe in ghosts? If so, do you have any proof? On a recent Saturday night investigation at Capt'n Con's Fish House on the northern tip of Pine Island, a group of paranormal investigators from the Lee County Ghost Hunters are searching for that proof. The building is more than 100 years old and has been a home, a boarding house a post office and a bar in previous lives. The workers there say they believe the place is haunted and have seen strange occurrences of noises and shadowy figures. And so they called the ghost hunters — including Lee Ehrlich, who on this night is manning infrared security monitors in the dining room at about 3 a.m. — barely noticing how creepy the situation is. Most of the six-person investigation is spent waiting, listening and watching. Outside, the wind howls and waves crash against the nearby pier. Every dinghy and wind chime on the island sounds as though they're moments from flying off. Inside, a buffet of bizarre odors surrounds the investigators. Ironically, the restaurant is decorated for Halloween with ghosts, cobwebs and maniacal-looking statues everywhere. Creepy is an understatement. Unlike most ghost hunters, eager to slap a paranormal label on any strange occurrence, these ghost hunters insist their approach disproves more ghosts than they uncover. Using thousands of dollars in equipment, the members — 10 in all — scrutinize every allegedly haunted location with skepticism, says Morgan Beall. And the service is free. "We have experienced that about 80 percent of it is psychological with people, and not something we can actually observe," explains Beall, an environmental consultant by day. "People believe they are seeing things."And yet: "With the sheer volume of reports out there, there has to be some explanation behind it," he adds. "I also am learning that there are a lot of things that are beyond explanation." The ghost-hunting group was founded in 2001 by cosmetologist Honey Archey, and now they say they're booked solid investigating otherworldly reports from businesses, residences, museums and government buildings all along the Gulf Coast. "It's like fishing," say Ehrlich, a Cape Coral contractor. "You fish a lot and you catch a little. The thing is that when you do get a hit, it is fascinatingly exciting. It's exhilarating." These brief climaxes come in the form of recorded observations, some of which don't surface until hours later, when all of the footage is painstakingly reviewed. It may be something as simple as a drop in temperature or humidity. A jump in electromagnetic activity. Maybe unexplained orbs, light streaks and shapes in photographs. Or tiny moans and barely decipherable words in the background. This is the proof ghost hunters seek. But the evidence always leads to more questions. "We are all looking for unrefuted proof, just so that those of us who have had an experience know that we are not crazy," says Susie Pennington, one of the ghost hunters. "We want the truth." To see paranormal evidence from previous investigations: leecountyghosthunters.org. Published Oct. 30, 2006

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