When there is something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? DAPI! DAPI (Downingtown Area Paranormal Investigators) is a 10 person ghost hunting team, made up of sensitives, techy types and skeptics. In the past three years since the group’s creation, the team has conducted over 50 investigations throughout the area, which are always confidential and at no charge.
DAPI, along with the Downington Area Recreation Consortium, has invited the public to a special four week ghost hunting class held at the Alert Fire Co. 1 in Downingtown. The firehouse is considered one of the most haunted places in town and is always included in their ghost walks. During the ghost hunting experience class, 10 ghost hunters-in-training learn how to use DAPI’s equipment and conduct their own investigations of the spirits housed in the station.
The ghost hunters toolbox includes a digital recorder and computers to capture electronic voice phenomena (EVP), flashlight, cameras (regular, infrared, night vision and video), electromagnetic fields detector (EMF), motion sensors, a laser grid used to detect light, a digital thermometer, dowsing rods and pendants.
As half of our group entered the dark basement of the firehouse, one of DAPI’s fun-spirited founders, Dawn Beck, explained our intentions were pure to any listening spirits. Next, our inquisitive team took pictures and asked simple question as we placed the EMF detectors on the floor. After a few moments the ever silent detector was flashing more blinking bursts of red light than the stations’ fire engines and we realized we were not alone.
When we asked a question (are you a boy? are you a child? do you know where you are?), there were many ways for us to get answers. Dowsing rods are L-shaped rods that are one of the oldest tools in ghost hunting and one participant held the handles at arm’s length as the poles connected to the tops of the handles rods slowly formed an X for yes. Multiple people would be holding crystals attached to a long string and the spirit made all of them move in a counter clockwise motion for yes, (Dawn explained earlier that she could barely tie her shoes let alone be a master yogi to control such signs).
Dawn was on one side of the room and one of the other DAPI members, Scott, was on the other side of the room perched on a furnace. We told the lost child we would leave him a ball if he stood near our Scott. Within a few minutes of coaxing, the EMF stopped racing next to Dawn and Scott got the chills despite sitting next to a furnace. We left the ball for the boy and went upstairs to the next rooms in our investigations. Within a few minutes, someone from the other group stormed in to inform us that the ball had moved two feet from where we left it (on an X).
DAPI members told us that bathrooms are hotspots for activity, after all, you gotta go when you gotta go. We discovered there was a woman still occupying this restroom. While our EMF detectors were racing, one of the participants said she felt this cold spot running up and down her arm. Armed with a temperature gun in hand, one student read that one side of Terri was 86 degrees and the other was 70 degrees.
Terri Baker drove 45 minutes every week to attend the class. “I was very interested and curious, like most people after watching all the ghost shows on TV. A lot of people are skeptical when they first come in and I think more and more people are beginning to realize it’s not really that embarrassing to say you believe in ghosts,” exclaimed the excited pupil. “It is hard to play tricks, so many things happen that are hard to discount. I think [the class] is a lot of fun, very informative, relaxed, casual, enjoyable and makes you think.”
The last part of our investigation was the third floor of the fire hall, the community hall which is currently used as a ballet studio filled with glittery props, mini costumes of all shapes and colors, trophies of yesteryears, and pictures of past classes and recitals of little girls. We placed a computer next to us on the floor of the pitch black social hall. Throughout the static being emitted by the voice-capturing on the computer, there were a few words we kept hearing over and over – Sarah, terrible and ghost.
Several of DAPIs investigations have involved restaurants and believe the restaurants are beacons due to their high energy and the amount of celebrations that take place. They have had some unique encounters: hearing loud crashes against the wall next to them, seeing the figure of a woman outside of an old speakeasy and have encountered many women lingering in kitchens of houses they have investigated. Think some of your favorite haunts could be filled with something other than fine dining? Dish did a little digging of our own.
Regardless if you are a skeptic or a believer, the DAPI ghost hunting experience is a fun class led by a very professional and knowledgeable group. Keep your eyes peeled for their next class and an open mind next time you are alone somewhere – you just never know!