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Photo Gallery | Ghost hunting with California Haunts at the Sequoia

Halloween isn’t the only time the spirits come out to play - and they don't come out only at night. Just ask Charlotte Kosa. She’s the founder of California Haunts and has been doing ghost investigations for the last 10 years.

“I got into this because my house is haunted. Very haunted. I grew up with it and it scared the living daylights out of me so I had to understand it,” Kosa said.

Her group currently has about 45 members and is growing, but even after all these years, Kosa says she’s still one of those people who is afraid of the dark. Maybe that’s because she’s seen or heard some things during her investigations that could make even non-ghost believers stop and wonder.

One of these places is the Sequoia Restaurant in Placerville where the team conducted an investigation on Saturday. The old mansion was built in 1853 and many guests to the restaurant and staff members have mentioned strange things happening over the years ranging from doors closing and bottle moving to seeing actual ghosts.


Kosa’s team is no stranger to the paranormal happenings at the Sequoia.  They have investigated the place four times over the years, and each time they have encountered something new.

“We usually get Class A EVPs at this restuarant. We record everything and hopefully pick up voices from beyond,” said Caren Clarke, one of the mediums on the California Haunts team.

EVPs stand for Electronic Voice Phenomena.  The EVPs are usually sounds or voices that are caught on recording device - which is standard ghost hunting equipment for the team.  On their Sequoia investigation, they were able to capture a man's voice on the device while checking out the women's restroom.

"I checked with Dave, the restaurant manager, and there were no men working on the first floor during the EVP time. We also did not pick up on anyone in the hallway via a static video cam," said Kosa, when asked if there was a chance the voice came from someone in the house.

The group starts out each investigation by doing a baseline reading on the building. This way they know where the outlets are and where noises are coming from. It takes a while to set everything up, but the team wants to make sure their investigations are as accurate as possible.  They also use a number of different gadgets to help them such as such as EMF readers which pick up magnetic fields and temperature changes, dowsing rods to help talk with the spirits and psychics to help them zone in on possible spiritual hotspots.  They also have scientists on their team who try to debunk their findings.

“I like to use the PX box,” Kosa said. “The theory behind this thing is that it will pick up electronic frequencies and the ghost can talk through it. We also use several different types of digital recorders. I’ve gotten my best EVP’s on the Sony recorder.”

There's even a ghost hunting iPhone app that Kat Trevena, one of the investigators, was testing out.  It measures electromagnetic fields, vibrations and sounds. On Saturday, the team was still testing the app to see if it picks up the same readings as their other gadgets. They would need to take it on more investigations before giving a true review, but they did say it was easy to use.


According to results from past investigations, the team says the spirits of the original owners of the Sequoia tend to hang out in the upper rooms. Plus, last time they were there, they discovered ghosts in the attic. But there are two apparitions who have been spotted often.

“The ladies bathroom is one of the most active spots in the Sequoia. We are going to run one camera down there,” Kosa said.

Sequoia staff members claim there is the ghost of an older woman in the restroom. While no one on the California Haunts team has seen the ghost, many groups have done investigations and have reported either seeing the woman or getting readings of paranormal activity in the room.  Clarke says in the past, she has felt her presence and during their investigation on Saturday, she was able to ask her questions using the dowsing rods.

“She gets very jealous of young women who look in the mirror.  I have never seen her, but sometimes visitors or people who work here see her,” Clarke said.

The other apparition who has appeared in front of guests is a young woman.  She tends to hang out on the second floor by the staircase.

“Supposedly, the owners and a lot of the employees have seen a woman apparition come down these stairs in a long flowing dress. I’ve talked to a lot of the employees over the years and many have said the same thing,” said Clarke.

Clarke says she hasn’t seen this spirit either, but seeing an actual ghost is rare. She says capturing an apparition on a camera is the holy grail of ghost hunting.  They haven’t captured one on film in the Sequoia, but at the Woodland Opera House, they took three shots back to back and could see a Catholic school girl coming into the frame.

“We could see this girl coming into focus. That was really exciting,” Clarke said. “Sometimes you can see them with your eyes. It depends on how they want to manifest themselves. Sometimes you get vibes and feelings.  It’s a pseudo-science. A lot of people don’t believe in it, but that’s okay.”

Kosa says her organization is focused on the truth.  If they don't find anything, then they'll tell the people they didn't see anything unusual. The also have a number of people on their team who are debunkers. Their role is to try to find logical explanations for what others would consider paranormal. They analyze the recordings, the videos and the images to make sure there were no environmental or other factors influencing them.

“Just because it’s an old hotel or house, it doesn’t mean it haunted. Some businesses want their place to be haunted so they can attract customers. Sometimes we’ll go out to a place and we won’t pick up on anything and they get disappointed. There has to be a level of credibility and that's what we're here for," Clarke said.

To find out more about California Haunts, visit their website at http://californiahaunts.org.


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