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CROWN POINT ­— Marci Sosa said she always has been open to the existence of the paranormal — open to the possibility that spirits still may be around in life after death.

She wasn’t, however, a believer that the Old Sheriff’s House and Jail in Crown Point is haunted.

Her skepticism changed recently.

“I have been in there at least once before, for a general tour, and had heard stories that it was ‘haunted’ but never put much stock into it,” said Sosa, one of the brave souls who participated in the recent ghost hunt of the building. The investigation was led by Rick Waid, a seer and past life reader from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Walking in the dark, surrounded by peeling walls, old rusty bed frames and rows of small jail cells that once isolated some of history’s most violent high-profile inmates didn’t scare Sosa, a Crown Point local.

Soft whispers and distant voices coming through on the EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recordings wasn’t even enough.

Then Sosa, along with a small group, ventured into a solitary confinement cell. As the only ones in that section of the jail, they set up and pointed a Kinect SLS camera, ­­­designed to detect spirit forms that can’t be seen with the naked eye, toward the darkness where only the brick wall was in sight.

“All of the sudden a stick figure appeared on the SLS screen in the doorway. It was clearly not one of us as we were all in the cell behind the camera,” Sosa said. “The figure was there for a good solid minute. Seemed to leave and then come back once more. That really had me thinking then, ‘So fascinating!’”

That stick figure was only a small phenomenon compared to what she would experience next.

“In that same area I used an amplified listening device and heard what sounded like raspy, heavy breathing. My reaction was, ‘Nope, nope, nope!’ I took off the headphones and was done with that for the night,” Sosa said.

“For some reason that was a little more unsettling to me. I am a psychiatric nurse, and I am aware that the brain can play many tricks on a person, and I have seen that in action many times. I really don’t think that was what was going on in this case.”

Before the five-hour ghost hunt began, Sandy Boyd, member of The Old Sheriff's House Foundation, warned the room of participants, composed of doubters and believers, to be prepared for what was to come throughout the night.

Boyd, who has more than 10 years of experience leading ghost hunts through the building, had three rules:

“If you become nauseous or get a headache, don’t just stand there and let it go. Say something.”

“No one goes off anywhere alone.”

“Don’t run.”

“There’s no demons at all. But there are negative energies from the people who have been here,” Boyd said, adding that many investigators, including The Atlantic Paranormal Society team, stars of the hit SyFy show “Ghost Hunters,” have investigated and found paranormal activity at the Old Sheriff’s House and Jail.

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“We know hot spots. We know the history. It’s all real.”

The evidence gathered March 23 did not disappoint and led many in the group of 30, including Sosa, to believe that the jail, built in 1882, is indeed haunted.

Multiple voices from were captured during EVP circles, intelligently answering specific questions directed to former inmates.

In one session on the second floor of the jail, an investigator asked, “How old are you?”

A soft-spoken, male voice responded “17” and “I’m here.”

“Did you die here?” another investigator asked.

“Yes,” uttered a different spirit.  

In addition to the captured sounds, noticeable temperature changes and spikes in EMF (electromagnetic field) activity, investigators were able to snap photographs inside and outside of the jail that appear to show orbs, ghostly mists and full body apparitions, all “proving paranormal energy was present,” Waid said.

“I knew this evening was going to be one of my best events since I started my journey into the paranormal,” Waid said. “Everything flowed. The activity inside the jail excited everyone.”

During breaks in the tour and ghost hunt, Waid provided personal readings to participants. Drawing names from a bowl, the psychic connected with passed loved ones, past lives and an individual’s personal energy.

With no prior knowledge to the backgrounds and relationships of each individual drawn, Waid was able to connect with the energies and provide “spot-on” details, as Madison Binkowski said in shock after Waid performed a general reading for her.

In “connecting with the energy being given” to him, Waid told Binkowski she was “on top of things … really focused and want things done a certain way.” He said “there’s actually some opportunity coming in your life,” later adding that he could see “something about children or having children. There’s going to be something coming up with children.”

Binkowski is an event organizer, recently married who has been discussing starting a family with her husband.

“All of it makes sense,” Binkowski told Waid. “I can’t believe it.”

“Many came to me and explained how spot on my readings were,” Waid said. “Skeptics walked away believing in what I do.”

Waid’s next ghost hunt and readings event at the Old Sheriff’s House and Jail is from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. June 29. Space is limited. Tickets are $70 per person and can be paid through Paypal at rwaid46@gmail.com.  

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Allie covers South Lake County municipal government, development and breaking news for The Times. She comes to the Region from Lebanon, Indiana. She is a proud Ball State University graduate.