Local paranormal investigation group ParaVizionz locks down one of Ohio’s most haunted towns
By J.T. Ryder
Are you hearing things go “bump” in the night? A local paranormal investigations team called ParaVizionz might be able to provide an explanation. ParaVizionz is a self-described, high-level paranormal investigation and research team serving Ohio, Indiana and Northern Kentucky. Their goal is to help their clients find a reasonable cause to any kind of disturbances within their homes or places of business, for no charge. But these guys aren’t handling overly verbal creaky wood floors or strange noises caused by an overzealous rat. They handle disturbances of the “spiritual” variety.
Lee Allen and David Jones, the founder and co-founder of ParaVizionz, have completed over 180 paranormal investigations since the group’s inception in 2008. Though both are incredibly passionate about the exciting world of paranormal investigating, both admit it’s about way more than having a hobby.
“It’s not a hobby,” said Allen in an interview. “I want to say [we’re] like a church. You come to us for help and we’re going to get you the help.”
Jones began to believe in supernatural activities at a young age while growing up in Michigan. He had just moved into an old farmhouse in the woods with his sister, father and stepmom. The family was told that one of the previous owners had hung themselves from the apple tree outside the kitchen window, but this barely registered with the young Jones … until the noises began. Creaking footsteps and rocking chairs that were invisibly animated made him and his sister believers in very short order.
Conversely, Lee’s induction into the world of the unknown came about through personal loss. He and his wife lost one son, Austin, in infancy and then another older child, a daughter named Caitlyn when she was 5 years old.
“She’s my spirit guide,” said Allen. “I know my daughter’s by my side. I use her when I go into places (for investigation) to draw the spirits out to let them know we’re not there to hurt them and it works.”
Lee said that after the tragic loss of his children, he would hear voices in the children’s rooms and sense their presences from time to time.
“Every time I know [Caitlyn]’s around, I smell baby powder,” said Allen. “And every place we [investigate], one of my team members will say, ‘Do you guys smell baby powder?’ and I’ll say, ‘Yep.’”
Jones and Allen met in early 2008 when the Atlantic Paranormal Society visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to investigate paranormal activity for their popular television show on the SyFy network called Ghost Hunters. Jones had managed to weasel his way into the event with little more than an ID on a lanyard and, after befriending the film crew and being allowed to jump to the front of the line, he ran into Allen, who was trying to amass a team of local paranormal investigators. Since that time, a team of investigators, technicians and mediums have been assembled and the group has gelled into one incredibly in-tune entity who have compiled a list of completed investigations, an archive of EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) and a slew of stories that would make most people cringe.
While ParaVizionz may have been formed through a mutual interest in a paranormal reality TV show, Allen insists that most of the shows out there these days are just that … for show.
“That’s just ratings for TV,” laughed Allen. “I explain it like this — just like the military, you’ve got Marines and you’ve got the Army. The Marines are the first ones to go in and they’re the underdogs. That’s who we are. We are paranormal investigators. What you see on TV, they’re ghost hunters. A ghost hunter wants to go out and chase a ghost. A paranormal investigator goes and helps a family or a business owner, and actually gets the questions answered.”
The team has been trying to negotiate their own reality TV show, but have recently come to the realization that maybe traditional audiences couldn’t handle the team’s findings.
“We’re so real that TV shows do not want us,” said Allen. “I will not fake anything.”
Some of the locations the team has investigated include the Patterson Homestead, the Sorg Opera House in Cincinnati, the Dayton Women’s Club building, the Dayton VA Medical Center, the Victoria Theatre, the Centerville Theatre and countless private residences. While locally the team has visited just about very town, township and neighborhood, they have been intensely focusing on Bellbrook, Ohio for the past two years. Every locale around the world has their own ghost stories and legends, but Bellbrook has their fair share, most of which reach back into the dim mists of a century gone by.
Some of these stories are only known by life-long Bellbrook residents, but ParaVizionz is seeking to tell the real “ghost” stories of what happened in Bellbrook so long ago and where those poor lost souls might have ended up.
There is the story of a servant girl who involved herself with the town’s influential mayor and got pregnant with his child. The mayor quickly had her removed from his estate’s staff and the young lady took to a life of prostitution to get by, becoming the subject of gossip and ridicule. When her baby was born, she would only take him outside with his face covered, as it was whispered that the child bore a striking resemblance to the mayor. It was thought that the young woman had fallen into a downward spiral of madness as she was often seen walking along with her baby safely bundled up from the prying eyes of the townsfolk, singing and talking to the bundle of tattered fabric that shrouded him. One night, the weight of her plight must have been too much to bear and she plunged herself and her baby into the cold, swirling depths of Possum Run Creek or, as it is now known, Little Sugar Creek. A week later, her body was found by two local youths, washed up upon the creek’s bank. Her icy, lifeless arms still clasped the tattered rags that were once wrapped around her child, but the baby was never found. It is said that on certain nights, especially those peculiarly still nights in June when the mists rise up into the darkness, you can see her glowing form stumble along the sides of the creek, a lilting singsong sigh being sung to the bundle of rags that she carries.
Bellbrook is mostly a rural town, but one still filled with urban legends that the ParaVizionz team just couldn’t ignore.
“The Bellbrook Historical Society came to us, ” said Allen. “We started investigating and people started opening up the doors to their businesses and their homes … we started investigating the town and everybody there has been so gracious. It’s been amazing.”
One of the stories many locals in Bellbrook like to tell is what you might see if you go down Carpenter Road. Keep your eyes peeled for the hair pin turn where, legend has it, on certain nights you could see the silhouette of a hanged man … just another person who had decided to end it all when they came to the end of their rope.
Rumors of children hearing the out-of-tune tinkling of a piano coming from the music room of the elementary school during the summers when school wasn’t in session are enough to jolt a chill down your spine. Or one of the favorite old ghost tales about the undertaker (why is it always the undertaker?) who could not bear the loss of his wife and kept her embalmed body in the front window of his establishment for over a year before losing his mind.
Well if you haven’t been scared completely straight, the last two years of ParaVizionz’s investigations in Bellbrook will culminate Halloween weekend with what they’re calling Bellbrook on Lockdown, taking place Friday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Oct. 30. Bellbrook on Lockdown will have lectures, celebrities, tours, information, vendors, activities and entertainment. It’s the kind of paranormal investigation that ParaVizionz is hoping will put them on the map.
“We want[ed] our own trademark, so we thought … let’s lock down a city,” said Allen. “Just like on Ghost Adventures Crew [a TV series on the Travel Channel], they go in and get locked down in one building. Nobody locks down a town. We do.”
Over the weekend of Sept. 30 through Oct. 1, ParaVizionz hosted the Jonathan Winters Ghost Walk and Historical Tour, endorsed by former Bellbrook resident and nationally known comedian Jonathan Winters and his family. Through a proclamation from the Mayor of Bellbrook, Mary Graves, and the support of the City of Bellbrook, the Bellbrook Chamber of Commerce and the residents themselves, ParaVizionz has made the Bellbrook on Lockdown event a reality.
Bellbrook on Lockdown will commence at noon on Friday, Oct. 28 and ends at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30. The Master of Ceremonies, a Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow look-alike, Captain “Larry” Sparrows, will kicoff the festivities at noon on Friday at Sugarcreek Plaza, located at 6124 Wilmington Pike in Bellbrook.
There will be several guest speakers, including Keith Age (a paranormal investigator who founded the Louisville Ghost Hunter’s Society and is the star of Spooked TV), Patrick Burns (star of TruTV’s Haunting Evidence), author Marley Harbuck-Gibson, international medium Robyn Marie, radio personality and comedian Scotty Rorek, paranormal mediums Deborah and Nicholas Lantz, John Brightman (founder of New England Paranormal Research), cryptozoologist Joedy Cook and paranormal filmmakers and stars of the SyFy, Chiller and Spooked TV networks, the Booth Brothers.
Entertainment will come in the form of bagpiper Wulf, D.J. Tre and a special guest appearance by escape artist and magician Aron Houdini (a descendant of Harry Houdini). A celebrity-guided tour of all the haunted areas in Bellbrook is also on the itinerary, including the Dart Construction Building (formerly Penewit Hardware), the Shepherd House, Magee Park and others. The Joinery, which was one of the locations that ParaVizionz investigated this summer, was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Their investigation revealed a slew of EVPs, which say things from a whispered voice declaring, “I’m right behind you” to the plaintive plea of a woman saying, “Hide me!”
But one of the highlights of the tour has to do with one of the oldest legends of the area. Back in the 1800s, there was an Englishman named James Buckley whose sawmill was located alongside what is now Little Sugar Creek. He became very wealthy from this enterprise and, as is common when seen through the eyes of avarice, envied by many of the townspeople. One morning, his cabin was forced into, and he was robbed and brutally murdered — decapitated, in fact. His bloody body was found, sans head, outside covered in mud, but the money — along with his head — were, by some accounts, never found. Other versions of this story state that his head was found some distance away and that the robbers never retrieved any of the money because Mr. Buckley had buried it somewhere near the creek. ParaVizionz is going to have a live, televised treasure hunt utilizing a medium to communicate with the long deceased entrepreneur to try and find the place in which the money was buried. Hopefully they find the money — and only the money.
At the end of the day, the ParaVizionz team does not view their goal as telling clients why entities or spirits exist, but rather to prove that they do exist and let people make their own conclusions about who they are or where they came from.
“It’s all science … it’s all learning,” said Allen. “But I figured out 13 years ago that any ‘spirit’ or ‘entity’ is a human just like us. They’re smart. But there’s no hiding.”
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, you have to admit … sometimes when those hairs stand up on the back of your neck, it feels like something (or someone) else is in the room.
Maybe it’s a ghost. Maybe it’s just the wind. But if it is a ghost, now you know who you gonna call.
ParaVizionz Bellbrook On Lockdown runs from Friday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Oct. 30. There are various tiers of payment for admission, ranging from $30 to $150 for the VIP/Ghost Hunt pass. For more information, check out their website for the event at bellbrookonlockdown.webs.com and make sure to check out the group’s main website at www.ParaVizionz.net to watch video and hear EVPs from their past investigations.
Reach DCP freelance writer J.T. Ryder at JTRyder@DaytonCityPaper.com.