On Wednesday, March 22, I interviewed Dan Terry-- a New Haven police officer who also ghost-hunts in his free time. I asked him a series of questions about his ghost-hunting experiences and his spooky investigations. Here is our conversation:
Q: Why do people call you Spookstalker Dan?
A: “I took the name Spookstalker in homage to the TV show that started me down this path. It was on television back in 1973 through 1975. It was about a reporter that kept getting involved in ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and etc. The name of the show was Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Since I was only looking for ghosts at the time, and there was another group in Tennessee called Night Stalkers, I took on Spookstalker. A man who lived in a demon infested house in Union, Mo., who was also a radio host, began calling me Spookstalker Dan. It just kind of stuck.”
Q: What does the term “ghost hunter” mean to you?
A: “The term Ghost Hunter specifically refers to people searching for proof of an intelligent afterlife. Religion is fine, and we are supposed to believe without proof. However, they don’t answer all of the questions that arise when you live in a haunted place or have had experiences with the dead. I am looking to make actual contact with the dead, and attempt to gain actual evidence of intelligent life after death.”
“There are some who attempt to help a spirit to move on, or leave the location. My entire focus is on trying to discover if a place is haunted, why it is haunted, and who is haunting it as well as why they are in that particular place.”
A: “My way of ghost hunting is different than many other ghost hunters. Many don’t like to know much before going in. Some who are psychic or sensitive to the spirits want to get information from the spirits untainted by previous knowledge. I prefer to know something about the area, so I can call the spirit by name. Once, in a haunted bar in Gasconade County, Mo., I was called in to assist the Paranormal Task Force because they had suddenly gotten two in the same night and needed assistance. I took their story”.
He continued: “[The ghost] was throwing things, then escaped. Later, when I did my own research, I discovered the story I was told was an urban legend, and totally false. The spirit had been shot and killed outside the bar just a few years before and the reason was completely different. I had upset him, and lost all contact. Now, I try to get at least some basic information, (if there is any) before I go in. Then, I could ask intelligent questions.”
Q: Walk me through a typical night of ghost hunting. What do you look for? What do you do?
A: “Upon arrival, if the haunted area is a building or an area with power, I’ll do a baseline reading. This means I check the area with an Electromagnetic Field Detector, so if the spirits use the meter later to make contact, I’ll have an idea it's a ghost and not just a bad wire or loose electrical connection. We’ll check the area, get some info from the owner on where most of the activity is and any history they might have. If one of the sensitive or psychics are with me, I’ll separate them from the rest and they will not hear what the homeowner has to say. Then, we’ll walk around with them and get their feelings.”
“After a while, we’ll start asking questions and asking the spirits to knock, or set off the meter, or move the dowsing rods I use for yes or no. We’ll try to get them to speak with us, and have recorders going and video or photos being taken in case we miss something while talking to the ghosts. At the end of the hunt, I’ll thank the spirits for their help and explain to them they can not come home with me.”
Q: Tell us about the most haunted or spooky experience you've ever had.
A: “On the first ever ghost hunt at the old Diamonds, now the Tri-County Truck Stop, I had a shadow person standing against a wall, and mocking me in front of eight people. I could not explain why it was there, searching every spot for a reason for a shadow to be pacing. When I challenged it, it moved above me. That was about the only time I was ever completely stunned.”
Q: How did you start ghost hunting?
A: “When I was a kid, about 10 years old, I saw an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. My dad had always told ghost stories, and this guy investigated the supernatural using libraries, books, and courage. That is the way I try to do it now. I had a couple of minor unexplained things when I was younger, and began reading anything in books about the supernatural including books by UFO investigators and the original ghost hunters. When I got my driver's license, myself and a small group of friends began trying to ghost hunt. This was back in 1979. I had to quit when I joined the military, then when I got out in 1986 and became a police officer, everyone would think you were crazy if you did this. After Ghost Hunters came on the SyFy channel, it suddenly went mainstream and it was okay to be a paranormal investigator. I started again, and now my wife and I, along with some friends, continue to do it.”
Q: Did you ever do any ghost hunting in New Haven?
A: I ghost hunted in the Boondockers in town, when it was a restaurant and bar. The owners of the business at the time had several encounters. We had a lot of encounters, and more afterwards. I’ve hunted several, which we can not discuss at the request of the owners. However, one had a supposed Demon in it, and I called for help from another team. Later, the folks that lived there let it back in, and it took a priest to get rid of it. The people living in it now say it’s still there, but they ignore it and it can not gain energy. The police station is haunted by an old cop, who likes to ride with female officers and has been seen by several of us. I investigated it and found several officers, at least one of whom I knew. In one house in town, we have a recording of a spirit telling me, “You're a dead man.”
Q: Do you have a partner in crime?
A: “My wife goes with me as often as she can. Next weekend, we are going to a former insane asylum in Indiana to spend the night inside.She has to work at Henniges a lot, and can’t go or is too tired. Two years ago, every officer in the department had been on a ghost hunt with me. Several of them still go with me when they can. I recently ghost hunted in the Fox Theater in St. Louis, and one of the officers went along. A friend in Hermann also goes when he can, and he and I did a very haunted apartment in Washington a couple of months ago. Tim Clifton, who is sensitive and used to live in Union before moving near Jefferson City, comes down anytime I ask and helps, if his health permits. I have several people who go with me if I ask, but my wife, and Tim, are my most constant assistants.”
Q: What's your favorite book that you wrote? Why?
A: “My favorite book is the second to the last one, Too Ornery To Die. Just because I believe the stories are better. But I did more of the investigations in Missouri Shadows. I am working on a book about Washington ghosts currently, and having some fun with that one.”
Thank you, Dan Terry, for speaking about some of your spooky investigations!