20 QUESTIONS WITH Jason Offutt
1. Where do you see ghost hunting and Paranormal groups, web sites
or Ghost information, tours, Books Paranormal Radio and Television
in 10 years?
Unfortunately, the public is a fickle creature so, as hot as the
paranormal is right now, interest will wane at some point. Will it
take five years? Ten? Twenty? Who knows?
2. What would you personally consider to be the definitive proof
that ghosts are real?
I’ve seen one; a little boy with brown hair, flannel shirt
and blue jeans. He looked at me and I looked at him. Of course, I
doubt he could see through me, but I could see through him. The problem
with gathering evidence of ghosts is our technology. With Photoshop,
pictures won’t cut it any more. Neither will audio recordings,
video recordings, or EMF readings. With Bigfoot, science demands a
body. With UFOs, science demands a ship. With ghosts, a scientist
will never accept them as real unless he/she experiences one. Then,
of course, they’ll be too embarrassed to ever talk about it.
3. What is the most real evidence you personally have uncovered so
In a dormitory at a Missouri college. The third floor is empty and
padlocked. The only people with keys are in the housing office and
the director of housing was kind enough to give me a tour –
that began with removing the padlock. The popular college ghost story
(complete with disembodied voices and footsteps) includes a ceiling
light in one of the rooms that comes on (but doesn’t go off)
by itself. On my visit, the housing director was visibly shaken when
we discovered the light was on. He flipped the switch to the “off”
position (I watched him do it) and we walked a few doors down to the
end of the hall, turned around and walked back. When we went by the
room again, we found the light was back on … and the switch
was in the “on” position. No one else was up there, just
us, and light switches cannot move by themselves.
4. Are you skeptical of the claims others make of their findings?
Sure. I’m a skeptic at heart. Why should we believe people
who use scientific equipment to prove something science knows nothing
about? How can we be sure EMF meters are picking up ghosts? Maybe
it’s just detecting the power transformer on a pole at the edge
of the cemetery. How can we be sure our digital cameras aren’t
just photographing dust in the air instead of orbs? A lot of investigators
are so intent on finding something paranormal, that’s what they
WILL find, even though a more commonplace answer is available. I'm
not being a jerk, I'm just being realistic.
5. If you could investigate your "Dream Haunted Hot Spot"
where would it be?
Already been there. The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis. Lots of suicides,
lots of mystery, lots of misery, lots of encounters. A very cool place.
6. What was your first Paranormal encounter?
Shadow people walking through my room as a child. It got to the
point I was seeing them so often, Dad stopped coming to my room because
there was nothing there when he turned on the light.
7. What scares you about Ghost Hunting or Paranormal Investigations?
The paranormal isn’t scary; people are scary. I’m more
afraid of running into a thug in the dark than I am a ghost.
8. If you could work side by side with one of the Paranormal Investigator
greats, who would it be?
Hans Holzer, hands down.
9. Read any good Paranormal Books lately?
Yeah, “Haunted Missouri,” by a guy named Jason Offutt.
Good read. Otherwise, I’ve been too busy to actually sit down
and read a book lately. That said, I’ve gone online and read
some stuff by Mac Tonnies and Nick Redfern. Good stuff.
“Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri's Most Spirited
Spots,” is available NOW at: www.jasonoffutt.com www.amazon.com
10. What Question do people ask you most when you tell them you’re
a paranormal investigator, writer or Personality?
Have I ever seen a ghost, how long have I been interested in the
paranormal, and I have a ghost in my house, what should I do? are
the most common. The answers being, "yes," "all my
life," and "run screaming into the night."
11. In your opinion, where is the most Haunted city in America?
New Orleans gets a lot of press on this topic, but going by a city’s
population, its age and violent history, I’d probably have to
say New York City, but that’s only a guess.
12. Do you feel more people should get involved with Ghost hunting
or Paranormal Investigation?
I feel more professional scientists should get involved in paranormal
investigation and less weekend warriors. We’re never going to
be able to prove anything with a bunch of accountants wandering around
cemeteries with EMF meters. Unless science provides answers, none
of this will be taken seriously.
13. What does the future hold for you?
Writing more books on the paranormal. Let’s just hope the
public doesn’t get bored with the subject before I’m finished
writing on it.
14. Paranormal Conventions do you see them growing?
I’m not big on conventions. Although there are usually some
great speakers, conventions are usually places for people to either
act like groupies or drink too much and hit on waitresses.
15. What is your favorite Missouri ghost story?
Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal. It’s not necessarily the ghost
part of the ghost story that makes it my favorite; it’s the
living part of the ghost story. During Mark Twain’s youth in
Hannibal, Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell, a surgeon from St. Louis who founded
the Missouri Medical College, was trying to petrify a human body.
Problem is, he didn’t have a body … until his 14-year-old
daughter died of pneumonia. He placed her in a glass-lined copper
cylinder, filled it with an alcohol mixture, and hung it from a ceiling
in a cave room. Then children from Hannibal would go back in that
room and tell ghost stories and some of the braver ones would unscrew
the lid to the cylinder and pull the girl’s head out by the
hair. After enough of the children ran home crying, the parents from
Hannibal petitioned the doctor to remove the body, which he did. Ever
since, visitors and tour guides have seen a mischievous teenage girl
peaking at them from behind the rocks and sometimes disappearing through
the walls of the cave. Again, the ghost isn’t creepy, but how
about that doctor?
16. Tell us about your best moment in investigating the paranormal
for your book?
I was wandering around the Hotel Savoy in Kansas City before an
interview and, when I walked onto the fourth floor, I suddenly felt
uncomfortable. My chest grew tight, my breathing labored, goose pimples
raised on my arms, and I felt I had to leave that hallway immediately.
But before I did, I snapped a picture. Later, during the interview,
I learned the ghost of a 10-year-old girl wanders that fourth-floor
hallway. Something anomalous also appeared in the photograph. Pretty
17. What is the hardest part about being a paranormal writer?
For me, there isn’t one. Although some people hate to admit
their restaurant/bed and breakfast/historic site is haunted, most
people are really open with it. It’s easy reporting when people
are talking about their ghost. Of course, if you’re looking
for a hard part, I’d say the travel is really expensive …
18. How did you document your investigations?
I’m a journalist, not a paranormal investigator, so I come
equipped with paper, pens, a camera and tape recorder.
19. Have you ever taken a ghost Tour? And, What about it did you
Yes, I’ve taken a few, and they’re usually kind of hokey,
but I’m not criticizing. Ghost tours are meant to be fun, so
they ARE fun.
20. What in the field of ghost hunting and Paranormal Investigating
needs the most attention?
As I said before, more professionalism. I’m not trying to
cause hurt feelings, nor am I trying to discourage the weekend warriors
from ghost hunting, but the mainstream culture won’t treat investigations
seriously unless they’re done by people with alphabet soup behind
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