Published: 1:06 pm, Sun. Mar. 26th, 2017Updated: 1:04 pm
When it comes to ghosts and things that go bump in the night most people want to run away but for Alamogordo’s Hidden Haunts Paranormal, a group of professional paranormal investigators, they run to the action.
Hidden Haunts Paranormal is what some would call the real life “Ghostbusters” or ghost hunters. The group was started by Joanne Brandt, a paranormal investigator from New York who has tracked paranormal activity up and down the East Coast for 15 years.
Brandt said she has had the gift of seeing spirits since she was a child and became interested in the paranormal ever since.
“My first experience was when I was in fourth-grade. I went to get my school books one time out of the living room to go to the kitchen where my mother was and I could feel something watching me,” Brandt said. “When I turned around I saw a tall thin man in a jacket. I wasn’t afraid, I knew who it was it was my uncle Jack. When I told my mother she said I was crazy because he died when I was a baby and I described the jacket with elbow patches he was wearing. Well, it was the same jacket he was buried in.”
Brandt has had several different incidents occur to her over the years since then and her group has been the subject of educational research of various institutes in New York.
Hidden Haunts Paranormal investigators Abigail Kildow, Joseph Landrum, Roses Bombarda, Brian Rodriguez, Josh Morton, Joseph Hampton, Analisa Penn, Heather Stanley and Renee Marie Villalobos also have the rare gift of seeing spirits or have experienced hauntings throughout their lifetime.
On Sunday, Feb. 19, Hidden Haunts Paranormal investigated their first haunt in Historic Downtown Alamogordo. The group investigated vintage store Everything Outwest, 819 N. New York Ave., which was rumored to be haunted.
Before the building on New York Avenue became Everything Outwest it was several other stores including the old JCPenney store.
According to Brandt’s personal research, a hotel which was named the New Hotel Weigele was right across the street which was 822 N. New York Ave. The hotel was owned by Alamogordo pioneers George and Alma Weigele who settled in the community in 1903.
The New Hotel Weigele was later sold to J.C. Wilborn and his sister M.M. Ward, the hotel was renamed the Wilward Hotel in 1945.
The hotel mysteriously burned down in 1969 killing three people and injuring two others.
Everything Outwest store owner Courtney Hewes said when she first opened business at the location she was told it was haunted right away by the previous store owners.
“When we bought it they told us it was haunted and they later asked us if we’ve seen any ghosts yet. A plumber came in one time and said he experienced activity on the third floor, he was on a ladder and fell and felt somebody catch him,” Hewes said. “We hear huge, loud noises all the time and we run next door to see if our neighbors heard anything and they said they don’t hear anything. We’re nervous to be alone at night sometimes. If they weren’t friendly they would’ve scared us by now I think so we started saying hello to them.”
Hewes said when she discovered there was a hotel in the area that burned down in a blaze she wondered if the spirits of the people who died were still around.
“There was a hotel across the street that burned down and I think that’s what’s going on here. There was a fire station right next door and for whatever reason they couldn’t put it out and those people died,” she said.
Brandt’s team set up for the night and began to explore the building for any paranormal activity.
“We set up our equipment, infrared cameras, recorders and all kinds of equipment that is sensitive to energy,” Brandt said. “We’re looking for spirits, we’re ghost hunters, that’s what we do. We help them to cross over and find out why they’re here.”
During the investigation Hidden Haunts Paranormal attempted to communicate with spirits and received responses from the unknown through radio frequencies, flashlight signals and dowsing rods.
Brandt said she saw figures in the dark while she was communicating and even felt something touch her. Several of the investigators also felt a cold touch that made the hair on their necks stand up.
Brandt’s conclusion was that the building was indeed haunted and they made contact with one female spirit and one male spirit who appeared to be a small child in the photographs they took.
“Basically what we discovered was that there’s spirits here,” Brandt said. “One spirit told us she was a female and one was a male child through the help of a flashlight. He said there was more than one spirit here.”
Brandt presented her findings to Hewes the following day after they packed up around 3 a.m.
“I was hoping they would catch something,” Hewes said. “We were super excited they were here, they are always welcomed back.”