FREMONT -- When night fell at Amy Cobb's apartment, she knew something creepy was going to happen. She had grown used to her grandson, who was 2 at the time, telling her he saw a monster in the bathroom.
"He would talk about a little boy in the house he would play with and talk to," said Cobb, of Fremont.
Her granddaughter often saw a man in the house who seemed to follow Cobb around.
"One night, we were upstairs and I was getting her ready for bed," she said. "She said, 'Grandma, don't go out there in the hall. That guy's out there.'"
Although Cobb and the other adults in her household hadn't seen anything paranormal, Cobb was concerned for the children. Every morning, she went to work and told her coworkers about the odd happenings in her house.
Finally, coworker Chris Page, of Fremont, decided they should do something about the problem. After watching ghost-hunting shows on TV, Page and Cobb decided to try doing a similar investigation and find out if there really were ghosts in her duplex.
Using video, still cameras and recorders, they went through Cobb's apartment to seek out the spirits. After their investigation, they listened to the tapes and heard what they say is something from the beyond saying "I'm from this town" and calling out the name of a fellow ghost hunter, Cobb said.
Shocked and intrigued by what they had found, Cobb and Page decided to devote more time to hunting for ghosts and investigating the unexplained. So they created the ghost-hunting group Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits more than two years ago.
Since then, Banded Spirits has expanded to 18 members across the state.
Members have investigated dozens of homes, theaters, historical societies, motels, a lighthouse and other locations suspected to be frequented by things ghostly and ghoulish.
"We've seen shadow people," Page said. "We've been touched. We've heard voices."
Later this year, two cases they investigated will be aired on a new TV show called
"The Haunted," which deals with pets that are affected by paranormal phenomena, and is expected to begin airing Nov. 22 on Animal Planet, Page said. They also are expected to start a paranormal radio show once a week online, he said.
And they've branched out into investigating haunted vehicles, including a Jeep in Illinois believed to be haunted by something unleashed through an Ouija board.
Page said he is amazed and excited at how quickly their endeavor has grown and the interest their work has generated.
"I think we started out as thrill-seekers," Cobb said. "Today it's more like we help people. They don't want to talk about what's going on because they're afraid people will think they're crazy."
Page said the group's goal is make people aware that there is a spiritual realm, and it provides investigations for free.
"There is something in the darkness," he said. "You don't have to be afraid anymore. You can take back your home."
A TYPICAL INVESTIGATION
Over the years, the group has sharpened its investigation technique, Page said.
Members use their own equipment and attempt to catch images or voices of the supernatural believed to be haunting -- and in some cases, terrorizing -- people and pets.
The investigations are similar to what one would see on TV shows like A&E's "Paranormal State," Page said.
Banded Spirits also sometimes brings a psychic, or medium, along to see if he or she can sense any spirits or history of activity there, he said. Members ask the spirits questions and hope a response shows up on their recordings.
They also try to find historical information about the places they investigate to see if someone died there or whether something bad or unusual happened there.
"It's trial and error," he said of the learning process. "There's no professor for this. You can't take classes in it.
"We're mostly scientific-based because it's easier to prove something on video and something on audio," he said.
But their work isn't always as exciting or glamorous as what people see on TV, he said. They spend three to eight hours at a site, collecting data, taking photos and recording.
Often, the spooky stuff isn't revealed until they listen to the recordings later, he said. They hear electronic voice phenomena, which they believe are the disembodied voices of spirits responding to questions they ask or simply sending them messages, Cobb said.
To capture these EVPs, they use a digital radio that constantly scans bandwidth, Page said.
"The theory is the spirits use the static and white noise as energy, and the voices come across in real time," he said. "We get a lot of 'get outs' and a lot of 'helps.' People might be skeptical, but what is the possibility that your name is going to come across that radio at that time after you ask a question?"
Page has heard it happen, and he believes the EVPs are proof that there is a realm between our world and the afterlife.
Banded Spirits also cleanses homes residents believe they are sharing with evil spirits. The process involves principles of Christianity, Wicca and American Indian beliefs, Page said.
Members will say a prayer and use holy water to mark a cross in each doorway, he said. Sometimes they bury a medallion of St. Benedict, who wards off evil spirits, and St. Michael, the protector, outside the home.
"We actually do a lot of cleansings because people usually want whatever is in the house removed," he said. "It does help them move on. It's kind of a non-invasive way to get toward the light, in case they got lost on the way."
Cobb herself needed a cleansing when she bought her home in Fremont. The man her granddaughter saw apparently had moved with her from her old apartment, as well as what Cobb believes was an evil spirit.
"Right after, this house felt so light and calm," she said. "Sometimes it works, and sometimes (the spirits) don't want to go."
Cobb, who is a non-denominational Christian, and Page, a Roman Catholic, said their beliefs help them on the hunt for the unknown and cleansings.
"I think my belief takes part in whether we can help spirits cross over to the other side," Cobb said. "It makes me feel better that I have God on my side."
ENCOUNTERS WITH THE PARANORMAL
One of the episodes of "The Haunted" will feature one of Page's most terrifying experiences with the spiritual realm.
A family in Toledo who raised rabbits continued to find them blinded or killed by some unseen force, which Page and Cobb believe was evil.
"They also were experiencing a lot of activity like their names being called out and footsteps and things being moved around," Page said.
Banded Spirits did a blessing and cleansing in the home's attic. Page said he felt a spirit pass through him.
"I felt all that raw emotion," he said. "I broke down. It was so emotionally draining.
"I was ready to bail. That's how frightening it was."
At the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse in Northeast Ohio, Cobb remembers hearing a woman weeping. Cobb said she heard the sound with her own ears, not the radio. She also said she heard a cat meowing on the EVP recordings.
For years, the lighthouse has been rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a mummified cat found there. The cat is believed to be the pet of a woman who lived there.
The group has investigated the Sandusky County Historical Museum, the Surf Motel in Marblehead, theaters in Cleveland and private homes in Clyde, Fremont and
Sandusky, Page said. And they've found paranormal activity at most of them, he said.
"If nothing else, we get to see a lot of cool places," Cobb said.
This month, Banded Spirits is having public ghost hunts for a fee at area historical societies, including the Sandusky County Historical Museum, to raise money for those organizations.
"We want to give back," Page said. "We love this. It's our passion."