by Lorie Lewis Ham
What could be more perfect for Halloween than interviewing real life ghost hunters! KRL sat down with Jackie Meador, one of the founders and Director and Chief Investigator for Central California Paranormal Investigators (CCPI) in Fresno, to talk about their organization and what they do.
KRL: When did your group first form and why?
Jackie: My husband and I first founded Central CA Paranormal Investigators in the year 2000, long before it was cool and popular, and three years before Ghost Hunters appeared on TV. We took classes, training in the field with other veteran groups and learning about equipment, theories and methodology. As to why? Even as a child, I was interested in ghosts and often wondered why they didn’t go to heaven, but of course, I was 10 years old, so curiosity and fascination were the original reasons. As I grew older, my children grown and on their own, I decided it was time to pursue a second career. This was never a hobby for me. Once I was in, I was committed.
KRL: How and why did you personally want to do this?
Jackie: For me, it has always been the question of do ghosts exist, the how’s, when’s where’s and why’s. I’ve never had a defining moment like so many others, so for me, it’s always been curiosity – do ghosts exist and the passion and commitment to find the answers. My curiosity also leans more to the scientific side of things so I’m probably more skeptical than most investigators.
KRL: How often do you meet, and what all do you do together?
Jackie: Until recently, we had our CCPI general meetings every quarter, with an agenda, discussions and minutes. Our meetings consisted of investigation updates and/or reports, educational programs, research projects, planned events, both ours and other groups’ events or conferences, announcements, new business and then an open discussion on various topics; such as, new equipment, new theories and methodology, etc. Now we meet onn an as needed basis basically if we have a case or some event is planned.
KRL: Do you have special events?
Jackie: Yes, we generally like to have a couple investigations open to the public a year, ghost tours, fundraisers for various non-profit groups or historical sites, educational workshops, lectures, conferences et al, every year when time permits. Unfortunately, this year I’ve been so busy with our talk TV show it’s been hard to schedule and plan a special event. Next year I’d like to put together another workshop.
KRL: How many active members are in your group?
Jackie: In the past we’ve had as many as twenty-five members of CCPI, which consisted of a Teen group, a Psychic group and the general investigative group. Currently, we have ten members in my investigative group.
KRL: Ghosthunters use EVP detectors, recorders, video cameras, thermometers, etc.-what do you consider your most valuable tool and why?
Jackie: I have an on-going love affair with my camera. I’ve used Sony’s Cyber-Shot cameras from the very beginning. Spirit photography is kind of my thing and where my expertise lies. It’s also the most subjective. In that, there are so many variables when it comes to photos/videos – paredolia, reflections, lighting, etc, that it is often very confusing to the person who is not familiar with paranormal phenomena and what it looks like. By no means am I an expert, as I continue to learn all the time, but I do have the basics down and know what to look for in a paranormal image.
KRL: What has been your most interesting investigation?
Jackie: Haha! Well that’s a good question and a tough one to decide out of probably 200 investigations over the last twenty years. I’m assuming by ‘most interesting’ you mean one with the most activity. There are five that come to mind which include activity and hard evidence collected that was through the roof: The Sierra Sky Ranch in Oakhurst, CA; The Hotel Jeffery in Coulterville, CA, The Wolfe Manor, Clovis, CA, Alcatraz Island, Col Allensworth SHP in Exeter, CA, The Park Inn Hotel in San Antonio, Texas and a few confidential private home investigations.
If I have to pick one, it would have to be The Hotel Jeffery. The paranormal activity witnessed, the personal experiences and evidence captured plus the historical significance of the place would have to take first place. I was in paranormal heaven and have had the luck to take many of my students from my Paranormal Studies 101 Classes up there. If you believe seeing is believing, then this is the place.
KRL: What one had the most mundane solution?
Jackie: I have to laugh because to be honest, there have been a few that were quite boring and I include both private and public investigations but the one investigation of a public building and the most mundane would be Eagle Field in Firebaugh, CA. We were called in because of some unexplained activity being reported but on the night of the investigation – nothing. It was a very uninteresting night, but it ended well and I laugh when I say that, because our client was more than thrilled because we found nothing in that there were no ghosts hanging around. LOL.
KRL: The town of Allensworth is touted as a hotbed of spirit activity in the Valley. What is your most active site?
Jackie: The Allensworth SHP is awesome and is definitely very active and the history is fantastic. Our sister group, The Porterville Ghost Society has been investigating there for years and they have some remarkable evidence. However, for me, the most active site would be The Sierra Sky Ranch in Oakhurst, CA. The paranormal activity witnessed, and evidence captured, is so consistent that every time I visit it is mind blowing. It’s so consistent in fact, I would take my Paranormal Studies 101 students there for their overnight field trip as part of the curriculum. I was never disappointed, and I mean we’re talking about full-bodied apparitions, audio phenomena, objects moving, lots of interaction and communication with the ghosts that reside there. It just doesn’t get any better. If you believe seeing is believing, then this is the place, and now that I think about it, I’m due for a trip up there, it’s been too long.
KRL: What was the strongest physical manifestation you have encountered?
Jackie: Ah, that would have to be The Park Inn Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. I mean, like, just imagine, you’re standing in the middle of the room, the chandeliers start swinging (and not just a little wiggle), really swinging from side to side), the ceiling fans start going by themselves, you get touched, the spirit tells you his first AND last name very clearly on your recorder (very rare), you smell cigarette smoke (no one is smoking) and lights going on and off. Incredible stuff I was able to witness first-hand and this went on all night long. Oh, did I mention there was a ful- on Texas T-storm raging outside? Definitely a night of strong personal experiences that were witnessed by twenty people.
KRL: What scares you? Have you ever been frightened by what you have found?
Jackie: The PI motto, ‘Ghosts don’t scare me, people do.” And no, not really. Oh, I’ve had moments when the hairs on your arms stand straight up and you get the tingle up and down your spine but never frightened. When that happens, I just walk out of the room, shake it off and go right back in. In all honestly, I’ve never encountered an evil or malicious ghost. That’s not to say there are no mean ones, there are but I’ve never been frightened by them. I simply communicate as if they were still alive.
KRL: I notice that you have made at least one documentary-can you tell us about that and is it available to watch anywhere?
Jackie: CCPI has made four documentaries in our series, Hauntings in Central California; The Sierra Sky Ranch, The Hotel Jeffery, The Nonini Winery and The Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium. A lot of work to produce but a labor of love. I am very proud of the work we did and the people involved in making them. I wanted to highlight the historical and paranormally active hotspots in the Valley and focus on educating the public about these fantastic places, and of course having unexplained activity is just a bonus. They originally aired on our local TV station, KAIL and from time to time there are special screenings at certain times by different groups. I really should put them up on our YouTube channel, so they are available anytime but as of now, they are only available for purchase through our website.
KRL: Supernatural fiction varies between saying there’s the most activity as Halloween to it being the least-what have you noticed is actually true? Is Halloween any different from any other day in that respect?
Jackie: In reality? Not really. Ghosts are around all year long, day or night, 24/7. They really don’t care if it’s day or night or what time it is. Now, having said that, the reason there seems to be more activity around Halloween is that most people have ghosts, goblins, witches and all paranormal activity on their minds. Just look at the TV lineup; shows have Halloween themes, horror and ghost movies are predominant on most channels, in theaters and all things paranormal get a boost. We focus on those things and the more focus the more we are aware of them.
The rest of the year, we are too busy with other holidays, kids, taxes, work and vacations, etc, to notice or think about ghosts, unless of course, you have reason to believe you have a ghost roommate. In that case, call me! Seriously, we just seem to notice it more at this time of year, just that simple. I will tell you this though, through my personal experience, Fall and Winter seem to have more activity than Summer. There’s less humidity and more static electricity in the air at that time of year, which helps ghosts manifest more. That’s not to say they don’t manifest in Summer because they do but it’s less. That’s my take from experience.
KRL: If someone would like to know more, where all can they find you on the internet?
Jackie: Ah, so glad you asked that. We have a website, www.ccpifresno.org that anyone can pull up, there are articles and other things plus contact info that might be of interest. We also have a talk TV show Paranormal Journeys that airs once a month where we get to talk and debate about all things paranormal; Bigfoot, UFO’s, Myths & Legends, Metaphysical Mysteries, Ghosts & Hauntings, etc. We try to make it fun and interesting. That is aired through our local community access channel, CMAC at www/cmac/tv, AT&T Ch 99 and Comcast Ch 93 on the last Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. (PST). It is also available to live stream and is posted on YouTube the next day. Our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/paranormaljourneys where people can watch past shows, see what’s trending, read articles, ask questions and make comments.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Jackie: Yes. Well, there are many things I could say to your readers, so this is a tough one. I started on this journey not for thrills and chills (I got those without asking) but out of curiosity and looking for answers as to why ghosts just don’t go to heaven. I think I found it, at least for me. You can’t have seen and heard what I’ve experienced over the last 20 years without gaining some insight into the paranormal world. Some experiences are funny, surprising, thought provoking or so heart stopping scary it will make your toes curl, but this I do know now – our consciousness survives bodily death. I don’t know where it goes, how or why it works but it does and has even been confirmed by science what people of faith have known all along.
Why some souls choose to stay earth bound is an emotional tie from their earthly life or some just don’t know they’ve died. There are different reasons of course and too lengthy to go into here but just know there are many. Know that ghosts are people, they have the same personality in death as they had in life. If you were a happy person in life, so you will be as a ghost. If you were a mean, grumpy person, well, you get the picture. Don’t believe everything you see on TV or in the movies because there’s only a kernel of truth in those shows. Lastly, if you see me running, you’d better be right behind me, ‘cause whatever is chasing me, ain’t good!
Thank you, Kings River Life Magazine: Lorie & Terrance.
KRL: Thank you for talking with us this have been fun and interesting!
If you enjoy fictional ghost stories, check out the latest Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast episodes! You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts Spotify, and Google Play, and also on podbean.