POLAND — The spirit of Mary Knight may roam the roads of Poland, but Thursday she was nowhere to be found.

Just before dusk, a group of people gathered in the woods off Route 11
searching for signs of the woman slain more than 150 years ago.

The scene of the investigation: a stone foundation that held up the
home of Knight and her family before she was slashed to death in 1856.

“I knew she was killed here,” said Jeff Coolidge, who owns the
property on which the overgrown foundation sits. “But I never sat down
and did any research on it — until recently.”

Coolidge and dozens of others were inspired to paranormal research
after stories began circulating about a teenage boy who claimed to have
picked up a ghostly woman in a white gown along Route 26. After the
woman was delivered to a Route 11 church, according to the boy’s
report, she vanished like smoke.

“I believe,” said 17-year-old Laurie Brown, who has been researching
the case exhaustively since hearing about it, “that it was the woman
from the Knight murder. I really do.”

The tale is not new. For decades, folks have been telling stories
about an ethereal woman wandering the roads of Poland. Some, like
Brown, believe it is Mary Knight. Others insist the hitchhiking ghost
is that of a woman killed in an auto accident the day of her wedding.

“I’ve heard the stories for a long time,” Coolidge said. “I’d like to know what it’s all about.”

Orchestrating the night’s investigation Thursday were Robin and Jeff
Davis, paranormal investigators from Lewiston. Like the others, they
were drawn to the Knight house after hearing reports of recent ghost
sightings.

“I don’t believe Mary Knight is the one responsible for the recent
sighting out on Route 26,” Jeff Davis said. “But we’re curious about
this spot.”

The facts are these: On a night in early October 1856, the family of
60-year-old Knight was roused by her screams from the parlor where she
had been sleeping. When they reached her, the horrified family
discovered that Mary Knight’s throat had been slit in such a fashion
that her head was nearly separated from her body.

She was dead. Her husband, George, 20 years Mary’s senior, would
later be convicted of the killing and sent away to the State Prison at
Thomaston, where he spent the remainder of his life.

There are those who insist the spirit of Mary Knight still roams the area around her home.

“I’ve never seen her,” Coolidge said. “I’d like her to come in and have tea and crumpets with me.”

And so he led the investigators up a hill behind his home and into
the woods. There, choked by trees and bushes, the remains of the Knight
home sit almost devoured by nature.

Jeff and Robin Davis quickly began setting up equipment while
investigator Dennis Grenier got to work videotaping and taking still
shots of the area.

In the old foundation, Coolidge helped reason out in what area of
the house Mary Knight would have been sleeping in the moments before
she was slashed. Investigators considered that spot, the old granite
beneath what would have been her bedroom, the epicenter of paranormal
activity, if there was any to be found.

Grenier got to work with a device to measure electromagnetic energy,
said to be a sign of ghostly presence. Robin Davis got busy with a
gadget called a K2 meter.

“This is used to help us communicate with spirits, and it has worked
before,” Davis said. “It will allow us to ask her questions if she is
here.”

The Davis team claims to have contacted spirits in such a way in
Auburn in the past. On another investigation, at the Poland Spring Inn,
a ghost expressed itself through the meter before closing a door before
their eyes.

With these devices, Robin said, they have photographed light rods —
said to appear in images where spirits are present — and recorded the
voices of the whispering dead.

But such flagrant displays from the afterworld were not to be found
on this night. The Davis team said they will review footage from their
cameras and recorders Friday. If there is nothing to been seen or
heard, they will turn their attention back to Route 26 where perhaps
the ghosts of others await.

If Mary Knight finds a way to speak to them, they will pursue the case longer.

“If we pick up a lot of activity out here,” Grenier said, “we’ll definitely want to come back.”

What would help, everyone agreed, would be a photograph of the Knight
house as it existed around the time of Mary Knight’s murder. They plan
to check the Historical Society and other sources, but hope someone
with such a photograph will come forward.

Meanwhile, Coolidge isn’t losing sleep over the possibility of
haunts on his property. He wasn’t surprised that the spirit of Mary
Knight didn’t rise up out of the ground, either.

“When she’s ready,” Coolidge said, “she will come.”

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More on the paranormal team at http://searchin4spirits.com

Dennis Grenier of Searching 4 Spirits, a paranormal investigative group from Lewiston, attempts to detect electromagnetic fields during a ghost hunt in Poland on Thursday. The group was hoping to find evidence of Mary Knight who was murdered by her husband in 1856. The group concentrated its search on the Knight home, where only the foundation remains.

Recording equipment is placed in cracks of the Knight home foundation in the area where Mary Knight is believed to have been murdered in 1856. A group of paranormal investigators was hoping to record activity from the murdered woman in Poland on Thursday.


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