LEWISTON — Tony Lewis, co-founder of the paranormal investigation team Maine Ghost Hunters, said Saturday evening at Museum L-A’s “Mysteries at the Mill” event that of the several investigators and volunteers involved with the team, he is the most skeptical.

However, he said that skepticism has been a key facet of the organization since he and his wife, Kat McKechnie, founded it in 2008, and it fuels every investigation that he and his team have done since.

“We’re a skeptic-based organization,” Lewis explained Saturday. “That means we don’t go into a place assuming it’s haunted. We go in thinking it’s not haunted and rely on our ability to record and capture physical evidence to prove it.”

Lewis, McKechnie and several of the team’s volunteers visited Museum L-A on Saturday evening to speak with people about the two evenings they spent at Bates Mill No. 1 last month.

Museum L-A is located in the 169-year-old building. Emma Sieh, the museum’s collections and exhibits coordinator, said tenants of the mill have shared their own paranormal experiences in the mill over the years, which served as the impetus for inviting Maine Ghost Hunters to explore the mill themselves.

Lewis said that in September, he, McKechnie and a team of investigators, with their audio and video equipment in tow, set up shop on the third floor of the Bates Mill one evening and in the former storage basement of the mill another evening.

During their time at the mill, McKechnie said they made contact several times with spirits and discovered multiple cold areas or areas with a “heavy energy.”

Lewis said that when investigating a location for paranormal activity, he and his team are very adamant they cover every angle with video and audio equipment.

“It’s important to have multiple sources of audio and video,” Lewis said. “When you hear something, you want to make sure you’re catching it from different angles to make sure it’s valid.”

He said it’s also important for team members to call out the time when they hear something they suspect is paranormal activity.

“You want to make sure you’re identifying when you’re coughing or shifting your weight so when Kat goes back and listens to the audio, we don’t have to guess what is us and what is evidence of something paranormal,” Lewis said.

After sharing video footage and photographs of some of their past investigations, Lewis and McKechnie took the audience on a tour of the locations they examined in September.

While walking through the unlit third floor of the Bates Mill, volunteers with Maine Ghost Hunters set glow sticks on the floor to show the areas they investigated.

At one point in the tour, Michelle Welch, of Augusta, who has volunteered with Maine Ghost Hunters in the past, took a photo of an empty, unlit corner of the mill and captured an odd green glow that looked like a glow stick.

However, when the team went to see if the light was caused by a glow stick, they couldn’t find one anywhere nearby.

“That could be evidence,” McKechnie told Welch.

Lewis and McKechnie told the audience it can be extremely difficult to differentiate between actual physical evidence of a paranormal activity and ambient noise or light from another source.

“For instance, in this mill, right now, you can hear the sound of traffic driving by, of music playing at (The Pub at Baxter), of the river flowing nearby,” Lewis said.

“That just goes to show you how important it is to control your environment,” McKechnie added. “It’s important to have no outside noise or light.”

Near the end of the tour, in the basement of the mill, McKechnie directed everyone to stand absolutely still as she attempted to make contact with spirits.

“If anyone is here, can you make your presence known by knocking loudly three times?” she said.

Everyone stood still as the sound of water flowing through pipes and the occasional creak of a floorboard echoed across the basement.

After two minutes of silence and no knock from the spirits, McKechnie said that sometimes, “that’s the way it is when investigating.”

“You can visit a place and you get nothing over a couple of days, and you visit the same place three months later, and you get all kinds of activity,” she said.

For Lewis and McKechnie, whether or not their investigations unveil paranormal activity, they said all that matters is that they and their team stick to the mission statement of their organization: to assess environments for paranormal activity with a skeptic-based method ahead of “psychic intuition.”

“We don’t come into a place to prove something happened,” McKechnie said. “We try to prove that it could happen, and provide physical evidence to support it.”

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Kat McKechnie, left, and Hilary Wharff get the feel of the Bates Mill basement Saturday during the “Mysteries at the Mill” event hosted by Museum L-A. Wharff is standing in what they called the “door to nowhere.” Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

A thermal camera attached to a cell phone is one of the gadgets the Maine Ghost Hunters brought Saturday for the Mysteries at the Mill event at Bates Mill in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Kat McKechnie tells participants of the “Mysteries at the Mill” event about some of the paranormal experiences she has investigated. Saturday’s event was hosted by Museum L-A. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Maine Ghost Hunters’ Hilary Wharff shows paranormal tour participants a sound testing box Saturday on the third floor of the Bates Mill in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Lisa Jean, one of the visitors Saturday during the “Mysteries at the Mill” event hosted by Museum L-A, walks to the edge of a third-floor room of Bates Mill, where a mysterious green light had been seen in a photograph. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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