For years the Oakdale Leader building on South Third Avenue has been rumored to host more than just the employees on the payroll. Stories of mysterious happenings, odd sounds, and even an apparition sighting or two have abounded, shared among the community from past and present employees but now it’s official — The Leader office is a hot bed of paranormal activity, at least according to the investigators with the Western Region Paranormal Research (WRPR) group following an evening spent in the building.
Saturday night, April 17, the investigation group based out of Ceres converged on Oakdale and set up their sophisticated equipment in the hopes of catching evidence that there’s more to the stories than just someone’s active imagination.
The results were enough to keep the investigators chattering for days.
“Our first thoughts were, there is definitely activity in the building. It could be residual or it could be a spirit. We won’t know until we get feedback from the cameras,” shared WRPR co-founder Barbara Rubis-Johnson. “The whole team was psyched.”
Editor Marg Jackson, who has been with the Leader for 17 years, was on site for the investigation and was curious to see what the team would uncover as she has experienced more than a few freaky incidents that were difficult to explain logically.
“One evening, working late, I had my daughter at the office with me and saw her go past my door, out of the corner of my eye,” Jackson shared. “I went back to check on her, because I assumed she went to the break room but when I got there, the lights were out and she wasn’t there.
“In fact, she was still seated at the desk up front when I went there. So she wasn’t who I saw go past my door. And no one else was in the building.”
Other incidents have ranged from a television in the break room turning on by itself, lights that were turned off being back on and unexplained ‘bumps’ in the night in various parts of the building.
Prior to the night of the investigation the team spent time learning the building’s history as well as took a walking tour. The actual investigation night, two “sensitives” as they are called, walked through the building at different times so as not to influence one another and another team member, Fred Schumacher, also known as the “debunker” went through and documented spots with electromagnetic feedback so as not to include any potential readings that could be explained logically.
The nonprofit organization has traveled as far as Nevada to conduct their investigations, which have consisted of private residences to businesses and their services are always free of charge.
Rubis-Johnson explained her interest with the paranormal, saying, “I started years ago and I’ve always been fascinated by it. I’m getting up there in age and I want to know where I’m going. I’ve always believed there’s something on the other side.”
Co-founder Dave Hirschman and Rubis-Johnson teamed up to form their own group after parting ways from a different investigation group.
“We were brought together by a common interest,” Hirschman said.
And since then the group has grown to include several members, all dedicated to researching the unknown world of the paranormal.
When the team arrived at the Leader, the sensitives, one them being Iesha Bayona, identified several spots of interest within the building, such as the layout table and the area used by Creative Services.
The layout table, an indescribably heavy piece of furniture that is no longer used for its original purpose and simply catches dust and stacks of bundled newspaper, caught several impressions from Bayona.
“It could be because the wood absorbed the energy of people from the past,” Bayona explained. “But I’m getting a lot from this right here.”
Several times the equipment the team used registered temperature drops in conjunction with directed questioning as well as K2 monitor spikes, which would detect Electromagnetic Fields (EMF).
EMF detectors are often used in these types of investigations for they pick up energy sources and fluctuations in electromagnetic fields. It is believed that spirits are comprised of energy, thus when they are present they disrupt this electromagnetic field, causing a spike on the K2 monitor.
The “hottest” spot in the building was the Creative Services department, where several K2 monitors spiked at the same exact time in correlation to several “yes/no” questions. During this time, the investigators were also recording the sessions with sensitive equipment to pick up any Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP).
Although the investigation is still preliminary, Rubis-Johnson was excited to find four distinct EVPs within the footage thus far. The Leader will do a follow-up once the findings are officially released.
“We learn something new each time because each spirit is different. They all have different personalities. You have to have an open mind and you can’t be afraid, especially when you’re on an investigation,” Rubis-Johnson said. “And whenever there’s an older building there’s always something. But even a new building can tell us things because of the land it’s on.”