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Richard Senate They were waiting, patiently, two couples. They had won a chance to take part in a ghost hunt as part of a charity package. They were waiting at the target for tonight’s investigation: the historic Bella Maggiori Inn on South California Street, Downtown Ventura, California. I had planned the investigation as a follow up to one I had conducted last October. The goal was to confirm the data collected at that time. I didn’t think much would happen. I would discover this night was one of the most significant I had ever lead. I recall it was raining that night, just a few weeks ago, the rain was coming down in on-and-off showers. Perhaps it was the rain or maybe the combination of psychic gifts found in the team that would make this investigation a success.

We met and shook hands. My wife, Debbie, was with me, her psychic gifts a real boast to any findings we may or may not experience. Would we encounter the persistent spirit of Sylvia, the ghost that haunts room 17 or perhaps one of the other specters rumored to wander the halls of the 1927 Inn? Even as I outlined the plans for the evening, the pungent smell of cheap rose perfume drifted into the lobby. There didn’t seem to be a source for the smell but it has long been associated with the ghost of Sylvia. It is her scent, the rose water perfume. It became so oppressive that it made my eyes water. It would follow us as we toured the place.

We went to the hallway where the ghost woman has been seen in the past, then to the reading room on the second floor. That was to be our base of operations as we were set to conduct a number of experiments.

First I brought out an Electro-Magnetic scanner because ghosts tend to leave traces of EM energy where they appear. This one was designed not to pick up ghosts but to check if equipment (such as microwave ovens ) are leaking harmful EM radiation. Because of this, the scanner is marked with a red danger zone. This indicates that the EM readings are harmful to human life. Only once before did the thing ever go into the red zone and that was at a very haunted house in Hollywood. I scanned the room expecting to get nothing very strong only to have the machine scream out a warning and go red! I checked, there wasn’t any microwave ovens or anything that might cause this to happen. I checked several times, the zone did seem to move as well. It was bizarre to say the least. Then the lights began to flicker faintly. Was it ghosts or was the rain causing something to happen? The four people were having fun, completely unaware that these sorts of things don’t happen very often. Debbie, was quiet, seemingly distracted. I have seen this happen before when she is picking up something powerful. My skin was crawling — because of ghosts or my own reaction to the readings, I don’t know. 

We brought out the dowsing rods and let our newcomers try their hand at dowsing a ghost. It wasn’t long before the rods crossed at the exact spot where the red zone was detected. We set up a simple code so we could ask questions of the entity. The spirit said she was the ghost called Sylvia and that she was murdered at the hotel long ago. We then asked if she could appear before us and the rods crossed indicating “Yes.”

A picture was taken just then using a digital camera. There appeared on the man’s shirt a strange light, shaped like a triangle. We asked how many ghosts were here and it said three. The thing went on to say it was frightened to leave, fearing some form of judgment. The thing didn’t seem to know it had been dead for 60+ years, she thought it was only ten years, once again confirming that time, as we know it, doesn’t exist in the spirit world. She confirmed the story of her death indicating she was murdered in the nude and hung up in the closet in a faked suicide. She confirmed that she knew her killer and she understandably hated him. As she communicated with us the smell became stronger until one of the team, suffering from asthma began to have an attack! Then, as soon as it started, it was over. The powerful EM readings were gone and so too the smell. 

As a last gesture we held a séance. We held hands seated on the carpeted floor. The woman acting as medium went into a deep trance, breathing deeply. It wasn’t long before strange sounds came from her voice, then words unlike her normal tone or character. It was a harsh voice and at first I thought it was the voice of Sylvia. It said that its name was “Lawrence” and that it had a message for someone in the circle. This doesn’t happen that often. The message was simple; “I came to say Good bye.” Other spirits came forth after that with short messages but, as the evening came to a close, one of the team members confirmed that her dead father was named Lawrence and that before he passed away he never had a chance to say goodbye. The message meant something to this person. It was an interesting investigation that did confirm the presence of the ghost, or ghosts, at the inn and gave us new data on the death of the spirit called Sylvia. It was a night I shall not forget in a long time. The data with scientific tools confirmed something that shouldn’t have been there, the information gathered with the rods and during the séance experiment gave new information to follow up. And the odd picture presented more mysteries. The old Bella Maggiori once again proved herself to be the queen of haunted Ventura. Yes, the group got their money’s worth that night!

If you have had an experience at the Bella Maggiori Inn or any other haunted B&B, please contact me at my web site: Further investigations will be conducted in the future.

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