The Garden State is home to more than pretty flowers, sandy beaches, and boardwalks — there are ghosts lurking around many corners of historic buildings, parks, and cemeteries throughout New Jersey. In her debut book, L’Aura Hladik, founder of the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society (NJGHS), rolls up her sleeves and delves into the local haunts like only a real paranormal investigator can. Ghosthunting New Jersey is a guide to the dark corners and unique haunted hot spots around the state. Ghostvillage.com caught up with L’Aura to ask her about her state and her new book.
How did you get started in ghost investigating?
L’Aura Hladik: I took a ghost tour at the Spy House Museum in Port Monmouth, New Jersey, in October 1992. I had a couple of experiences while on the tour and decided to go back for one of the séances being held there by the tour guide, Jane Doherty.
After the séance, Jane lamented that she would love to have all the tapes of these sessions transcribed some day. I approached her and offered to do just that. It was a barter deal. I transcribed tapes in exchange for going on ghost investigations and more séances with her. As time went on, Jane began writing her book and focused on that. I decided to go full steam ahead with forming “Ghost Hunters Inc.” and sent out business cards to New Age bookstores in New Jersey announcing the service of paranormal investigating. That is how the first case came along. Audrey’s Inner Vision of Denville passed along one of the cards to these college girls who came in the store very frantic over what they were experiencing (paranormally speaking, of course) in their dorm room.
Do you think New Jersey has more than its share of haunted places?
For such a tiny state, yes! It made writing Ghosthunting New Jersey very easy given how many places there are to choose from that are open to the public and so easy to get to. From north Jersey where Ringwood Manor is, to the south for Cape May and its many haunted B&B’s, one can take in the history and landscape as well as have a paranormal experience.
The nice thing about the haunts in Jersey is they’re not all museums from converted former family mansions. There are colleges, such as Drew University and Fairleigh Dickinson (both in Madison), and restaurants, inns, and even Go-Go bars. I just need to research a haunted day spa and my life will be complete!
Do you have a favorite haunt you return to again and again? If so, why?
My favorite is the place that started me back on my interest in the paranormal and ghosts, the Spy House. It’s real name is the Seabrook-Wilson house and it’s located in Port Monmouth, exit 117 off the Garden State Parkway.
Even after the county parks department took over the building and closed it to the public, I still had results investigating the grounds. One night I had a cooler temperature register on my thermal scanner while pointing it at the window where the ghost of Abigail has been seen. What’s interesting is that this window is on the second floor. Given that heat rises, it should have registered a warmer temperature than the window below it on the first floor.
My friend, Laura, also captured an EVP of “Oh no!” on the grounds of Spy House. Other people have witnessed the three ghost children at play in the backyard that faces the Raritan Bay. There are several documented spirits that reside at the Spy House. No wonder it’s in the top five most haunted locations for the U.S.
What is New Jersey’s most peculiar haunted locale?
I would have to say Liquid Assets Gentlemen’s club in South Plainfield. It’s not a traditional haunt in terms of being an old historic building, but it has documented paranormal activity as captured by the security cameras. I met and interviewed John Colasanti, the owner. He showed me the videos that put the Go-Go bar on every major news show and in every major newspaper. It’s amazing to watch this ghostly white blob appear and disappear when people arrive or depart from the parking lot. It’s as if it has intelligence and doesn’t want to be seen. However, it didn’t realize the security cameras mounted on the building were recording its every move.
Jane Doherty, psychic medium, investigated Liquid Assets at the height of the phenomenon and picked up the names Vincent and Joseph. Vincent Cole was known as “Mad Dog Cole” and was taken in by Joseph Colasanti’s mother, John’s grandmother, when he was a young boy having arrived from Ireland with his siblings and was surviving on the streets of New York.
Jane felt that these two spirits were more attached to John and followed him from the Bronx to Jersey to help him in his business venture of the Go-Go bar. If they are the shadowy lights appearing in the videos, then they can rest comfortably knowing they were successful. Liquid Assets gained so much notoriety for being haunted, John had to put a sign on the building that reads: “Yes, this bar is haunted.”
Do you feel that being psychic has helped you in your research or can it be a hindrance?
Having an intuitive capability was very helpful in the early days of ghost hunting because I used a 35 mm film camera to investigate. There was no screen on the back of the camera to show the picture just taken like on the digital cameras today. So I had to rely on my internal “ghostometer,” or psychic sense as to where to “point and shoot.” Over time, this six sense developed quite well. Then along came digital photography with its instant gratification of the LCD screen and there went my psychic ability on the investigation. I’m very dependent on that screen and don’t bother to “tune in” any more.
I do believe that everyone has the six sense, but not everyone has developed it enough to discern between what’s coming through as relative information and one’s own prejudices and conclusions about the case.
What was one of your funnier moments on an investigation?
I would have to say the investigation of a private home in Sewaren, New Jersey. I’ve joked over the years how this was a huge litter box posing as a house. The woman had many cats, and as much as I love cats, their litter boxes can be quite overwhelming. We were shooting the investigation with a camera crew and reporter from Telemundo. The poor cameraman was highly allergic to cats, so his eyes were swelling shut and his sneezing and wheezing made for countless retakes of various clips.
During the investigation, we set up a motion detector in the attic where the family reported hearing footsteps in the wee hours of the morning. We were just below this section of the attic in the master bedroom on the second floor. Nancy, one of the NJGHS team members, was getting an unusual EMF reading in the walk-in closet when suddenly the motion detector in the attic went off. It was like an episode of The Three Stooges watching these three grown men fumbling over each other to race out of the bedroom and up the attic stairs to get a picture. They were jumping up on the steps with their cameras held above their heads firing shots randomly. What a sight!
The poor cameraman was nearly stampeded to death and Nancy and I just stood there watching all this in amazement. After all the excitement, we determined it was one of the owner’s cats who snuck into the attic and set off the motion detector by jumping across its beam. So much for the paranormal!
Did you ever have a situation where you were frightened and knew you had to get yourself and/or your team out of a location?
No. However, I have had cases where upon discussing the experiences with the homeowner I knew I had to pick team members who were more experienced, and I had to brief them on what the potential dangers may be given the case. I always give the NJGHS team member the right to back off a team if they’re not 100% comfortable with what we’re heading into.
I would never put any of the team members at risk. I do my best to screen the case before we arrive, but if something were to take a turn for the dangerous while investigating, I would evacuate the team immediately.
What kind of car are you driving these days?
I have a 1983 Cadillac Hearse with a Sayers & Scoville body. Her name is “Jezzabelle.” She and I are heading out to book signings and, of course, offering tours on Shades of Death Road to those brave enough to climb in either via the Suicide Door or the End Loader.
You can visit L’Aura Hladik’s Web site at: www.njghs.net
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