Written by Erin Z. Bass
Like most high school kids in small towns, Brad Duplechien’s first ghost hunting experience took place in a graveyard. He was 21 years old, and a friend told him about some spooky tales coming out of Ft. Derussy Cemetery in Marksville. All the elements of a good ghost story were there. Secluded gravel road. Strange noises. Sightings of a small black creature. Although he was too scared to even get out of the car that first time, Duplechien knew he wanted to go back.
More than 10 years later, Duplechien now heads Louisiana’s only ghost hunting group, Louisiana Spirits. Made up of five chapters — one for each region of the state — and about 30 investigators, the group spends its nights and weekends looking for paranormal activity at private residences and public locations in all corners of the state. And it’s quick to point out that it doesn’t do it through the use of psychic powers or a Ouija board.
“No psychics, no mediums. We’re strictly scientific,” says lead investigator for the South Central Chapter, Elissa Lehnhardt, whose day job is assistant manager of Pascale Spa in the Oil Center. “We’re not some kind of fly-by-night group that’s going to go into convulsions,” adds Director Jennifer Broussard, who works for Wal-Mart.
Ghost hunting isn’t just for Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray anymore. It’s becoming quite a respectable hobby. To boost its credibility, Louisiana Spirits is a member of T.A.P.S., the group that brought ghost hunting into the mainstream with its SyFy Channel reality show “Ghost Hunters,” and also teaches “Ghost Hunting 101” classes to students at UL Lafayette, LSU, McNeese and Nicholls.
On a recent Saturday night, Lehnhardt, Broussard and three other members arrived around 10 p.m. to investigate Café Vermilionville, rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl who died there in the early 1900s. They set up video cameras on tripods in several locations in the restaurant and equipped themselves with EMF meters, which measure increases in energy, along with digital audio recorders and point-and-shoot cameras. While Broussard describes some investigations “as uneventful as watching paint dry,” there’s always the chance that a recorder will pick up what’s known as an EVP, or electronic voice phenomena, believed to be disembodied voices from spirits that are undetectable to the human ear. “When you get that one piece of evidence, it just makes you want to go on that next investigation,” she says.
Lafayette’s ghost hunters don’t have any big plans beyond trick or treating for Halloween, but they recommend that aspiring hunters get out and conduct their own investigations at local haunted sites like Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia, Bienvenue House in St. Martinville and Marland’s Bridge in Sunset. There’s only one requirement, Broussard says. “You want it to be dark.”
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
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New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
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Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
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A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
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An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
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The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage