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.”
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.