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.”
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The must have pieces this season
Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
It’s not how aggressive or conservative you are — it’s planning for risk that matters most.
Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.