23 January 2011

Yes. I hunt ghosts . . . .

My name is Brad Smith. Some family and friends know me as "Doc." Aside from being a now-freelancing journalist and a writer, I'm a paranormal investigator.

Yes. I hunt ghosts.

Well, to be honest with you, I also am interested in UFOs, cryptids (Bigfoot and other unusual critters), the occult and other subjects.

Now, I'm sure that some of you are wondering how did I become interested in the paranormal and find myself investigating it. Well, here's what happened.

It was the early 1970s and my family lived on a ranch in Eastern Oregon. I was attending a very small school -- in fact, my first grade class consisted of myself and a girl, the teacher's daughter who was named Mary-Ann. When our lessons were finished and the teacher focused on the other students in the classroom, Mary-Ann and I were encouraged to find a book from the small but amazingly well-stocked library and read.

As a kid, I was fascinated by space travel and being an astronaut . . . so I read books about space travel. Eventually, I read every book about space travel -- some of them dating back to the 1950s -- and then stumbled upon a book about flying saucers.


I read that book . . . and another. Then my teacher suggested I read a book about Bigfoot, then ghosts . . . . Well, that's how it started. Then as I read books on astronomy and ancient history, there were also books I read and learned about the legend of Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle and so on.

Now, I had a speech impediment. Stuttered and stammered a bit and had a problem when I tried to pronounce words starting with an "s" or an "r." It wasn't much of a problem when we lived in Oregon; however, when we moved to Nebraska, that changed. Kids being kids can be horrible monsters. So, I spent a lot of recess time reading books.

Of course, those books were about space, ufos, ghosts and so on.

Yes, that made me more of target for ridicule.

As time went on and I grew older, my interests in the paranormal never waned. I found myself wanting to be a writer and wrote science-fiction and fantasy stories, with some horror thrown in. On the weekends, I played D&D with my brothers and a friend of ours. In college, I found more friends with whom I shared a number of interests, from gaming to the paranormal.

Some of those friends shared their stories with me, about their UFO sightings or encounters with ghosts. One night, a bunch of us used a Ouija board to contact the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft.

Damn. I still remember that night. Nothing really happened as we used the Ouija board but after everyone left and went back to their dorm rooms. Everyone, including myself, allegedly had weird stuff happen to them. The lights in my room flickered on and off for an hour and I ended up unplugging my alarm clock to stop it from going off. My other friends complained during breakfast the next morning that they'd seen weird shapes moving in their rooms or kept getting strange phone calls throughout the night.

I had one other encounter with a Ouija board and have stayed away from them.

I digress.

In the 1990s, I moved back to Oregon and from time to time, had chance encounters with the paranormal. Living in Ashalnd, I worked in some buildings that were haunted. It was a little unnerving at first, but, after awhile, I got used to it. After a few years, I went back to Nebraska; a girl I dated lived in a haunted house and for a few months I lived in an apartment that had some activity.

However, at some point, I grew tired of the paranormal. I got sick and tired of hoaxes and frauds. Of conspiracy theories. Of some investigators constantly presenting faked evidence.

I got sick and tired . . . and backed away from it.

In 2004, I was introduced to TAPS and the "Ghost Hunters" TV show. I liked the show, I liked what they did. It revived my interest in the paranormal and wanting to investigate it and do research.

October 2006. I was working at a daily newspaper in Yreka, Calif. I pitched an idea to my editor about doing a series of articles on local ghost stories. Those articles led me to a few "attempts" at investigating. I got a lot of good responses from the articles by many people; however, a few religious folks voiced "concerns" and the editor refused to do it again.

January 2008. While UFOs lit up the skies above Texas, some people saw something strange above Yreka. I did an article, consulted the local MUFON chapter and then found myself on Vic Smith's Midnight Bookworm radio show, discussing the paranormal. Every Saturday night, I was on the show with Vic for a few hours, talking about UFOs, Bigfoot and ghosts.

For one of the programs, I contacted Dave Bender, of American Paranormal Investigations, a group of ghost hunters based in the Sacramento area -- and members of the TAPS Family Network.

It was a good program and Dave told me to give him a call if I was ever in the Sac area.

Months later, I left Yreka and moved to the Sac area. After I got settled in, I called Dave and we setup a meeting. My idea was to see if I could tag along an investigation, write about it and the whole process and see if I could sell the article to the Sac News and Review or somewhere.

However . . . .

Dave invited me to join API and I accepted. That was June of '08. After working a number of investigations and prelims as a debunker, I was promoted to senior investigator in October. In the spring of 2009, I was promoted to lead debunker.

And, well, that's how I got here.

What else would you like to know?

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