Exclusive Horrornews.net Interview: Bev Sninchak
Colorado Springs Paranormal Association (C.S.P.A.)
How did you first get interested in the paranormal?
As a young girl of about 9 or 10, I used to go to the library and plant myself in what was known back then as the occult section of the library. My initial fascination was due to a strange encounter I had when I was a little girl of about five or six years old when I went into a dark hallway late one night on my way to the bathroom. I happened to glance to my right and saw a woman standing there with dark glasses. She resembled my grandmother, but my grandmother wasnâ€™t deceased at the time. I was terrified and ran to my parentsâ€™ room and started banging on their door. From that time on, I was intrigued by tales of the unexplained, especially ghosts, poltergeists, alleged possessions and psychokinesis. Parapsychology, in general, fascinated me. I was a big fan of books written by the Father of the Paranormal, Dr. Hans Holzer.
How long does it take to learn how to become a paranormal investigator?
Well, Iâ€™d say you never stop learning. You canâ€™t ever say, â€śOh, I know EVERYTHING about the paranormal,â€ť because even science isnâ€™t able to adequately explain what the paranormal might be, and why it occurs, much less why it cannot always happen, like clockwork, under controlled conditions. Iâ€™d say that learning to be a paranormal investigator is an ongoing process and there isnâ€™t a point where you can say, â€śYep, Iâ€™m there! I know it all!â€ť
Minimum, Iâ€™d say you need to do it for a year, and on a consistent basis, before you get a real grasp of what is involved and you get a taste of what youâ€™ll run into. But even at a year, youâ€™ll still be a novice and just getting started. If youâ€™re not passionate about investigating the paranormal, then I wouldnâ€™t recommend getting involved. Itâ€™s actually hard work and like having a second job that you donâ€™t get paid for, but is incredibly rewarding in other ways. I think either youâ€™re cut out for it naturally or youâ€™re not. Youâ€™ll know pretty soon after you try it; if you get bored easily and expect things to happen all the time in FLASH/BANG/BLOW ME AWAY fashion, then youâ€™re likely to be disappointed. The paranormal often happens when you least expect it and in subtler ways.
Would you say that there is a lot of paranormal activity in Colorado Springs?
We stay busy, so Iâ€™d say yes! Then again, I believe thereâ€™s a lot of activity in any place you can pick around the world. One thing we like to point out to people is that a building or house doesnâ€™t have to be old in order to have activity. We have some subdivisions here that are new and the houses are only a year or two old, and we get called to that area over and over. Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City are also two places here in this area that also have lots of activity as well. Letâ€™s just say we donâ€™t have to go search for cases. We have plenty to keep us active and engaged! Iâ€™d also venture to say that for every person who gets up enough gumption to call us, there are ten others who donâ€™t contact us because they either want to deny itâ€™s happening or out of fear of someone thinking theyâ€™re making up stories. Most people want confidentiality. The last thing they want is for their neighbor, boss or friends to know what theyâ€™re going through and think theyâ€™re hallucinating.
How often do you go out on investigations?
We average between two to three investigations a month. Weâ€™ve had up to four a month. Some months are busier than others. The closer it gets to Autumn and Halloween, the busier we get. Not every call or email to us results in an investigation, however. We conduct an over-the-phone interview first, and from there we determine if we want to go to the next step, which is a pre-investigation walk-though and meet-up with the client. Once that occurs, we make the determination if we should do the investigation based on the results of those two previous steps.
What is the most common thing that you investigate?
We concentrate on claims of paranormal activity involving alleged hauntings involving various activity, including claims of ghosts, shadow persons, entities and poltergeists. We donâ€™t investigate UFO or cryptozoology claims. We stay busy enough with claims of hauntings!
How do you feel about all the Ghost Hunting television programs?
Some are better than others. I realize itâ€™s entertainment and they often have to make it more dramatic than it really is, but in truth, investigating the paranormal is not exciting all the time. Itâ€™s a lot of sitting in peopleâ€™s basements over the weekend, in the dark, hoping something will happen within that (relatively) short period of time youâ€™re in someoneâ€™s house. One of my pet peeves is that it seems, for many programs, everything is â€śevilâ€ť or â€śdemonic.â€ť This plays into peopleâ€™s fears that ANYTHING paranormal is evil/bad/demonic, and thatâ€™s simply not true. Out of all the TV shows, Iâ€™d say our methods closely resemble TAPS/Ghost Hunters in that we rely heavily on equipment and trying to debunk whatever we can before we rush to a paranormal explanation. Iâ€™d say 95% of what you run across can be explained by the mundane. Look for the rational explanations first, and donâ€™t forget thereâ€™s psychology at playâ€”the clientâ€™s and the team membersâ€™ as well. The good thing about such programs is that they keep the paranormal out in the open and up for discussion. The bad thing about these programs is that they fire up peopleâ€™s imaginations and fears so much that people believe things are happening that arenâ€™t necessarily occurring, such as possessions (a rare event).
Do you have one experience that stands out among the rest?
Iâ€™d have to say weâ€™ve had a lot of cool and interesting experiences, but one experience that stands out the most is when I saw a black mass in the hallway of a business in Old Colorado City back in 2009. We captured it on DVD and have yet to explain or debunk it. Itâ€™s a startling piece of evidence; I am humbled that I got to witness it as it was happening â€“ and Iâ€™m grateful that our equipment captured the event to back up my experience! That video evidence was featured on the season two finale of Biography Channelâ€™s â€śMy Ghost Storyâ€ť in June 2011. The link to the show is here:
What is the most valuable tool to take with you on an investigation?
The most important tool, in my view, is the investigator. Long before we had newfangled equipment and snazzy tools to use on investigations, there was just the investigator. The important thing is to keep the right frame of mind, be wary of undue influence during an investigation and use your powers of observation. If you were put on an island and had NO equipment, you should still be able to investigate. Equipment is an enhancement and a boon for the investigator; however, logic, rationale and objective observation are priceless. You simply canâ€™t do without those â€“ ever!
Is there anything out there to be afraid of?
If there is, so far we havenâ€™t run across it. Weâ€™ve done over 100 investigations and, thus far, there hasnâ€™t been anything thatâ€™s scared us enough to get out of the field. All too often you hear about demons and diabolicals, but we have yet to come across such a scenario. In fact, Iâ€™m still waiting. Iâ€™d actually like to have first-hand experience so I can prove to myself that itâ€™s a real situation that occurs and not just a psychologically-driven set of events that people embellish for the sake of scaring themselves and others.
How can someone get in touch with Colorado Springs Paranormal Association?
We can be reached through our website at
http://www.paranormalcoloradosprings.org , via email at
or through our phone line: 719.357.8411.
Email is generally the best way to reach us, however.