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Local ghost hunter Tommy Mullen displays an electromagnet sensor at the Ravalli County Museum last Wednesday afternoon. At night, if ghosts are present in the area, the sensor will light all the way up he said. DAVID ERICKSON - Ravalli Republic

Disembodied voices. Eerie shadows. Strange movements and unexplainable electromagnetic fields. If there are ghosts haunting the Ravalli County Museum this Halloween, local ghost hunter Tommy Mullen will detect their presence.

Mullen, who refers to himself as a professional ghost hunter, is an intern with the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventure’s Crew.”

He started Hawk Paranormal Scientific Investigations of Montana, an outfit with the purpose of finding paranormal activity and making an attempt to understand it.

On Halloween, Mullen and his crew will be giving “Ghost Tours” of the museum, and they will be presenting evidence from official investigations.

“We are not recommending that children go on the tour,” Mullen said. “They can be frightening.”

Children are welcome to view one of the presentations that Mullen and his crew will give on Halloween day.

The ghost hunters will present audio recordings of disembodied voices, photos taken of unexplainable phenomena, official ghost-detection equipment at work and demonstrate how the professional ghost hunters separate man-made occurrences from paranormal phenomena.

“Some of the voices that we’ve recorded here at the museum sound very clear, in your face,” Mullen explains. “We have documented some where there is nobody else there and we’ve heard footsteps and other unexplainable noises.”

Mullen has more than a few disturbing stories about his experiences at the museum.

“One night on an investigation, there were two of my crew members upstairs and I was downstairs alone,” he says. “At the end of the hallway, I saw a man in an old-timey suit and a cowboy hat. When he saw me, he just walked away. He disappeared. We coin those things as a ‘personal experience.’”

The purpose of the investigations is not to make mountains out of mole hills, Mullen explains.

“We don’t go looking to just find anything and classify it as a paranormal activity,” he said. “We want to find the truth behind things. Ninety-nine percent of the time, abnormal activity can be explained. It can be something as simple as a flag-rope hitting the pole in the wind. The other one-percent is what we at Hawk Paranormal seek to understand.”

Mullen said hunting for ghosts isn’t always glamorous and exciting.

“When you are sitting in a dark basement for hours at a time, waiting for the dust to settle, it gets pretty boring,” he chuckled.

Other ghost sightings, however, make mice out of even strong-willed men like Mullen, who spent 15 years in the military.

“I don’t scare easy,” he said. “Once, though, a shadow scared the bejeebies out of my assistant upstairs, and even I was a little bit afraid.”

Hawk Paranormal Investigations crew members use high-tech equipment to try to detect the slightest imprint of life-after-death phenomena.

Electromagnet sensors, infrared thermometers and digital recorders are all part of a ghost hunter’s equipment bag.

“Ghost hunters check for electromagnet fields because the theory is that ghost entities put them off,” Mullen explained. “A lot of times faulty wiring or circuit boards get picked up, so the trick is telling the difference. The meter will really light up when there is something in the room.”

As for the infrared thermometer, Mullen said he has seen unexplained jumps from normal room temperature to body temperature, as well as unexplained cold spots.

“Once, the red laser beam just suddenly blacked out, as if something was passing in front of it, and then came right back,” he said. “We have yet to explain what could cause that.”

Mullen and his crew first started investigating the museum because they had heard rumors that a young girl was haunting the place.

“There are pictures on the wall of a young girl named Rosie Lord,” he said. “We very quickly determined that it wasn’t her. We have never heard a child’s voice, it is always adults, for whatever reason. We don’t know what happens if we die, but there is a theory that people come back at different ages.”

The elevator in the museum is a hot-spot of paranormal activity, Mullen added.

“It works by itself sometimes at night,” he said. “One night we could see that somebody was moving inside it and the lights were on, but there were only two people in the building.”

Mullen has 22 years of experience as a professional ghost hunter, and he is enthusiastic about teaching other people the science behind it.

“I study research,” he said. “I look for the truth behind everything.”

Mullen has started a Web site, www.hawkparanormal.com, complete with videos and other interesting facts.

On Halloween, there will be an all-ages video presentation at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. at Ravalli County Museum on Bedford Street in Hamilton. From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., there will be a “Ghost Tour” for those brave enough to experience paranormal occurrences. Presentations are $10 and the tour is $20. Admission to both comes at the discount price of $28.

For more information contact the museum at 363-3338.

Log on to RavalliRepublic.com to comment on this and other stories.

Reporter David Erickson can be reached at 363-3300 or david.erickson@ravallirepublic.com.

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