MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The USO of North Carolina Jacksonville Center is a place where service members and the local community can have fun and relax, but in its shadows lie mysterious forces that open and close doors when nobody is around, touch and scratch guests and employees, and leave people with an eerie feeling.
A local radio station along with the South East Paranormal Investigation Association brought Bruce Tango, a frequent guest investigator with “Ghost Hunters,” a SyFy network TV show and the father of one of “Ghost Hunters’” main investigators Dave Tango, to host an event where professional and amateur investigators could look into allegations of paranormal activity in the facility.
Tickets for the event sold out quickly and all proceeds went the USO.
“You never know what you’re going to run into,” said Tango. Tango has investigated the paranormal for years. The former police officer heard disembodied voices and has been known to be a “ghost magnet.”
Using the tools of the trade – cameras, audio recorders, eye glasses with cameras embedded, a ghost box that uses radio transmissions to communicate with paranormal creatures and a puck, a device that speaks words based on environmental readings – the ghost hunters explored the rooms, halls and catacombs of the USO hoping to connect with spirits from beyond.
SEPIA visited the USO before to investigate.
“There’s consistent activity here,” said Jessica Dionne, the founder of SEPIA. “(Last time) we heard sounds, went to where it came from and then hear it from the room we just left. It was like a game of cat and mouse.”
There were also reports of phantom music. The investigators heard distant sounds that were unheard in other areas.
In a corner of the catacombs of the USO, on the dirt floor lays a pile of old, broken pencils. In SEPIA’s previous investigation an old folding chair with a dip in its seat faced the corner. They decided to lay a new pencil in the dip. Soon after the pencil was found on the ground nobody had entered the room, and the underground area didn’t have any drafts to move it.
On the Wednesday night the amateurs and experts met with different, more unpredictable occurrences than a few stray sounds and small moving objects.
While members of her group tried to communicate with spirits, April Betts asked not to be touched.
Betts was a skeptic, there to celebrate her sister’s birthday.
“I felt something, a cold breeze across my hand, then it felt like somebody put Icy-Hot across my entire back. When we left the room, my back itched so I asked my sister to look at it. She said, ‘You’ve been scratched.’ I didn’t feel it when it happened. I didn’t feel anything scratch me.”
Betts had her back to a refrigerator and was surrounded by several people when it happened. Another woman was standing in the same spot and began to feel very uncomfortable moments before, Betts who was not scared moved there. She had two scratches across her side and one across her back. Hours later the scratches were still raised and bright red.
Not too long afterward other guests, two young girls, reported scratches while in the same room. This time they were on their necks.
In the USO’s auditorium the puck said a constant stream of words. Its robotic voice spoke of an abyss, the storm, floods and water hinting at a troubled spirit who met an aquatic demise.
Although the unknown can be scary, Dionne feels today’s environment, brought on partly by TV shows, educates people about the paranormal and helps them lose some of the fear. Tango said malicious spirits are rarity.
SEPIA has hours of sound recording and video to dig through before they can present any evidence on a haunting at the USO. However for the staff members and guests who walk through its halls, any pictures or recording will only confirm what they already suspect.
“We’re interested to see how this turns out,” said Deb Fisher the director of the Jacksonville USO.