EPPING — Paranormal investigators who spent a night at the Epping Town Hall heard voices, saw a dark shadow moving in the area where a judge's bench once sat, and witnessed an unexplained white mist inside the 19th century building that some town employees have long claimed is haunted.
The encounters experienced by a team from Dark Knights Paranormal were recounted in a report issued last week after eight investigators recorded over 16 hours of video and 40 hours of audio footage on the night of March 23.
While they didn't catch any of their experiences in their recordings, the ghost hunters haven't ruled out the possibility of paranormal activity.
"So although no hard evidence was found during our investigation, the amount of personal experiences the team had leads us to believe that there just may be something paranormal going on at your location," Dianne Nault, the founder and lead investigator, wrote to Epping town officials.
Dark Knights Paranormal of Manchester is a nonprofit organization composed of professional paranormal investigators who volunteer their time for ghost hunting in New Hampshire and other parts of New England. The group is a member of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, commonly known as TAPS.
The group was first contacted by the selectmen's administrative assistant, Joyce Blanchard, who has heard many of the ghost stories from employees over the years and thought it would be interesting to see what the experts could find.
"I thought it was a fun thing to do," said Blanchard, who is interested in the paranormal but has never had her own experience at the town hall like others.
The investigation was done at no cost to the town, Town Administrator Gregory Dodge said.
According to Nault, the group doesn't accept payment and asks clients to make donations to their local food pantries or animal shelters.
During their overnight stay at the town hall, two investigators heard a "clear coughing sound" in the balcony above an auditorium on the second floor.
"The cough seemed to have originated from in between where the two investigators were standing from each other, although there was no one else in the room. The cough sounded close, and had no echo like it would have it if were from another area of the building or outside," the report said.
Several investigators heard a man's voice coming from the area where a judge's bench was once located.
"We had quite a few personal experiences that night, the most unusual being the sound of a man's voice and a shuffling sound coming from where the original judge's bench stood. However, when anyone approached the area the noises stopped," Nault said in an interview Monday.
One investigator also spotted what was described as a "dark shadow" moving in that area.
Ironically, Town Clerk Erika Robinson claims she saw a "tall dark shadow" in the same area when she was alone at the town hall on a recent Saturday. Robinson said she had left the recently renovated office to use the restroom and when she was returning to the office she noticed a dark shadow walking in the office behind three windows for customers.
"It freaked me out. I was the only one there," said Robinson, who refused to go back into the office that day and left the town hall.
Robinson was stunned when the town received the report from the paranormal investigators on July 23 and she learned that one of them had also seen the shadow in the same area.
Robinson is the latest town employee to be spooked inside the town hall.
Dodge has had several experiences and claims he hears strange noises all the time. Assistant Town Clerk Michele Murphy once saw a pen fly out of nowhere, and police officers used to hear footsteps in the middle of the night when the police department was located in the basement of the building many years ago.
According to the report, the ghost hunters also witnessed "unexplained white mists" on the main floor by the front entrance.
Nault said some investigators also "had the feeling of someone touching their hands" in the basement area.
The investigators had several experiences that they later found were not paranormal.
Some heard voices that were thought to be paranormal, but after experimenting with how sound travels in the town hall built in the late 1800s, they discovered that the voices were those of investigators in other areas of the building.
"We did find that sound traveled, in unusual ways in the building which helped us debunk a lot of claims," Nault said.