Ghost hunter will share his paranormal experiences

Ghost hunter Jeff Belanger, researcher for Travel Channel's “Ghost Adventures,” will speak at the University of Florida on Jan. 26. Courtesy photo

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 4:43 p.m.

Jeff Belanger launched a website dedicated to ghost stories in 1999, but remained skeptical until an experience four years later.


If you go

What: Ghost hunter Jeff Belanger, author and researcher into the paranormal, will speak. The event is free and open to the public.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 26
Where: Reitz Union's Rion Ballroom, UF campus

Belanger was exploring the Paris catacombs at the time. As he traversed a narrow passage in the underground cemetery, he said a ghost that looked like a shadow of a man passed by.

“Once you have that experience, it's tough to be objective ... I'm a believer now,” he said.

Belanger, who is speaking next week at the University of Florida, is the author of several books on the paranormal including the “Encyclopedia of Haunted Places.” He founded the website and is a researcher for the Travel Channel show “Ghost Adventures.”

The 36-year-old Massachusetts resident said the appeal of ghost stories is that they deal with the big question of whether there is life after death. Yet while a conversation about religion can clear a room when people have different faiths, he said ghosts provide a less threatening way to discuss the issue.

He traces U.S. interest in ghosts back to the Fox sisters, who in 1848 helped give birth to spiritualism when they reported hearing noises from spirits in their New York home. Interest in communicating with the dead rose during the Civil War and has subsequently increased whenever the U.S. is at war, he said, most recently following Sept. 11.

“Whenever there's a world in turmoil, people look for answers,” he said.

Belanger said he's been interested in ghosts since he was a kid, when a friend told of living in a haunted house. He said he was intrigued by the matter-of-fact nature of the story.

“It was nothing like Hollywood — blood coming out of the walls or our heads spinning around,” he said. “It was more like, ‘Someone lives here with us.'”

His advice to would-be ghost hunters is to look for spooky stories in their own areas. He pointed to St. Augustine and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument as a place where ghosts have been documented, but said battlefields and murder sites anywhere are places for possible sightings.

“You don't need to go to Paris. You don't need to go anywhere,” he said. “These stories and legends are in your own back yard.”

For those seeking an actual encounter, he suggests looking for patterns in stories about when and where ghosts appear. He also advises patience, saying he's only had a few other paranormal experiences since Paris.

“Most of the time I strike out,” he said. “If I was a fisherman, I would have quit long ago.”

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or

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