Searching Seattle for ghostly activity

Listen to Alex's report

For Ross Allison, it's more than a hobby. "I've been ghost hunting for 20 years," he said. "My mother was very into ghost stories, so I grew up listening to them my whole life."

Ten years ago, Allison founded Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle-Tacoma, or A.G.H.O.S.T, one of the most active ghost-tracking organizations in the country.

The organization gets about 16-20 calls a month from clients asking them to investigate, said Christian Schmitt, Allison's associate. Around 75 percent of the time, those calls pan out; investigators find what they think is evidence of paranormal activity, Schmitt said.

Even with that track record, Allison said he's not entirely convinced. "You need to keep a level of skepticism to be a good ghost hunter," he said.

I guess I would make a good one, in that case. Tonight, we are in Pioneer Square. "We're going to get in there and see if we find something, but there's no guarantee we'll see something there tonight," Allison said.

But Dino Duran, the owner of the 88 Keys bar, begs to differ. "Things have been going on," he said. Since he bought the century-old space three years ago, he's been noticing bizarre, inexplicable things. "Glasses flying off the shelves, a chair flying across the room, I came in and all the burners were on and everything was hot," he said.

"Keep in mind, we are going into a real haunted location," Schmitt told our group.

Before the investigation began, Allison set the ground rules. "Turn off your cell phones," he implored us as we entered the kitchen, where most of the paranormal activity seemed to be taking place.

"Whenever we're on an investigation, we always have our psychics speak first," said Allison. Jody Cassidy, who purports to have psychic powers, doesn't mince words.

"Somebody died within a 10-foot radius of this area, a blow to the head" she said, pointing to what is now a walk-in freezer. "Technically, he didn't die right there. He was bludgeoned there and drug outside, and finished off."

Using an electromagnetic field detector and recording equipment, Allison and Schmitt scoured the kitchen for signs of paranormal activity. With the lights off, Allison spoke to thin air. "What is your name," he asked. "If you are here, please give us a sign."

This technique, he explained, has yielded the most evidence to date of paranormal activity: electronic voice phenomena, or EVP, can be captured on recording equipment, albeit inaudible to the human ear.

Aside from a little ambient rattling, we got no answer.

"You'll be sitting there for 45 minutes listening to the tape, listening to yourself talk," said Schmitt. "Listening to white noise, then all of a sudden, you'll get a response," he said.

After repeating the exercise in the restaurant's dank, empty basement, the A.G.H.O.S.T team wrapped things up.

"There's enough strange phenomena out there to support that there is something to this, but not enough to say we have proof of ghosts and here it is," Allison said.

The investigation wrapped up with no clear answers for Duran, and no hard evidence to support the strange experiences he's had since taking over 88 Keys. "It might be true and it might not," he said. "But I use plastic cups now."

Follow Alex Silverman on twitter @alexsilverman

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