In a city once known as the Murder Capital of the World, it should come as no surprise that Santa Cruz is riddled with spectral sights, ghastly haunts and lonely spirits trying to find some sort of peace. However, only a truly connected psyche can make contact with those who have passed on and in her third and latest book, Paranormal Investigations of Santa Cruz County, one has the sixth sense that local author, Aubrey Graves, is wired-in with a direct line.
“Some people say I’m obsessed,” Graves exclaims with a gleeful smile, “But I like to say I’m ‘possessed.’”
While most are skeptical concerning things beyond their normal perception, the 28-year-old Graves has been a true believer ever since she was a child growing up in her San Jose home; where faucets would unexpectedly turn on and a lamp once caught on fire when her and some friends tried contacting the spirits with an Ouija Board.
“I always heard about so much paranormal activity in Santa Cruz,” she says, “So when I moved here I thought, ‘Ok, where’s the book on this?’ But there wasn’t one.”
Graves decided to fill the void with her first book, Supernatural Santa Cruz. Independently published in 2011, it was a best seller at Bookshop Santa Cruz with copies flying off the shelf, though not by unseen hands.
Since then, she has been on a whirlwind tour of spectral houses with her sister-in-haunts, Melissa Urioste. It was Urioste and Graves who founded the Central Coast Paranormal Research Society, a ragtag group of ghost hunters whose research is the basis for Paranormal Investigations. Throughout the book, Graves and company travel to some of the county’s most notorious dwellings, like the infamous Brookdale Lodge or the now demolished White Lady’s House. Less obvious locations include places like Monty’s Log Cabin Bar in Felton where George, the bar’s previous owner, still supposedly resides, 20 years after his death.
For anyone familiar with ghost-related reality television, one of the most common problems is finding any evidence to back up the claims of paranormal activity. In order to fish for those in the Great Beyond, Graves and Urioste have armed themselves with a mixture of the latest spectral finding technology; such as the Ghost Box that bounces between radio frequencies to pick up spectral sayings known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon or E.V.P. The Ghost Radar, on the other hand, picks up electromagnetic fields around the device and spells words not heard by the naked, living ear. The Mel Meter measures electromagnetic fields as well as changes in the surrounding temperature.
“E.V.P.s are the hardest to get, though,” explains Graves, “They have to be very clear or I’m skeptical of it.”
Yet, one of their most useful tools is a common mini-mag flashlight. Placing the light in a known haunted place, the investigators ask “yes” or “no” questions to which the spirits can respond by turning the light on or off. Graves carefully records all of the investigations and has uploaded several freakishly inquisitive videos to her website with the promise of more to come.
“Personally,” she says, “I believe we have a lot of proof.”
Paranormal Investigations of Santa Cruz County, and Graves’ other books are currently available at the Sacred Grove bookstore and online at Amazon.com. You can find out more about Graves, her books and the Central Coast Paranormal Research Society as well as view videos of investigations at www.aubreygraves.com.