Scott Trainito doesnâ€™t necessarily believe in ghosts – or more appropriately, the paranormal – but that hasnâ€™t stopped him from looking for them time and again over the past five years.
As the founder of Para-Boston Investigators, based in East Boston, the Everett resident and Eastie postman has put together a diverse team of professionals who traverse the local area and even other parts of the country looking for ghosts, spirits or incidents of the paranormal.
And they donâ€™t just start poking around during the Halloween season; itâ€™s a year-round pursuit for the crew.
â€œWe take a very scientific approach to this,â€ said Trainito on Monday, while taking a short break from his mail route. â€œMy team and I, weâ€™re all skeptics first and foremost. We emphasize debunking any claim of the paranormal. We actually get a kick out of debunking…We donâ€™t hunt ghosts, though, like some might believe. Iâ€™m a paranormal investigator and I do actual investigations. I go into houses and investigate paranormal activity. About 90 percent of the time, we can say what it is. There is usually a reasonable explanation. However, we do hope for the other 10 percent of events that are unexplainable because thatâ€™s why we do what we do.â€
That 10 percent can be photos with strange light streaks, electronic voice phenomena (EVP), moving objects or even a phantom canon firing at the Gettysburg Battlefield (which they have experienced).
â€œWeâ€™ve gotten a lot of strange things at this residential home in Wayland,â€ said Trainito. â€œOn our first visit, I put my digital recorder on the first floor dining room table and went outside to talk to the homeowners. No one was downstairs. The investigators were upstairs. There werenâ€™t any children nearby and it was nighttime. That recorder picked up a clear conversation between a child and the childâ€™s mother, both of whom talked in a thick English accent. You can clearly hear the child say, â€˜I want to play a game.â€™ When we went the second time, we asked for a name and we got an answer of Leslie Moulton. When we did research afterward, we found that a Leslie Moulton lived on the property in the 1800s. That was probably the best EVP that Iâ€™ve ever heard.â€
Another recent incident in Hyde Parkâ€™s Everett Square Theatre also drew some particular attention of the investigators earlier this month.
â€œWe got breathing, heavy inhaling and exhaling sounds, and footsteps that were very clear,â€ he said. â€œThey were coming from the projection room and we knew there was absolutely no one up there. It wasnâ€™t a rat or any animal because you canâ€™t hear rats breathing. So what was it? Thatâ€™s what we donâ€™t know.â€
And when asked if, even after hundreds of investigations, he still gets that tingly feeling on the back of his neck when he hears such things, the short answer was an emphatic â€˜yes.â€™
â€œWhen you hear something or see something good, it gives you the goose bumps every darn time,â€ he said. â€œMostly though, you donâ€™t hear it when youâ€™re there. You find it later when youâ€™re analyzing all of the data and recordings. But even then, every time the goose bumps are there. Definitely.â€
Starting in 2007, Trainito began to round up a team of investigators to look into reports of paranormal activity in the Greater Boston area. He has assembled a bio-engineer, a few nurses, a chemist, science lab workers, a computer specialist and others who are just interested in the subject.
â€œWe have a very credentialed team,â€ he said. â€œMost of them got interested in this because they had paranormal experiences as children. Some like the scientific approach of trying to explain the unexplainable. Some also do UFOâ€™s too. They all have a passion for the unexplained.â€
The idea of â€œghost huntingâ€ or searching for the paranormal has mushroomed in popularity over the last several years, starting with movies like â€˜The Blair Witch Project,â€™ which was a fictional story of about a teen-age paranormal investigation that went bad. Newer movies in the same vein, such as the recently released movie â€˜Paranormal,â€™ have also contributed to the fervor.
Mostly, though, itâ€™s the handful of television shows on cable stations that have piqued the greatest interest, shows that chronicle those who investigate the paranormal.
But Trainito said heâ€™s not too keen on those shows, and his crew works a bit differently.
â€œThe only good thing about those TV shows are that they let people know that theyâ€™re not alone in having paranormal experiences,â€ he said. â€œIn my opinion, they are probably producer-enhanced because 90 percent of the time, you donâ€™t find anything. They always find something.â€
Para-Boston fields calls from people who believe they have observed paranormal activity – mostly from homeowners in the area. If their initial screening pans out, then Trainito said they might decide to do a full-scale investigation – which is free of charge.
At times, theyâ€™ve also traveled for special investigations to places like Gettysburg Battlefield, the East State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania and Alcatraz Prison.
For any investigation, though, they bring out their equipment, such as infrared cameras, K-2 meters (which detects electrical pulses), electro-magnetic field detectors, digital audio recorders, motion lights and numerous video cameras.
Most of the equipment is not meant to detect paranormal experiences, though. Rather, equipment is used to look for other explanations.
â€œItâ€™s really for the process of elimination,â€ he said. â€œBefore you make a statement that something might be paranormal you have to eliminate every other possibility. There are more reasonable explanations than paranormal experiences. The equipment isnâ€™t even made for this purpose, but it helps us in what weâ€™re doing. Thereâ€™s no set science to any of this, nor are there college degrees.â€
Some common explanations are faulty electrical wiring, or wiring that causes electro-magnetic fields.
â€œElectricians will often coil wires up in a circle in the walls,â€ he said. â€œThat creates a field. Itâ€™s like living under a huge power line. That electrical energy makes a person hypersensitive and can make them feel like someoneâ€™s watching them. Thatâ€™s one thing we frequently find.â€
They also check simple things, such as medical issues or medications, to make sure the person isnâ€™t hallucinating.
â€œItâ€™s all a process of weeding out people who are sincerely concerned about paranormal activity and people doing it as a farce,â€ he said. â€œPeople donâ€™t realize how serious we take this. We do a lot of research before and after. It is quite involved and an investigation takes hours.â€
And sometimes whatever is there just isnâ€™t interested in being found by paranormal investigators, and, quite simply, nothing happens during the investigation.
While that might be a little disappointing to investigators who are passionate about the paranormal, it really is usually a relief to those who have made reports.
â€œMost sincere people donâ€™t want paranormal experiences,â€ he said. â€œThey are fearful and put on edge by it. When you tell them that itâ€™s only their electrical wiring or something, there are elated – problem solved.â€
During this Halloween season, when interest in the unknown is at its peak, Trainito said that it should give everyone pause to think about the mysteries that surround us everyday. He said interest in the paranormal is not something to be embarrassed about, but rather something to be critically investigated and considered – like all great mysteries.
â€œItâ€™s human nature,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re all curious. Everyone is curious about whether there is something more out there than us. Humans are curious people and itâ€™s part of human nature to wonder about stuff like this. Life after death; what will happen when we die? Heaven or hell or just roaming the Earth? We wonder, but we donâ€™t know. Thatâ€™s the bottom line.â€
Scott Trainito and Para-Boston Investigations will be featured on WBZ Radioâ€™s Jordan Rich Show on Oct. 28th at midnight. They will also be featured on Jamâ€™N 94.9 radioâ€™s â€˜Ramiro and Pebbles Morning Showâ€™ at 8 a.m. on Halloween. They can be contacted through their website at www.para-boston.com.