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A Park Hills paranormal investigation brings shivery surprises

The Tippy Joe Show interviews investigator and author Amy Armbruster before the SOLS Paranormal investigation.   Jeannie Barton-Northrup

Happy Halloween from the Daily Journal!

Paranormal investigators conducted investigations at the Park Hills Underground this month. Jason Durrett, owner of the Underground, says that since purchasing the building, strange phenomena have frequently occurred. SOLS Paranormal and QC Paranormal brought in various equipment used to capture images and voices of the dead. Real or fake? Read on to discover personal experiences by those in attendance and to enjoy a spooky season story.

The equipment

There are a few pieces of equipment that should be explained before the stories begin. The first is a REM Pod. REM stands for radiating electromagnetism. The idea is that when energy invisible to the naked eye approaches the stationary REM Pod, sensors light up, indicating a paranormal presence. A second tool is the EMF meter. EMF stands for electromagnetic field and operates on the same principle as a REM Pod but is a directional device designed for an investigator to hold. The EMF meter would then react to electromagnetic fields in front of the investigator. Another tool used is a simple voice recorder. The recorder captures voices that may not be heard during a question-and-answer period, also known as an EVP session, by investigators. Any voices captured on the recorder that the investigator did not hear out loud during the EVP session is called an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon).

A simple tool used during paranormal investigations is a balloon.   Jeannie Barton-Northrup

Laser grids are used to detect movement. A laser projects a grid pattern of dots or lines through the area of investigation, and when parts of the laser grid are blacked out, movement is present. Another interesting piece of equipment is based on Kinect gaming technology. An SLS (structured light sensor) camera shows human forms as stick figures on a portable monitor. When a stick figure is present in an area of investigation where no person is located, and the software could misconstrue nothing as a person, it is believed this is paranormal activity. The last piece of equipment to talk about is an Ovilus. This is a small box that contains a database of words and syllables; changes in temperature or magnetic fields caused by spirits can draw an auditory response from the device during question-and-answer sessions.

The investigations

SOLS Paranormal was the first group to investigate the building on Friday, Oct. 13. The SOLS group brought in cameras, audio recorders, a laser grid, a REM Pod, EMF detectors, and more. One simple tool brought in was regular unused balloons that were blown up and placed on tabletops or the ground during EVP sessions. The building was evacuated and locked down around midnight, so only the investigating team was inside.

During an EVP session where two balloons were blown up and placed on the floor, two investigators had an interesting experience. The balloons rested on the floor a couple of inches apart with no movement while investigators talked together. Suddenly, one of the balloons began rolling in one direction and then the other. The investigators stopped talking and watched the balloon move for about a minute before it came to rest in its original position. One investigator asked for the balloon to be moved toward a nearby pallet loaded with sparkling water. A few seconds passed, and the balloon rolled toward the pallet and stopped. The investigator then asked for the balloon to move in the opposite direction. After a second or two, the balloon rolled away from the pallet. The investigator asked for the second balloon to move instead of the first. Seconds later, the second balloon began to roll around while the first balloon remained still.

In another area of the building, investigators used the SLS camera connected to a portable monitor to view real-time anomalies. When a child height anomaly was detected, a second investigator walked over to the anomaly. The SLS operator watched the anomaly reach up an arm toward the investigator. At the same time, the investigator by the anomaly said his hand nearest the anomaly felt cold. The anomaly remained on camera and interacted with investigators for nearly five minutes.

Investigators reported hearing shuffling noises, laughs, and other voices and sounds during the overnight investigation. SOLS is still combing through hours of video and audio to determine if any paranormal activity was captured.

QC Paranormal took a turn investigating on Oct. 21. After clearing and locking down the building, video cameras were set up on tripods in various locations. Audio recorders were placed in multiple locations and left to record for hours at a time. Other equipment brought in was an Ovilus, EMF meters, an SLS camera and monitor, and other motion sensors. One motion sensor of particular interest was a light-up cat ball.

The QC Paranormal team attempts communication with a girl named Rose.    Jeannie Barton-Northrup

Eight investigators were present during the investigation. A few investigators would periodically take audio recorders and night vision cameras to various parts of the building to conduct EVP sessions. During a period when all eight investigators were gathered in the same location, the Ovilus began speaking. Investigators started asking questions and were able to determine through the Ovilus answers that a child was present. Investigators placed toys on a table, an EMF meter, and a light-up cat ball. While a few investigators sat at the table, others grabbed audio recorders, the SLS camera and monitor, and video cameras.

While one investigator explained that the light ball or EMF meter could be touched and would light up, the person with the SLS device said a child-size stick figure was visible on top of the table. The investigator at the table asked that the lights on either the EMF meter or the light ball light up for “yes” and stay dark for “no” during a question-and-answer period. Through a series of yes or no questions and a prior knowledge of the history of the building, investigators were able to determine that the child was named Rose and that she very much enjoyed a story about mouse races.

Investigators also reported hearing growls, shuffling sounds, and many other noises throughout the 12-hour investigation. QC is also still reviewing video and audio for paranormal activity.

The history

Once upon a time, there was a man named Henry Hugo Rinke. Rinke was born Jan. 1, 1860, in Soest, Westphalia, Germany. He was orphaned early in life and was forced to care for himself. Rinke came to the United States at 13 years old. He traveled to the West, where he studied to be an undertaker. Rinke eventually made his way to the Mineral Area and took up the carpenter trade. He built many homes in Flat River and was contracted to timber the first mine shaft sunk in the Flat River mine.

In 1901, Henry Rinke opened a hardware and undertaking shop in Flat River. The location of that shop currently houses the Park Hills Underground, Main Street Grow Supply, and All Funk’d Up. Rinke operated the business until Feb. 1928, when he retired due to ill health. Rinke died Apr. 22, 1929. Before his death, Rinke accomplished a great deal in the Mineral Area, including becoming the first mayor of Flat River.

Rinke married a couple of times. On June 11, 1884, Rinke married Elizabeth Rutledge (Rinke) at Rush Tower, Missouri. Elizabeth Rinke died Apr. 19, 1923. Henry Rinke married a second time on Dec. 6, 1924, to Mamie Murry (Rinke) of Flat River. Rinke had six children with his first wife and only one, who died at four-and-a-half months, with his second wife. The child who died was named Mary Rosalee Rinke.

Jason Durrett, owner of the Park Hills Underground. Jeannie Barton-Northrup

“Perhaps no man in Flat River was better known than was Henry Rinke.” states an obituary published by the Lead Belt News. The obituary says Rinke was “thrifty, honest, ambitious, and energetic” and “ever alert for business opportunity.” Rinke was said to be a loyal and devoted community resident, and much of the area’s progress is attributed to him.

The legend

Halloween is traditionally a holiday dedicated to celebrating the dead. Many religious cultures call Oct. 31 All Hallows Eve; All Saints Day follows on Nov. 1. This time celebrates martyrs and saints, both known and unknown. In the U.S., it is becoming increasingly common to use this time to attempt to communicate, not only with martyrs and saints but also with random folks who have died and may have left a footprint of energy behind.

Real or fake? Does a departing soul leave a footprint of energy that those living can experience or even communicate with? It all depends on the experiences and belief system of an individual.

Jeannie Northrup is a staff writer with the Daily Journal. She can be reached at

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