At night, Eric Mintel is a jazz musician. Even later at night, he hunts ghosts and monsters. Sometimes he finds them.
“Ghosts, Bigfoot, Jersey Devil, UFOs. You name it, we’re investigating it,” Mintel said, as we sat in a recent haunt for his Bucks County Paranormal Investigations side gig.
Established in 2016, its crew primarily travel Bucks County in search of ghosts and ghosts from long-running ghost stories. What they discover is recorded and uploaded to YouTube, where it is presented in polished television-quality productions of around half an hour each.
“I’ve always been fascinated by Bucks County ghost stories — stories I’ve been hearing since I was a kid,” he said. “We go to historical places, like old inns, to document some sort of paranormal activity.”
Like the Plumsteadville Inn. It was built in 1751, nearly a quarter of a century before the bang heard around the world sparked the American Revolution. The place is old and looks like it could be loaded with ghosts.
“I haven’t seen any,” said owner Matt George.
But her clients and guests report strange experiences, like sudden cold spots and the feeling that someone is in a room when no one else is there.
“People feel more spirit than anything else,” he said.
To discern whether reports of sweaty cold are drafts or disembodied dead, Mintel, her high school pal Dominic Sattele and friend Karen Hluchan, described as a “spiritual medium” (one who has a natural ability to sense spirit activity). Another World) investigated last year.
Equipped with a magnetometer (essential equipment for ghost hunters) they head for the basement.
“The energy we detected, as shown by our magnetometer, was off the chart. It has the highest peaks I have ever seen of any survey we have been involved in,” Mintel said.
One area of the basement appears to be a tunnel, its entrance cemented, he said.
“Like many old inns, this one may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Could have been. We don’t know,” he said.
Upstairs in the inn’s ballroom, Hluchan felt a presence.
“She sensed a mischievous spirit,” Mintel said.
Then something strange happened.
“All of a sudden ‘Bang!’ We hear that noise,” Mintel said. “The (camera) tripod that was on the chair was dropped to the floor. The microphone box that was on the table was now on the seat of the chair. Something confused them, maybe the spirit Karen detected. Again, we don’t know.
The sound of the bang was captured on audio as the team shot the video. (You can watch it on YouTube).
Usually, Mintel said, he finds inexplicable activity while riding, not while shooting video.
“It was the first time we experienced something like this in real time,” he said.
Maybe it was a camera-shy ghost sending a message.
“Who knows,” he said.
However, he and his team of ghost-hunting detectives almost always find something. In Quakertown, at McCoole’s Red Lion Inn, he said he interviewed a member of the wait staff who told of a ghostly encounter at work.
“Later I was editing the interview and while he was telling the story an orb passed us by. It wasn’t a light, it wasn’t a bug, it wasn’t a reflection, it wasn’t lens flare. I know what it all looks like on video,” he said.
It was a translucent globe of light, an “orb”, which ghost hunters attribute to the spirits of the deceased.
He has other scary stories. The shadow at New Hope station. A ghost that wanders the Continental Tavern in Yardley. A woman who haunts the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville. A ghost nicknamed “Sarah” at the Wedgewood Inn in New Hope. A child ghost at the McCooles’ in Quakertown mistaken for real by an electrician working there.
“He swore he was a real kid,” Mintel said.
Future investigations include Bristol Township’s Bolton Mansion in Levittown, with its poignant ‘Lady in the Upstairs Window’, said to await the return of her Civil War-slain beau, and an examination of Pen Ryn, a magnificent mansion on the edge of the river at Bensalem, with its ghost that rises from Delaware at midnight every Christmas Eve to knock on the front door, then disappears, leaving water and river mud on the walk.
Mintel said he was skeptical of ghosts, monsters and UFOs. Most of the claims are natural occurrences mistaken for the paranormal.
“You have to look at the evidence and trust the science,” he said.
Take the tapping sound he and his team heard while searching the Plumsteadville Inn. The noise came at irregular intervals, stopped, then resumed, almost jerky.
“We think what the hell is that?” Mintel said.
A member of his team walked towards a window, from which the sound seemed to emanate.
“It turned out to be cars going over a manhole cover outside,” he said.
Not everything that happens at night is a ghost.
Columnist JD Mullane can be reached at 215-949-5745 or [email protected]