Ryan Buell will never forget the paranormal investigation that freaked him out the most.
The star of A&E’s “Paranormal State” and the founder/director of Penn State University’s Paranormal Research Society said the case that most got to him involved a renovated townhouse in Pennsylvania. The home was once the site of drug-dealing, prostitution and other assorted unsavory activities, possibly including sacrifices. The current owner had purchased it for a song via foreclosure, and her adult son and his fiancée were living there.
They were experiencing activity regularly, including the sound of gunshots and the sight of a black mass (think the Smoke Monster from “Lost”). The fiancée seemed particularly tormented at night when she encountered a being so frightening that it caused her to pass out. Her boyfriend would find her later in the evening, standing in the corner of the basement, just staring blankly.
Things really got strange when the fiancée underwent hypnosis. First, Ryan said, she began speaking in a different voice. It didn’t take long for him to realize he was communicating with someone else – someone who seemed to know an awful lot about his past. The entity recounted many personal details of Ryan’s life that he said it couldn’t possibly have known about.
“I literally almost peed my pants,” Ryan admitted.
Then, he said, it turned and smiled evilly at him, with its eyes rolled completely back in its head.
“I believe demons are real,” he said.
Ryan and PRS tech Sergey Poberezhny discussed that and investigations that have been documented by “Paranormal State,” which returns for a fifth season at a new time and night – 9 p.m. Sunday – on A&E, last night at a lecture at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ.
Ryan pointed out that this is the third time the show’s air time has moved since its premiere in December 2007.
“There was another show on Sunday night called ‘X-Files,’ so hopefully (moving to Sunday) is a good omen,” Ryan said.
The show has visited New Jersey several times over the course of the past four seasons, and Ryan confirmed that there will be two more Garden State episodes this season – including one at a hair salon. (No, it’s not the Gatsby.)
Ryan explained that while his new book, “Paranormal State: My Journey into the Unknown,” reviews assorted cases, it doesn’t go into detail about the paranormal events that occurred when he was a child growing up in South Carolina.
“I did have experiences when I was young, and I don’t really talk about those experiences,” he admitted. “I kind of want to keep them to myself.”
He did seem happy that paranormal subjects are no longer verboten as they were when he was growing up.
“Paranormal (at that time) was taboo everywhere, but it (was) especially taboo there,” he said. “I want to break down that taboo.”
Both Ryan and Sergey liken their passion for ghost hunting to a spiritual journey.
“It’s about looking for God,” Ryan explained.
“Evidence of ghosts would be proof of God to me,” said Sergey.
“Some people want to believe their house is haunted,” Ryan said.
He recalled one investigation in which a family reported experiencing smells for which they had no explanation.
“‘Mom, the smell is back,'” Ryan recalled the child saying. Upon looking around, he quickly found the real source of the scent: “I see the dog is taking a dump.”
After his terrifying childhood experiences, Ryan said he doesn’t understand why anyone would want to go through what he went through.
“Some people are just having bad luck and it’s easy to blame that so they don’t have to take responsibility themselves,” he said.
In other instances, though, it’s not irrational to think that something otherworldly might be going on.
“If two people in a room hear a voice, that’s not a mental illness,” Ryan pointed out. “Unless you’re in a mental institution.”
“If a couch you’re sitting on raises 5 feet (off the ground),” he continued, “I’d say you have a haunting.”