Ghost Hunters Descend on Wood Island

Reporter Joins Crew for Night of Ghastly Investigation.”

Article in the Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier October 12, 2006

Written by Annie Ellis

Somewhere in Missouri, a man jolted up in bed from a nightmare so vivid and terrifying that he could not shake it from his mind. In the dream ne’er-do-wells in a shack in a remote location were holding four girls of varying ages against their will. A man’s face kept appearing in the dream, but the most disturbing part of the montage was that each girl was murdered, sequentially over an extended period of time, and the dreamer could sense the terror in the minds of the remaining captives. Throughout the dream, two words remained constant, “Wood Island.”

This man in Missouri was so bothered by his dream that he Googled Wood Island on the Internet. To his surprise, he found the Web site of the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse, and found the advertisement for the “Haunting Event” being held where the New England Ghost Project was to deliver the results of its paranormal investigation of Wood Island Lighthouse. The man clicked on the link to the New England Ghost Project, and was amazed to see the face of Ron Kolek, the originator of the Ghost Project, and also the face in his dream.

At this point in the story, I must explain that there is such a thing as a ghost hotline. Now, Annie Potts does not answer the phone, and Rick Moranis isn’t going to come to your rescue, but the New England Ghost Project is a non-profit organization that investigates and assists with the paranormal. The man from Missouri decided his predicament was worth a phone call.

When Ron received the call, he said he got very excited. Knowing that his group would be returning to Wood Island for further investigation on Sept. 30, he wrote the story down, sealed it, and mailed it to an undisclosed location. Ron’s main goal was to keep medium/intuitive Maureen Wood from knowing the story, in case any of the spirits the group encountered shed any light on the Missourian’s dream.

Fast-forward to Sept. 30. It’s a very good thing that Wood Island Lighthouse has a half-mile boardwalk separating it from the docking point of the Light Runner, the boat that brought us to the island. Because had I seen what Wood Island Lighthouse looked like as twilight was setting in, I probably would have hopped right back on the boat. However, I remembered I hadn’t even dealt with the paranormal yet, so I grabbed my gear and headed into the house.

Our group included three members of the New England Ghost Project, Ron, Maureen and Leo Monfet, an infrared photographer who also took electronic voice phenomena recordings, also known as EVP’s or recordings of the dead. Civilians included Maureen’s husband Stephen, Wood Island historian Sheri Poftak, and Peggy Ayers, along for the hunt as a 25th anniversary present.

The experts began by setting up a “safe room,” which was brightly lit and well stocked with food. The kitchen was equipped with various equipment including LCD screens that watched over rooms that had areas of paranormal activity during the last ghost hunt.

When it was plenty dark, our party headed out onto the boardwalk, a place where Maureen claims she had met an angry spirit that had gotten physical with her during last year’s hunt. Using a process called dowsing, where Maureen held a piece of citron hanging from a chain and watched the direction in which it swung, she could tell if there were spirits in the area.

It didn’t take long before a female spirit approached Maureen. Using the dowsing method to ask the spirit questions, Maureen deduced that the spirit was murdered on the island, that she was lost, and that an Indian killed her.

“It almost feels like she wants our help,” she said.

After that spirit left, Maureen explained that she kept feeling like she was being pulled toward the north end of the island. However, the boardwalk being sometimes 10 feet off the ground, she was often frustrated that she was unable to go where she wanted to. Finally, however, we reached a location where we could step off the boardwalk. Maureen immediately found her spot. Using the dowsing method once again, an eerie location was discovered.

A spirit informed Maureen that more than three girls were buried in this location, and that a shack used to be here. The spirit told Maureen that they were killed separately, and that the shack was set on fire afterwards. Ron went white. Up until this point, no one had heard the story of the man from Missouri. However, this story matched, and it piqued Ron’s curiosity.

“Now I’m obsessed,” he said.

“The people that died here were stuck on the island and held against their wishes,” said Maureen. “They say they want their story to be told.”

We then headed into the house. Ron wanted to go to the basement because last year a photograph of a spirit had been taken there. He was hoping the spirit would communicate with Maureen. Maureen also said she was drawn there, but when she began dowsing, she could sense that the spirit was circling our heads and couldn’t communicate. A light flashed behind Maureen, but the spirit did not make an effort to speak with her. At first the medium thought this was because she was confused.

“She’s angry because we caught her on film last year,” said Maureen.

While the group left this spirit alone, Ron decided to leave a camera on the room with candles lit. He unscrewed the light bulbs, but every time we came upstairs, the lights were turned back on. The spirit in the basement wanted nothing to do with us.

And now to the part that made me a believer. We went up into the attic, because of interesting activity that had taken place there last year. In complete darkness, all you could hear was the crashing of waves outside. Maureen asked that we all hold hands. Suddenly it sounded as if rain was pouring outside. And as soon as it had started, it stopped. The harsh pang of a coin dropping was heard right behind my head, and suddenly Maureen’s hand grasped mine so tightly I almost let out a yelp.

Suddenly Maureen was not Maureen. Her voice sounded more like a man than a woman and she had taken on a Spanish accent. The spirit she was channeling said he had been on this island 360 days. While it is up for interpretation we assume he meant he was there that many days before he died.

He said his name was Roger and that the year was 1762. He was very angry because his captain had deserted him and his shipmates on the island. He explained that there were 10 of them to begin with, and he was one of three left. Kolek asked him what flag he flew under.

“I fly under no flag,” said the spirit.

“If you fly under no flag, that must mean you’re a pirate,” said Kolek.

“Choose your words carefully, sir!” warned the spirit.

Then the spirit began to repeat over and over again how cold it was. As he said this, Maureen’s hand began to get colder and colder and her grip got tighter and tighter. I started to wonder if it was safe for her body temperature to be so low.

Ron decided this sprit needed to go. He told him to leave her at once.

“No!” the spirit screamed. Maureen’s body began writhing, and the noises coming out of her mouth made The Exorcist sound like a Disney movie. When finally Maureen was free of Roger, her hand relaxed and her body temperature returned to normal. A bluish, acrid smoke wisped through the air.

Maureen said she’d had about enough for the night, as had everyone. It was time to sit around the “safe room,” tell jokes, eat food, and try to forget what had just happened. Poftak and Ayers went up to bed, and I was about to do the same. I said, “I’m going to check it out up there, but it’s kind of creepy in that room. I may sleep down here.”

“Well they’re still up anyway. I can hear them talking,” said Maureen.

None of us could hear them talking.

It took about 15 minutes to convince Maureen that we weren’t playing a joke on her, and that Sheri and Peggy were fast asleep.

Then she said she started hearing the music. Evidently the spirits wanted the last word on this evening.

I slept downstairs with the lights on, though I didn’t do much sleeping.

The New England Ghost Project intends to come back and do more work on Wood Island, especially in light of dream coincidence and the seaman in the attic.

After a night at the Wood Island Lighthouse, I can certainly say, The Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse can take heart in knowing that while they care for their landmark during the day, there are certainly plenty of souls watching over it at night.