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Seeking the spirits

By Tony Perez | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | Nov. 1, 2007

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS — Many people have heard, seen or felt something that they can't completely explain. Commonly, these instances are dismissed as figments of the over-active imagination.

Some people, however, have different positions on the subject.

Matt Malenic, a staff member of the Chaparral Fitness Center, has a hobby of ghost hunting. His fascination with paranormal and ghostly phenomena began when he was very little.

"When I was younger and my father was stationed in England, my mother told me about a time when she woke up and saw the ghost of a red-coat British soldier," said Mr. Malenic.

"They had a lot of experiences with our TVs turning off and on, and my parents later found out that the house we were living in was built over a cemetery for British soldiers," he said.

When Mr. Malenic moved to San Antonio, his interest piqued because of the rich and ghoulish history of the city.

"San Antonio is the oldest part of Texas, so if there is a haunted place in Texas, I'm sure it is here," Mr. Malenic said.

After watching several shows and reading numerous books on the subject, Mr. Malenic decided that he wanted to get more involved with his passion, and joined a professional ghost hunting group in San Antonio.

"Mainly we just go hoping to experience something," the 20-year-old said.

The hunting group has visited many locations in San Antonio, most of them more than once.

To investigate a spot, the group obtains permission by the owners to observe the area for a certain amount of time, from a few hours to an entire night.

"I usually travel with the professional group once every two months," Mr. Malenic said.

The ghost hunting team that Mr. Malenic works with uses tape recorders to try to capture electronic voice phenomenon as a means to prove the existence of the paranormal and supernatural phenomenon.

EVP is a theory that recording devices can pick up voices of the deceased, which can not be heard while present, but can be heard upon playback.

The group also uses a device that measures energy levels in a room.

According to Mr. Malenic, cold spots in rooms are the sign of a supernatural presence. These spots can also drain energy from the room.

"If a ghost is close, it tries to draw from the energy in the room, and that drains the batteries of our equipment," Mr. Malenic said. "The cold spots are usually between 62 and 64 degrees, which is about 10 degrees colder than room temperature."

Both Mr. Malenic and the group he works with take the position of trying to prove ghosts don't exist and use scientific evidence to prove most sightings wrong.

"Limestone's composition causes many strange noises. If a structure is made of limestone, or if there is limestone in the ground, you can probably assume that is what you heard," Mr. Malenic said.

Mr. Malenic feels that the scariest part of visiting "haunted" houses are the "unwelcome" living people that visit the area.

"You find homeless people, or kids that are pulling pranks out there. It's not always very safe," Mr. Malenic said.

"My friends and I have been shot at before, while trying to enter a house," he added.

Lackland is not without its own supernatural intrigue. Employees that have worked at Warhawk Fitness Center have reported the sound of foot steps that will continue after they have stopped walking.

"I've heard plenty of stories of people saying things like that. I've never experienced it before, but it wouldn't surprise me, because there is a lot of history on this base," Mr. Malenic said.

Mr. Malenic maintains that he has never actually seen a ghost, and that most haunting can be proved false pretty easily.

"Just like everyone, I guess I'm curious as to whether or not there is life after death," Mr. Malenic said.