This week, we'll take you to the city of Syracuse, specifically its haunted theaters. In this special Halloween weekend edition of Your Hometown, our Katie Gibas shows us some of the evidence backing up these ghost stories.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When it comes to attempting to prove the existence of paranormal activity, contrary to what you might see on television shows, it's actually a painstakingly slow process, and often, the most compelling evidence is the hardest to capture.
"You see a shadow or something tugs your hair or something touches your shoulder, you can't catch that on film because it's already happened by the time you think, 'Oh, take a picture!'" said Heather Will, Paracuse Paranormal Investigator.
Stacey Jones,the founder of CNY Ghost Hunters added, "It's kind of like chasing your own tail. I don't know if I'm ever going to get an answer."
And backing up the experiences with evidence is what ghost hunting is all about. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of what investigators do is trying to debunk what they've seen. But some things are just inexplicable and unable to be recreated, including a lot of alleged paranormal activity at the Palace Theater. Investigators were on another case when a spirit came to them and gave them the numbers 1959, 49, the name Francis and the word theater.
"Two weeks later, we're talking to the Palace Theater. We found out in 1959, Albert Dibella who was the owner, passed away. His daughter, at the age of 49, Frances, took over the Palace Theater," said Scott Clark, the Founder & Lead Investigator of Paracuse.
Michael Heagerty, the owner and operator of the Palace Theater added, "Francis' story was that she was extremely attached to this building and to this business. It was kind of her baby and she didn't have any children. She never got married, and she just worked, worked, worked."
Since the encounter with the spirit, Paracuse has conducted a number of investigations at the Palace, documenting paranormal phenomena.
"We actually put a recorder down on the steps and one of the things that happened was you actually heard somebody walk up the steps and walk right across the stage, confirming the time on the tape (audio recorder) compared to what we were videotaping at the time, there was absolutely no one in the theater at the time," said Clark.
In addition to Francis, several other spirits are thought to be haunting the Palace, including a contractor who fell from the rafters during construction of the building, who is still seen sitting where he landed.
But the most haunted place in the theatre is thought to be the projection room where a projector operator died of a heart attack during a show.
"Shortly after we got the cameras set up in the film room (projection room), the motion detector actually went off when nobody was in there, and that was caught on the camera," said Will.
Clark added, "There's a single light up there and it's very dimly lit, and you would see this little black shadow come and go. We know nobody's in this room."
Even though the Palace theatre has a lot of haunted lore, many say the Landmark Theatre is Syracuse's most haunted Landmark. A number of ghosts are said to call the theater home. The most famous is Clarissa, the woman in white.
"Clarissa, the lore I heard, was a woman that was working at the theater and saw a loved one get electrocuted by the big Westinghouse on stage. She was on the balcony and fell over the balcony in such horror to see her loved one electrocuted that she died too," said Jones.
Jones says they haven't been able to find any news stories on the deaths mentioned in the story, but people who even worked at the theatre in the 40s and 50s talk about Clarissa.
Investigators also monitor supernatural activity with audio recorders and capture disembodied voices.
"EVPs, spirit voices, when you capture them, they're very distinctive. You know exactly what it is," said Clark.
Jones added, "We had one investigator there who said, 'Did you come here to enjoy the shows?' And the EVP comes back and says, 'No, we were dancers in the shows.' Sometimes they answer very specifically. Sometimes it's just nonsensical stuff that they'll just blurt out. "
They've even caught a ghostly dog barking on their recorders, believed to be the pet of a former caretaker who died in the theater.
But besides those who died in the theaters, what is it that draws spirits back to Syracuse's theaters?
"Everyone could get the 15 cents together, no matter what your socioeconomic lifestyle was, so every one could come. So it's those memories and those things that I think get spirits coming back here because it was such a familiar place," said Heagerty.
The cause of supernatural activity may forever remain in the haunted past, but paranormal investigators say rest assured that those haunting Syracuse's theaters' are just there to enjoy the show.