It's official: Lehi is haunted, and couldn't be more pleased.
Three teams of paranormal investigators descended on Lehi's Hutchings Museum late Friday, spending the night searching for ghouls.
The teams fanned out, poking into the museum's nooks and crannies with thousands of dollars of high-tech equipment, hoping to catch the voice of a ghost on tape or an image on film, or even just the electromagnetic signature of the disembodied.
The museum may soon look to raise funds from the effort.
"I would like to develop a ghost tour," said Valerie Mead, program director for the museum, which is city-funded.
Such a tour could be given by volunteer paranormal investigators and could include the museum and historic homes and buildings within walking distance, she said. The tour would be a fundraiser for the museum. Mead said she is working on a formal proposal.
"Lehi is the sixth-oldest city in Utah and has a lot of stories and has had all sorts of murders and intrigues for years," she said.
Is the museum haunted?
"I personally think there are good ghosts here," she said. "I've never been scared to be alone here."
Not only is the museum haunted, the ghosts can be rather, er, physical, said Michelle Lowe of Key2rip.com, one of the teams that spent the night investigating: "It was interesting," she said. "We didn't expect much to happen, but we had a couple of experiences."
Investigators several times heard what sounded to be "additional footsteps, like people were being followed through the basement," she said.
One of the investigators was grabbed on the leg by a ghost, she said.
"They were trying to debunk [the sound of extra footsteps] when it happened," she said. "It happened right down in the basement."
In addition, "a shadow might have been caught on video, but we are still looking to see if it was a [camera] flash or something," she said. "They did get some voices caught on tape. It sounded like a man just kind of chattering, but they couldn't make it out clear enough to hear what they were saying. They are going to try and amplify it on the computer."
The investigation, which lasted until 2 a.m., was an opportunity for ghosts to seek their 15 minutes of fame. The entire procedure was broadcast live via radio Webcast. Those interested in hearing a recording of the show can log onto www.blogtalkradio.com/residualhauntings. The team does a live investigation Webcast each week, and thousands log on to listen.
Perhaps the best part of the entire night's procedure was Shadow, a live, 7-year-old great horned owl who sat in the museum lobby, hooting at regular intervals.
Shadow, who is a demonstration bird often used for educational shows at the museum and other venues, is owned by Ben Woodruff of Skymasters Wildlife Foundation.
"She's here for ambiance," Woodruff said with a smile.
An owl is apropos because "in many cultures owls are associated with spirits or the spirit world," he said. "When you watch them, sometimes it seems like they are seeing things we are not seeing."
For those who might scoff at ghost hunters who spend hours and thousands of dollars on their hobby without pay, "Thomas Edison was way into it," said Amber Mandic of Key2rip.com.
"There is no 911 for ghosts and hauntings, and some people need help and don't know what to do," said Mandic. "Some people even sell their homes to get away from it."
Paranormal investigators can discover the cause and give advice for getting a haunt to leave, she said. And sometimes, what looks to be a paranormal problem is actually something much simpler.
On one occasion, what a homeowner was convinced was a ghost turned out to be a raccoon in the attic, said Mandic and Lowe. One another occasion, the culprit of strange noises was a bat.
Sometimes, when investigators find ghosts, the homeowners are pleased, having just wanted confirmation all along that they "are not crazy," investigators said.
And sometimes, homeowners want the ghosts to hit the road, the solution to which could be as simple as redecorating -- painting a haunted room pink and putting up Disney-themed decor can get rid of a surly male ghost, for instance.
To view ghost photos, voice recordings and other ghost-investigation results, visit residualhauntings.info.