Gentile, Lou (Amityville and Beyond)
In the world of paranormal investigation, there are scores of those claiming to be "experts" in the field. They bring their photos of orbs and globules, tell outlandish stories, and portray themselves as real-life Ghostbusters. However, there are a few names that consistently appear as belonging to the best, most knowledgeable in the business. These are the people that most agree are the real deal, the legitimates in a sea of pretenders. Names such as Hans Holtzer and Ed and Lorraine Warren top the list. There is another whose name carries the weight of his respected reputation: Paranormal Investigator and Demonologist Lou Gentile.
With nearly a thousand cases personally investigated and closure brought to most, Lou is quite accustomed to dealing with the spiritual world. Although, there can be no "experts" in the field, Lou is as close as one is likely to get. Paranormal Researcher and Author Scott A. Johnson caught up with Lou recently and talked to him about the pitfalls of ghost hunting, some of his scariest cases, and his most famous area of expertise: an old Dutch colonial house in a small town called Amityville.
Scott A Johnson: How long have you been investigating the paranormal?
Lou Gentile: I've been researching and investigating since I was a kid. I haven't been going into people's homes, professionally doing it, until about ten years ago. I was doing it for people I knew at first. It all stems back from when I was a kid and my experiences, and at that time I had nobody to help me, so I had to research on my own. Over the course of many years, reading and coming up with my own theories, I started to help people out who were around me and close to me. If they were hearing things or seeing things, I would investigate it, not really getting involved with the clergy or anything back then. I was just your average ghost hunter. It progressed to getting involved with some of the local groups around here; then it progressed to getting involved with Ed and Lorraine Warren. I had seen Ed at a lecture, and I immediately knew that was what I was here to do.
SJ: You said you had these experiences as a kid. What kinds of experiences did you have?
LG: I lived in two haunted houses as a kid, and I was targeted by the haunting. My family thought I was nuts, and it took for my brother and sister to have their own experiences for them to go, "Wait a second here, something's going on." When my brother and sister started seeing and hearing different things, it gave them a different perspective, but they didn't tell our parents because they thought they'd get ridiculed like I did. I would have visitations from things and other really bizarre and terrifying things happening.
SJ: And this sparked your interest in the whole paranormal field?
LG: Yeah, because I was a kid and didn't know what was going on. At one point, I thought it was the antichrist, to be honest, because the things that were happening were targeting me and were physical. The first paranormal experience that I can remember, from when I was a child, I remember as clearly as if it had just happened. I was lying in my bed, maybe I was five or six years old, but I remember putting my head down and looking toward the door. It was still light out. My left ear was facing up. And all of the sudden, I heard what sounded to me was a ring, like a telephone ring. At the time, I wasn't thinking about it. I mean, it could've been a phone downstairs or anywhere else. But it was very clear to me. So I said "Hello?" And I heard a woman's voice that said "I know you're here. Can you hear me?" And I said "Yes!" And she said "Can you hear me?" And I said "Yes!" Then she said "I'm going to go now." And I said "Wait! Come back!" but there was nothing there. I never heard it again. But for me to remember it to this day, it chills me to this day. The bizarre thing was when it happened, I guess I was at that age I didn't really understand the mechanics of anything physical in this world. I mean, you're a kid! You don't know anything, you're just growing up. Yet, that one thing fascinated me. Every night when I went to bed or when I went down for a nap, I listened for it and it never came back. But I do know I wasn't sleeping when I heard it.
That one experience led me down to tell my parents. But after a while I stopped telling them because they thought I was making it up. I was put in counseling, diagnosed with ADD, all sorts of things. I went into a denial stage where I just refused to admit these things were happening and that didn't work because they came back stronger. It made me inquisitive about the unexplained, ghosts, poltergeist activity, that sort of thing. And there were no experts back then. I mean, to call someone an expert means they are the know-all and be-all on that subject, and I can't even call myself an expert because I don't know everything. I'm knowledgeable, and I use my own common sense, but that's it. Which is how I became what I am today, which is knowing how to deal with these cases. So I began to research and experience, sometimes testing out my theories to see if they would work or not.
I remember back in 1974 when The Exorcist came out, my parents wouldn't let me see it. Back then, rated R was off limits. So I sat there waiting for my mother and father one night, waiting for them to get back from watching The Exorcist. And I was still up because I wanted to ask them how the movie was. They came in the door, and all I heard was my mom yelling "Oh my God! The Face!" and she was screaming! And that voice haunted me, the way she was screaming about it. Because something was just too real about it, and she was scared. And she wouldn't talk about it. My dad told me "Don't worry about it, it's not the kind of movie you'll ever want to go see."
And that just pushed me to want to see it even more! So anyway, I was having little minor experiences here and there. Some of them made me question my reality and sanity, and I started looking for answers any way I could. Every friend I've ever had, I always ask them in the beginning five to ten minutes, what do you think about ghosts? And see what their answers were. That's how I judged who were my friends. I didn't have too many friends.
LG: I had friends, close friends, and I was friends with the Jewish kids and other kids from different religious denominations. They would tell me their different experiences and their different religious beliefs and why they believe them. I was fascinated by that. I kept going on and on, and throughout the years of having my own experiences, which, eventually, my parents actually experienced . . . I know for a fact, in the second house we bought, they experienced something. My parents won't talk about it unless you sit them down in a room in an orderly fashion. It has to be like "Knights of the Round Table" or something with them. And trying to open up a conversation with that, they're like "Oh, Lou! You don't believe in that do you? Oh, God . . ." And then you start to talk to them about it and they'll say "Well, y'know, when I was sitting down here . . ." something happened, so you always need a warm-up with them.
My father was always the one who was like, "That stuff doesn't exist," and I would question him. "What do you mean it doesn't exist? We're Catholics; there's gotta be life after death. The priests say we have to have it." And he'd tell me to ask the priests, who'd give me a sermon. When I was a teenager, I had a test of faith. My grandfather passed away, and he'd been everything to me. I can say that I was a very fortunate kid. I wasn't brought up in poverty or from the streets or anything. But I didn't like the character of the people around me, and I just wanted to be a regular person and have a regular conversation with someone instead of being a snob and turning up my nose at people because I never liked it when people did that to me. Anyway, I had a test of faith after my grandfather passed away, and I remember running out of the hospital, because he'd died of a heart attack. I'd done everything with these people. I was over at their house every other day, weekends, down on the Shore with them, everything. When God took them away from me, and me being an altar boy in a Catholic school and serving the Lord, and he dying on the front steps of the church like that, I was offended. I cursed God up and down, left and right. I said how could you do this to me, after all these things I'd done for you. So that was my test of faith. And I just didn't care about anything. And a month later, my Grandmother died. My family says she died of a broken heart, and she did. She was the first woman in the United States, in 1969, to have this thing like a ping pong ball in a steel cage inside her heart (artificial valve). And it lasted all through the seventies and part of the eighties. And in 1986, it started malfunctioning and they had to replace it with something newer. Her body rejected it after eleven hours of surgery. But before she died, I told her, "I love you, I don't want to see you go. But please, if there's an afterlife, please come back to me. Say hello, anything." But in my thirty-six years, I've never seen anything that I could say was my grandmother coming back. But one night I decided to just sit back and analyze everything, and I could feel it inside my heart. When you feel it inside your heart, you know it's true. The head and the heart are two separate entities altogether. A lot of people get them confused, but with a little searching, you can find that what's in your heart is the truth. That's when I said, "This is what I want to do. I want to get back and get my religion back and my faith back, and I'm not going to let whatever it is that's trying to destroy my faith in God do this to me." And I did that.
An extremely old copy of "The Rite of Exorcism" from Lou's personal collection.
I want you to understand, I'm not a Bible-thumper or anything like that. I'm just a guy who was an altar boy and went to Catholic school. So, throughout my teenage years, and for the next few years, I started researching and studying. And whenever I got down or was having a test of faith, I would just get stronger until I didn't even notice the tests of faith anymore. I researched psychic abilities and the Dalai Llama, and if someone was from another religion, I would have the most fascinating conversations with these people. For anyone else standing around, it must've been a boring conversation, but I thought it was interesting, all the different beliefs. Even though I was Roman Catholic, I knew deep in my heart that there is one God, just many ways to him.
SJ: So you started investigating for friends and people you knew.
LG: Well, I started getting into this professionally by talking to different people who claimed their house was haunted, and I'd go investigate their house. Very much a novice and getting into it in a stupid way. I mean, when you start out in the beginning, you have no clue. You have to piece it together. I started getting involved with some local ghost groups here, and at the same time I got involved with Ed and Lorraine Warren.
SJ: When was the first time you met Ed?
LG: I met him in 1998 or '97. I went to a lecture with another member of a ghost group, and I'd heard of him, but never read any of their books, and knew I had to meet him. So they were at this college, and I watched him onstage and he was showing these pictures, and I realized this stuff is real. What I'd experienced, someone knows how to deal with, or someone has knowledge of how to deal with it. So I came up to them when they were outside. I still have the first picture I took with them, and Ed looks very disgruntled. Lorraine is smiling, but Ed doesn't look happy. Later he told me it was because they thought I might have just been some nut. (Laughs) So I told him I really wanted to get into this kind of work, and he said "Well, kid, call me up some time." So I waited like a month out of respect before I called him and he said, "You seem really interested". Is there a reason why?" So I told him about my experiences, and he told me the next time they had a case they'd give me a call. So he called me, and I became involved with Ed and Lorraine's New England Society for Psychic Research.
SJ: So what was the first job he sent you on?
LG: He sent me on a job in Rome, New York. It was an eleven-hour drive. That was the first case in which I saw five black shadows crawling across the wall and swirling around the room, and when activity began downstairs, they all just zapped through the wall. The one thing Ed told me was, "Everything else you've ever learned, forget it, because now you're about to experience the real deal." That began my investigations with Ed and Lorraine Warren and learning how to investigate these cases the proper way. Because nobody had as much experience as them; nobody had as many cases. They had some of the best cases in the world.
SJ: There are a lot of paranormal investigators out there. Would it be correct to say Ed Warren is the real deal?
LG: Yes. Ed Warren was talking about what kind of equipment to use in an investigation in a home in the early 70's.
SJ: That was before there was much information about the paranormal.
LG: That was before Amityville, before any of it. It went on in the 60's as well, before I was born. He just loved ghosts. He's been investigating for more than fifty years. He would tell me stories about the things he used to do, and it was almost like I was listening to what I was doing when I was a kid. See his first experience was different than mine. He was in a house and saw a door open, and that was it. And it led him on a crusade to find out what it was. His father was a cop, and he didn't believe in ghosts. So every time he told Ed there's no such thing as ghosts, it would pique his passion and curiosity even more. Same thing that happened with me. I couldn't even come close to the man in experiences. Understand, Ed has been involved with so many things on so many levels, and inside of clergy and any other type of religion on the earth, the man has real cases that have happened. The cases that those people get are some of the most unbelievable cases I've ever seen, and it's fascinating, how two people who constantly push themselves, are getting all these cases, and most of them are centered around the New England area.
SJ: That stands to reason. The New England area has a very violent past.
LG: Well, it's the oldest part of the country. That's why the hauntings in Wyoming aren't the way they are in Connecticut.
SJ: Yeah, I've been doing research on the hauntings in different states for the Cold Spots articles, and when you get to like the breadbasket of the US, some states are pretty slim pickings.
LG: Yep, exactly. And there's a reason for that. Most people filtered into the United States from Plymouth, New York, and Philadelphia, and you can trace it on down the line like that.
SJ: How many cases have you personally investigated?
LG: I have investigated, reviewed, or brought closure to well over 800 or 900 cases.
SJ: And obviously, not every case is going to be the horrific, terrifying . . .
LG: No, I would say every hundred cases you come up against will show you something you've never seen before.
SJ: That leads me around to possibly the most famous case you've been involved with, the Amityville case.
LG: I didn't investigate it, but I did research it.
SJ: Now there are a lot of really bizarro rumors about the house itself, mostly concerning what was on the land before the house got there. One of the rumors was that it was the proverbial ancient Indian burial ground. Another rumor was about a fellow named John Ketchum, who was supposedly a witch and used to live on the property.
LG: And there's no documentation for him.
SJ: When you and Ed started digging, what kind of history did he find on that land? Did he find anything other than the DeFeo murders?
LG: Well, here's how I got involved and what Ed told me. Ed was called in by George Lutz. Actually, Steven Kaplan showed up on the doorstep of the house when the Lutzes began talking about it being haunted. He claimed to be a "vampiroligist" and a "demonologist" and any other thing in the paranormal world with an "ologist" after it. Steven Kaplan was, from my understanding, a thorn in Ed's and the Lutzes' side. He would make up things; he would constantly badger and try to get in on Amityville because he showed up on the doorstep and wanted to investigate it and was denied access to the home. From what I was told from George (Lutz), he did a little research and found out Kaplan was not what he was claiming to be, that he had goofy diplomas and a phony doctorate, because he'd gotten it from one of those . . .
LG: Exactly. George didn't like that, and Laura Dideo contacted George and told him that she knew these two people who'd been doing this kind of thing for years. George said, "Who is it?" and she said, "Ed and Lorraine Warren." I'm not sure if George knew who they were at the time. I would have to gather that he would have at least heard of them because he did live in the area, and they were always in the paper out there. So it's possible he knew who they were. Ed went out to the house that night with Lorraine, and aside from any comments when they drove up in the driveway, when they got inside the house, Lorraine immediately felt there was a presence inside the house. How accurate Lorraine is, I don't know. I have been around her in many situations, and sometimes she can play off as, you know, "There's demons in here," and I don't know what to make of her. It has been reported in many of the New England haunted places that, when she goes there, there's automatically demons in the house. Now why that is, why a woman would make something like that up, I don't know. Maybe there's not, but it sure scares people and they don't want them in, and Ed would say "What are you doing? If there's demons in here, I think I would know!" So Lorraine went into the house and said, "This is the closest to hell as I ever want to get." She was walking into the sewing room. Ed went down into the basement and was in the "red room," and he got, what I believe is called attacocardia, where the heart starts fibrillating. Basically, a rapid heartbeat. At that point, Ed said he had to leave the house. You have to understand, when they walked into the house, they had to conduct an interview, there were researchers there, it was a couple of hours between the time they got there and the time they actually walked around the house. They were doing what normal ghost hunters do in this day and age. Back then, there weren't any video cameras that were widely accessible, so I don't think there're any videos of this event. But they never really got too much into whatever was in there. So they left the house, and George and Kathy just left.
When George and Kathy Lutz moved in, they were there for twenty-eight days. On the 28th day, they just left all their belongings there. When Ed and Lorraine went into the house, they said the beds were pulled down, the dishes were in the sink, it was like they just got up and left. From that point, it gets unclear as to what happened after the Warrens left. It's a real shady area because one person tells you one thing and another tells you something else. But what happened within those 28 days? Well, apparently, in the house they heard a marching band, like a drum beat. The layout of the house was covered in shag carpet, which was very dampening to the sound, when you listen inside the house, there's a very deafening sound. In the book, The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, there are a great many things that never happened. One of the things George stated on my show that was not true was that the locks were oozing blood and the toilet bowl had blood. Well, the toilet bowl had a black ring around it, which could have been just that the house was sitting empty for a year, and there were chemicals in the water. Although most of those chemicals usually turn up green, he claimed they were black. The locks bleeding, and things like that, it's a fallacy. They were oozing black stuff, which probably was oil, because they were old locks and they had to be oiled so they would work or the locks stick. Spots on the wall that couldn't be cleaned, things like that.
SJ: They knew about the DeFeo murders when they bought the house, didn't they?
LG: Apparently so.
SJ: For those that don't know, about a year prior to the Lutzes moving into the house, Ronnie DeFeo murdered his entire family while they slept in their beds.
LG: The murder was a little bit odd. The gunshots . . . Here's something that was actually tried on my show. The story goes, Ronnie went into the house with his rifle and shot and killed them all. They were all still in bed, they did not get up, forensics confirmed that, and none of the neighbors heard the shots. Now if the house had the rug inside that was dampening the sound that much, and it was constructed of heavy wooden doors and heavy glass, then it's very possible that no one heard those shots because of the construction of the house. And I'll tell you the truth, in a town like Amityville, it might be a quiet little town, but it sits on the water, and if it's a windy night, you're not going to hear jack. One of my listeners fired the same kind of gun inside his house and put a microphone outside as if it would be a human ear. Yet, we didn't hear it. Apparently, Ronnie said he heard voices in the house. I had the (DeFeos') maid on the show, and she said the house was not haunted. There was nothing that led her to believe it was haunted. She said that Ronnie was insane and that he did what he wanted, that he was a rich kid, and that he got in trouble all the time. One of the schoolteachers said the same thing and that she couldn't believe he'd lasted as long as he had without going to jail. There're a lot of factors in this. Ronnie's psychology . . . Now Ronnie claimed he heard voices and that he was possessed. Well, what movie just had come out? The Exorcist. Before The Exorcist, someone said possession, nobody would have even known what it was.
SJ: Didn't Ronnie recant that later on?
LG: Apparently, later on, he said he was not possessed and that he was trying to get a retrial. That was the same time the Lutzes went to trial with William Webber over him saying the whole thing was a sham. That's kinda how the story went. You have this guy who shot his whole family in his house; yet, nobody heard the gunshot, and they were all laying face down in the beds, so how does one pull that off without anyone hearing? Well it could've been a couple of things. Now it's possible that Ronnie used maybe a pillow, or something to dampen the sounds because it can't be that hard, especially not for a family known to have Mafia ties. It can't be that hard to figure out how to put a silencer on a rifle. But even so, he left the house and threw the gun away, and it was never found.
SJ: What about the theory that there was more than one shooter?
LG: Well that's another one, but still, someone should have gotten up. But the point is, they didn't. Even if you have two people and they shoot at the same time, somebody else isn't going to hear it and wake up? Some say that the sister did it, and then Ronnie killed her. Some say that it was this other guy, Kelsky, but there isn't any proof. And I'm just basing this off what they told me in the interview.
SJ: So George and Kathy moved into the house.
LG: Yes, after the house was exploited for being a known crime scene. There were questions about what had gone on there, and Ronnie said he was possessed. Ronnie said he heard voices, and that made the news. Somebody buying that house, knowing that, could have said to themselves, "Hey, this is a friggin haunted house if I've ever seen one. I'm going to buy this and see what's going on!" It's very well possible that might have happened. Can't rule that out. It's possible that George Lutz bought that house for that reason and tried to manifest or summon things or enhance things in the house to make it worse.
SJ: Now George and Kathy both admitted that they were both into transcendental meditation. It runs deeper than that, doesn't it?
LG: Yes. Apparently, from multiple sources, George Lutz knew about demonology and the occult and had prior knowledge of dark things before going into that house. And it's possible, I'm not saying that it happened, but it is a possibility, that George tried to conjure things up in that house, it went wrong, or maybe didn't happen enough, and 28 days later they fled the house because they couldn't deal with what was happening anymore. Now, from what George said on my show, he and Kathy levitated, and that's on a polygraph. They were asked about levitating, and they passed the polygraph. Now, did George and Kathy really levitate, and if so, how high? The only people who know the answers to that are George and Kathy, and Kathy's deceased. So if we don't know those answers, we can only go by what George said, and he did pass the polygraph, so I have to give him that. The problem I have with that is this: If they were in that transcendental dream state, they may have dreamt or had an out of body experience that made it seem real to them that they were levitating. A third party did not see them levitate. Only the two of them saw each other.
SJ: Now, Lorraine said that she was as close to hell as she wanted to get and that there were demons in the house. What was Ed's take on it?
LG: Ed believed that there was something very dark and powerful in that house. He claimed that there were things going on inside in that house and things that were going on with the Lutzes that have not been talked about.
SJ: Given the information you've gathered and the research you've done, you know all the key players in this, what's your ascertation of the house?
LG: I think, in my personal opinion, that what went on in that house during those twenty-eight days was the direct result of a family that purchased a home, and that at least one person knew about the death of the DeFeos, and that Ronnie had claimed to have heard voices, and that it was the perfect grounds for almost a playhouse. There is only one real "Amityville Horror," and it was the murders of the DeFeo family. I think that with all the aspects of the case, all the elements are present in this story. Prior knowledge of the house's history, an unexplained death of a family, a tragic death of a family, and someone claiming to be possessed. And at the same time, you have someone who could have known that, someone who had prior knowledge of the occult, possibly trying to manifest something. It's the element of disaster there. You have all the key elements to create a violent haunting. And if you look on the copyright of The Amityville Horror, it relates to a series of books on demonology. Why demonology? Why not hauntings? In the whole time that I interviewed him, George Lutz never said he'd gotten kicked punched, scratched, or any other signs that it was a haunting. He told things that might have been going on in the house, but not things that affected George. They talked about the "red room" being the gateway to hell. It never happened. It's not the gateway to hell.
SJ: As I understand it, it's just a storage closet.
LG: Yeah, that Kathy found. All these things, nothing affected George. But George won't talk about the last night they were there. Why? Because now we have an element of the story that will lead to the final sequel of Amityville. Kathy was very humble, very nice on the phone. She believed that there was something there. But what did it do to Kathy? Nothing. Did it hurt her? Leave marks on her body? No. As far as I'm concerned, being a demonologist, Amityville was not a violent haunting. It showed displays of anger, the house, but it didn't show displays of anger toward anyone. George said his kid's hand got caught in the window? Well, he also said it was old, and all of a sudden it fell down.
SJ: That could also be shoddy carpentry.
LG: Exactly. It could have been that they were wiggling it, and it suddenly fell down. What does that have to do with demonology? And where the hell was this priest? All these years, the priest never did an interview? Why, all of the sudden, did the priest say he heard "Get out!" and saw the flies. Back then, there really wasn't too much information about violent hauntings.
SJ: As I understand it, during that time period, what people "knew" was mostly a combination of superstition and folklore, and there was no real science involved.
LG: Right. And there were no investigations, really, and if there were investigations, they were from universities that really had no clue what they were doing.
SJ: They were making it up as they went along.
LG: Exactly. They had to! Nobody had a clue. But the Warrens had an idea, and they paved the way for future investigators.
SJ: Now you said you've investigated over eight hundred cases. So what are some of the most disconcerting things you've seen?
LG: Some of the most disturbing things that I've seen are that people can be the nicest people in the world, and then you bring up religion, and what's inside of them comes out. They get that look in their eye, and it's a look I know all too well. When someone is either oppressed or possessed, they get that look, and it's like staring into a black hole. And when they get that look, it's time. It's time for the fireworks to go. Because they start talking, and they start saying things that they don't even know about you, things about other cases. Some of the most disturbing things, I guess, to the average person would be seeing things levitate, and seeing people get pulled out of chairs, and seeing dark shadows walking in front of you, and almost getting thrown out of a second story window . . .
SJ: All of which has happened to you?
LG: Oh yes. And getting your hair tugged, or scratched, or diabolical confusion. All those things happen, and the thing in threes where the group shows up in three separate cars and all three cars get flat tires at the same time, and for some people, this stuff is insane. But guess what? It happens and it's not just me. Other people have experienced it, other researchers have experienced it, and people are starting to come out and understand that it's not just Casper the Friendly Ghost. It's something else, and it doesn't like us. And that's when they call someone like me who deals with violent hauntings. The tragic things are when it involves kids. You get families where the kids are being tormented, and the husband is doing something wrong and you tell them not to. But they keep doing it, and you have to pull away from the case. That's a tragedy. Tragedy isn't seeing something.
SJ: There's a distinct difference between a "ghost hunter" and a paranormal investigator. Like the difference between the armchair-quarterback style ghost hunter that has his camera and wants to get a few pictures as opposed to the investigator who takes the time to do the research and does meticulous documenting of what he does.
LG: Yeah, but I've seen some people that are so concerned with documenting, ridiculous stuff that by the time something does happen, they're too busy writing stuff down! I've never agreed with that. A lot of ghost hunters make this tragic error. When they go out, they document everything first. That's not the way it's supposed to go. When a family is telling you that they're experiencing something, you don't need to document it because if it happens, it's going to happen again. You need to experience what it is first. Then you get your documentation. A lot of people don't do that. In fact a lot of people, the first thing they do is run in there with fifteen people, which is a deadly mistake, because if what's in their house happens to be demonic, you've just put that family in so much danger that it's not even funny. You're bringing all kinds of energy into this environment and when the team leaves, chances are the family is going to get attacked. Even with religious demonology, they go in to talk to the family and experience the phenomenon first.
When I first go into a case, I don't break out any equipment. I have an EVP recorder and a camera. That's all I need. Sure, when the activity starts, I'll snap a few pictures and get some EVPs, but I'm experiencing the phenomenon first, and you can't do that with a pen in your hand. It's fine if you want to document it, but some people go overboard. That's why most people get bored with ghost hunting, because most of it's sitting around waiting for activity. That's why a lot of people make stuff up, because it's so boring. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that documenting is bad. What I'm saying is that to investigate a haunting, you have to experience the haunting first, without any technical mumbo-jumbo because that technical stuff is sometimes what makes a haunting stagnant. I've gone into places and sat from seven at night to seven in the morning and seen all kinds of stuff. But I didn't have any equipment going. But the minute I bring out the equipment, it goes stagnant. It's rare that that happens, but it happens. The procedure that I follow is: I bring the EVP recorder, the camera, interview the family, and get all the documentation you can, then you sit down and experience the haunting. To sit there and document every tiny thing that happens, from noises on the street to humidity levels, is a complete waste of time. It's basically easy. A lot of people throw a camera in the back and go to cemeteries, but some people take the documenting too far. And that's fine, if you are trying to prove the existence of ghosts.
SJ: But who're you trying to prove it to?
LG: Right! I know what I've seen and what I believe. If you can join up with other people with similar experiences, then great, and it's better than having people say, "You believe in ghosts? You're a freak!"
LG: I can't believe some people. "Ghosts? There's no such thing!" Well, okay. What religion are you? Roman Catholic? And there's no such thing as ghosts? How can you tell me that when, according to your religion, you're either going to heaven, hell, or purgatory! What are you going to do, wait around in limbo until Christ returns? I mean, come on! Your soul has to go somewhere.
SJ: What's one of the creepier cases that you've been on?
LG: Okay, here's one. The Ouija board case. I got a call from a family – a woman, her husband, and their daughter. They called in the early evening and said, "I have a question for you." They said they had a problem with a Ouija board that they can't seem to get rid of it. I said, "You're kidding me." She said, "No, I'm dead serious." They found this thing in the attic of their house. It wasn't an old Ouija board because the planchette was plastic. It was the little girl's grandfather's house. They took it out from the attic and started using it. And they'd ask it silly questions, like "Is Elvis around?" and such. Nothing seemed to work. It remained in the girl's closet for a couple of months. Well, one night, the little girl gets it out and starts trying to communicate with her grandfather. She asked if the grandfather was there to give her some sort of sign, and that was the key. She asked for a display of power. The planchette started moving. That's what let whatever it was in. It started spelling out the grandfather's name, and she got accustomed, over time, to it as her grandfather. She talked to it every day, and it would tell her what to wear for school the next day, or who was walking down the street and what color shirt he was wearing, that sort of thing.
See, when people use a Ouija board, there's a condition called automatism, in which they believe they are controlling the object. It's really a form of divination. It's rare for it to move, but it's even more rare to have it move on its own. But these things do work. The problem is, you don't know what you're contacting. There are people who promote the use of Ouija boards during investigations. I don't do that. There are also people who say to protect yourself and then use a Ouija board. I do not condone that because you're using your body as a conduit, and you can open yourself up to a lot of things. See, I use an EVP recorder and ask questions, but I'm not using my body to conduct anything. When you're using divination, you're basically allowing the spirit to come into your body. So anyway, the little girl started getting scared of it because the answers it was giving was a little too close to home, a little too personal. So she told it she didn't want to play anymore. That night, when she went to bed, she was just drifting off to sleep when the blankets were ripped off her bed, and she was thrown to the floor. Then the closet door opened, and the Ouija board fell out. Now, the father had nothing to do with this and didn't believe in any of this stuff. But to appease his daughter, he got in the truck, drove out into the woods and threw the thing as far into the woods as he could. When he got home, they sat down to dinner, and they heard a loud bang from upstairs. The little girl ran up the stairs and started screaming. Lying on the middle of her bed was the Ouija board. Now the father started to believe because he knew he'd just thrown it away. So, the whole family got in the car and drove to a reservoir and threw the board in. They didn't see it sink, but they threw if out far enough that they figured it would get waterlogged and disintegrate. When they got back home, they went up the stairs and what was sitting on the little girl's bed again? The Ouija board. So they went out back, fired up the barbeque grill and threw the thing on and roasted it. Burned it to ash. They swept the ashes out and into a trashcan. That night, everything was fine. But the next morning the little girl wakes up and finds the Ouija board on her bed again. I get this phone call from this family who've tried to get rid of this damned thing three times. So I get them to send it to me to get it away from them. Now, this thing is in my house somewhere, and I can't find it. I mean, I know where it was, but it's not there anymore. It just keeps showing up in some of the goofiest places.
SJ: Let me clarify this. You have a specific place for all this stuff, right? I mean it's not like you take them out and play with them.
LG: No! I never play with them.
SJ: It's not like you misplaced it.
LG: No, I bring them here, and the ones that are problematic get locked up. Sometimes, they go on a shelf where I can see them. But I have some things that the spiritual energies are still there. I put the Ouija board on the shelf, and a few weeks later, it's not there anymore. The only place I haven't seen it is in the bathroom for some reason.
SJ: Now what is it like when you find it again. Is it like, "There you are!" or is it more like cautiously approaching it like it's going to bite you? (Laughs)
LG: (Laughs) No, I know it's not going to bite me because of my faith. It's not Lou Gentile that's walking into these houses, it's my faith. I'm not stupid. I know when to back off and what is and is not a dangerous situation. See, in a situation like that, where the Ouija board keeps showing up in different places, it's trying to entice you to play with it. So it can suck you in. Usually with a Ouija board, there's several stages. First stage is divination with a pendulum, and people think it's cool, But, the spirit may say to them, "This is getting boring," and they'll progress to a Ouija board. But that's not enough either, and they'll progress to automatic writing, where they'll put out a pen and paper while they're asleep and wake up with messages. But then, the spirit will convince the person that they can just talk in his head, and if they agree, they've allowed it inside and they're possessed. While it's a low form of possession, it's still possession. When you're interviewing them and they answer in another language, or they start telling you details about another case, it scares you. But that Ouija board is here, and it just keeps disappearing and reappearing all over my house.
SJ: What advice would you have for someone who believes his or her house is haunted?
LG: Don't talk to it. Don't acknowledge it. When someone first experiences a haunting, the biggest mistake is to acknowledge it. When you do that, you're giving it approval to interact with you. It's okay for you to, in a firm voice, to tell it that it is your house and to leave you alone. Many times, things will be okay after that.
SJ: For people who are looking to get into ghost hunting, how would you recommend they start? I mean, obviously they shouldn't put an ad in the paper that says "paranormal investigator at large."
LG: Start reading and only retain about 30% of what you read. The rest is probably just made up to make it interesting. Eventually, when you get comfortable, then start going out. Start with historic locations that are known to be haunted. A lot of people go out to cemeteries, but think about it. If you're dead, where's the last place you'd want to be? The whole ghost-hunting thing is nothing but a thought process. It's not you taking a picture of a spirit; it's the spirit letting you know what it wants your camera to see. If you physically see it with your eyes, then it is a physical event happening in real time. If you can't see it through your eyes, but you have photos of a woman made of orbs and globules, then what you have is what the spirit wants to convey to you.
Lou has encountered many strange things on his investigations. Below you will find a sampling of some actual EVP's he's picked up and decided to share with us. This is the first time Lou has shared any of these recordings anywhere on the Web, so enjoy these sound bytes with written introductions from Lou.
The laugh from Case 832 is from a demonic entity inside a woman that called itself Rekuf. This is NOT an EVP but an actual audible recording from a case in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I spoke with this Demonic entity for about one hour until it decided it was time to start manifesting things in the house to scare the family into submission. It would turn out that it was actually messing with me and was calling me "Fucker" in reverse. What you hear is an excerpt of the laugh after I commented about its silliness in using reverse words as it's true name.
The next is an EVP from a case I did in Pemberton, NJ. The case was one with ONLY 2 investigators in the room. However, a third voice comes in and says "Ahh you fuckin' whore!". The case was one that the mother in the house was getting touched and assaulted by a demonic entity controlled from the rituals of the husband's satanic practices. Don't ask!
Here is an EVP of an Episcopal standard 2-hour house blessing from a case I did in West Chester, PA. This house was exorcised by the Episcopal Church two times and failed until other recourses were taken. Again, don't ask! Forward and backward these demonic entities say the same thing! "LIAR!". Also included is the backward version .
Evp2_01 is from my home when it was in a state of Spiritual Dismay due to the amount of cases I was doing. My home was exorcised by three priests due to the activity. Anyway, here is the EVP of me asking the entity in the house if it is a human spirit. It says "NO!" and then I asked one of my most threatening questions. "HAVE YOU EVER LIVED?" The entity replies, "YES ASSHOLE!". Another fine display of diabolical/demonic confusion, CONTRADICTION!
Here's another EVP from a cemetery investigation where the spirit says, "I'm Marie"
80EVP2 is an EVP of music that WAS NOT PRESENT back in 1980 and recorded in a soundproof room used for past life regression. The regressionist got so freaked out by the music she refused to ever see the person getting the regression again. The person who she refused to let back in again turned out to be my client 20 years later with the above house in West Chester, PA. Yes, she had more spiritual baggage than a FedEx truck headed to a Chiller Convention.
Many thanks to Lou for taking time out of his busy schedule – from his ongoing investigations to his radio show – to talk with us.
Be sure to visit Lou online.