Local group seeks out paranormal events

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 16, 2016

It’s Saturday night. The sun has set, and there’s no moon in the overcast sky, but the air is still and hot, thick and damp.

Sweat begins to trickle and settle in. Anyone else would be inside.

But the handful of members in Bogalusa’s Global Paranormal Society aren’t anyone else and they’re not inside. Rather, they’ve gathered at Ponemah Cemetery, loaded up with electronic gear and they’re looking for ghosts. In short, it’s just another Saturday night for the team.

Wayla Duley, the leader of the GPS, founded the society five years ago when she moved to the area from Michigan, and in that time she said she’s seen plenty of weird things at Ponemah.

Sometimes it’s black shadows moving through across the cemetery or sometimes they see things in photographs or they hear things in audio recordings. And sometimes, she said spirits have asked to simply be remembered.

“They have asked to get flowers and they’ve asked what year it is,” she said.

She added that she does agree to get flowers, but not from other gravesites. The group has also been asked to fix letters on graves or clean up a gravesite, if it needs it.

Duley said she’s been communicating with spirits her entire life.

“My dad taught me to sit down and listen and talk to them,” she said.

But on this particular night, they weren’t saying much. Even so, Duley and her team, which include men and women and even a couple of teenagers — sons of one of the members — were happy to spend a couple of hours walking, recording and videotaping the cemetery.

“We like to practice as much as possible,” Duley said.

There are 10 core members of members in the group and four part-time members. The GPS team even has a couple of dogs, Coconut and Riley. Duley said a good ghost dog will become alert in the presence of the supernatural, although not all dogs make good ghost dogs.

“Either they are or they aren’t,” she said. “One dog I had was alert and another wasn’t. He couldn’t care less.”

The same thing is true of people, too. Sometimes people can experience the supernatural and sometimes they cannot, though Duley suspects this has to do with an open mind and a propensity to believe in the spiritual.

“Open-minded people and people with a Christian background are more susceptible,” she said.

Duley is herself a minister, and said she believes Baptist and Pentecostal beliefs could explain the presence of ghosts.

“They believe that when you die, you go to heaven but before heaven, you’re in a waiting area and this,” she said, gesturing at the surrounding area, “could be the waiting area.”

Duley said she’s interested in ghosts for a couple of reasons.

“The curiosity,” she said. “I’m curious about what comes after this life. I’d like to know. Also, if I can help someone along the way.”

While hunting ghosts at night in a graveyard might seem a bit clichéd, the group also investigates other sites and at other hours.

Stacey Abernathy, one of the researchers on the team, said “daytime hunts are just as important.”

Besides the weekly practice sessions, the group also volunteers their services to anyone who believes their home or land might be haunted.

“We don’t charge,” Duley said. “If you have a problem, we’re willing to help you resolve it.”

This includes debunking or explaining physical phenomena. Abernathy said some 60 percent of their investigations lead to some natural, normal explanation. At one point Saturday night, while deep in a corner of the graveyard, the group notices some small, quick movements, and the group’s Ghost Radar app indicates a couple of poltergeists. But a second later, a couple of small deer scamper by.

But, Duley said, not everything can be explained away and Duley said her own home is haunted by the spirit of a Native American.

“He messes with me all the time,” she said.

But Duley said she believes most spirits aren’t malevolent and if they do cause mischief, it is for attention.

“I would liken them to small children,” she said. “They just want your attention.”

To find out more about the group, check out the Global Paranormal Society’s Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @gpsghosts.

Also, Duley is an author and will be at the Washington Parish Book Festival in Franklinton on Oct. 1. Duley has written children’s books, cookbooks, romance novels and also books on the paranormal, including My Paranormal Journey, an autobiographical account of her life as a paranormal investigator.