There is a group of students at John Carroll University that thrives on fright. JCU’s paranormal research group, the Boo Streaks, was founded last November by current president and senior, Eugene Claridge.
The Boo Streaks have had much success since their founding, even winning the “Outstanding Organization of the Year” award last year. Claridge also received “Outstanding Organization President of the Year” for his commitment and leadership in the group.
The Boo Streaks were founded as a result of Claridge’s love of history and all things unexplainable. After a visit to a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – with fellow JCU student and current financial officer, senior Raymond Camma – the pair decided to bring ghost hunting to John Carroll.
This group has investigated various locations, including Cleveland’s Agora Theatre & Ballroom and the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. Claridge said the most important piece of each location is the history behind its existence. According to the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society, “150 young offenders were imprisoned in September of 1896, when it was first opened to instill justice within the community in hopes of reforming and rehabilitating the prisoners during their stay.”
Further research conducted by paranormal research website Dead Ohio claims that the original intent of this prison became skewed over time, due to abuse and heinous torture among inmates. This information became grounds for civil rights activists to petition for its permanent shutdown on Dec. 31, 1990. Upon closing, 155,000 men were housed within this historical landmark, and are believed to remain in confinement today due to paranormal observations.
The Agora Theatre has been said to have a history of its own. According to Claridge, the significance behind the investigation of the theater stems from a murder that occurred in its basement many years ago. Live footage and audio clips have exposed mysterious footsteps and shadows within areas of the theater during times that a camera has been left for collection of proof. Many correlations have been established between both locations, and have caused great interest amongst many groups of paranormal investigators.
Members of the Boo Streaks visit and investigate local sites around Ohio that are claimed to be haunted. Part of the group’s investigation includes videotaping and recording areas of the site that typically get a lot of activity. The group also conducts an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) test, which Claridge explained as a “Q and A session with the ghosts.” One member of the team asks questions and waits for a possible response from a spirit. In order to minimize skeptical views, the Boo Streaks use a vast amount of high-tech equipment to provide proof of supernatural phenomena.
Information is best received at night, due to a decrease in traffic and overall outdoor activity. Oblique lighting control has been said to produce the best results, due to the ability to manipulate the contrast of light within a selected area.
The team also tries to debunk any activity that can be explained by something other than the paranormal, such as doors being slammed shut by drafts or noise from other members of the team.
Membership for the Boo Streaks has grown tremendously over the last year. The group began with about 15 people, but now has an emailing list of almost 90 members–about half of which regularly attend weekly meetings.
Claridge says the purpose of the Boo Streaks is to establish academic creditability, which proves to be difficult when dealing with a topic so many people are skeptical about. “If you look at other Ohio paranormal investigation teams, there’s like a thousand of them,” Claridge explained. “What separates us from all the other teams is we want to look at this through the most academic frame as possible.”
In addition to visiting sites and collecting evidence, the Boo Streaks host many guest speakers, including other investigators and paranormal experts. The group also meets to discuss paranormal activity that is portrayed in pop culture, such as ghost hunting videos and movies.
The Boo Streaks work closely with the Ohio Paranormal Investigative Research and Theoretical Exploration Society, or PIRATES. PIRATES is a local paranormal team that meets with the Boo Streaks and shares its experiences and techniques. Occasionally, the two groups will do joint investigations at local sites.
“I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that we had a paranormal research group on campus last semester,” said senior Katie Wilczewski, paranormal investigator.
“My friends made fun of me when I was in high school because I loved watching ghost hunter-type shows and had some paranormal experiences, and talked about them a lot. It’s been great to be a part of the group and learn more about paranormal investigation.
“The fact that it’s such a diverse group with a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and levels of skepticism toward the paranormal is amazing,” she continued. “Our investigation at the Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield has been my favorite to date; we had so many cool experiences there.”
In the future, Claridge hopes to investigate many new sites, including Campion Hall and Murphy Hall, which are both rumored to be haunted.
“This semester has been fantastic for the Boo Streaks and demonstrates the tremendous growth of the group,” said group adviser, Matthew Zarzeczny. “Attendance at meetings is perhaps double what it was during the past academic year. Many of these new student members have already enjoyed a wonderful opportunity to attend a special preview screening of the film “Annabelle,” for which we all received free posters and masks. Furthermore, the group put together an article on the topic of that film’s factual accuracy. This article has received over a thousand views and dozens of comments from readers. You can also see us with our posters and masks at the bottom of the article.”
“The remainder of the semester looks incredibly exciting for our group,” he continued. “We have plans for investigations of the Cleveland Agora and steamship Mather this semester, in addition to presenting our evidence from past investigations to the University in November. I am proud of the work and dedication of Eugene and Ray in starting this award-winning group and fostering its continued development.”
The Boo Streaks will be presenting their findings at 8:30 p.m. in Dolan on Nov. 3. The event is open to all students and staff, as well as the public.