Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TOP STORY >> Airman investigates paranormal

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The sun sets and a full moon rises on an eerie spring night, and all you can hear is the hiss of the wind blowing on the leaves and the muffled sounds of passing cars echoing off the grave stones at Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery in Cabot.

For Staff Sgt. Justin Rangel of the 345th Recruiting Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, this is a normal environment when he’s off-duty.

Rangel’s hobby takes him into the darkest and scariest places for some people, because he is a paranormal investigator.

“Paranormal investigating is the approach of being able to validate a paranormal claim through scientific research or investigation,” he said.

Rangel is the co-lead investigator on the team and a technical specialist with a paranormal team based in Dallas-Fort Worth. When Rangel first started out, people in the paranormal community dubbed him the “paranormal airman.”

Rangel said his spooky ghost story infatuation began as a youth. While staying over at a friend’s house, a shadowy figure appeared over him. He said couldn’t breathe, because of the feeling of extreme pressure on his chest. In the midst of the encounter, he remembered his grandma’s advice that whenever he feels scared he should call upon Jesus. Then the haunting figure disappeared.

That ghostly encounter triggered his curiosity into the paranormal, and inspired his quest to figure out what it was he experienced that night.

“The whole paranormal thing has always been an interest of mine. I’ve been doing research on the paranormal and looking into different stories about the afterlife outside of (traditional) religious beliefs since 1999,” Rangel noted.

Even though Rangel was doing research in 1999, he really didn’t start actively investigating until about nine years ago.

“I actually started investigating back in 2004; it was pretty much right after my last deployment, and right before my first recruiting job,” Rangel explained.

“We got a team together and asked permission to go into places (to investigate). We started establishing ourselves in the local community in Louisiana. We actually started investigating before the whole ghost hunter thing went mainstream.”

When Rangel goes out on an investigation he uses different equipment and technologies to measure energy. He commonly uses standard electromagnetic field readers and other pieces of measuring equipment to get a base reading on the location his team is investigating.

Thanks to social media, Rangel and Fort Worth Paranormal have people from across the country seeking their unique skills.

“People usually find us on our Facebook fan page or our website,” Rangel said.

When his team receives a request to investigate a location, they thoroughly interview the client. After the interview, they decide how many team members they need for the investigation. The team will then split the responsibilities of the investigation. Some will research the history of the location, while the others will do a site visit. After everything is complete, they unmask the results of their findings to the client.

Throughout his career as a paranormal scrutinizer, Rangel has had a lot of chilling experiences — both good and bad.

One experience that Rangel vividly recalls was when his team was investigating the haunted Hotel Marshall in Marshall, Texas, where a tragic event happened on an evening in August 2012. During their investigation inside the hotel. Rangel recalled he and his partner were asking questions and shooting video when suddenly his partner started complaining of a feeling much more intense than the “heebie jeebies.” It was during this time that his friend started to complain about a burning sensation on his back. Rangel lifted up the shirt and saw deep scratches that appeared and welted up right before his eyes.

Rangel and his ghost hunter team offer open minded analysis of supernatural encounters for clients regardless of religious affiliations or locations.

“We do this as a service to the community, for those folks who are too afraid to talk about certain things and speak out about their experiences,” Rangel said. “We are here to help.”

Rangel said he uses integrity, an Air Force core value, and applies it to his paranormal investigation.

“As far as experiences in the Air Force, first and foremost the integrity approach, because you don’t want to go out there and approach an investigation with a bunch of falsities,” Rangel said.