'Ghost Adventures' Crew Goes On Ghost Hunt Of San Diego
Forgive me if I'm a little nervous about interviewing Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin, the stars of the Travel Channel series, "Ghost Adventures."
The three are currently in San Diego for Comic-Con, but they are also using the occasion to investigate well-known local spots that are purportedly haunted.
I interviewed them last year when they were at the Con, and the meeting took place in Room 3327 at the Hotel Del Coronado -- which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Kate Morgan, who died there.
During the interview, a plastic water bottle suddenly flew out of the hand of the show's publicist, Diane McNamara, and landed two yards away at my feet. Although many publicists probably would love to throw water bottles at me, McNamara didn't intend to. In fact, the experience freaked her out so much, she left the room in tears.
The episode was a strange one even for this veteran team of paranormal investigators. Because strange things seem to happen when I'm with them, they've come prepared this time, Groff jokes.
"You'll notice the bottles are now glass," he laughs, pointing at some water bottles. "That's because we like bloodshed on 'Ghost Adventures.'"
Especially a journalist's, I suspect.
Groff as he ushers me into another allegedly haunted room in another allegedly haunted hotel, the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant in the city's Old Town neighborhood, a location that Bagans says is recognized by San Diego's paranormal community as the most active place in the area.
Ground zero is Ste. 4 and 5 -- the room where Juan Lorenzo Bandini, a San Diego pioneer who built the house in 1827, lived for many years.
"There's a lot of different phenomena going on at this hotel," Bagans says. "There's residual haunting, there's intelligent haunting, and there are also objects that are apparently haunted."
Groff points to the bed in the room. On the headboard is a woodcarving of a little girl's face -- Bandini's daughter.
"This is a little girl. This little girl died, and the father of the little girl made this bed and carved her face into the wood here, and the little girl looks at the mother that is carved in the mirror," Bagans says, pointing to a mirror across the room.
A rocking chair is also of interest to the team.
"This rocking chair was the little girl's as well, and yesterday, when we were interviewing the hotel innkeeper, this began rocking inexplicably," Bagans says. "Like what happened to you last year at the Hotel Del Coronado."
"Both cases could be examples of objects that are haunted," he adds.
This all takes place hours before their lockdown -- when the three ghost hunters close all of the doors and windows from inside and see if the spirits come a-calling. It will be filmed for a "Ghost Adventures" episode scheduled to air in September.
To get ready for filming, Bagans, Groff and Goodwin have been interviewing employees and locals to see what they know. Bagans explains the research they've done before my arrival.
"Before you begin a paranormal investigation, the most important criteria you need to gather is the back history of the location," he says. "A lot of the history back then wasn't documented. So we're almost writing the pages in our own textbook from the evidence that we gather, the paranormal evidence."
He says to properly "communicate with the spirits," it's important to know the kind of "energy" that happened in the place.
"You need to know what kind of energy happened during those deaths," he says. "And you kind of need to sync yourself with that energy. You need to know what events happened."
He makes a sweeping motion of the room before pointing at the bed.
"Take this room: We had a little girl who died," he explains. "There's a lot of sadness; a lot of sorrow. There's even been claims of a woman who works downstairs who says she heard a little girl crying. I think it's kind of a residual energy that may be attached to this bed.
"So a good thing for us to do in here would be to run some visual cameras, and just leave some digital recorders rolling in this room, not so much communication."
One of the best sources of apparition information has been a man named Carlos, an elderly guitarist who has been performing outside the hotel for more than 40 years.
"He's a very cool looking guy. Looks like an actor out of 'Desperado,'" Bagans notes. "As we were filming, he was singing this song, 'La Fantasma,' and it's a song about ghosts. So we walk up to him and I go, 'Are you singing something about ghosts?'
"He keeps strumming his guitar and he keeps talking to me and says, 'Whatever they're telling you -- I've been working here for over 40 years and I know things they don't.'"
During his preliminary research, Bagans discovered that Bandini had a wife who mysteriously died and nobody knows how.
"This gentleman, Carlos, who was playing guitar, [says] Bandini killed his wife and her body was buried where the restaurant is now under the bricks where people eat."
If true, Bagans says an unsolved murder is exactly the kind of thing that would lead a place to be "so haunted with activity by the spirits that aren't at rest."
"They're trying to tell us something," he says, patting his chest.
Catherine Miller, one of the co-owners of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, says she's well aware of the hotel's paranormal reputation. But she's never heard about the burial underneath the restaurant's bricks.
Still, she hopes that being featured on a popular paranormal show will scare up future customers.
"For some people, a haunted hotel is a selling point," she says, adding that the prospect of reaching the show's millions of fans was one reason why she chose to close down the 10-room hotel for two days for the investigation.
Meanwhile, Groff not only thinks the hotel is rife with various types of paranormal activity, he also sees the opportunity to take a cross-cultural approach to the investigation.
"We were talking with a guy yesterday and he was telling us that this all used to be Indian territory," he says.
"We didn't know that," Begans chimes in.
Groff is especially intrigued by the possibility of native American spirits contacting them.
"There is a certain energy that is trapped in this location and one lady was partially possessed, I guess, and started doing an Indian ritual dance," Groff says.
"Yes," Bagans adds. "This lady went downstairs to one of the other rooms we're going to be investigating and she started doing this Indian dance."
According to Groff, when the woman was asked to repeat the dance, she couldn't. The thought that a similar experience could happen to them excites him.
"Maybe we'll see Aaron dancing like an Indian here ... you never know," he laughs.
Seeing a moment to escape from being chum for the hotel's apparitions, I take my leave. But not before Goodwin, the crew member who is usually used as "bait," casually mentions where he'd like to do a future investigation.
"We've heard there's a place nearby that used to be a brothel frequented by Wyatt Earp," Goodwin says. "I'd like to go there."