Words by Carmen Macri and Ambar Ramirez
“It starts as a tingle up the spine and a knowing that you are not alone.”
It’s no secret that Jacksonville is home to some of the most iconic haunted locations. Being over 200 years old, this city has secrets it wishes to tell.
Folio journalists Ambar Ramirez and Carmen Macri had the opportunity to speak with local paranormal investigator Steve Christian and Medium Pamela Theresa. They shared their most memorable haunts in the Jacksonville area.
Located in downtown Jacksonville is the historic Florida Theatre. The 1,900-seat building was built in 1927 on top of the grounds of what used to be an old police station.
“The Florida Theatre will always be a special place for me,” Christian explained. “While standing on that majestic stage where so many famous talents have stood over the years, the president of the theatre casually mentioned that the theatre was haunted. I had always been fascinated by the paranormal because I grew up “haunted” for as long as I could remember.”
Christian was on site for a TV shoot unrelated to the paranormal back in 1991. The unpretentious mention of a ghostly presence sparked the idea to create a television show focused on local haunts. Years later when Christian returned with the equipment needed to film the spirit realm, he landed on the holy grail. During the investigation, Christian and his team were able to capture a full-body apparition sitting on the balcony. The footage went viral and was proven to be fact by SyFy’s Fact or Fake. I guess you never really know who you’re sitting next to during a show.
For years employees have felt a presence within the walls. Lights would flicker and shadows would dance across the stage. One psychic claims to have spoken with the earthbound spirit who goes by the name of Doc Crowther. Crowther was a former technician, which would explain the fluttering lights.
Like most places in St. Augustine, the Casa Monica Hotel is no exception to ghost sightings and paranormal activity. It is probably one of the most haunted hotels in Florida, with consistent spine-chilling reports made by staff and guests. It is also another haunt that Christian holds fondly, room 208, to be exact. Though not one to get scared easily, Christian remembers the spirit of room 208 to be not so friendly. When he and his partner, Theresa, visited the hotel, they respectfully left that room and spirit alone to not cause any trouble. Unfortunately, word quickly spread about the “evil” spirit in room 208.
“By the time we had a chance to make it back to focus our attention on that room, the Earthbound Spirit inside had been put through Hell by every amateur out there,” Christian said. “Pamela Theresa did her job and helped him move on. Not before we found out that his name was Frederick and that he was a WWII veteran who didn’t have any legs. That didn’t stop him from getting around the hotel and scaring guests out of HIS room on a regular basis.”
When visiting haunted sites, it’s important to respect those lost souls as you would with anybody. Especially if you don’t want to bring any unwanted guests home with you. For instance, when Christian visited the St. Augustine Lighthouse, he walked away with more than he bargained for.
“I caught a telling EVP, (electronic voice phenomena) saying “I love Steve” while investigating the historic tower,” Christian explained. “ For weeks after, she would whisper my name right in my face as I lay in bed. My spiritual groupy hung around for a few weeks, and then she just left.”
A common misconception among paranormal investigators is that they are like ‘Ghost Busters’; going from haunted place to haunted place to capture and prove that ghosts are real. For Christian and Theresa, being a paranormal investigator means much more than that. Instead, they find that their purpose is to help spirits move on and to leave the places they find a little less haunted.
“All they need to wake up is to have someone tell them that they are dead and that they need to move on,” Christian said. “Once we shed the yoke of our physical existence, we transition back to our Heavenly home. We are back to our default setting which is universal love and understanding.”
Christian notes that most spirits don’t even know that they are dead and are reliving their death experience over and over again. Which is why some spirits give off darker energy than others.
“We are all spirits just wrapped in the coat of the physical body,” Theresa voiced. “Whatever was going on in their life before they died is still happening to them. If they were scared, angry, sad, etc., then these emotions are still a part of their life in the earthbound realm.”
No earthbound spirit is inherently evil. Just like living, breathing people, they are misunderstood. Rather than being frightened when lights begin to flicker and shadows dawn in the corner of your eye, welcome the spirit. If you decide to play paranormal investigator, do it with respect.