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Local haunts keep ghost hunters hopping

By Laura A. Hipshire

PUBLISHED: October 28, 2007

By day, Scott Hattis of Riverview is a delivery supervisor for a Detroit business; by night, he's a genuine ghost hunter.

It all started when Hattis, 45, moved into his wife's former childhood home in River Rouge about 15 years ago. Soon after, he knew this was no ordinary house.

"I had knives thrown at me and I was thrown down steps in that house," Hattis said.

Up until that point, he never paid much attention to believing in paranormal beings or "ghosts."

"Not until this happened to me," he said.

Soon after moving out of that "horribly haunted house," Hattis joined a paranormal investigation group and eventually branched off into his own organization, ParaHaunt Paranormal Researchers, which he started in 2000.

Hattis said he was motivated to become active in such a group so that he could help others in their quest to rid their homes of unwelcome spirits.

"No one should have to go through the horror that I went through," he said.

The group now consists of five people; Hattis serves as leader along with co-leader Pam Welsh of Allen Park.

One of the group's most recent investigations centered around the Huron River Inn in Rockwood.

"I've wanted to do one there for a quite a long time," Hattis said, remembering a few years back when a friend asked him if he'd like to go to a "haunted pub."

Perched atop a set of railroad tracks, the Huron River Inn offers drink shot specials for $1 whenever a train goes over the tracks.

Many patrons and staff members at the inn have reported strange sounds and sightings over the years, so it seemed to be an ideal place for Hattis and his colleagues to investigate.

At around 9 p.m., the group gathered their standard equipment, which includes electromagnetic field detectors, thermometers, digital cameras and voice recorders.

According to Hattis, the most valuable piece of investigative equipment is the infrared video camera.

"It's very precise. I've seen everything from balls of light to full-sized apparitions," he said.

The group also takes notes throughout investigations documenting times and other pertinent information.

Welsh and another colleague decided to check out the inn's basement, and sat in total darkness for 15 minutes with an infrared camera in hand, waiting for action.

"All of a sudden, they saw a ball of light come through from a back room," he said. "It really startled them."

When the infrared camera footage was reviewed, however, the image did not appear on the tape.

"That was kind of strange," he said.

The group spent four hours at the inn, and didn't come up empty-handed.

"We saw several orbs on the infrared camera. We also heard footsteps coming from 'nowhere,'" he said. "I would guess there are about three entities there now.

"They are probably former patrons that have passed."

And although Hattis said most of the cases he investigates involve negative spirits, in his opinion, there's nothing to be worried about at the Huron River Inn.

"It's delightfully haunted. They don't bother anybody," he said.

According to Hattis' calculations, his group has conducted hundreds of investigations to date, ranging from "gentle hauntings" such as the inn's to "demonic hauntings."

Many people have written the group to thank them for their services. One homeowner in Romeo was curious about a female spirit that kept appearing at the top of her steps each night.

The woman contacted a psychic who went to her house, charged her $100, and told her the spirit's name was "Mary."

The homeowner kept calling the spirit "Mary," as she had been told to do, at which point terrible noises and disturbances began happening in her home.

Hattis and his group came out to investigate.

"When I entered the house, I kept hearing 'My name is Sarah, not Mary,' over and over again," he said.

The homeowner looked stunned and told him to wait a moment while she left the room; she returned with a document with the original homeowners' name on it.

"Her first name was Sarah," he said.

After 'Sarah' had been correctly named, the disturbances in the home vanished.

Countless stories like these have turned many of Hattis' skeptics into believers, he said.

"I still get razzed a lot at work, though, because I chase ghosts," he said.

Hattis has this to say to non-believers: "You're very fortunate to not have to believe in this."

Some might be surprised to learn the group doesn't charge a dime for its services.

"We're not in this for the money," Hattis said. "It's a huge feeling to know we've helped somebody."

October is a very busy month for the group; they recently visited a group of brave Girl Scouts who camped out at Michigan Memorial cemetery, and often conduct informational seminars in locations such as public libraries.

Currently, Hattis is seeking two more individuals who would like to learn the business as full-time (10 hours or more per week) researchers.

Anyone interested in joining the group, attending an event, or enlisting help with a paranormal haunting, can contact Hattis at 1-734-934-5473.

For more information about the group including upcoming seminar locations, visit

"We investigate everything from hoaxes to demonic possessions. Our group doesn't shy away from anything," he said.

For those interested in the possibility of encountering spirits of the kinder, gentler sort, the Huron River Inn is located at 22401 Huron River Drive in Rockwood.