Watch a video of the paranormal investigation at the end of the story.
DAYTON -- "Do you have a name?"
"We're not here to run you out or scare you."
The floor squeaked as someone shifted his weight to the other leg.
"That box with the green light, that won't hurt you. If you can make the number go up to 4, we'll leave."
Sam Fields, an investigator of Eastern Washington Paranormal, watched as the electromagnetic field meter, perched on a quilted bedspread, held steady at zero. He waited patiently for a preternatural answer in Room 12 at the Weinhard Hotel.
From the far corner of the room, a red light shone from a video recorder equipped with an infrared illuminator for night filming. Another investigator manned the still camera.
Down the corridor, Nick Page, director of technologies for EWP, monitored the unlit bedroom and the three investigators inside from a television screen in "home base" -- a hotel room that served as the meeting spot for the 12 paranormal investigators present Sunday night.
Eastern Washington Paranormal has become a returning guest at the Weinhard Hotel, where it conducted its first surveillance in the spring of 2009.
"We've got such a rich history in this corner of the state," said Page, who founded EWP with girlfriend Nicole Larson in 2009. "We sent letters out to historic locations as feelers. Really old buildings have potential for residual energy."
After patrons had reported strange encounters with apparitions and odd noises, the people who run Weinhard Hotel were curious about what was going on, he said. "They were thrilled that we contacted them."
Two female guests had reportedly seen and spoken with the apparition of a young girl named Amanda in Room 16. After reviewing the video, audio, and photographs from an investigation in January, EWP identified a young child's voice on one recording. In another room, two other unidentified noises -- a quiet humming or singing and an unidentified male voice -- provided sufficient evidence of legitimate paranormal activity.
EWP relies on rotating investigation crews and scientific documentation to prove or disprove claims of spiritual manifestations. Each team carries an assortment of devices -- digital recorders, electromagnetic field meters, temperature gauges, night vision cameras, walkie-talkies. These are synced to one another, in order to triangulate and explain noises caused by the different teams.
"We're 100 percent self-supported," said Page. "This is where my tax returns went for two years."
EWP investigates private residences, property and businesses -- including last night's inspection of Weinhard Hotel and the neighboring Dayton Train Depot -- free of charge. From 10 p.m. until 4 a.m., EWP members volunteered their services in a continued effort to identify and isolate unusual and inexplicable activity.
More often than not, EWP debunks claims of paranormal activity.
"We're not doing sances and calling the devil," said Cherrish Bryarly, director of case management. "We're there to help the people that are too scared to tell their family or friends, or think they're crazy."
"Our main mission is to help people," said Jason Heidenrich. "You got to be comfortable in your own home."
"I've always believed in paranormal activity," said Fields. "But the more we've done investigations, I've become more skeptical." When investigators hear knocks or thumps, we try to find every other possible cause, he explained.
"From this work, I've heard things and seen things that might be paranormal," said Bryarly. "(You) can't know the absolute truth, that's what led me to do this."
Whether poltergeists and other spirits were present Halloween night and the early hours of All Saint's Day is still up for review. EWP will affirm or challenge claims of paranormal activity after analyzing its 100 hours plus of recorded audio, video and still footage.
Katrina Barlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.