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Engaging people: Michael McDonald

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 5:56 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 22, 2009

COLUMBIA — When Michael McDonald was young, strange things happened to him. Toys changed rooms without being touched by human hands. Doors opened randomly. Covers got pulled off his bed in the middle of the night. Instead of being fearful, he was curious.

“Paranormal has been in my life since I was a child,” McDonald said. “Once I got old enough I started researching it more. I think I started ghost hunting when I was 16. I would take my friends, and my cousin Shelley, and we’d go check abandoned houses and other places.”

McDonald and his team of investigators from the Kindred Moon Paranormal Society, answer calls for paranormal help from all over the county and produce their own television show for Columbia’s local access television. They answer questions most people are too afraid to explore themselves.

“When it happens to you it’s very frightening, it’s very terrifying,” McDonald said. “Not knowing what’s going on is really what makes it scary. That’s why a lot of people are scared of the dark; because they can't see what’s in front of them, but once you can see, everything seems a lot better. That’s the same way about learning about the paranormal, once you find out more about it, it’s not as scary as you think it is.”

McDonald never lost his interest in the paranormal.

“I ended up having cancer when I was about 24,” McDonald said. “I was lying on a table awake for 11.5 hours … wondering if I was going to live or die. Makes you kind of rethink life a lot. At that point I really got into the paranormal even more. I’ve been doing it for over 17 years, researching and trying to find the answers and trying to give people answers.”

McDonald said he believes that the way people view the paranormal has changed quite a bit in the last few years.

“Now, when we tell people we’re ghost hunters, people seem to be very interested and share their own ghost stories with us.”

To record paranormal activity they use equipment such as infrared cameras, DVR systems, thermometers, voice recorders and electromagnetic field detectors. “Anything that can measure anomalies and things that should not be going on, we have the equipment to measure it,” McDonald said.

They have caught pictures of apparitions in mirrors and apparitions walking on video. They have 1,000s of EVPs, electronic voice phenomenon, of something answering questions back that they asked.

“It’s pretty impressive stuff,” he said. “We go and investigate and try to find them some answers and give them some help and the power to empower themselves to not fear what’s going on.”

It’s not just a hobby for McDonald — it’s a way of life. After 17 years, he is still not immune to the fears that most of us would expect during a ghost hunt.

“I still get startled from time to time,” McDonald said. “But after doing it for so long you get used to it, kind of numb to it. You learn stuff new everyday. That’s what’s so great about the paranormal field, it’s always changing, nothing is ever set in stone. It’s not like ‘OK, a ghost is going to react at this certain day and certain time.’ They don’t come on command, you can’t schedule it and make it happen. They do whatever, just like people."

Going into an investigation, the team members take their roles very seriously. They don’t automatically assume that there is paranormal activity going on. They research the land, the house and the people, and try to get a full understanding of the situation.

“It could be anything from unshielded wires to gas leaks,” McDonald said. “There could be abuse that could be causing all this kind of stuff that’s going on. To me, a paranormal investigators job is to go in and find the answers and help them, no matter what.”

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