Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 4:00 pm
By Kellen Quigley, Contributing Writer
SALAMANCA NY — On Friday, April 24, 2015
Area residents Joseph and Renee Freaney joined members of the Southern Tier Paranormal Research Team to investigate the Dudley Hotel on Main Street.
For several hours, the team occupied the hotel, going from room to room and floor to floor, looking for signs of any paranormal presence. The team, based out of the Cuba and Friendship area, was also accompanied by two members of another investigation team from Friendship.
“When we began, we only investigated private homes,” said Brenda Sue Patanella, team leader and founder of the group. “We wanted to go where people needed help and be sure to give them answers.”
Patanella founded the Southern Tier Paranormal Research Team several years ago. Although some members from the original team have moved on, many new members joined in recent years through ads posted by Patanella and interest from the team’s Facebook page.
Since then, the team has branched out to bigger buildings and members have developed their methods through experience, use of different equipment and years of compiling data.
“I’ve held classes on paranormal investigation,” Patanella said. “That’s another place some newer members on the team came from.”
Other members who attended the investigation were Autumn and Danny Brown, Linda Brundage and Brandon Lee from the Southern Tier team and Scott and Sherry from Friendship. Joseph Freaney grew up in Salamanca and suggested investigating the Dudley to the team. “I grew up here and heard stories my whole life about the place being haunted,” said Freaney.
Before an investigation, someone on the team always researches the site planned to visit. For the Dudley, this included going to the historical society in Salamanca. The team also must receive legal permission to investigate, usually meaning a meeting with the owner.
The investigations always begin with everyone together in one room praying for God’s protection. At the Dudley, Patanella led the prayer, asking for guidance, protection and the help to speak with the spirits in safety.
Everyone on the team wears a medicine bag around their necks filled with various stones to help protect them as well as enhance their senses, including turquoise, fool’s gold, amethyst, blue lapis and clear crystal, and they all wear crosses.
“You can never have too much protection,” Patanella said.
Next, the team will walk around the area for 15 to 20 minutes before setting up equipment, getting used to the area and allowing the spirits to get used to their presence. Then, with the setting up of equipment, the members log their start times and the investigation begins.
“We usually try to go from 8 p.m. to midnight,” Patanella said. “With a building as big as this, we’ll be here until at least midnight, maybe longer.”
Most recently, the team investigated the Ray Evans Seneca Theatre. While the team does investigate larger buildings occasionally, the members usually investigate private residences.
Some don’t carry any big equipment — just a flashlight, a walkie-talkie and a basic recorder — so as not to interfere with their senses. Whenever team members split up to investigate sections of the building, they always have a walkie-talkie and go in groups, usually twos or threes. “Safety is always a priority,” Patanella said. “No one ever goes alone.”
Each team member is assigned certain tasks during an investigation, but everyone has a general knowledge of what to do and what to look for. However, some members specialize in the technical aspect while others are more sensitive and detect through feeling instead of cameras or recorders.
Different from what people see on TV and in movies, the team tries to show everything they have complied, not only what they think people would want to see. “We want to present everything we find,” Patanella said. “It’s not for entertainment. It’s to help people and put their minds at rest.”
The combination of scientific and spiritual methods to look for paranormal activity helps to find other reasons why things may occur. Sometimes there are pipes, lights, or electric wires that people might not know are there causing the phenomena.
“It’s as much disproving with practical explanations as it is finding the spirits,” said Brundage, a team leader with Patanella. “That’s why it’s good to have some skeptics on the team.”
Although the investigation ended the same night, no conclusions or opinions can be finalized until all reports, photos, audio and videos have been reviewed. With dozens of hours’ worth of material to through, it takes several weeks before the verdict is in.
Until then, the Dudley will remain closed but the spirits may still be checked in.
(This story appears in the April 30, 2015 edition of The Salamanca Press.)