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October 16, 2000

Michigan Sees Growing Interest in Spirits, Haunting

   WESTLAND, Mich. (AP)Haunted houses, ghost-infested graveyards and other supernatural phenomena are attracting a growing interest in Michigan these days.
   Equipped with video cameras and sophisticated recording equipment, ghost-hunters are fanning out in search of signs of disembodied spirits in old cemeteries and former mental hospitals.

  • Michigan Ghost
    Hunters Society

  • Great Lakes
    Ghost Hunters Society

  •    At least five such clubs have sprung up in southeastern Michigan in recent years, part of what some say is increased attention to the otherworldly.
       "There's more of an interest now than skepticism,'' said Scott Hattis of River Rouge, a member of Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan. "It used to be that people would never believe in it, but there's so much happening now, you can't help but have a revival. I get e-mails every day from people experiencing spirits in their homes.''
       Brushes with UFOs or spirits now happen to credible sources, said Richard Mann, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who specializes in the unordinary.
       "This doesn't feel like Bigfoot,'' Mann told The Detroit News for a story Sunday. "The reason this stuff is spreading is because there's a whole lot of people who are experiencing it. Science eventually will catch up because it's incomplete.''
       High on the list of haunted spots is William Butler Cemetery in Westland.
       The cemetery's spirits are said to cause fender-benders, roam the small grounds at night with chains and scatter flower petals.
       Neighbors "rarely set foot in the place because they think its haunted,'' said Westland police Lt. Marc Stobbe.
       Sandra Allen, a secretary at the Annapolis Church of Christ across the street, said she does not believe any of it.
       "The cemetery is directly across my window, and I've never seen anything,'' Allen said.
       Formed in the 1830s and named after nearby farmer William Butler, the cemetery has been inactive for years. The cemetery is maintained by the city and often the subject of vandalism and neglect, said Jo Johnson, with the Westland Historic Commission.
       Lore has it workers once exhumed graves and headstones for a renovation. About 20 years ago, rains unearthed the skeletal remains of a long-dead woman still wearing a white dress, Stobbe said.
       Lost souls also are said to haunt the grounds of the former Eloise Mental Hospital, which was later called the Wayne County General Hospital and closed its psychiatric ward in 1981.
       "You walk in there and you can just feel that they're all around, like a heavy feeling that they're on your chest,'' Hattis said.
       A nonbeliever in ghosts, Johnson said she would much rather count graves and compile genealogies.
       "We're interested in the people buried there, not ghosts, witches and warlocks,'' she said.