Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Darkness surrounds us.

We all see shadowy shapes lurking in our periphery, hear creaks on the floor of a night-filled house and wonder if things lurk near us in the corners of our rooms … and in the corners of our consciousness.

That’s normal. So are the explanations, if you’re ready to accept as reality demons, ghosts, aliens and maybe even a fairy or two.

My question: do you believe?

Over the past year, I’ve driven thousands of miles across the state of Missouri, spoken with hundreds of eyewitnesses of paranormal events and walked through dozens of cemeteries, Victorian mansions and Civil War battlefields. Each of these spots is unique, but they do have one thing in common – they’ve all had their own periods of violent history. A history so violent it may have bled into the present.

Throughout my investigations of haunted places, homeowners, tour guides, psychics and tourists have ask me the same question, do I believe in ghosts?

The word “believe” bothers me. You only believe in something because you don’t have proof it exists. If you can see it, you don’t have to believe in it … it’s just there.

That’s how I am with weird stuff; I’m looking for proof.

Unfortunately, so far, there’s really no scientific test for ghosts, demons or angels – which is too bad. I’ve interviewed enough credible eyewitnesses about haunted houses, possessions and poltergeist activity to convince me something’s going on outside our normal realm of perception.

Personally, I’ve walked through haunted buildings and stepped into spots that were at least 20 degrees lower than the surrounding air. Oh, and each time the building wasn’t air conditioned … and it was July. I’ve smelled cigar smoke in places where cigar smoke shouldn’t have existed. And I’ve heard a friend’s name called from the blank, concrete corner of an unfinished basement

Have I ever been afraid? Not really. Just uncomfortable.

Well, except maybe the phantom skateboarder who closed upon me so fast I jumped off a walking trail at 6 a.m. There was no one behind me. That at least made me nervous. My wife just laughed because, unlike me, she hadn’t heard the skateboard wheels grinding on the concrete path behind us.

But because of this, I’m ready for anything. I don’t believe in the paranormal – I’m convinced it exists.

Welcome to “From the Shadows.” Please, join me on a weekly tour into the unknown. Help me investigate ghosts, talk to people on the other side and maybe, just maybe, search for Momo, the Missouri Bigfoot.

Oh, and if at any time during “From the Shadows” you feel uncomfortable, go eat some garlic. It couldn’t hurt.

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or Include your name, address and telephone number for verification only. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri,” will soon be available at and all major bookstores.

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt