October is the perfect time of year to gather around a campfire and listen to tales of ghostly hauntings and happenings.

There will be no campfire and no roasting marshmallows at Moore County Library on Saturday, Oct. 26, but Rich Caminiti and Melissa Williamson will be there from 2 to 4 p.m. discussing their own eerie experiences with the paranormal.

Caminiti and Williamson are members of the Fayetteville Paranormal Research Association (FAYPRA), a group that investigates claims of paranormal spiritual activity.

Typical of the phenomena that would lead someone to contact FAYPRA are seeing an apparition or encountering unexplainable smells, sounds, and item movement.

“People need and want an explanation of their experiences,” says Caminiti.

At the beginning of any investigation FAYPRA first tries to find a normal — as opposed to paranormal — explanation. Having worked as a plumber and also in law enforcement, Caminiti is able to take this more pragmatic approach.

“Understanding the creaks and moans a house can make definitely helps to decipher normal from paranormal,” he says.

There are times, however, when a client’s experiences cannot be reasoned away or re-created under conventional standards. These are placed on FAYPRA’s “unidentifiable” list.

Nebulous results are one of the reasons why FAYPRA members believe it is unethical to charge clients for their services.

“This is currently a pseudo-science, and there are never any guarantees,” Caminiti explains. “Unlike a proven science or profession, we cannot go into an investigation, charge someone, and guarantee we will get evidence of a haunting. We just can’t do that.”

The other reason that no money changes hands between client and investigator is that accepting payment may tarnish the group’s reputation and make their results less credible.

“It may look like we are being paid off to tell the client what they want to hear,” he says.

The equipment FAYPRA uses in its investigations ranges from the ordinary (duct tape and construction levels) to the more specialized, including digital recorders, EMF (electromagnetic field) meters, and barometer/temperature/humidity point sensors.

Caminiti and Williamson also use a DVR system equipped with four night-vision cameras as well as a redundant backup so that no media is lost, and the resulting videos may be burned to DVDs for their clients. Eventually they hope to add an infrared camera and a multi-radiation detector to their equipment list.

Before moving to North Carolina from New York, the couple had founded LIPRA (Long Island Paranormal Research Association), and Caminiti has been investigating the paranormal since he was 12 years old.

Even with years of personal experience in the field, he is quick to point out that there is currently no certification for ghost hunters.

“I am not a certified ‘anything’ when it comes to the paranormal,” he says. “I am a researcher.”

Although television shows like SyFy channel’s “Ghost Hunters” have brought paranormal investigators more into the mainstream, Caminiti is often skeptical of the show’s results.

“When it first came out, I think ‘Ghost Hunters’ did the right thing,” he says. “But as the seasons evolved, it appeared there was more going on behind the scenes.”

This was confirmed after he attended paranormal conferences and heard certain “para-celebrities” admit that executive producers strongly encourage the ghost hunters to get results, no matter what. Such deception does not sit well with Caminiti.

“That is why we turned down a chance at our own television show,” he says.

Not surprisingly, Caminiti doesn’t have a favorite movie about the paranormal and feels Hollywood has yet to present an accurate portrayal.

“If I had to choose from the movies to date, it would probably be ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose,’” he says. The film was based on the actual experience of Annelise Michel, a German woman who died in 1976.

In order to join FAYPRA one must be at least 17 and have parental permission. Members come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations.

In order to increase their area of study, Caminiti would be particularly interested in having someone from the medical or psychological fields to join the group.

For more information about Fayetteville Paranormal Research Association visit http://faypra.org

To find out more about FAYPRA’s free program at Moore County Library on Oct. 26, call (910) 947-5335 or check out the library’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/moorecountylibrary.

Alice Thomas is the director of the Moore County Libraries.

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