Limbo ghost with Linda

Paranormal researchers attempt to interact with a ghost at his grave next to the Fryeburg Public Library. Linda Merritt tries to shake the ghost's hand while Kelly Rogers track's the ghost's apparent movements using an SLS camera. (DAYMOND STEER PHOTO)

FRYEBURG, Maine — The ghosts of author Clarence Mulford and an African slave who was buried in a small cemetery next to the library apparently communicated with two paranormal researchers and about a half dozen winners of a ghost hunt raffle including a Sun reporter.

The Luna Paranormal Research team — Kelly Rogers of North Conway and Linda Merritt of Effingham — led the expedition at the library.

As a fundraiser to benefit the library, the pair raffled off the chance to go on a ghost hunt Thursday night at the library at a cost of two tickets for $5 or five for $10. Rogers explained that the library wants to install plaques near the graves of historically significant people who are buried near the library, which was built in 1832. The library on Facebook reported that $460 was raised through this endeavor.

Raffle winners who attended were Sheila Drinkwater, of Center Conway Jaime Gustafson of Fryeburg, Renee Ricker of Center Conway, Nancy Shappell of Brownfield, Hannah-Jo Weisberg of North Conway, Kristen Kennedy of Tamworth.

At 7 p.m. the group gathered at the library and Rogers and Merritt went over the equipment they use to communicate with the dead. After that, the group put their devices to use in the children's room and the Mulford room and then outside to the cemetery. The event lasted until about 9:30 p.m.

"I would say that this has been a pretty good investigation," said Rogers toward the end of the evening. "There are nights you sit in a place and get nothing for hours."

Merritt added their "worst fear" would be they would be to have attendees standing out in the cemetery in the cold air without anything to show for it.

At the outset, librarian Jennifer Spofford said there seemed to be "presences" at the library. Her husband, Dan, also attended.

"I'll hear as if there's a group of people in the main part of the library like looking through books and talking," said Spofford. "Then when I go out there, there's no one there."

While there were many highlights, perhaps the most entertaining was when Rogers and Merritt purported to speak with the ghost of Clarence Mulford using a "ghost box."

Mulford (1883-1956), author of the “Hopalong Cassidy” novels, lived in Fryeburg the latter part of his life. Mulford has a room in the library dedicated to him and his work.

The ghost box is a device that's similar to a radio scanner. It quickly cycles through radio signals and the idea is the ghost communicates by manipulating the frequencies to choose what words they want people to hear or the white noise to sound like words.

Merritt would ask questions and Rogers, who was blindfolded and wore earphones connected to the ghost box, interpreted "Mulford's" replies. She sat on a bench that's in front of Mulford's model ship and wagon display.

The famous author said he was willing to take "just a few questions" but then seemed to lighten up as time went on. The chat lasted about 15 minutes.

According to Rogers, Mulford misses his Fryeburg home and says it was "pretty." At the Sun's prompting, Merritt asked Mulford repeatedly how things were going on the other side and if it's nicer.

"There's trouble," he cryptically replied.

Informed that the attendees of the "ghost hunt" donated to the library, Mulford replied, "that's nice."

At one point, Rogers blurted out, 'he thinks he's boring."

This got an immediate rise out of Spofford who confessed that Westerns "are just not my cup of tea."

Merritt tried to console Mulford by saying she remembers Hop-along Cassidy and thinks he's "so cool" and she also asked Mulford for a response to Spofford.

"You can laugh," said Mulford. "This seems weird."

Asked what he thinks of the world today and if he's glad he's not in the physical form, he supposedly replied, "It's crap."

Later on, everyone went outside where Merritt and Rogers set up an SLS camera in front of the grave of Limbo, an African slave who was apparently well regarded in his time and buried along with white people.

The pair may have captured Limbo's image with an SLS (Structured Light Sensor) camera aimed at his grave. The camera, originally intended for gaming, picks up humanoid figures and represents them as stick figures. There did appear to be a stick figure near the grave. At one point, Merritt asked to shake his hand. The spirit seemed to decline but he touched her knee, according to Rogers' reading of the camera. Most oddly, when the women asked "Limbo" to move out of the frame, he quickly dashed off to the right and then came back.

The women also parked their equipment in front of a couple of other graves but the spirits there were barely communicating. A reporter suggested that perhaps the women put the spirits off when they said they were taking the group on a "ghost hunt," which could sound pejorative.

The first stop on the ghost hunt was the children's room. There, they used an electromagnetic field detector that's embedded in a toy puppy named "Chester." The nose lights up if a ghost responds to a question. Chester's nose periodically lit after questions were asked but there didn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the "responses." They also put light-up cat balls on the floor. At one point a ball lit up for no reason.

Could the women really have interacted with spirits? The truth is out there.

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