Paranormal expert Brian McGilvra shares his experiences
“It’s more than running around graveyards at night,” Brian McGilvra laughs.
McGilvra is a professional paranormal researcher living in Des Moines. Growing up, he was the kid who would check out books about ghosts and other unexplained phenomenon from the library. He always had an interest in the unknown.
His interest intensified when his cousin went missing, and was later found dead, in the early 1990s. Members of his family began to experience paranormal phenomenon with the familial spirit of the deceased around this time. But it wasn’t until 2009 when he began researching in a professional capacity and became involved with local paranormal investigation groups.
McGilvra now works solo, and he has been involved with 56 cases since 2009, all of which have been in Iowa. Of all those cases, he says only a handful turned out to not have paranormal activity.
“Some of the creepiest locations with the most activity have been someone’s home or old farmhouse right here in Iowa,” McGilvra says
Those who contact McGilvra are normal, sensible people who turn to him as a last resort. They have exhausted all other possibilities and resources, and come to him looking for answers.
“This stuff happens to more people than I think everybody realizes,” he says.
One such Des Moines home McGilvra investigated in the winter of 2017 was especially spooky. The house — built in 1960 — had an unsettling history. Previous tenants were involved in illegal activities, and other tenants suffered untimely deaths.
Prior knowledge of the house points to paranormal activity for quite some time. Previous tenants had several startling experiences. Unexplainable voices were heard throughout the house and a loud roaring/growling sound could be heard outside a window. In the basement, a light fixture would swing back and forth for no reason at all. When the new homeowner moved in, he reported eerie activity in the basement. Entering the basement, he reported feeling like he was being watched and an overall uneasy feeling.
Many of these instances can easily be explained. A breeze coming in through a window or thin walls could be the culprit. McGilvra always explores these possibilities before turning to the paranormal as an option. McGilvra is meticulous in his work and prides himself on doing a thorough investigation that can often take weeks. He begins by meeting with the client, then surveying and investigating the space. He then does research on his findings, and may investigate the home again, before presenting his findings and conclusion to his client. If paranormal activity is found, he then works with the client to rid the space of the spirits, which often involves working with religious clergy to perform home exorcisms.
“As a whole, the subject is still very taboo. Some denominations are very open to it; others are not,” he says.
This particular case was brought to him when a clergy he frequently works with contacted him. The homeowner, a Christian, had contacted the clergy for help. The clergy recognized the severity of the situation and brought in McGilvra. The client wanted the situation taken care of as quickly as possible, and the clergy and McGilvra worked together for one maddening night to rid the house of what turned out to be an intelligent negative haunt — a term for a negative spirit.
There are two types of spirits: intelligent and residual. Intelligent spirits are present in the now and may interact with the living. A residual spirit is imprinted energy from the past that is replaying in the now/present.
On the night of the exorcism, McGilvra and the clergy went from room to room together to investigate. McGilvra checked for EMF (electromagnetic field) levels, spiked levels are often signs that spirits are present. He also checked for EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon), as paranormal voices do not occur on the same sound waves as normal noises would.
As McGilvra and the clergy started their investigation, activity began to occur on the first floor.
“I’m scanning the room and all of a sudden I get an EMF source. In that same spot, I can physically feel the coldness on my skin,” he says.
A drop in temperature is another indicator of the presence of a spirit. In this particular instance, McGilvra estimates the temperature dropped 10-15 degrees.
Upon mentioning the temperature change to the clergy, McGilvra recorded an exasperated sound let out by the spirit. The clergy then stepped in to talk with the spirit.
“Every time, on cue, on command, it would respond,” he says.
From there the clergy used religious provocation to get the spirit to identify itself and exercise it from the home. McGilvra and the clergy went from room to room in the house until the exorcism was complete — experiencing the most activity in the basement.
He is happy to report, the exorcism was a success, and the homeowners have not reported any issues since. ♦