Paranormal investigator LeeAnna Jonas on her first apparition and evil spirits at the Gilpin County Jail

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Tawni Herren, Allyson McNiel and LeeAnna Jonas are the Spirit Realm Investigative Project.
When LeeAnna Jonas saw her first apparition during a fifth-grade basement seance, she was immediately hooked on the paranormal. Jonas has come a long way since then: She founded her own all-female ghost-hunting team, the Spirit Realm Investigative Project, which has been featured on the Travel Channel's Paranormal Challenge and will be on an upcoming episode of the Bio Channel's My Ghost Story.

We caught up with Jonas to talk about Colorado's haunted mining towns, hunting for ghosts, and the evil spirit she encountered at the Gilpin County Jail.

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Westword: What is the Spirit Realm Investigative Project?

LeeAnna Jonas: Well, we're a three-girl team, we're local, and we are paranormal investigators. We try to communicate with spirits. We try to help clients if they have haunts and they don't quite understand what's going on; we try to get answers for them to see if the place is actually haunted. We do background on the history of the location. And we specialize in the mining towns of Colorado. We've done, like, seventeen locations in Central City and Blackhawk alone.

Those two towns are so haunted, there's so much history, and there was so much death back in the mining days. There are a lot of spirits that are still there. A lot of disease, so a lot of children died very young. Mining accidents, prostitution, murder -- it was a very greedy town because it was known as the richest square mile on earth at one point because of the gold. So you know what that brings. That's almost a Vegas, where it brings people who want to make it rich and there's a lot of crime. It seems that we run into the same spirits at different locations, like they rotate in the towns.

We use scientific equipment as well as our bodies and our minds, because all of us are sensitive. And what I mean by "sensitive" is you can feel the energy, you can sense things. I've always been that way, but the more you do it, the more open you are to it and the more you can feel them around you. We use scientific equipment to prove that it's out there. We put evidence on our YouTube page; we don't put out anything we don't stand by. We try to debunk. We don't just say, "Oh, yeah, it's paranormal." We try to figure it out first to see if there's any other explanation. We don't put anything out that we don't believe in. We're there to explain to other people, also we're there to talk to the spirits and we do do crossovers if needed.

The first one we did was at Doc Holiday's casino. There was a little boy spirit who had been there for years and years and we came in contact with him and actually got his voice on a recorder and we told him that we would help him. And he did, he crossed over.

So if we do have a spirit that comes out and says "Help," I give them that option. If you want me to try to find someone to help you, you gotta tell me. We don't try to push any spirits into anything they don't wanna do. So we're there to help them, too, to tell their story. We're not into provoking, we're not into disrespect of the spirits. That's partially why I think they like us. You get teams in there who say nasty things to try to get them to do things, and we don't work that way.

Can you talk about a specific spirit that you've encountered?

Yeah, there's one that follows us to every single location, and his name is Jim Murphy. We haven't been able to find him buried in any of the cemeteries yet. We picked him up at the Gilpin County Museum in the area where there was a poker table. Wherever we go, we have an instrument that's called an ovilus -- and this is made by an engineer that's here in Denver, his name is Bill Chappell -- and what it does, is it picks up the energy from the spirits. Because, basically, just like us when we're alive, when you're dead that energy doesn't leave. It doesn't mean that you stay here with your soul, but the people who do stay here or are trapped or whatever happened to them tragically are still energy. That's why they drain our batteries and such. So this instrument actually picks up what they're trying to say and converts it into words. And wherever we go, the name Murphy comes up, Jim Murphy, and then afterwards he usually says "Central," which means he's from Central City. We did Buffalo Bill's grave and he showed up and he said "Murphy" and he said "Central," and I said, "Hey, Murphy! How's it going?" [Laughs]. So it seems like he always comes around us. No matter where we're at in town, he shows up.

We now have another one called Harriet Pierce who's following us, too. Her name keeps coming up. It's really interesting and it just makes you want to figure out the puzzle and the story. And that's basically what we are: We're storytellers. We're trying to communicate with the dead and find out what their story is. We've got a great situation to where the town likes us, the spirit likes us, and we keep going back to different locations and finding more about these people and we're trying to piece it together. It's kind of unique in a way, because a lot of teams just float around and hit different locations. They never make a connection, but we've actually made connections with these spirits, because they were people just like us. If you make a relationship with these spirits, they start to trust you. You still have to keep your guard up because you can't trust them totally, because there are evil, negative spirits out there that will take advantage of you and will attach to you and come home with you. We've already had that happen. That's just part of the hazard of the job.



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25 comments
ghostchaser
ghostchaser

Dear unhappy Scott: I'm seriously thinking you need help.

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

Dear unhappy Scott: You are running around in circles now and it looks like your back pedaling. We all know what you said and how bad it was, very mean things to those and myself who believe. You cut me down for even believing in Jesus. Who the hell are you to say and put me down or my beliefs? Your plain and simply a bully. I don't have to explain anything to you as your just  disrespectful. You have a one track mind and cannot see your fault in any of this. So go ahead with your blinders on. I will show this to them and they can see you for who you really are, an internet bully. Go fly a kite somewhere else. Anyone who reads this can see it. Quit trying to justify your rudeness.

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

Dear unhappy Scott: If you had your facts straight and your attitude adjusted correctly to begin with, I would have never replied. I also was nice when I did reply and you came lashing out at me. And your damn right I'm going to show the casino people all your nasty remarks. They went to great lengths to make us happy and give us something to think about. You already had your stubborn mind made up no matter what. So who has the attitude here? Not I! You have offend more than myself, you can count on that. Your a closed minded imbecile.

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

Dear unhappy Scott: I have just been informed instruction of this messaging board that the person you have spoken so badly about is also getting these messages. All who signed up to follow this is receiving them. So not only have you offended myself, but also the group that was there! I hope you feel like acomplete fool as you have made yourself to look like tonight. You are a nasty, nasty man. And who the hell cares about the spelling, I told you about the text idiot, it can change a word after you spell it correctly. But then again your not smart enough to understand that.

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

Dear unhappy Scott: I too am a VIP member of the casino and I WILL be printing this out to show Johnny and his crew. I know I have probably sat next to you at one point, thank God I didnt know you, because I certainly don't know. I will be showing them how rude you were and speaking bad againest their guest. It's people like you that voice their opinions with no couth or respect for others.

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

I saw this woman give a presentation at a casino in Central City, CO, before our group went on a tour of these "haunted" sites. She spoke in serious tones about "orbs." And doors opening and closing. No videos of that happening, despite having plenty of video footage, but lots of claims about what other people said they saw or heard. Or felt, mostly. Sally said she felt a chill, etc.Overall, I had a nice time, and it was kind of a campy fun little tour. More historical than paranormal, which I appreciated.She seemed to really believe that "spirits" are real, and presented the same, lame pseudo-evidence as any other ghost hunter / paranormalist. It was very, very weak. As for the "haunted" sites, it was a few (fine and skilled) volunteer actors talking about gruesome events in local history.I found nothing approaching a convincing argument for actual ghosts, just a bunch of smoke-and-mirrors woo-woo about claims about possible apparitions maybe reported by long-dead possible witnesses.

 

I'm a grown man with an adult brain. I don't believe in ghosts, because ghosts aren't real. People like this who prey on the fears and superstitions of the weak and misinformed are not to be admired. They are either delusional or are con artists and frauds.Either way, no, ghosts and spirits still are not real entities in our universe. They exist in the minds of superstitious people, and that's it.

 

merredeth
merredeth

Awesome article! Wish we had great locations like this and more teams like this to work with in Iowa as I can only thing of two other teams in Iowa besides ours that work this great!Denise MendenhallParanormal Researchers of Iowa

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 Oh, my sweet Satan, I call upon you... Dark Lord, in your Unholy Name, use the hidden hatred in the heart of her assistant, your unknowing servant, as your weapon of doom, at the perfect, shadowed moment of unsuspected betrayal, with the potion and the motion... the blood of a fresh Christian baby shall surely be yours by midnight of the next full moon, my eternal Demonic Master...Ooh, scary. At least, I'm guessing it might be, if you're superstitious.

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691  I'm a bully, really? I'm not the one making threats, you are. That's what bullies do. They don't ask the other person to justify their stupid beliefs, or to be more explicit in their threats. Bullies aren't usually the ones with better spelling and grammar. I bet you think it's spelled "grammer," don't you?I appreciate that you really are trying to be threatening and intimidating, and attempting to scare me by talking about how you will show things to people, but that was a mistake. Because I do not regret my own words, I stand behind them.What I'm saying is that you are doing it wrong. Why not just ask the spirit world to curse me, put a whammy on me, whatever? Get the spirit world to turn against me, and if they all try really hard, maybe they can rattle a teacup, or make a door open. That would really show me.

Here's why I can indeed put you down for your beliefs - your beliefs are stupid and wrong, and I have a right to my opinion. You have offered not one single shred of anything to even hint that ghosts might be real, just nonsense and baseless insults. Your ghosts aren't any more a real force in our universe than is your Jesus - both exist solely in human minds. Also, no, you are not going to live forever in some gold-plated fantasy land, sorry. 

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 *You're   *damned  *offended  *You're\\One more time - what exactly is your threat; how, specifically, are you claiming that you are going to harm me? How is showing anyone what I have said supposed to mean anything? Either spell it out or stop bothering to repeat it. That's the last time I will ask, because I am getting bored. 

 

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 Ah, more passive threats. And apparently you didn't pay attention when I originally wrote "Overall, I had a nice time, and it was kind of a campy fun little tour. More historical than paranormal, which I appreciated."    Do you really think that this phrase of yours makes any sense at all? "I have just been informed instruction of this messaging board..." Are you just randomly typing out words now?   If the TV show presenter gets these posts, that's fine with me, but what exactly do you think will happen because of that? You still have not spelled out what you think your threats actually mean. Are you seriously trying to imply that I am somehow endangered because of my opinions posted here? Really? Because it sounds like that's what you are trying to say.Why not state it explicitly? What do you think is going to happen to me? Are you a police officer threatening to arrest me because you are butt-hurt by my opinions? No? Then shut up.I had a good time during the presentation and the tour, and I absolutely appreciated the casino for all of it, and the snacks, and how they handled everything. They did a good job, even with uncertain circumstances. It was entertaining, as I said - I just didn't buy the "spirits" nonsense. Not one single word I said to you shows otherwise. I just don't happen to believe in ghosts. Because, as I said, I am a grown man. I can think. I am not a superstitious child. Is that what you find offensive? That's what makes you so angry that you try to make threats, that I find belief in supernatural spirits to be absurd? Well, time for some self-reflection, I'd say, you poor dumb twit.   I'm glad you have learned how to spell "stubborn," but I'm afraid that trying to crucify me for not believing in supernatural nonsense and calling you stupid for believing it won't really get you very far. If I have offended your superstitious ghost believing friends by calling you out on it, then so be it. I am certainly not going to change or doubt my opinion because of your veiled threats. As I said, I am who I am, and I think what I think. That's it. If you want to call in the National Guard and hoot and holler, go right ahead. You are still a superstitious dimwit, in my view.PS - Re. "All who signed up to follow this is receiving them"*Are. They "are" receiving them, not "is." Understand? 

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 Go right ahead, and be sure to show them how "respectful" you were to me as well. If you hadn't been such an accusing, condescending jerk from the start, then I wouldn't have been a jerk back. But please, go ahead and run to Johnny with the complete text of this thread, including this and future posts.What consequences are you threatening me with, exactly? Are you implying that something bad will happen to me because you show someone this thread? Are you threatening me with some sort of harm? Please, spell it out, dumbass.My real name is displayed here, as are my real opinions. Please, explain in detail what exactly I am supposed to fear in you or anyone exposing anything I said to anyone. I have opinions, and I stand behind them, and I am who I am, and I said what I said.What is your real name, by the way, just so it's even? No? You hiding?You are the one making vague, unspecified threats, not me. Please, expound on what exactly your threat against me is.And make sure to include this post in your copies to Johnny.  

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

 @scott.mcglasson

 

You are entiled to your own thoughts, but to disrespect and accuse others that believe isnt correct either. Maybe someday you will let your closed mind open. Maybe you will expierience what others have. But then maybe you couldn't rap your mind around it either, even if it was plain in your face. I believe everyone one has an opinion and what they have witnessed. Not nice to put others down for it.

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

She told us the same story, about the "spirit" encased in the wall in Central City, which was right where we were at the time. But she didn't take us to that wall, or tell our tour guide to show us where it was, or give us any way to verify it, or give any way at all to see for ourselves. It's still not clear what wall she meant. It was just a story, and she didn't seem very interested in letting us see this wall with the spirit trapped in it for ourselves.Also, she had this electronic device which would play audible words, in a robotic voice. She claimed that the "spirits" were speaking through it, choosing to make it say the words it played. She did not give any explanation of the design or programming of the device, like what exactly, mechanically / electronically, triggered it to send words to the speaker. She just claimed that whatever words came out of the device were "spirits" talking.I would say that she and her group were more on the side of innocently delusional than on the side of fraud, because she seemed to really think this stuff was real. But the result is the same - she was peddling superstitious nonsense.

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 Oh, shut up, you stupid superstitious donkey. Learn how to spell, then you may earn more respect ("wrap" is an entirely different word from "rap," by the way, ask any fifth grade kid).I have experienced more than your childish "maybe ghosts are real" mind could fathom. Hey, I bet you believe in Jesus, too. Sure, you're going to live forever, in a magical cartoonish "afterlife," aren't you? Just keep giving your money to the church, and someday Jesus will swoop down and make everything okay. And you won't really die! And you'll have streets of gold! And your enemies will burn forever! That's actually how you think, isn't it? Poor bastard.Yes, "everyone has an opinion," but most people could also make a sentence out of that phrase. You, apparently, could not. Also, having an opinion does not make anyone right about that opinion.Some opinions are just untrue, idiotic nonsense. Yours, for example. 

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

 @scott.mcglasson

Hello Scott, I was on the tour too and we didn't even go into the Gilpin County  jail,  where the man was incased. So I'm thinking you weren't really there. You have all your facts misplaced. The presentation and the walk was two different things, not to mention by 2 separate groups. One was the Historical Society which had no bearing on the paranomal group. The sites were different also, Not mention only one orb picture and that too was from the jail that we did not go into. You might want to get these stories straight.

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 Re."There again your not listening,"   *You're

   "just being a jerk. You probably don't text so you dont understand yahoo! You still a idiot..."   *don't   *You're   *an    And later, *stubborn    If you are going to attempt to call someone you don't know an "idiot" in a post comment, it would really help your case to not make five separate spelling and usage errors in your five line comment.    Do you really think you look good here? Do you think that you don't come off as a deluded crackpot without even a lame attempt at an argument for the existence of supernatural entities such as ghosts?    Shaggy from Scooby Doo could make a better case for ghosts. You, on the other hand, are an incoherent rube with self-esteem issues and a childish attachment to childish ideas of ghosts. That's because you have never learned how to be a thinking adult. I don't care whose fault that may be, the result is the same - you are a dimwitted, unthinking twit.

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

 @scott.mcglasson  @deflepchic691

 There again your not listening, just being a jerk. You probably don't text so you dont understand yahoo! You still a idiot that thinks he knows it all. Well you don't sorry to say. Someday it will hit you so hard your head will spin. But your too stuborn to see it... Good luck chump!

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 Actually, I am a pretty happy camper, generally. And there is no "hate" at all in anything I posted. I just think you are stupid, which I supported with specifics.So have no fear, I am quite cheerful. It is clearly established that you are a dimwitted superstitious person, and I win. 

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 I don't need spell correct. I know how to spell. When it's wrong, I correct it.I was right, you actually think Jesus is real! That's adorable. Say hi to the Easter Bunny for me too. 

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

 @scott.mcglasson  @deflepchic691

 WOW you are one unhappy camper.. ok MR. Dooms Day, live in your bubble of hate... I guess you have to cut others down for your own short comings.. It's ok Jesus, God, or even the Devil will question you someday. Then will you understand. Untill now your just a angry jerk. Oh and by the way, today's smart phone has auto spell correct text so it automatically changes spelling for you, right or wrong. But then you probably don't use that either? You don't believe in that do you? Calling people names just because they believe in something that you cannot fathum, doesn't give you the right to be nasty. Go back into the cave you crawled out of!

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 You did not experience any spirit, you experienced your own superstitious imagination. I could put you in a room with smoke and spooky music and light effects and cheap "magic" tricks, and say some nonsense in a somber, scary voice and you would "experience" all kinds of nonsense. Because you are not a skeptical, thoughtful person. You are what psychics and carnies call a "rube." Or, in layman's terms, a sucker. Because you don't think critically. Or much at all, apparently.The idea that all of reality is just a matter of opinion is a favorite canard of dimwits and idiots. In fact, reality does exist beyond your limited capacity for opinion. That's how scientists are able to discover and prove things you can barely even comprehend. Try reading some science news, and compare it with your "opinion," see which one ends up being more real and true. 

ghostchaser
ghostchaser

 @scott.mcglasson

 Yes you did talk about the man in the wall and that they didnt show it to you. How could they when the jail wasnt even on the tour. Like I said the presentation group and creepy crawl were TWO different things. Obviously you don't like if anyone disagrees with you. Looking pretty childish at the moment there Scott. If you didnt believe why did you bother going? Just to cast stones at those who do?Very rude, we had a great time and have expierenced spirits for ourselves. It's your opinion, I have mine you have yours, but it doesnt mean yours is correct either.

scott.mcglasson
scott.mcglasson

 @deflepchic691 Okay, let's assume everything you said here is factually correct... do you give any reason to conclude that ghosts are real? No, you don't. Except that I was there, in fact, and I know how cold it was, and I could name the casino owner and others I was with, and I can describe the various actors, and locations, such as the Teller Building. I was in group 7.And did I make any claim about the Gilpin County Jail, or whether you personally, someone I have never met before, went into it? Read my post again. Any mention of those details? No? Then why are you arguing about them? Voices in your head? That's schizophrenia, not "spirits."Again, read my post. I explicitly stated that we did NOT get to visit the supposed site of the "spirit" trapped in the wall. Your story about not going there either is hardly a contradiction.Do you know what "contradiction" means? Do you now realize that you are agreeing with my original statement about not getting to see the supposed wall the "spirit" was trapped in?Regardless, how exactly does anything you say offer any reason to believe that supernatural spirits are real?You have yet to demonstrate that I have one single fact "misplaced," far less "all" of them, whoever you are. You fail. 

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