Tony Hubert is the founder and lead investigator of the Illinois Paranormal Society. He was born and raised in Kankakee, Illinois. After high school, he spent 6 years in the Army. He currently has two children and is getting married next year.
A lot of paranormal investigation teams in Illinois were created after the show Ghost Hunters became popular, but you formed The Illinois Paranormal Society in 1999. What got you interested in the investigative side of the paranormal, and what compelled you to form your own team?
During the Summer of 1997, I had encountered my first “experience” with any type of paranormal. I had told my story of what had happened to some of my close friends and they suggested that we form a group and go out and explore the area, and that’s how we got started. My drive to see an apparition again fueled me, just as much as it fueled my friends to see what I had for themselves. We basically went around to the known haunted locations in Illinois, in the early days. Most of the locations were a bust for us. After about 6 years of driving around to all of the known haunted hot spots, we decided to get the word out to the public, to see if we could investigate homes and businesses, which is our main focus to this day.
Can you tell our readers about the experience you had as a teenager with the woman in white in the abandoned house next door?
During the Summer of 1997, like most teenagers, I was up late one night in the kitchen hunting for some food. I went to the sink to fill up a glass of water, when I looked out of the window at the house next door and seen an image of a lady in white standing in the upstairs window. The house next door was abandoned and owned by our family, so I knew it was someone that lived there. She was dressed in an all white type night gown and as soon as I had seen her, she was gone. I never seen her again after that. As much as the experience scared me, and was glad that my parents tore the house down not too long after, it also got me very curious.
What is the scariest place you’ve investigated so far, in Kankakee or elsewhere, or what has been the most compelling phenomenon you have captured on film or audio?
The most scared I have ever been, was in 2003, on my first and last trip to the “Witch’s Grave”. Supposedly the woman was hung from this tree, in the middle of a field, for performing witchcraft and adultery. My ex-father in law knew the owner of the land and he took me up there one night. Its really creepy walking through this grassy field and before you know it, there’s the tree, all by itself. There is a wrought iron fence about waist high that surrounds the tree. It’s one of those old spooky trees too, like you see in an old scary movie. The story goes, that if you try to cross this fence, which only about four feet wide per section, in the shape of a square, and about a foot away from the tree, or even put your hands on the fence itself, that the Witch will rise up form the grave and turn you to stone. As much as I would like to say that it could never happen, I was not about to try it out.
Just the mood of the night, the background stories of the Witch, and my ex-father in law trying to get me to touch the fence, was enough to make it a very short visit and my most scariest investigation. I’ve seen some strange things over the years. I’ve witnessed objects moving, two full body apparitions, and many other strange things, but my most compelling was an EVP that we recently caught. We were investigating a local business that was originally a brothel. We split up into two teams for the investigation. The claim was, there was a homeless man that had died in the basement, so our goal was to try and make contact with him. On three separate ocassions, each team recorded the name “David”, in live audio, when asked what the homeless man’s name was.
What do you believe are the most common mistakes beginning paranormal investigators make?
Just because it’s an orb, does not mean it’s a ghost and just because you seen it on TV, does not mean you can or should do it. Many new ghost hunters go into an investigation with an unchanging idea, that ghosts exist. During the course of an investigation, they will interpret almost anything they find as evidence of an actual ghost. Electromagnetic readings, cold spots, or photographed anomolies such as orbs, all become additonal ghostly phenomena, but the ghost hunters never seriously consider other, more realistic solutions. They start with the answer they want to reach before they even begin investigating.
What do exist are unexplained events that seem to have a paranormal origin. These events can be investigated, and many times the causes can be determined. Often, the ghosts can be “debunked” when the investigator discovers that it was actually a poorly sealed window causing the cold draft, an electrical storm that caused that odd reading on the EMF meter, or dust floating within the camera’s inverted focal point that resulted in a picture of an “orb”. In the case of moving objects or unexplainable sounds, an attempt should be made to replicate the phenomena. Often they have a more realistic solution. A good paranormal investigator examines the evidence itself and then tries to find out where the evidence leads.
Do you have any events coming up? How can our readers contact you if they would like more information about TIPS?
We are currently working with the owners of two separate residences. We also have the Kankakee FantasyCon Convention June 4, 2011, here in Kankakee, Illinois. We will have many speakers and guests form the Paranormal, as well as other Fantasy genres. Anyone can feel free to contact us through our website or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.