Gary S. Hawkins is a professional paranormal investigator who has been involved with “ghost hunting” since 1994. During those years he has also taken thousands of people on haunted History tours of Alton, Illinois, while affiliated with Antoinette’s Haunted History Tours in Alton Illinois, (Alton’s FIRST and BEST ghost tours). He is also author of the book Ghosts: Investigating the other side of life and possesses a unique ability to “catch” ghosts in his hands. Gary has recently shot a pilot for a new television series; be sure to keep your eye on this website for details.
Were you born and raised in Alton, Illinois, and what was it like growing up in what has been called the most haunted town in Illinois?
No, I was not born in Alton, I moved here in 1989 and when I moved here I had no idea about much of the town’s history, and definitely did not know about how haunted it was. That was something I did not find out about (in more detail) until about 1993. Living in the most haunted town in Illinois is interesting to say the least; going into different buildings here creates a whole new meaning to the phrase “not knowing what is around the next corner”.
How long have you been interested in the paranormal? What was it that sparked your interest?
I have been interested in the paranormal most of my life, having seen things for years that would “defy logic”. However I would have to say that my interest got a “jump start” when I met Antoinette, a well known psychic from Alton, she took me on my first investigation and that is what really sparked my interest.
When did you first realize you had psychic abilities, and what does your particular ability allow you to do?
I have pretty much have always had some experience with psychic abilities, not knowing what they were. Can I tell you your past, present or future, NO, I am not that kind of psychic. My particular ability allows me to be able to see ghosts and on rare occasion, hear ghosts. But the primary thing I can do is my ability to catch a ghost with my bare hands and hold it as long as I want to, it can not get away from me unless I choose to let it go. After many years of doing this, and searching for others who could, I have not found anyone else who can do what I do, anywhere.
What is it like to “catch a ghost” with your hands? How can (or do) you demonstrate this ability to a skeptical audience?
It is a very unusual feeling, in the hand I catch a ghost with, I get a feeling of both some “solidness” of the air, as well as a shocking feeling in the palm of my hand about the size of a quarter, that is similar to sticking a 9 volt battery on your tongue (everybody has tried that at least once). But the “voltage” if you will, can range from a fully charged 9 volt to an almost dead battery. I feel that directly relates to how strong the spirit is, or how much energy they have at that moment.
The best way I have found to demonstrate this ability to anyone, paranormal enthusiast or to the skeptic is to actually catch a ghost in their presence, which I have done hundreds of times over the years. The biggest problem with that is the sheer fact that a spirit has to be within arms length of me to catch one, which does not always happen.
When I do catch a ghost in other people’s presence, I invite them to come up and feel its energy. I have had reports from people of four different ways they experience the ghost when I have hold of it. First is that they feel cold on their hand, the second is that some people feel heat instead of cold, the third is that they will feel a “shock” in their finger tips, but the fourth and the most common experience people have is that they feel a solidness to the air where the ghost is. The best way to describe that is to imagine a balloon full of air, you can reach out and touch it and it feels “solid” due to the pressure it has built up inside of the balloon, when I have the ghost caught; they feel that “solidness” but no balloon is there.
I must say that I always enjoy when I have a skeptic or even better yet, a complete non believer present and they feel the ghost for the first time, they will touch it, move their hand away, move back in and touch it again, sometimes several times, then the surprised look that comes across their face is priceless. I have had some resort to the use of expletives as their reaction to what they felt.
There have been rumors of a TV show in the works, what can you tell us about that? Will we see it on the air soon?
These rumors are true; I have shot a working pilot for a television series that will be appropriately called “The Ghost Catcher ™”. It has been marketed to several networks and one in particular has stated they want it, but they want completed episodes and producers are working on investors to get the funding to complete the series. With the way the economy is right now, investors are scarce and therefore I can not even venture to say when it will air. Hopefully it will get off the ground SOON.
How can our readers get in contact with you if they have any questions or would like to know more about the hauntings of Alton?
Come visit my website at www.proghosthunter.com and they can email me from there.
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