By Patricia A. Miller
Is the old Elizabeth V. Edwards school haunted?
That depends on how you define the word. For Susan Bove, founder of the South Jersey Paranormal Research group, every place is haunted. Some people just aren’t tuned into the energy or the messages.
Bove and other group members recently conducted a four-hour
investigation of the 83-year-old school on Route 9, long rumored to be haunted. They presented the results on Oct. 12 at the high school.
“It was pretty active,” she said. “Are there spirits there? Yes.”
The group walked through every room of the school and the hallways, armed with flashlights, electronic voice recorders, EMF detectors and digital cameras.
Bove and the group members recorded at least six separate voices that night, all of them female.
“We heard a lot of audible voices, which is kind of cool,” Bove said. “We heard them all night. I was wearing headphones that amplified them.”
Bove was upstairs alone in one room when she sensed a presence.
“I said aloud, ‘I know you are here.”
She asked who the person was and the response was “Cathy Roma.”
Elizabeth V. Edwards – the school’s namesake – did not reply when group members asked if “Lizzie “ was there. But an EMF detector (electronic magnetic field) lit up when the question was asked.
Bove asked another "Can you just speak a little louder and tell me your name?" The response was “Jeannie.”
Some of the voices responded to particular questions. Others
seemed to be more residual in nature, meaning they weren’t in direct response
to a question, just leftover energy from past events, Bove said.
One residual voice said “wrong defense.” Another said “Go Bengals.” That’s particularly telling because the 80-year-old school was the original Barnegat High School.
Group members also captured "mists" on camera in some areas of the school, including the old auditorium. But Bove values voice recordings over pictures.
So what did Barnegat Schools Transportation Director Bill Cox think of the "reveal" by the group?
"I have to believe there is something," said Cox, who made arrangements with the group to investigate the school. "The EVPs they played, they came from somewhere. The photographic evidence was pretty awesome. I would have to say the paranormal is alive and well at the Edwards school. So this might be the start of Barnegat being the most haunted little town in New Jersey."
The non-profit group does investigations of both private homes and public places for free, in New Jersey and the Northeast. They usually go into a place "cold," without knowing anything about the facility, unless it's a historical facility they may already know about it.
"We mostly do private residences," she said.
The investigation is just the first part of the process. Then comes hours of reviewing audio to see if any voices were picked up, Bove said.
"For every hour of audio, it takes you three hours to review it or longer if you get a lot," she said.
Bove's interest in the paranormal came early. She grew up in a home with what she calls a “presence.” Her parents bought the house in 1957, when it was already 50 years old.
Light switches went on and off. The front door would open
and close at times. No apparitions.
"It was more like you could just feel it," she said. "It wasn't anything I really talked about."
Sleepovers at her childhood home were rare. After one visit, her cousin refused to sleep over again.
The South Jersey Paranormal Research group is already planning another visit to the Edwards school and possibly the Cox House in Barnegat later this year, Bove said.
"If there is something there, we'll find it," she said.