It was 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning when my phone buzzed to life with an incoming call from an unknown phone number. When I answered out of curiosity, half asleep and half-expecting a cold call, a grunt voice introduced himself as Mitch Flores, founder of the Central Coast Paranormal Investigators (CCPI).
Flores was the main source for my senior project group’s story, in which we originally set out to debunk myths about supposedly haunted San Luis Obispo locations. It would then morph into a feature article about Flores and CCPI, the grassroots, self-funded, science-based group of four adults who use high-tech equipment to record unexplained activity.
From just a five minute phone call with Flores on Feb. 11, the self-proclaimed ghost hunter told me a snippet of what motivates him to investigate the paranormal – for free.
“I want to get pushed, scratched, yelled at – that’s what I do this for,” he said.
Our next phone call was three hours long. Flores took me step-by-step through some of his most shocking encounters in places people claimed were haunted. He described unexplained sights, sounds, actions – from abandoned mental hospitals to local residents’ white-picket houses.
In one location, the Port San Luis Lighthouse in Avila Beach, Flores recalled seeing what he called a “light anomaly,” or an orb – one of the most commonly recognized visual signs of paranormal activity. When he asked out loud about the 15-year-old girl who supposedly died of poliomyelitis there, he saw a light anomaly float down the stairs from her bedroom.
“I shot straight up with the chills,” Flores said. “I had the chills from the bottom of my foot to the back of my damn head.”
I got chills just hearing him say that. Watch it happen in this video, a clip the CCPI posted on its Facebook page.
This wasn’t the only local place Flores experienced something like this. He collected evidence from the Guadalupe Far Western Tavern, the Santa Maria Inn, a private Santa Barbara residence – 150 investigations total.
“It was really interesting to find out just how many places in the area are said to be haunted, including a house right here in San Luis Obispo,” journalism senior Allison Prewitt said. “I had no clue there were so many.”
After I spoke with Flores, my group members and I set out doing research to uncover truth about these places. One of them happened to be a Cal Poly fraternity house off of Foothill Boulevard. Not only did they tell us creepy stories about the place, referred to as the Clubhouse, but even Mitch knew about it.
“I don’t believe in ghosts, but hearing some of the stories from our interviewees definitely gave me a new perspective,” journalism senior Sam Spitz said.
Natalie said getting to see some of the so-called haunted places herself has not only helped her understand the story better, but also helped her become more interested in the Central Coast’s unique history.
“Some of the places seem so normal and you wouldn’t think anything out of the ordinary happened there, let alone have such a dark past,” journalism senior Natalie Young said. “It makes me wonder what’s lurking in the shadows around me.”
Our group used a group text to communicate story updates each day. We spoke to Flores as well as Ryan Burr, a co-investigator, who contributed valuable insight as well as telling us how the group’s equipment was able to record evidence of paranormal activity. It was tricky to set up interviews with them at first – they have full time jobs in addition to their work with CCPI, making their schedules rather limited.
We relied on consistent, effective communication to produce this in-depth, quality multimedia story.