Whether you believe in ghosts or not, hunting for the haunted has become big business. Ghost hunters swear Los Angeles is as spirit rich as any other place and some people will pay specialists to find, speak and maybe chase away the paranormal from their home. One night, I met Rob Wlodarski, an archeologist and self-proclaimed ghost hunter who has written several books with his wife Anne about California’s haunted locales. He showed me how easy it was to detect ectoplasm with a pair of dowsing rods and a willingness to suspend cynicism. From my story:
Rob and Anne Wlodarski chase the dead for a living.
At least, that’s the motto printed on the back of the windbreakers worn by the paranormal-seeking couple.
On a recent night, when moonrays scattered over the old sycamore trees that surround Shadow Ranch Park, Rob Wlodarski used copper dowsing rods to locate a little girl and eight other spirits they believe inhabit the old ranch house on the West Hills property.
The rods drifted from left to right in his hands, the way an insect moves its antennae when it senses an enemy or food.
“Are you 9?” he asked the little girl after he confirmed her spiritual existence. The slender copper rods moved apart, meaning no.
“Are you 8?” the dowsing rods came together. Yes.
“Oh, you’re 8. Sorry,” he said politely into the darkness of the night. “I’ve been trying to get your name, but you won’t tell me.”
Compared to New Orleans, Gettysburg or Salem, Mass., Los Angeles may seem ghost-lite. But locals who seek a chilling brush with ectoplasm – or just like a good ghost story – swear there’s no place as haunted as L.A.
Its canyons and cemeteries, its ancient American Indian villages, its ranchos and missions, and many unsolved murders can overload any paranormal seeker.
The city, after all, is named after angels. Anything is possible. Here’s my full story (Daily News, 2010).