Next up: Milton Theatre

Robin Strom Mackey is a pleasant, soft-spoken and unassuming 51-year-old. She’s a ghost hunter and the founder of Delaware Paranormal Research Group.

Strom Mackey has been interested in the paranormal since her youth. She remembers the first time she saw “The Shining” and sharing ghost stories with her best friend at sleepovers. In her thirties, she had her first paranormal experience.

From Wisconsin, Strom Mackey moved around a lot in the Navy. She ended up in an old Victorian home in Pennsylvania when her son was 2 years old. On their first night in the house, the beds hadn’t been assembled yet, so she slept on the floor in the living room and her son slept in another room down the hall.

“Around two in the morning I was awoken and opened my eyes to see a small child looking at me,” Strom Mackey recalled. “I assumed it was my son, and I watched him get up and skip down the hallway toward where I’d put him to sleep.”

Puzzled, she called out to her son, asking what he was doing and telling him to go back to bed, but got no response.

“I got up and went down the hall and he was sound asleep,” she said. “That was odd, to say the least.”

On another occasion in the middle of the night she heard what sounded like a child playing in the hallway, but her son was again asleep. Other times when she heard a child playing, her son was in a different part of the house. Also, electronic toys would often go off on their own.

“I was busy teaching full time, I had a tiny son and I was renovating,” she said. “I didn’t have time to explore it further, but later, I realized it was probably something paranormal.”

Strom Mackey made her way to Delaware around 2005 and lives in Felton.

The popular Sci-Fi Channel TV series “Ghost Hunters” inspired her to do more. She started out as a member of Delaware Ghost Hunters, but most of their activities required her to travel farther than she was able. In 2010, she founded Delaware Paranormal Research Group.

At first, Strom Mackey, was blogging as she learned about various paranormal research methods. When people started asking her if they could “join the team,” she realized she needed to start going out and investigating.

DPRG now has five active members. They investigate homes, businesses and historic sites.

“People call me up and say, ‘I’m experiencing some really scary stuff, can you guys come out and give us a read on it?’” she said.

Strom Mackey actually describes herself as a skeptic. All of the investigations are free. Their equipment is paid for from members’ pockets. They are “dedicated to using scientific methods and devices to collect empirical evidence to either support or refute paranormal activity at a location.” The DPRG promises to listen to claims in a “non-judgmental manner” and offer theories and advice, but always looks for answers based in the natural world.

The equipment includes photo and video cameras, audio recorders, motion detectors, laser light grids and dowsing rods. Dowsing rods are L-shaped metal rods used as a tool to locate water, minerals and, in a spiritual sense, energy. The group uses devices to measure electromagnetic fields, temperature, vibration, humidity and barometric pressure.

The team has visited a home in Hartly three times now, and their investigations have yielded some interesting results.

“Twice we did a thermometer experiment, where you park it someplace and verbally ask for the temperature to go down … in half-degree increments,” Strom Mackey said. “Twice we’ve had it follow our voice commands, once the temperature when down 12.5 degrees.”

The home has also produced strange electronic voice phenomena, or EVP recordings.

“The EVPs are voices that you catch on tape but don’t hear at the time,” Strom Mackey said. “Sometimes they don’t make sense; sometimes they’re right on the money. Oftentimes they’ll parrot you back.”

Recently, the group was contacted by the White Swan Tavern, a bed and breakfast in Chestertown, Maryland, that’s been around since before the Revolutionary War. She and her team spent the night in the haunted room and conducted an investigation, the results of which they presented to the crowd at the Chestertown Harry Potter Festival.

On Halloween there will be a public investigation at the Milton Theatre, a building that’s been around for more than a century. Ticket sales will benefit the theater.

“We’ll conduct EVP sessions in different rooms. People can monitor equipment and ask questions,” Strom Mackey said.

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