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The Ghost Hunter Next Door

Professional paranormal investigator Amy Bruni on things that go bump in the night

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Here’s the thing to know about ghost hunter Amy Bruni: the Ghostbusters jokes aren’t going to go over well. It’s not that they aren’t funny – because they can be – it’s just that they’ve been done, if you’ll pardon the pun, to death. Just recently, during the taping of an episode of her upcoming television show Kindred Spirits, fans played the Ghostbusters theme outside of the house where she and her partner in the paranormal, Adam Berry, were investigating unexplained phenomena. They aren’t, in fact, afraid of no ghosts. It’s just not a joke to them, especially on this new show, where Amy and Adam help people who believe their homes are being haunted by departed family members.

Here’s the other thing to know about Amy Bruni: she may be a ghost hunter, but she’s totally not weird. Or, more accurately, she doesn’t fit any preconceived notions you might have about someone who investigates the paranormal for a living. You also might already have a pretty good idea of who she is. Amy spent seven years on SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, as part of the team at Warwick-based TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), seeking out evidence of otherworldly presences all over the globe. Things are a bit quieter these days, now that filming on the first season of her new show has wrapped. On an average day, you can find Amy at home in Westport, posting pictures of her precocious three-year-old daughter Charlotte at the zoo, or talking to her followers on Twitter about anything from wine recommendations to where to find a good sale.

Call it the calm before the storm, and not just because October is her busiest month of paranormal event appearances. Once Kindred Spirits is on the air, things are going to get crazy. Because those Twitter followers? There are 187,000 of them. And she’s got another 200,000 on Facebook. It’s safe to say that demand for Amy’s particular talent for ghost hunting is high. Talking with her fans and with fellow ghost hunters is what inspired this new show. “We really wanted to do something on homes and families, and people who truly needed help,” Amy explains. “That’s what people ask us about all the time. So many of our fans have gone through things that have been traumatic and scary for them. They would reach out and I’d want to help them.”

In each episode, Amy and Adam concentrate on one home and one haunting. The pair talks intensively with the family, does research on the home and family’s history, and consults with experts in other fields like psychology and grief counseling. Then, of course, they investigate for ghosts. “We just try to figure out what this ghost wants or needs,” she says. They do that through audio and video surveillance, using handheld camera and recording devices to monitor environmental changes, search for EVPs (electronic voice phenomena, where something actually speaks to you) and observe EMF fluctuations (changes to electromagnetic fields). Then there’s just simple conversation with whatever presence is in the house. “It sounds crazy but it’s been working. Many times it’s just figuring out who they are, and sometimes just giving them proper remembrance. I can’t give away too much, but I would say we’ve run the gamut this season from people acknowledging who they are and what they want, to getting a message from the entity and passing it on. It means something when we get a message and we’re able to pass that on to a family member. That’s very impactful,” Amy says. “There have been a lot of tears, a lot of scary moments, a lot of laughs. It’s unlike anything people have seen on TV, I think. It’s really personal.”

But there’s another thing you should probably know. She doesn’t actually believe in ghosts. “I’ve given up believing in ghosts,” Amy says. “I’ve just come to accept ghosts at this point. I don’t claim to know what they are or that I ever will, unless we prove their existence with science. I just know some weird things happen.”

Among those weird things: taking a ghost home with her from an investigation of an old jailhouse in South Carolina. “I felt little arms holding onto my legs, like a child,” Amy says. “At that time people were put in jail because they owed, like, a dollar in taxes. I didn’t know it, but I was in the room where families would wait indefinitely for these guys to get out of jail. Sometimes kids would starve.” When she got home to her house and husband in New England, she says, “I saw a shadow run down the hallway. It was a small shadow that looked like a kid.” Amy didn’t mention it to anyone, but then two separate people two other times saw similar things in her house, when she wasn’t even home. “I had a little talk with it,” she explains. “I said, ‘you can stay here, you just can’t scare people.’ We never saw anything again.”

Despite the heaviness of the situations she and Adam deal with on Kindred Spirits, interactions with ghostly phenomena can be fun. Just ask the hundreds of hobbyist ghost hunters who travel the country with Amy on her Strange Escapes excursions, which are vacations to haunted locations that involve learning from paranormal experts and going out on actual ghost investigations. “I knew what I wanted to do,” Amy says. “Spend a weekend in a beautiful place, get to look for ghosts, meet people who are like me who don’t think what I do is super weird. So I created that for other people, and they love it.” This month, there’s a Strange Escape to Mackinac Island, Michigan, which is a throwback destination (the only methods of transportation are horse-drawn carriages and bicycles) with its share of hauntings, and one in November to the notoriously spooky Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire, one of her favorite places. Despite being from California, where she grew up in a haunted house and started ghost hunting as a hobby, “I fell in love with New England,” she says. “I love the history here. New England to paranormal investigators is what Hollywood is to actors.”

Beyond this show, Amy has even bigger ghost hunting dreams. “I would love to investigate Graceland,” she says. “They say the whole second floor is haunted. The White House is high on my list. It has a lot of ghost stories. I just need to find a president who is a Ghost Hunters fan, well, a Kindred Spirits fan.” But for now, there’s Charlotte’s fourth birthday to celebrate, and she’s doing so with a trip to Disney before the new show launches. Her favorite ride? The Haunted Mansion, of course. “Charlotte loves it too,” Amy says. “I thought she’d be terrified but she’s all about it.” Must be a family trait.

Kindred Spirits will premiere October 21 on TLC.

Amy-Bruni.net 
Strange-Escapes.com