Who you gonna call?

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

It happened around this time last year.

For several hours, Mike Christensen had been walking through the Salt Lake City Cemetery, but because it was getting dark, he started to head home.

Opting for safety, the junior economics major followed the light posts leading the way out of the cemetery.

But, when Christensen walked under the first post, the light went out.

Thinking it was simply a malfunction, Christensen kept walking, but every time he walked under a light post, the light would suddenly fade and black out.

Trying to cheat the system, he passed under a light that was already off. His trick, however, did not pay off. As he walked under it, the light turned on.

Starting to worry, Christensen walked faster until he was off the cemetery grounds. Little did he know that every street light on his way home would also turn off, no matter how fast he walked past it.

Looking back at the incident, Christensen has ruled out any type of coincidence and says the happenings were a guiding sign.

Then again, he was not visiting the cemetery to put flowers on graves that night. He was there to look for ghosts.

Turning his interest of ghosts into a business, Christensen created the Utah Paranormal Investigation Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the science of ghost hunting.

Armed with professional ghost equipment, Christensen and eight other paranormal society members investigate local cemeteries, hotels and houses every weekend in search of paranormal activity.

The UPIS crew is also on call in case people need their houses ghost-searched at no charge.

Although UPIS has been around for more than five years, Christensen’s fascination with the paranormal began at a young age.

When he was in the first grade, he would sleep at Walker Mortuary in Orem, where his best friend’s father was a mortician.

Christensen and his friend would play hide and seek with the coffins and sleep in the main office, which was one room away from where the bodies were kept.

Both boys would also be dropped off at school in a hearse, a car usually used to carry caskets to funerals.

“During that time, I used to think that playing night games there was normal,” Christensen said. “But now that I look at it, it’s kind of freaky.”

And although Christensen knows he has plenty of ghost-hunting competition, he is confident about his group.

“Most of the ghost hunters out there are in their 30s or 50s, so I think that we have a more useful approach,” Christensen said. “We are more open to things rather than being set in our ways.”

Besides searching for ghosts, Christensen also attempts to clear misconceptions about ghosts and the paranormal.

Most people dislike ghosts because they believe ghosts can hurt them, which is untrue, he said.

He also said there are as many ghosts during the day as there are at night, and more ghosts are seen during Christmas than Halloween. This usually happens because people want to be with their loved ones more, causing emotions to run higher, he said.

Why ghosts are still dwelling among the living is also misunderstood, Christensen said.

“Some are too scared to move on; others are just looking for companionship,” he said. “But overall, people should know that, like humans, ghosts go through stages of grief-most getting stuck in denial.”

His role models, he said, are Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, founders of the Atlantic Paranormal Society and featured investigators on “Ghost Hunters” on the SciFi channel.

Jeromy Julian, UPIS cofounder and a freshman in business at Salt Lake Community College, said UPIS’s ultimate goal is to see a full-body apparition, which is considered to be the holy grail of ghost hunting.

“If I could see a full-bodied entity, I would ask it why it’s still here and why it couldn’t move on,” Julian said.

But although Christensen said he believes in ghosts, he’s not superstitious. He does not believe in bad luck associated with black cats, Friday the 13th and broken mirrors. He also doesn’t use a Ouija board because “it’s hard to believe you can contact the dead with something made by the Parker Brothers.”

Christensen is terrified of spiders, though, and checks his bed for them every night before he goes to sleep.

Christensen said he will most likely party this Halloween if he is not called for an investigation.

As for what Christensen would do if he became a ghost after he died, he said he would travel to the places he hadn’t been to yet.

Julian, however, has a different plan.

“If Mike was still alive after I died, I would hunt his ass,” he said.

Lennie Mahler

Ghost hunters Mike Christensen and Jeromy Julian from the Utah Paranormal Investigation Society ready their equipment for a night in search of paranormal activity. Christensen and Julian use electromagnetic frequency meters to search for paranormal presences, then cameras and voice recorders to try to communicate with spirits.

Lennie Mahler

Jeromy Julian leaves a voice recorder at a grave in the Fort Douglas Cemetery in hopes of picking up unusual noises known as Electronic Voice Phenomena

Lennie Mahler

Mike Christensen measures electromagnetic frequencies in the basement of the Humanities House during a search.

Lennie Mahler

Ghost hunters Mike Christensen and Jeromy Julian from the Utah Paranormal Investigation Society ready their equipment for a night in search of paranormal activity. Christensen and Julian use electromagnetic frequency meters to search for paranormal presences, then cameras and voice recorders to try to communicate with spirits