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When the Spanish first entered San Francisco Bay in 1775, it was named “Isla de los Alcatraces” or Island of the Pelicans. In 1848, Mexico ceded the island to the United States and the famous 12 acre precipitous rocky island was declared a military reservation by executive order on November 6, 1850. As a part of the area’s defensive system, it was intended to guard the entrance to the bay. Its first fortifications were begun in 1853 under the direction of Lt. Zealous Bates Tower, U.S. Corps of Engineers, and consisted of a main brick building, 200 by 100 foot citadel, batteries, two barrack structures for troops and three cell blocks.

First garrisoned on December 30, 1859, it was often referred to as Fort Alcatraz. By 1861, the fort had 85 cannons and a garrison of 130 men. The island became a detention camp for political prisoners during the Civil War and later was a disciplinary barracks for military prisoners, a prison for recalcitrant Indians, P.O.W. facility for Spanish American and Philippine Island prisoners and then World War 1 conscientious objectors. It was used as a fort until the disastrous 1906 earthquake, when San Francisco jail inmates were transferred there for safekeeping. “The Rock”, as it was popularly called, was an Army prison from 1917 to 1933 when title to the island passed to the Department of Justice.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, an agency of the Justice Department, took it over and ran Alcatraz as a maximum security prison for incorrigible criminals until 1964. It was then shut down because of its progressively decaying condition and deteriorating assurances of incarceration. Asserting century old treaty rights, a large group of militant Native Americans Indians occupied the island in defiance of the federal government for nine months ending in June 1971. Alcatraz Island is now part of the golden Gate National Recreation Area.



On May 22, 2004, CCPI met up with Gloria Young of Ghosttrackers to participate in a BBC production of the series “Dead Famous”. The BBC was on location in San Francisco filming a segment entitled “The Ghosts of Alcatraz” and had asked Ms. Young to gather 8 others to participate in this segment which would feature a séance at the federal prison on the Island.

Since the séance was to occur early Sunday morning, we headed to San Francisco and arrived at 1:00 AM on Pier 39 to take a specially arranged water taxi to Alcatraz Island. Once on the Island, we were transported with our gear to the prison at the top, where we met with the BBC crew. Once inside, we were fortunate to meet the other participants, namely, Richard Senate, a recognized top Paranormal Investigator from Ventura, CA; Carla Baron, a psychic detective from Southern CA; Christopher Fleming, a Psychic and founder of Unknown Magazine. Our group included Gloria Young from Ghost-Trackers, with her son Scott & daughter Chrystie; Jim Carter from Ghoststudy.Info; Stephen Pristavok, photographer from Vacaville, CA and Mark and I from CCPI.

After the introductions and some discussions about events that happened before we arrived, it was decided that the séance would take place in the hospital infirmary ward on the second floor of the prison. It was one large room, six barred cells with double windows, three on each side facing an outer wall and another small room at the end opposite the main doorway. According to the psychics, the large room was the most active.

We then proceeded to gather and sit in a circle, hands on our knees with palms up while Mr. Senate and Ms. Baron gave us a few instructions on how the séance would proceed. During the course of the séance, Mr. Fleming went in and out of a trancelike state and most notably, there was a ghost of a prior inmate, named “Armando”, who spoke through him. “Armando”, stated that he and others were not able to leave because they were being held by another, stronger and evil ghost who controlled them all. Ms. Baron identified this ghost as Stan/Stanley, who she said was a rapist and then quite forcibly, proceeded to call him names daring him to manifest himself in some way for all those present to see. Ms. Baron also stated that ten ghosts inhabited Alcatraz at this time.

About 4:15 AM, one side of our circle felt a temperature change. According to Mr. Carters temperature readings, it was about a 10 degree drop. Further, Scott related that he was feeling sick/anxious and uncomfortable. Whereby Ms. Baron and Mr. Fleming talked with him for some minutes and all three told whatever it was to “get out,” Scott looked visibly relieved even smiling.

Towards the end of the séance, Ms. Baron, with assistance from others in the circle, guided nine ghosts through a gate encouraging them to move on. Afterwards, there were closing protection words from Ms. Baron and a brief discussion of the events. The circle was dissolved. We took pictures of the infirmary and went downstairs to the cell blocks to take more pictures before our departure at 6:00 AM.



Having never participated in a séance prior to this night, I was certainly curious and excited to be a part in one. I was not disappointed. While I have some doubts as to the malevolent ghost of “Stan/Stanley”, the psychics’ role during the séance was interesting and a little puzzling. I must admit I was not expecting them to act as they did. For example, in my opinion Ms. Barons’ loud taunting, belittling and demanding attitude and speech towards “Stan/Stanley” was not what I had ever read about, heard of or seen previously. And while Mr. Fleming’s attitude was more subdued, it would be interesting to see him in action under other circumstances. Ghosts carry the same persona they had in life. So if “Stan/Stanley” was a rapist while alive, as Ms. Baron claimed, he would most likely be afraid of or angry at women and verbally battering him could have two results, 1) so much negative energy he would throw a fit (and everything else) so that any paranormal activity would be unmistakable to everyone in the room, or, 2) he would run and hide to the point he would not cooperate at all. The latter is what I think may have happened. There were no moving objects, no valid EMF readings, no EVP and no visible signs of any phenomena during this séance, save perhaps one, Scotts feeling of anxiety. And while the psychics’ technique may work under other or different circumstances, results taken during this séance are inconclusive. In my opinion, we were asked by implication to believe what the psychics were telling us and to rely on facts that they presented without any proof whatsoever. While this may sound a little harsh and appear to imply that I do not believe or respect psychics, quite the contrary is true. I do believe and have the utmost respect for psychics/sensitives and in fact, know one such person with a natural psychic ability for seeing and understanding what most of us cannot.

As for the temperature fluctuations, they may raise a yellow flag that a ghost may be present but there are other factors that should be taken into account before making that assumption here, 1) it was already cold, middle 50’s, and windy outside, 2) the séance room had no heating system, 3) broken glass in the window panes on the outside walls in each cell, and 4) the coldest part of the day occurs in the predawn hours just before sunrise. Unfortunately, there were too many variables coupled with the lack of scientific indicators for this occurrence to be conclusive of any ghostly presence during the séance. Had the temperature drop been closer to the 20 degree mark, it might then indicate a “cold spot” due to an energy drain of the immediate area, which could then be interpreted as some form of paranormal phenomena taking place.

As I mentioned, after the séance we were able to walk around and take more pictures. These next 5 pictures represent the best of what I took after the séance ended.

This first picture was taken while every one was packing up their equipment. I stepped up to cell 5 and took the picture below. There was nothing else in the cell or outer room that could have produced these phenomena. It is my belief this is Ecto-Fog.

Picture 1: Hospital Infirmary Ward: Cell 5

Picture 2: Hospital Infirmary Ward (Séance room) with Cell 5 on right.

Picture 3: Hospital Infirmary Ward (Séance Room), taken right after Picture 2 with white, round orbs.

Picture 4: “C” Block corridor. Middle left, one faint but very large orb.

Picture 5: “C” Block corridor, taken right after picture 4, large orb gone, smaller faint orb near same area

All living things contain forms of energy and as we learned in science class, energy cannot be destroyed only transformed. These pictures are indicators that there is some kind of energy patterns happening at Alcatraz. Who were they? Are they former inmates? Is Stan/Stanley watching us? Why are they here? Can we communicate with them? Are they as curious about us as we are about them? As Paranormal Investigators, we come away with more questions than answers. Then why do we roam the corridors in the early morning hours of a federal prison known to house some of the most notorious criminals in American history?

To find the answers,

It’s what we do----Investigate, Validate and Educate.

Jackie Meador

Central California Paranormal Investigators


What is it that makes us part of a group of paranormal enthusiasts who run around looking for ghosts? Oftentimes, late at night roaming cemeteries or deserted buildings looking for the proverbial bump in the night.

Just a few short years ago, ghost hunting was considered weird because everyone knew there were no such things as ghosts and the people doing the hunting were either in league with the devil or their elevators didn’t reach the top floor and were thus discounted as odd or kooks and wacko’s. Not so much today. Well, maybe a few still consider us as odd ducks or on the express elevator to hell, but, the majority of people I talk to now all have a story to tell, maybe about their own personal ghostly experience or about someone they know. In essence, more and more people are opening up and speaking out. And not just the average citizen either but celebrities and political figures are going public and saying they believe, movies, TV shows and romance novels are getting into the act making all things ghost related the in thing. So, maybe we’re not so weird after all!

The ghost hunters today come in all shapes, sizes, religions, ages, experience and hunt ghosts for a variety of reasons. Some are fascinated with ghosts and who they are, some want to know about the afterlife and even some are skeptics. But without a doubt, they all have one thing in common, they all believe there is something out there, something going on we cannot see, hear or understand. If you talk to the veterans, the ones who have been around since before ghost hunting became popular, they can tell you because for them it’s not a hobby nor a fad but a calling: to find the truth about ghosts and hauntings. They are more than hunters; they are the paranormal research investigators, who devote a good percentage of time and money to their mission. They teach, lecture, write books to fund their passion, they also travel everywhere to conferences/workshops to continue learning and still find time to research in the field searching for answers.

No matter the name by which we call ourselves, we all have the same goal, to prove the existence of ghosts. We use different techniques and methods but use the same standard equipment: we experiment, always testing the many theories that involve paranormal phenomena; and we struggle to analyze our data, sometimes being our own worst critic. Hans Holzer, who most recognize as the father of ghost hunting, said it best:

“Ghost Hunters are the grassroots movement that act as
scouts. It is this combination of footwork and serious
scholarly research that yields the most significant finds.”

Basically, without the ghost hunters, the scientists could not do their work. We are the pioneers and eventually, someone, somewhere will have that irrefutable proof which will prove without a doubt that yes, ghosts do exist and why. My biggest wish is to be here when that happens.

But, is there one thing that sets us apart from the norm or as I like to say, the unenlightened? Maybe it’s the passion or obsession, the opportunity or personal experience but is there just one? Perhaps not, in my opinion a ghost hunter is made up of several qualities:

50% Commitment to finding answers
20% Integrity to be responsible for our actions
15% Perseverance in the face of ridicule
10% Confidence to believe in what we do
5% Objectivity to consider all the possibilities
And a dash of Humor to have fun and laugh at ourselves

There is no easy answer to what makes up a ghost hunter. Suffice to say, those who have a genuine passion know themselves, know where they are going and how to get there regardless of what others think. For those who are just starting out, I give these suggestions: Read, read, and read some more and not just about ghost hunting but subjects like astronomy, psychology, geology, photography and anthropology, etc. Take classes locally if you can, online/home study courses if you can’t, join a group for field experience and learn to research and write.

Today, it takes more than just a camera and posting pictures on a website to be a ghost hunter and the days of cemetery hopping are over. It doesn’t matter if some ghost hunt as a hobby or serious paranormal researcher, if the days of being considered weird are gone then the future brings about a greater responsibility. If we want to be taken seriously and our work credible, then we must also be serious, professional and credible in what we do.

Jackie Meador

Central CA Paranormal Investigators


On a typical spring day in Central California and within a short drive to the ocean is a place with rolling hills, pastoral meadows and vineyards up the Wazoo! It’s also 10 am in the morning. Now, what would a group of ghost hunters be doing in the daytime amidst all this peace and serenity? Well, we have a date with Charlotte.

Oh, did I mention Charlotte lives in a cemetery? You see, Charlotte died in 1890 while still grieving for her two small children, who had died from diphtheria a short time before her own death. She was only nineteen years 10 months and 5 days old. It’s been said she still wanders the cemetery at the same time and same day of the week, looking and sobbing but never finding her children. When the sightings first started no one seems to know and it has never been documented as to this spirits authenticity but many people profess to have heard or seen Charlotte weeping at night during her endless search. But that is not why Central California Paranormal Investigators (CCPI) are traveling west of Fresno after rising early on a Saturday morning, 7 am early to be exact, to drive 3 hours to Charlotte’s home.

After a Starbucks run to get us jumpstarted and a stop at McDonalds before we even left town, Mark, Mike, Terry, Shamalah and myself are off to our date. Our destination is a 150 year old cemetery near the central Californian coast because CCPI has been invited to participate in their annual clean-up day in May. Many of the gravesites are tended by the descendents of these western pioneers who lived, worked and raised families in this beautiful California valley. But many others have either been lost or forgotten over the decades and so are in varying states of neglect. And like so many other cemeteries around the country, vandalism is no stranger here. Headstones have been cracked, broken and tossed every which way making it hard to match the wayward markers with original gravesites; a difficult task to be sure but not impossible for a certain group of angels. These angels disguised as volunteers wear levis, t-shirts and sneakers, come armed with rakes, shovels, weed whackers and hula hoes, who through hard work and loving dedication have made great strides in putting things right. Connecting relatives to their family history, repairing headstones and maintaining the cemetery’s natural beauty are some of the ways these volunteers work to care for this historical cemetery. For CCPI, it was an honor to be part of this ongoing restoration project after being asked to adopt Charlotte’s grave, since she had no one left to care for her final resting place.

In accepting this responsibility, CCPI made the first of two yearly trips to work at Charlotte’s gravesite on May 19 th. Also armed with rakes, shovels, hula hoes and 2 hours of sweat later, we had cleaned and marked Charlotte’s grave and surrounding gravesites with stones, straightened and reset headstones all the while working our way through poison oak and keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes.

And you thought it was the labor that was making us sweat? Not!

Shamalah and Oly

Terry and Jackie

I have intentionally omitted the name of Charlotte’s hometown and resting place because of the vandalism I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, in the past there have been people, who hoping to catch a glimpse of the resident ghost, wander around the cemetery only to damage gravesites and headstones in the process. Along with the local hormonal teenagers hoping to scare the wits out of their dates, the harm this does to the cemetery is an ongoing problem. I would hope anyone who wishes to gain entry to this cemetery will first seek permission to do so and if denied, respect the wishes of those who work hard to keep this cemetery maintained.

Charlotte’s resting place

CCPI plans to make this our yearly community project for the Central California area. Our next trip is planting day in October where we will sow wildflowers, plant daylilies and irises around Charlotte’s grave and hope it gives her some peace. Who knows, maybe we can start a new fad: Cleaning the Crypt or Hula Hoe around the Headstones. In the meantime, we are all waiting to see if a rash develops and make a mad dash to the drugstore for a bottle of calamine lotion.

To Charlotte, until next time, you are not forgotten.

Jackie Meador

Central California Paranormal Investigators