DALLAS -- Think you might have a spirit or two hanging around? Several Texas groups are willing to look into just about any ghostly sighting.
People sometimes call looking for answers to the unexplained. And sometimes these groups decide to satisfy their own curiosity about a place with a bit of history.
"You always get activity in a cemetery - that's a given," said Vicki Isaacks, a 10-year investigator of paranormal activity and a member of Metroplex Paranormal Investigations. "When you have a place of high emotional outlet, there is always a chance of paranormal activity. Also, older buildings can have residual hauntings."
Bart Van Bemmel, lead investigator of the Carrollton Paranormal Society, said renovations also stir up activity.
"Spirits are used to the old building," he said. "They go through walls because where there may be walls in the new part, there may have been doors in the old one."
The Dallas Area Paranormal Society, led by Nicholas Nix, specializes in older buildings in the Fort Worth area, such as the Granbury Opera House.
"We didn't get much in the opera house," Mr. Nix said. "But we did get some EVPs [electronic voice phenomena] in the building behind it that used to be a hospital administration building and is now the opera's dressing room."
The group's next stop will be Saturday at Miss Molly's Hotel, which promotes its spirits on its Web site. The group will focus on the cowboy and cattlemen's rooms as well as a room said to be haunted by a young girl who was a former tenant.
Chad Miller, author of A Ghost Hunter's Journal, spent the past weekend with his group, DFW Paranormal Research and Investigations of North Texas, chasing down two spirits at Six Flags Over Texas. It's believed that a young girl named Annie and the park's founder, Angus G. Wynne, both haunt the four-decade-old amusement park in Arlington. Apparitions have also been reported at the park's Texas railroad station.
The results are not in yet, but Mr. Miller said the group found "two really awesome EVPs in the candy kitchen."
A lot of misconceptions exist in the spirit-chasing world. One is that this time of the year, with all of Halloween's ghoulish ghosts and goblins, is the most popular for ghost hunting. That is not the case, Ms. Isaacks said. Paranormal activity occurs year-round.
The other myth is that spirits are only in cemeteries.
"Many spirits are known to come back to places they loved, like watching a baseball game from the stands," said Mr. Van Bemmel, who teaches history by day and hunts ghosts at night.
And though nighttime is more popular for spirit-chasing because infrared cameras operate in total darkness - picking up what the naked eye cannot see - ghosts are 24-hour phenomena.
The Metroplex group has checked out several places, including the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas and Cobwebs Antique Mall in Plano.
Recently, members converged on the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre, which was built in 1885 and originally housed a dry goods store.
"I've never heard anything about ghosts here, but there might be some," theater board member Bill Thorne said.
In the costume room, the crew detected some activity when they passed an electromagnetic field radiation meter over an old pink ball gown.
"It's like an energy footprint," Ms. Isaacks said. "People's energies get attached to certain things, and we've got a lot of people stirring around, which can bring the energy out."
Psychic Annette Bingham said she felt "the presence of an older lady. Her personality was quiet and very sweet. I believe that she is not haunting the building but does come to visit occasionally."
Ms. Bingham also sensed some activity in the kitchen. But the group's gadgets showed nothing definitive.
"The only thing that we captured on the equipment is dust," Ms. Isaacks said. "That doesn't mean there isn't activity. It just means that on that particular night, we weren't able to capture anything of a paranormal nature."
Ms. Isaacks is a self-described "skeptical believer."
"I've seen things in photos and heard recordings that I can't explain, but have never had an experience that would make me absolutely believe," she said.
But nothing changes a skeptic's opinion like a little evidence, such as a spirit breathing in your ear, Mr. Van Bemmel said as he talked about investigating the historic Hotel Lawrence in Dallas.
He and his crew also discovered several orbs on their film and an unexplained voice on an audio recording at the hotel.
"For nonbelievers," Mr. Van Bemmel said, "they start to think differently."