Friday, August 10, 2018

Analysis Of The Rampart Street Murder House Investigation

A Guest Article by Tracy Garnett
The following analysis by the author applies Dr. Kurt Koch's methodology to the investigation of claims of occult related activity and the paranormal. As such it demonstrates the errors of popular conceptions of preternatural investigation that are propagated by entertainment media such as this, purporting to be "reality television". As the author points out quite well, what is seen in such programming is quite different than professional investigation of such claims.

The season two, episode seventeen installment of Paranormal Lockdown was an investigation of the house at 826 N. Rampart Street in New Orleans, Louisiana—the location where, in 2006, Zac Bowen murdered, and dismembered his estranged girlfriend, Adrian ‘Addie’ Hall. In one of the very few moments of objectivity, paranormal investigator Katrina Wiedman concedes that this grisly occurrence probably had more to do with Bowen’s alcoholism, and the savage effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for which Bowen, a former Army, and Iraq War veteran, suffered. Towards the end of the episode, both Wiedman, and fellow investigator, and show runner Nick Groff seem to want to retract this sober observation, and include Bowen, and Hall as sources of a combined haunting that includes the spirit of a young, African-American slave boy. The presence of these three entities is never confirmed. The majority of the episode purports to deal with the paranormal activity that had supposedly been occurring since the 1830’s. It is documented that the property was the location of a Voodoo Spiritualism Temple that was destroyed by fire in 2016. This paper will deal with the equipment used; the claims; and the witnesses that were utilized during the course of their investigation.
The equipment used in this episode was handled in such a way that the hardware violated the Principal of Classification, but also the Formal Principal. Groff runs afoul of the Principal of Classification by using unscientific means to obtain evidence: the use of the Steve Huff (not a PhD) created Wonder Box to capture Electronic Voice Phenomenon. All of these hack devices have one thing in common. They either use Frequency Modulation, or Amplitude Modulation. In brief, they are radios. There are many different voices, and talents performing on the airwaves at any given time. Groff suggests to the audience that a barely audible, and arguable, statement like ‘I hate myself’ must necessarily be from the disembodied spirit of Zac Bowen. Later, Groff brandishes another device known as the Geo Box which he uses, more or less, as a ghost detector. The host confesses that the instrument is basically an EMF meter. An EMF meter is used for determining electromagnetic frequencies, usually wall plug, or cell phone tower. They are not radars for isolating the approximate locations of apparitions. Another example occurs when thermal cameras are deployed for the purpose of locating discorporate ‘energy.’ Thermal cameras are scientifically useful if one’s goal is to find sources of hot, and cold sources of air, not spiritual energy. On each of the above occasions, axiomatically, the Formal Principal is run rough shod because nothing in Groff’s paranormal tool kit fulfills the occult principal for which it was intended, as is exemplified by the lack of hard evidence.
The claims in the Rampart Murder Street episode of Paranormal Lockdown are sparse, and never substantiated. The viewer is told that ghostly hands have been seen reaching from closets. No photographic, or video evidence is in the offing here. The claim that the ghost of a slave boy is inhabiting the house is never confirmed; neither Groff, nor Wiedman, nor anyone on their production team ever bothers to research whether a child ever lived in the house period. There are no trips to the local courthouse, or even a simple Google search on the internet. The claims of visitors experiencing a ‘heaviness,’ and a ‘lightness,’ and stomach problems are corroborated by Groff, and Wiedman, and their claimants, but this type of evidence is highly subjective, and open to interpretation. Their verdict is acceptable, only if society jointly concludes that gastric issues are a preternatural, and not a medical issue.
The witnesses in the Rampart Street investigation either have no credibility, or their claims are never established as facts, based on proof. In his book, Christian Counseling And Occultism, Kurt Koch discusses the problem of having an inordinate belief in the occult. Case in point: in a Facebook Live chat which followed the premiere of this episode, Nick Groff told his fan base that this location was referred to him by Mary Millan (aka Bloody Mary), a Voodoo priestess, television celebrity, and museum curator. In fact, Millan is the one who gives Groff, and Wiedman an initial tour of the building. She is the one who ascribes certain stomach problems to dark forces in the structure, and nothing else. She is the one who provided the background information about the murder of Adrian Hall, never once looking at what happened forensically, or scientifically. It is Bloody Mary who demonstrated such pagan problem solving skills as performing the Voodoo Rattle, and Blessing of a property that has not yet been verified as haunted. This is also important to note for the Christian Lay Investigator because it demonstrates the lack of Christ in these proceedings. Groff—the star of Paranormal Lockdown, and lead investigator, really—needs no more information to run with than what is given to him, by her, and while only five minutes into the program, the conclusion already seems to be that the house must be haunted because of the murder that was committed there, and because it feels haunted. This is neither logical, nor rational. Groff behaves unscientifically on still more occasions such as the instance where he deduces Poltergeist activity based on debris falling from a ceiling that has crumbling rafters. This is a failure in properly investigating the environment. The pratfall of interpreting feelings as facts, again Nick Groff when assigning a preternatural source to random odors in the house (i.e. the burning smell). Groff, ignoring the investigative method when he declares the sounds of footsteps to be preternatural when they could easily have been real footsteps coming from either outside, or even downstairs. Katrina Wiedman’s testimony was equally lethargic, and unconvincing. Wiedman is alarmed by, but never investigates the source of, every creak, and expansion in the floor. Seeming to fancy herself gifted with mediumistic abilities, Wiedman is the one who elucidates that the debris ‘thrown from the attic’ is consistent with the behavior of a child’s spirit. She also has a propensity for buying into paranormal myths such as the nonsense, minus dissertation, that smaller structures must by nature hold more compact, spiritual energies. Then there is the owner of the building, Leo Wiedermeir, who testified to the validity of all of the above claims, but who also offered nothing concrete, other than general feelings of negativity. Wiedermeir also professed that the stove that was in the upstairs apartment was the very same one that Bowen used to boil Hall’s remains after murdering her. Anything is possible, but this is, at least, highly improbable. Most communities have a health department, and those governing bodies have laws regulating apartment ownership. Additionally, it’s doubtful that the New Orleans Police would have returned the appliance after it was tagged as evidence.
In conclusion, based on the equipment used; the claims; and the witnesses involved do nothing to prove that there is preternatural activity at the house at 826 N. Ramart Street in New Orleans, Louisianna. The case is, at least, still very much open.

Tracy Garnett is Lead Investigator for the International Society of Christian Demonologists, as well as an author and writer. Look for his upcoming website to appear soon!

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