During a paranormal investigation of The Olde Mill Place in Vassalboro on Saturday night, I followed my group as 15 of us filed into the basement, an area known to be especially spine-chilling.

As I focused on writing shorthand notes in the darkness, the rest of the group began to disperse with some people using K2 meters that detect electromagnetic energy in the room.

I was listening to our group leader explain how the meters worked when I suddenly felt something gently pulling the left side of my hair.

Paranormal researchers of all experience levels are shown as they canvas the interior of the historic Olde Mill Place in Vassalboro, Maine Saturday October 12, 2019. About 60 people, including professional researchers, took part in the ghost hunt which followed a paranormal festival at the mill. (Staff photo by Rich Abrahamson/Staff Photographer)

After the initial shock, I scanned the room to see if anyone in my group was standing nearby. I realized the nearest person was standing more than 5 feet from me.

“They like to play games. We’ve had a lot of women say they’ve had their hair pulled here,” group leader Dustin Marcia said in response to my frantic reaction.

But my brush with the “other side” was just one of the several eerie encounters my group experienced throughout the night.


During the first hour of the investigation, we were on the top floor of the mill — an area formerly used as offices.

Travis Hartford, of the paranormal group Ghost Research and Investigations of Maine, was leading us into a room when one group member said she had heard laughter coming from down the hall. Hartford promptly redirected the group to the area where the woman said she had heard something.

Hartford placed a spirit box, a device used to communicate with spirits, in the middle of the room and had everyone introduce themselves to any entities that might have been present.

Through the spirit box, we first heard a voice say, “Here.” We then heard a series of words and most clearly heard the name “Amy” repeated several times.  Amy was a woman in our group who felt a presence so strong she had to leave the room before we heard her name through the spirit box.

When we moved into a different part of the upper level, Amy once again felt a physical presence was following her.

“She said she felt something grab her on the back of the neck,” her sign language interpreter communicated to the group.


The rest of us hurried to see if we could experience what Amy was feeling, with our group leaders asking the spirit to make itself known. After a few moments of silence, a loud bang came from the empty room near where we were standing.

Saturday night’s investigation was part of the third annual Parafest, a paranormal festival presented by Ghost Research and Investigations of Maine and Central Maine Ghost Hunters.

After the guest speakers, vendors and attendees from the daytime festivities cleared the mill,  a group of nearly 60 believers, skeptics and undecided patrons arrived to embark on a four-hour investigation around four different areas of the mill.

Before the night began, we were gathered in a room where leaders of GRIM and CMGH gave a presentation on what we could expect throughout the night.

The exterior of The Olde Mill Place is shown during a paranormal investigation Saturday night in Vassalboro.(Staff photo by Rich Abrahamson/Staff Photographer)

Ray Breton, who owns the mill and the mill agent’s house nearby, chimed in to give more context on the building.

“There was a lot of death in this building throughout the 150 years it was used,” Breton said. “Lots of people were killed by the machinery, many drowned in the river around the back. There’s a lot spirits of little kids, they like to play games with you.


“I own the mill agent’s house and the spirits go back and forth. I have documents to back up what people have seen. I can tell you names and where someone died.”

Breton also said more than 2,500 paranormal investigations have come through his buildings.

The night was divided into four 45-minute sessions during which groups of 10 to 15 people used different tools to communicate with spirits that are alleged to inhabit the mill.

Hour by hour, each group to came back to one another with more stories of noises, apparitions and physical reactions. At the end, those who stayed for the entire investigation reconvened to review what they had experienced over the past four hours.

Paranormal Festival decor is tucked away before the start of a paranormal investigation Saturday night.(Staff photo by Rich Abrahamson/Staff Photographer)

Some people raved about the indisputable evidence they gained from the night, while others quietly chatted among themselves, still processing what they experienced.

For me, something grabbing my hair was enough to allay any lingering doubts I had about the existence of spirits.

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