Introducing SIGN, Southern Indiana Ghosthunters Network
Jack Oliver is the founder of Southern Indiana Ghosthunter’s Network, called SIGN for short. The Sherlock Holmes of the paranormal,” Jack has been investigating for upwards of 18 years and only uses the scientific approach to investigating. Because of his knowledge, experience, etiquette, and community service, Jack, along with his cofounder Beverly Leavell and his group are well rounded and respected in the paranormal community. Jack founded his first group back in 1994 before investigating was in the mainstream.
Jack became interested in paranormal investigating when he worked 3rd shift for an alarm company in Louisville, Kentucky. He said he would get alarms in the middle of the night, and he would dispatch the police. One night, he received a call from Liberty Hall in Frankfort. Jack said that every now and then the motion detector would go off in that building. He called to see if the owner wanted the police to be called. The owner said no, that it was just the resident female ghost. “WHAT?” exclaimed Jack, “a female ghost?” Jack then began to ask questions. The man told Jack that the home was occupied by a female ghost, and Jack became increasingly curious. The owner invited Jack to do an all night lockdown, so that he could see for himself that there was indeed a ghost inhabiting the premises. Curious, skeptical, and alone, Jack took him up on the offer. He arrived at the home just at sundown armed with a large pack of Coca-Cola, a bulky Sony camera that used 3.5 floppy drives, and a flashlight. Jack didn’t see the gray lady that night, but he did hear loud footsteps that further sparked his curiosity, and from that night forward, 18 years ago, his journey began.
“Before the paranormal became a household term due to a flood of television programs, ghost hunting was a taboo topic.” States Jack, “It was considered the occult, and was a hush-hush topic in mainstream society.” Paranormal investigating was not advertised at is it is today. Jack would go to the library and look on bulletin boards where others would be looking to join certain groups, like chess clubs, or bird watching. Jack decided to put up an ad looking for others interested in investigating ghosts. Soon he received a call from a real country boy name Jamie Levine, who shared his passion. The two began investigating together, and Jamie had a cemetery in his backyard out in the middle of nowhere. ‘We didn’t have any equipment back then, says Jack “just a camera, mag light, flood light, and flashlights.” Jack and his new friend investigated Jamie’s property at every chance they had. They were looking to have experiences in the beginning, and hope to get a picture or two.
As time went on, Jack and Jamie had acquired more members in their group. They began to add new tricks of the trade, like compasses and, baby powder! Cheap and reliable, baby powder would be sprinkled where footsteps had been heard. The team, careful not to backtrack their steps, would leave the area locked where nobody could access the powdered area. Jack tells about the time they got foot tracks on an investigation. “We used baby powder to capture footsteps heard by the home owners. The old deceased owner used to go fishing by the pond there on the property. We got back and saw bare feet tracks in the powder!” He later saw photos of the man fishing while barefoot. When asked about the compass, Jack explained that when one encounters paranormal activity, the compass would spin.
Eventually, the guys became more sophisticated in their quest of the paranormal. The group had been hearing about various instruments being used by other groups and soon heard about the Polaroid One Step Camera, Geiger counters, gauss meters, and infra- red security cameras. The down side was that these instruments were very heavy, bulky and were not easy to transport. Still, the guys pushed on using the equipment in hopes of catching evidence of activity. Soon Jack and his team added the analog “shoe box recorder,” which had taken the paranormal community by storm. Jack states, “I watched a show one afternoon and there was this lady name Sarah Estep who had captured a disembodied voice on a recording device. Today that lady is referred to as the pioneer of Electronic Voice Phenomena. “ The voice recorder is used by every group today and is considered to be one of the most reliable. He was learning and teaching himself about the question and answer method of EVP. He would ask a question and would give a long pause in hopes of capturing a voice on the recorder. Jack and other pioneers have set the strict guidelines for which new investigators today use when recording EVP sessions.
In the mid 90’s, Jack started, SIGA, Southern Indiana Ghosthunters Association. “There was about 35 of us -Jamie had gotten married and moved , others dropped off, and I started my first paranormal group, well, it wasn’t a real paranormal group but we called it that!” All of a sudden Jack lets out a boyish chuckle. “Well we all got together and decided to call ourselves SIGA”. I asked him why he was laughing and he says, “It was kinda funny at the time, nobody here thought of us of having a name-well this was before groups really had official names, and people just called us the Ghost Busters! Hey look, they have the equipment like the ghost busters have, referring to the Geiger counters! So that was the reason we named ourselves.” Jack says that it still happens, and people refer to him as a ghost buster by strangers walking by.
In the mid to late 90’s, Jack’s paranormal arsenal began to grow; the digital recorders, EMF Gauss Masters, MEL meters, and air ion counters. “There were other equipment available then, but we couldn’t afford it, like the VHS Camcorders,” states Jack. In the late 90’s, the show, Ghost Hunters came out and the paranormal field became a popular fad, and the topic became a regular household term. Jacks say the cemeteries were flooded at night with wannabe’s. They had watched a couple of episodes of the show, and were then calling themselves experts!” says Jack. He goes on, “at night, the cemeteries were over run by people; we were stepping on top of each other, literally!” Many times people ask if I am a member of the TAPS team from TV! Let me make this really clear, I am NOT with them!” says Jack.
Today, Jack volunteers his time as an EVP instructor, and gives lectures to college students in his spare time, when he is not investigating, that is. He teaches new investigators Paranormal 101, and Paranormal 102. Both classes teach the proper way to conduct and EVP session, and utilize computer software to analyze their findings. His equipment arsenal ranges from digital recorders to mini DVD recorders, and the MEL meter, to name just a few. He uses the scientific approach to investigating, and does not use the newer radio wave scanning equipment used by newer groups today. He prefers to keep his methods strict and scientific. His methods are more reliable when it comes to being accurate, especially when he presents his findings to clients.
Jack’s excitement shows through when he talks about the paranormal. The excitement in his voice when he talks about investigating makes him one of a kind. Investigating is his life, and it has become a life long journey. Because of his extensive background, he is often asked to analyze evidence from other groups that he doesn’t even know. “It’s all about team work, we investigators help each other out, and that is what I love about the paranormal community.”
Because Jack and SIGN enthusiastically spend much of their free time investigating along with educating the community, SIGN has been chosen as a Diamond Spotlighted Group. To say that SIGN is indeed one of the Crème De La Crème of investigation groups would indeed be an understatement to the highest degree!
I feel honored to have spent time getting to know Jack Oliver. If you live in or visit Indiana and would like to meet Jack, he invites you with open arms.
You can contact Jack on his website. Please visit http://www.indianaspooks.blogspot.com/
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