Five years ago, I joined up with a great group of people who shared my passion for the paranormal.  Since then, Huntington Paranormal Investigations and Research has continued to grow and branch out, while maintaining that level of professionalism and dedication which first attracted me to the group.
I am honored to bring you the first in a series of interviews with HPIR members.  We are a diverse group, with many differing opinions and backgrounds melding into an ideal resource pool from which our investigations are based.  My intent with this series is to allow the public a chance to really get to know HPIR and its individual members on a more personal level. 

The first interview will be with president and founder, Melissa Stanley.  Without her hard work and leadership, HPIR would not be where it is today.


When and why was HPIR founded?

I have been intrigued by ghosts and ghost stories since I was very young. My interest really hit home with some unusual experiences in my late teens and early 20’s. I had several instances of telepathic communication with a close friend; those experiences really made me want to find out more about the paranormal world. When that friend passed away, I had an experience that really left an impact on me and shortly afterward I began searching for people who shared my interests. That summer in July of 2006 Huntington Paranormal Investigations & Research was founded.

Prior to HPIR, did you have any investigation experience?

No, I started out in this field with nothing more than a desire to learn more.

Why did you decide to start your own group as opposed to joining an existing group?

I actually began searching for other groups in the area to join and I had made contact with several groups but I never received a response. After a few weeks of research and a lack of response from existing groups, I decided to take charge and find others who were interested in forming a group.

What skills, characteristics, personal experiences, education or training, etc. do you possess that contribute to your success as a paranormal investigator and team leader?

Well to start off with, I never could have imagined that I would end up being a leader of any group of any capacity. I have always been a fairly quiet and shy person and to take (at my own doing) a leadership position was out of my comfort zone. It did take me a while to grow into my position, but it has helped me overcome personal fears and doubts in myself. As I stated before, I came into the paranormal field knowing very little. Even though I had little experience, I began by learning from some of my more experienced teammates. Of course since then I have expanded my knowledge of this field and continue to do so. I am not the type of person that allows being in charge to go to my head, as far as I am concerned my team members are my equals and my friends and I respect and value their thoughts and opinions. I think what makes me a successful investigator is that I am not easily influenced by what’s popular or trending in this field. I am not in this to become famous or to make a name for myself; I truly have a desire to find answers to those things we just don’t understand yet. When it comes down to the decisions I make for myself and the team, I always follow my heart and so far that has led me and the entire group in the right direction.

Describe HPIR's mission and style of investigation:

Our mission is fairly simple; to find answers to those things we cannot explain. Our style of investigation involves taking a logical approach to every situation we go in to. We try to obtain all the facts about a location as well as its history. We use that information to try to find rational explanations for any claims of paranormal activity. During investigations we take a respectful approach in our communication attempts, we rarely use provocation. We typically try to re-create familiar situations or time periods if it is relevant to the situation. When it comes to our evidence if we feel that we have found something of note during an investigation, we go over those findings with a fine tooth comb before we draw any conclusions about it. Our philosophy on evidence we collect is quality over quantity, because we never want to induce any unnecessary fears into those who we are investigating for.

What do you feel is the biggest problem faced by the paranormal investigation field today and what are you and HPIR doing to help remedy that problem?

One huge problem I see is the pure animosity among groups in the paranormal field. It seems there is constant bickering between different groups and also within individual groups. This type of behavior is counterproductive to paranormal research and reflects badly on the field as a whole. HPIR has worked with a few other teams and we have formed working relationships with some but prefer to avoid situations which may cause drama. We have experienced internal problems among our members in the past, but we were able to manage it in a non-public and professional manner. Our group is open and willing to share information about investigations and to share our experiences with others as long as we can steer clear of conflict. I can not say we have a solution for this problem because it is so widespread, I just hope in the future that individuals and individual groups can learn to better deal with their issues.

HPIR is very active in both community involvement and with historic preservation. Tell me about that:

Several years ago I decided to take our team in a bit of a different direction when I proposed that the group begin giving ghost tours in Huntington . I had been on several out of town ghost tours and enjoyed them so much that I began thinking what a wonderful thing it would be if we had our own tours locally. We began working with several organizations in Guyandotte to assist us in our goals of getting a tour started. With the help of those organizations we had a very successful first tour, and subsequent tours since. We regularly work with these groups throughout the year and I, my husband and co-founder Dustin and Theresa have even became members of several historic organizations. Not only do we have a passion for ghosts, but we love history too and we want to help in the preservation of our local historic sites.

HPIR will be celebrating its sixth anniversary this summer. What do you think sets HPIR apart from other groups, and what has contributed to its endurance?

I believe one thing that sets us apart has been our sustainability in this field. Since the time our group was first organized I have seen many groups dissolve. We have had our share of issues over the years but instead of allowing negative experiences to break our group apart, those experiences have allowed us to learn and move on from them. Another factor that I feel had allowed us to endure in this field is our member base, the individual members of our group are deeply passionate about the work we do. We all have a common bond and we have worked hard and have established ourselves in our community. I also feel our community work has set us apart from others. Many groups are involved in only the investigative side of things, however we have taken our group to new levels and taken on different challenges that many other groups just don’t do.

What are your future goals for HPIR and yourself as a paranormal investigator?

I certainly can see our group continuing in this field for many years. I hope that HPIR will remain a constant in the paranormal community and in our local area. Naturally I hope we have some great opportunities to investigate some new and particularly historic locations in the future. I hope to continue our successful ghost tours and perhaps at some point expand. My personal goals are to continue learning all I can about different topics related to the paranormal and to continue leading HPIR in the right direction.

Is there anything else you feel people should know about HPIR?

I think people should know that underneath all the seriousness of investigations and our group activities, that we are all fun loving individuals. Our members are funny, fun and friendly and we really enjoy getting together for meetings to chat, eat tons of food and laugh together. I think I have the best team around, if I do say so myself!

A big thank you to Melissa for answering my questions thoroughly and honestly.  To learn more about Melissa and the rest of HPIR, please visit our website...and check back soon as the rest of HPIR gets the chance to speak out!

Theresa's Note:  I apologize for the weird format...its harder to copy and paste from an email into Blogger than I thought!  This is about as good as its going to get for now, lol.

Photo above property of Melissa Stanley and HPIR