MONROE, Wash., October 30, 2023—Beth Zafft, Monroe-based ghost hunter, has been interested in the unknown since an early age. As a young girl she had an imaginary friend who, like imaginary friends do, disappeared as she grew older. The launch into paranormal investigations stemmed from the questions: “Where did she go?”
“It’s always fascinated me that people are having these experiences but why are they having them?” Zafft told the Lynnwood Times. “As I started following TAPS (the Atlantic Paranormal Society) you start to get that whole other perspective that [these experiences] aren’t always paranormal it could be that you’re electrical is off, or you have a bunch of paint in the basement where the fumes are leaking up. I like both the scientific and the spiritual side to it.”
Zafft said she’s sensitive to certain energies but, to her, Ghost Hunting is less about hunting ghosts but more about finding explanations to the unexplainable while learning about the history of the places she visits on her tours.
“You learn about the people who were in the area, and then the history about the area, so it just leads you down this bunny trail of all this amazing information,” said Zafft.
Through this interest, Zaft found herself joining the local ghost hunting group WSPIR (pronounced “whisper”)—Washington State Paranormal Investigations and Research.
WSPIR is headquartered in the Issaquah/Covington area. It was established in 2005 by founders Jill and Darren Thompson, who used to be members of another paranormal group until they decided to branch off and start their own.
Once a residence or location contacts WSPIR notifying them that they’re having issues they believe to be paranormal a consultation is held to determine if an investigation is needed. If it comes to that a team consisting of a psychic, lead, two techs (recorder and monitor), and a researcher arrive on sight, set up equipment, and interview their client to gather more information.
A psychic, who is told nothing of the history of the sight prior, tried to get a sense of the place while the monitor records their findings. The entire process is recorded to see if any noises or unexplainable sights occur. That footage is later reviewed to determine if it could or could not be explained.
One memorable experience of Zafft’s took place at Saint Ignatius Hospital in Colfax, Washington. Saint Ignatius was built by Mother Joseph Pariseau in 1893 and served as Whitman County’s hospital until 1968 when it was decommissioned. It has been unused since 2003.
Since the hospital is so large, WSPIR separated their investigation into two groups; one in the basement and one upstairs. While searching around upstairs one of the psychics in Zafft’s group told her the spirits kept saying that she (Zafft) needed to be the one to hold the EMS reader. Perplexed, she held it but nothing happened.
In her search Zafft stumbled upon a room that was completely covered in feathers. Not knowing why, she felt a calling to enter the room and search around, finding an old pill box with her maiden name on it – Balliet.
Upon further research on her family history, Zafft learned that when her grandfather passed away his wife’s brother had Zafft’s grandmother and five children committed to a hospital so that he could seize their property. Although this took place in North Dakota, where her family is from, the hospital they were all committed to was Saint Ignatius in Colfax, Washington – where they eventually passed away.
“It was like I was meant to be there,” said Zafft.
In one extreme example, in which WSPIR had to get the church involved, a set of young twins (about four years old) were in what Zafft described as “turmoil.” Whenever they would get upset, or in a heightened emotional state, objects around the house would start to move.
“Some things the obvious, lamens ghost hunter can’t help with. We can do the initial investigation but then you’ll need a higher power to help cleanse,” said Zafft.
As far as Snohomish County goes, Zafft says the town of Snohomish takes the cake for most haunted.
“I swear in Snohomish every building is haunted,” said Zafft.
Zafft gave the example of the Star Center Antique Mall building, located at 829 Second Street. Not only is it historically rich but the antique store brings together a collection of artifacts that were loved by many and poured their energy into them, she said.
“If you’re sensitive there’s just so many different levels of energy. There are items that bring you happiness or others that don’t make you feel good,” said Zafft. “A lot of the times you feel like you’re being followed, or you’re being watched. Sometimes you feel like something is drawing you in.”
Zafft said last time she was there she felt “pulled” to a particular dresser and after following the sensation explained she could feel “the person that was there before.”
In another case, a friend of her husband, who she called “very, very, skeptic,” paid a visit to the upstairs bathroom here and was shocked that the water faucet turned itself on seemingly out of nowhere. He quickly washed his hands and left then explained the experience to his wife. The faucet was later examined but there was no indication how, or why, it could turn on by itself.
Another location in Snohomish County she said is haunted is the Bush House Inn in Index.
Built in 1898, Index’s Bush House Inn has seen its share of history over the years. From mining camps to housing descendants of the Gunn/Doolittle families; to surviving a devastating earthquake; to serving as a popular, scenic, destination for weddings, artists, hikers, and kayakers in more recent years. However, not all its history is bright.
According to a local legend, a young woman named Anabel committed suicide upon hearing that her lover had died. The rumor ended up being untrue and, when her lover returned and discovered her body, he also ended his life out of grief. It is said that the ghosts of this double suicide still haunt Room 9, on the third floor – where the couple were living.
The Inn is located at 308 5th Street in Index and is currently undergoing an expansive restoration process. Despite its construction rooms are still available, on a case-by-case basis, for the remainder of 2022.
WSPIR provides discrete investigative services and research, at no charge. Anyone who is need of paranormal investigation services can contact WSPIR by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (425) 444-1945.