Richard Silvers, Paranormal Investigator
Reported by Aurora Biggers
It was spring break and the previous week’s sunny weather had faded away into overcast skies and drizzly rains — a fact Richard Silvers seemed blissfully unaware of as he walked in smiling, gave me a high five and slid into the booth across from me.
We chatted about the weather and obvious lack of students on campus. Silvers is pleasant and easy to talk to. I learned he fluently plays seven instruments, including the acoustic guitar, drums, piano and violin. He is also a web designer and an architect — he recently designed a school and an orphanage for a group in India.
“My friends call me the Renaissance man,” Silvers said. Silvers, director of Mail Services for George Fox University (GFU), is certainly a multifaceted guy; but only one of his many interests brought me to meet with him — paranormal investigation.
Silvers says his paranormal career began in 2002 when he was on a beach vacation with family. His family was gathered around a campfire telling spooky stories when he had the “hair brained idea” to start a family paranormal society. It gained traction with his cousins, and in 2003 the family went on their first investigation to White Eagle Tavern in Portland, Ore. The hotel was once a brothel and is known for paranormal occurrences.
Silvers and his family used an electromagnetic field device (EMF) and a voice recorder. “A normal EMF reading is 0.5-1; we were peaking into the 4.5-6 range.” Silvers explained that this is a strong sign of a spirit presence. When Silvers later listened to the voice recording, he detected a voice saying “Kill em’; she hates him.”
He believes this was a spirit referencing the spiteful relationship between Rose, a woman who serviced many men at White Eagle Tavern in the 1900s, and a man who was known for mistreating her and the other women at the Tavern. This experience solidified Silvers’ interest in the paranormal.
“The cousins eventually disbanded, but I kept the group going and since then have brought new people onto the team,” he said. For Silvers, it wasn’t just a fun idea thrown out around a campfire and incited by scary stories, it was a calling. “I’d just love to go into some pretty intense places and just feel my heart pound,” he said.
The team Silvers refers to is his own company, The Extreme Paranormal Society. His team includes himself, his wife, and a couple from his church. Every few months Silvers and his team will investigate a new case, but in the meantime, he is fielding multiple potential clients and determining if their story is reliable enough to investigate.
This works well with his demanding job at GFU, but sometimes his second job causes eyebrows to raise on campus. Silvers conducted a few investigations on campus, namely an investigation of Pennington House — home of the William Penn Honors Program. It is a hot spot for activity, according to Silvers. It was once home to Levi and Rebecca Pennington — Silvers believes the spirit of either Levi or Rebecca may still reside in the house.
He investigated the house alone in 2014, except for the company of another faculty member who is now retired. He recalls they heard crashes in the kitchen while they were upstairs. When they investigated the kitchen, they found magnets were displaced from the fridge and were on the ground. The rug at the bottom of the stairs had also shifted, although there was no wind or any other people in the house.
Silvers said the faculty member who accompanied him often was alone in the house early in the morning. She once, according to Silvers, heard movement upstairs and believed it was the cleaning crew. However, when she went upstairs to check, there was no one up there. Silvers deemed his findings inconclusive but finds it hard to deny the possibility of spiritual activity.
Despite Silvers’ evidence of the paranormal realm, some on campus find his work dubious.
GFU is a Christian campus and many professors and students view Silvers’ work as incompatible with traditional Christian theology. “Telling people you’re a paranormal investigator, it’s like coming out of the closet, saying you’re gay,” said Silvers.
Silvers has his own paranormal theology. “Theologically I have to be very careful, but I’m a Christian trying to understand this part of the world,” he said. Christians shocked by Silvers’ work often cite Deuteronomy 18:10-12, a warning against communicating with the dead.
Silvers says the way he interacts with spirits is different, though. He investigates to have a better understanding of the paranormal world and help people who encounter unwanted spirits. Silvers’ clients are usually seeking help removing spirits from their home.
Silvers explained there are different categories and signs of spiritual activity. There are four levels of classification. Level one is “I’m here,” according to Silvers. This is the prankster. The spirit wants you to know it’s there and might make itself known by moving your stuff around, for instance stealing your car keys and then returning them a little later. This is low level, non-violent activity, says Silvers. Level two is a “Mover.” The spirit is more active and moves your stuff around in front of you and makes audible sounds. It is more active, but still benevolent. Level three is a full-blown poltergeist, characterized by cold spots and possible physical touch. The fourth classification is a violent spirit, escalating on the poltergeist actions.
Silvers says most spirits are people who died and have “unfinished business,” but the remaining entries — the more malevolent ones — are the minions of the devil. His method may be unorthodox, even for the paranormal community.
“If it’s a soft approach, I pray them out,” Silvers said. He believes in the power of God in these instances and says there is biblical precedent for such interactions with spirits. With expressive motions, Silvers recounted Jesus casting demons into pigs, as told in Matthew 18. “Jesus also gave the disciples authority to cast out demons,” Silvers said.
If the spirit is benevolent, not a demon but instead an un-living person struggling to move on, Silvers says you need to acknowledge their existence and ask them to leave.
Silvers’ paranormal theology doesn’t convince everyone, but Silvers is okay with that. He says he’s still a bit of a skeptic. Ultimately, “nothing about the paranormal is conclusive,” Silvers said, it’s just “fun, dangerous, intriguing, and fascinating.”