Tina McSwain of the Charlotte Area Paranormal Society

Tina R. McSwain is Founder & Director of The Charlotte Area Paranormal Society or CAPS.  She also serves as Lead Investigator and Historian of the group. Tina is a native Charlottean, and has been interested in the paranormal 
since reading Nancy Roberts’ North and South Carolina ghost books of the 
Under Tina’s direction and leadership, the Charlotte Area Paranormal Society continues to aid and 
support its clients; conduct research, investigate, and gather evidence of, and document encounters with, the unknown.

1. How did you become interested in the supernatural?

I used to watch the TV soap opera, “Dark Shadows”, with my grandmother.  It was a somewhat campy horror themed series of the 1960’s.  I was intrigued by the characters, especially Barnabas Collins, the vampire.  Not to be outdone, the series also had a witch, a ghost, and a werewolf.  Upon entering elementary school, I developed a love of reading, and would check every book the school had on ghosts.  I then found the TV series “The Night Stalker” staring Darrin McGavin as Kolchak, a reported who traveled his city by night, covering reports of all types of undead creatures.  With this type of childhood, I believe I was just destined to grow up and become a paranormal investigator.

2. What’s the strangest or most interesting paranormal experience you’ve had?

I would have to say that it was the first time I ever saw an apparition.  The interesting thing was the interaction between the ghost and myself.  My friend’s grandmother’s ghost walked toward me with a purpose, looked at me, smiled at me (I could even see her teeth when she smiled)  and waived her right hand.  In that moment, we existed on the same plane and could actually communicate.  Oh, what I would give today for that experience to occur again.  I have learned and experienced so much since then.  

3. Where/how does science fit into ghost hunting and the supernatural?

When we use our instruments such as EMF detectors, or thermometers, we are measuring the surrounding environmental or atmospheric conditions, looking for a sudden spike in those readings.  This change in the norm or base reading, may be interpreted as a spirit presence, once all other causes, manmade or otherwise, have been eliminated.  It is in this vein, that we would want to use every piece of scientific and properly calibrated equipment known to exist that measures these conditions.   It is also necessary to conduct your investigations with proper scientific methods, valid research, and in a controlled environment as best you can.

4. Do you have any moral/ethical obligations in ghost hunting or communicating with the dead?

I believe it should be a two-fold approach.  Answer the clients concerns, but attempt to aid the spirit as well.  I also believe in unconditional positive regard in both cases. Believe your client, until you find evidence suggesting otherwise.  And, respect the spirits of the dead.  I do not advocate provoking or belittling a spirit in any way, shape, or form.  I also believe that if you head a team, or are a member of a team, you should conduct yourself ethically, morally, responsibly, and professionally.  

5. If it were possible to contact or bring back someone from the dead, whowould you bring back and why? Try to think of someone who is not famous.

I would like to speak to the first person who ever saw a ghost.  It would be interesting to see how the story of the encounter then compares to the stories of paranormal experiences today. I would be willing to bet the similarities would astound me.  The ideology of a ghost dates back to the oldest surviving written text, and I would wager, it also survives in the consciousness of mankind itself.  The concept is a global one, appearing in all religions, peoples, and cultures down through the ages.

6. Do you have any other thoughts or interesting theories you’d like to share?

Instead of going high tech and modern, I believe we may want to think about taking a step backwards in our approach to investigations.  Impart more history.  My team extensively researches the history of the location we are to investigate.  We identify historical names or antiquated terms and use them in our EVP sessions in the hopes that a spirit from that era will recognize a word or phrase from their time and respond to it.  We also are big fans of trigger objects...period items...that may also enhance the chance of collecting evidence.  For example, on the USS North Carolina battleship (a WWII era vessel) we laid out posters of Betty Grabel, a Japanese flag, and some campaign buttons featuring the likeness of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When we held up the poster and asked if anyone recognized the lovely lady, we got an answer of “Betty”.