Graphic by Abigail Potter / Graphic Design Editor
Every town or city has their local dentists, hairdressers, firefighters, police officers and postmen. However, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where legends and sightings of the supernatural are deeply intertwined with the history of a seemingly average city, residents have a local paranormal investigation organization.
Stones River Paranormal, founded in March of 2012, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery of paranormal doings in Murfreesboro and educating the public about otherworldly phenomenons. Since its start, it has grown to a seven-member operation that functions in two branches, one in Murfreesboro and one in Chattanooga, Tennessee. SRP has investigated over 100 locations in 9 different states, and co-founder Tammie McLendon says that there are still many elements of the supernatural that have yet to be seen.
By day, McLendon is the owner of Balance Anew Wellness Center in Murfreesboro. By night, when the city becomes quiet enough to hear from the dead, she is a paranormal investigator with the ability to see things that others may miss. According to McLendon, she was born with the ability to see and hear ghosts and to feel the feelings of both the living and dead. McLendon said that this eccentric capability drew her to paranormal investigating.
“I was born with the ability to see the spirits, and, because of that, over time, I realized that what I could do was not the norm,” McLendon said. “I got interested in finding out more about it, what it meant, why there were things that weren’t always seen by everyone else, but, yet, I knew it was there … Things I could see or hear, no one was reacting to. Even though, it was obvious something was going on in the room.”
McLendon said that, since an early age, she would hear voices from ghosts and see apparitions.
One of the first supernatural experiences that McLendon recalls was when her family rented the home of the late musician known as Uncle Dave Macon.
“I remember at night, hearing a banjo playing in the living room when I was in bed,” McLendon said. “Apparently, what happened there was that Uncle Dave Macon died in the home, and that was one of my earlier recognitions.”
According to McLendon, there was a separate incident in front of the Macon home when she was waiting to get on the bus to go to school. While standing in the road across from the house, she witnessed the fog morph into a vivid spirit.
“It was perfectly clear everywhere else except one spot that looked really foggy,” McLendon said. “And, it just caught my attention, and the more I watched it, it kept changing shape until it formed into an outline of a person. I was probably in the first grade, at the time”
McLendon stated that before she helped found SRP, she first became acquainted with representatives from the ghost tours that take place at the public square in Murfreesboro and, eventually, joined one. Due to McLendon and a few other ghost tour representatives sharing common interests, they decided to form their own team.
Once the founders of SRP started the organization, it was decided that all of the investigations would be free of charge for any client.
“What we have found is there is a lot of activity, within people’s homes and businesses,” McLendon said. “Our whole purpose in doing what we do is, for one thing, to try to answer some of the unanswered questions as to what happens after death. We may have some clients who lost loved ones or they have some activity in the home that they cannot understand and are afraid. What we want to do is go in to help answer those questions … Our whole purpose is to help people who don’t have anywhere else to turn.”
The basic structure of an average SRP investigation is as follows: Clients contact SRP with an issue, SRP will set a preliminary investigation meeting with the client, a paranormal investigation will take place at the client’s home or business and the subject of the original issue will be revealed and the client will receive a copy of the evidence. Once SRP begins an investigation in a client’s home or business, McLendon acts as the team’s first responder.
“I’m sort of like the antenna for the team,” McLendon said. “When we go into a building, what i’ll do is walk around and let them know about areas that we call ‘hotspots’ or where I particularly feel or see something going on. That gives the team a starting point for our investigations. Sometimes I can tell if a person died a certain way or if it’s a child or an adult, just based on various things I get from that spirit.”
Once McLendon discovers all that she can through her abilities, the rest of the team engages the spirits with cameras and other technology to get what McLendon refers to as “the hard evidence.”
That evidence is collected through a wide variety of tools and gadgets that help the team establish connections, conversations and, possibly, sightings with ghosts.
“We use everything that you see on the paranormal shows on T.V.,” McLendon said.
According to McLendon, a starting kit for any paranormal investigation is a voice recorder, a flashlight and a KII Meter, which is a hand-held device that locates sources of electromagnetic radiation and provide a reading of the relative strength and direction of electromagnetic fields. Paranormal investigators such as SRP often use a KII meter to directly communicate with ghosts. It is believed that ghosts emit energy that can cause KII meters to light up based on how strong the ghost’s presence is. Therefore, investigators will ask spirits yes or no questions and will receive answers based on how much the meter lights up. Along with the essentials, McLendon and the team use other ghastly devices such as a Ghost Box, which scans radio channels at rapid speeds and can, supposedly, detect the voices of spirits, Lazer Grids, which light up certain areas to possibly see ghosts walking through the lights, FLIR Thermal Camcorder, which can detect heat signatures from the dead and a Boo Buddy Bear, which is a teddy bear that has multiple sensors inside of it.
“(The Boo Buddy Bear) is one of the things we use, especially, if there’s children involved,” McLendon said. “We’ll go to a lot of areas where there may have been the death of a child. And, of course, a teddy bear is going to be something they are attracted to.”
McLendon stated that any investigation that yields “hard evidence” such as pictures of the spirits, voices of the ghosts on recordings or video. Several homes and businesses across Murfreesboro have been provided with SRP’s “Certified Haunted” certificate. With a certificate and a helping of “hard evidence” comes story upon story of ghoulish encounters.
According to McLendon, much of the ghosts that SRP comes in contact with were, in another life, Civil War soldiers due to Murfreesboro being the site of the infamous Stones River Battle during the war. McLendon stated that she has even witnessed a soldier, still manning his post, with her own eyes.
“At the time that I saw him, I saw him just like you and I, looking at each other,” McLendon said. “He was in more winter wear. The dark grey and the long cloak. He would let me talk to him and he would only respond with a whistle. Apparently, he was whistling a tune and from everything that I gathered from interacting with him and talking with him, he was walking his post. He told me that was something that he had to do every night. In this particular situation, this soldier is still going through the same motions he did at the time of death.”
Despite coming across many spectral soldiers, McLendon stated that some of her favorite experiences while working for SRP were the occasions when the organization visited what is known as “The Thomas House” in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. It is a historic bed and breakfast and hotel that carries years and years of history.
“There is a little girl there named Sarah, that passed away,” McLendon said. “I’ve had several interactions with Sarah, and I’m talking about full apparitions. Whenever we go there, I like to get a room by myself and whenever we go there, she always appears. Usually, I’ll be looking in the mirror, putting on makeup or something. She always likes to stand behind me and watch me. She’s as vivid as you are.”
For more information on SRP and their investigations, visit their website at www.stonesriverparanormal.com
This story originally ran in MTSU Sidelines’ September 2017 print edition. For more information, contact Editor-in-Chief Brinley Hineman at firstname.lastname@example.org.