Friday, September 22, 2023

‘This is an eager one’: A first-hand experience with spirits, paranormal investigation


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Graphic by Abigail Potter / MTSU Sidelines 

Let me start out by being scarily candid: I do not believe in ghosts. I have never believed in ghosts, and it is possible that I will never believe in ghosts. That being said, I, who has been personally labeled as an avid skeptic by friends and family, traveled to a graveyard in Murfreesboro to take part in an actual paranormal investigation.

When I arrived, I nervously stepped out of my car and was greeted by a Stones River Paranormal co-founder by the name of John McKinney, known by friends and anyone who will listen as “Big John.” He greeted me with not only an excitingly adventurous smile but also a firm handshake and a “How are y’all?” As the sun began to set on the house and graveyard to which I had arrived, McKinney was already unpacking the various ghost-hunting technology and gadgets that he referred to as his “toys.” Co-founder Tammie McLendon arrived shortly after and began to explain the process of an investigation to me. As she spoke, I could immediately tell that this was something that she cared about, felt connected to and, most importantly, believed in. McLendon explained that this was not the first time that SRP had investigated the property.

“(The property owner) is a friend of our team,” McLendon said. “He’s always been really gracious to let us come. We know it’s a friendly place. We’ve never encountered anything bad here. So, it’s a go-to place for us.”

I was also introduced to the two owners of the house, Ed and Ruth Baker, who have lived on the property for about 30 years.

“It’s a family graveyard, the Campbell family graveyard,” Ed said.

He also mentioned that a couple of the graves belonged to a presbyterian preacher and a man that rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest during the Civil War.

Ed stated that he was first approached by McKinney to investigate the graveyard around 7 years ago. Before SRP’s involvement, the Bakers were unaware of any supernatural doings on their property.

“As long as we’ve lived here, we’ve never had any interaction with them in the house or out in the yard.”

Despite not experiencing any ghostly phenomenons before SRP’s investigations, the Bakers stated that there outlook has been changed by the experiences.

“It makes you realize that there is something to it,” Ed said. “I don’t know what it is, but there is definitely something about it. There’s different things that they’ve done, and we’ve witnessed them doing. It’s just really fascinating.”

The Bakers both proudly stated to me that they were not nervous or afraid of the otherworldly happenings that occurred in their graveyard.

“It’s kinda neat that it is here, and that it is here on our property,” Ed explained.

“And we take care of it,” Ruth quietly chimed in.

Once the investigation was underway and the moon had conspicuously risen into the night sky, I received the up-close and personal encounter with SRP that I was looking for.

They began by setting a KII Meter, which is a device that has lights up with various colors depending on the amount of electromagnetic energy in the area, on a gravestone and began asking “yes” or “no” questions. McLendon was the first to begin the line of questioning. The short-statured, kind-voiced woman braved that graveyard as fearlessly as anyone who is searching for members of dead could. Speaking clearly and assuredly, she said, “Are you a little girl or boy?” Immediately, the KII Meter’s lights spiked into red, meaning that a large amount of energy was surrounding the device. Excited, McLendon turned to me, laughed and said, “This is an eager one.”

The night continued similarly as McKinney and McLendon asked question after question using various tools and devices. They jumped from grave to grave in attempts to make contacts with the various men, woman, boy and girls that resided underneath the dirt. Every so often, McKinney would make a quip that would make McLendon chuckle and say, “Oh, stop it.” A ghost would supposedly respond via KII Meter that it liked McKinney, to which he would immediately respond, “Must be a woman.”

The more I watched and waited as lights were brightened and shadows were pointed out, the more I came to relax and enjoy the sheer satisfaction and excitement that the team got out of the investigation. Whether it was McKinney attempting to hear the voice of a Civil War soldier via radio stations or McLendon leaning down to get on the level of a little girl that passed hundreds of years ago, I knew that they were, at the very least, passionate. As the night finally came to a close and the equipment was packed away, McLendon stated, as I am sure she has many times before, that the investigation was a massive success.

“I think this was a really good example of an investigation. Sometimes, we’ll go places, and it will take us hours to get anything at all. Tonight, it was pretty non-stop. We got pretty much what we expected. The children seemed to be pretty active, as well as the soldiers. And, as everybody experienced, we got response from both.”

Despite leaving the graveyard with my skepticism and my disbelief mostly intact, I can assuredly say that it was a joy and an honor to spend an evening with a group of people who were passionate about their craft and their services. And if, in our society, that isn’t supernatural, I don’t know what is.

This story originally ran in MTSU Sidelines’ September 2017 print edition. For more information, contact Editor-in-Chief Brinley Hineman at

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