Spirits soar at conclave on UFOs, paranormal

Employees at the Radisson Hotel near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have their own ghost stories.

A sudden gust of wind pushing a heavy chair across the lobby, visits from a longtime-but-now-dead guest, and maids hearing children giggling and running down the halls when no one is there.

All reasons for Ross Allison and his team of ghost experts to investigate.

Allison's group is among local and nationally renowned psychics, Bigfoot investigators and UFO experts at this weekend's Northwest UFO/Paranormal Conference at the Radisson.

For the past two years, Allison and other members of Amateur Ghost Hunters of Seattle, Tacoma — AGHOST — have hauled cameras, thermometers, motion sensors, magnetic-field sensors and barometers into homes, cemeteries, historical sites and businesses looking for paranormal activity.

Late Saturday night, nearly two dozen people, some from AGHOST and some curious onlookers, crept down the Radisson's halls. While ghosts were nowhere to be found, a ball of paranormal energy was spotted, Allison said.

"We're not ghostbusters. We don't try to get rid of the spirits," Allison said yesterday.

Unlike the characters in the hit film "Ghostbusters," Allison said his group's mission is to investigate paranormal activity and "collect evidence that ghosts exist."

Allison said it's rare to hear about ghosts being violent or mischievous. Most clients just want confirmation they are indeed being haunted. The investigations are free.

Since the group formed two years ago, it has investigated the Maltby Cemetery in Snohomish County, the Snohomish Library and the Kalakala ferry, as well as scores of private homes.

Matt Luker, assistant front-office manager of Radisson Hotel Sea-Tac Airport, said he has never seen ghosts wandering the halls but said members of the paranormal group were allowed to interview hotel staff in detail.

"I'm kind of a skeptic," Luker said.

More so, perhaps, than the 300 or so people who have attended the third annual paranormal conference since it started Friday.

Local psychics Skip and Sharon Leingang, psychokinetic expert Lyn Buchanan and Brazilian UFO expert A.J. Gevaerd are to speak today.

West Seattle resident Matt Crowley and his girlfriend, Dana Foss, chatted excitedly yesterday with Loren Coleman, a Maine-based cryptozoologist who has written articles and books on lake monsters, Bigfoot, giant snakes, Mothman and thunderbirds.

Crowley said his interest in Bigfoot and abominable snowmen developed when he was young. "I think I was interested because they were frightening," said Crowley, who attended last year's conference.

Jillian Schuyler of Eatonville wandered around trying to learn more about psychic abilities and UFOs. She said she saw a flier in Eatonville advertising the conference. "I'm just curious what would be here," Schuyler said.

Schuyler seemed disappointed when she heard the Leingangs wouldn't speak on "Talking with the Dead," until today.

The husband and wife run Psychic Spectrum in Federal Way, which has 12 psychics, a day spa and gift shop. They often work together when doing psychic readings and contacting the dead.

"Everybody thinks we paint a third eye on our foreheads and wear pointed hats," Skip Leingang laughed. "But we're trying to help people on their spiritual path."

Charlette LeFevre, a director of the Seattle UFO/Paranormal Group, said only about half as many people pre-registered for the event as did last year, but more are showing up at the door.

Crowds have been especially heavy for the UFO and Bigfoot presentations. LeFevre expects a high turnout for mythologist William Henry's lecture on Iraq's ancient history and mythology.

Jennifer Sullivan: 425-783-0604 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Conference continues today

Northwest UFO/Paranormal Conference, today, Radisson Hotel-Seattle Airport, 17001 International Blvd. (Highway 99). Cost: Exhibits and displays free; $25 for individual lectures. For more information, visit www.seattlechatclub.org or call the Psychic Spectrum Gift and Learning Center, 800-803-9690.