Last night the Travel Channel aired the second episode of their new series Paranormal Challenge. This one featured Tri-State Paranormal Research and Northampton County Paranormal teams investigating/competing at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to show host, creator, and producer Zak Bagans, it is one of the most haunted buildings in the country.
The teams were given a tour by renowned paranormal author Charlie Adams. He filled them in on the history of the site including reported haunted places and famous “guests” of the penitentiary. The tour included cell block 12, the hole, the mad chair, and death row.
This week, Bagans and chief judge Dave Schrader were joined by Aaron Sagers and Alexandra Holzer as the guest judges. Sagers is a journalist and the founder/editor of the Paranormal Pop Culture website. Holzer is the daughter of Hans Holzer and a well-known author herself.
The teams, Tri-State Paranormal Research (Sharon Hensen, Peter Gargiulo, and Tony Nistico) and Northampton County Paranormal (Scott Wiley, Chris McGowan, and Scott Burke) get two two-hour blocks of time to investigate claims and gather evidence. Each team was given identical gear and sent out to investigate.
Sharon of Tri-State spent some alone time in the cell block to see if she could draw out any activity, while Scott from the Northampton team tried provoking spirits in death row. The teams showed some terrific work working together, as well as sending certain members off separately in an effort to cover as much ground as possible in their short investigation time. The Northampton team lost a lot of points in this portion by openly stating the wrong history of an area they were in.
Bagans sounded the siren to signal the end of the first round. Both teams met up with Bagans and Dave Schrader for a debriefing session before heading out again. Schrader mentioned that one team was horrible on history. They were presented with an EVP and a photo that were captured on previous investigations in an effort to spur on their own efforts. The teams were given artifacts (shiv, guard hat and keys) that are believed to help draw out activity, and sent on their separate ways.
During the second block of time, Scott Wiley (of Northampton) was shown spending time alone in the mad chair. He was getting some hits on the Mel meter and hearing footsteps while there. In the meantime, Tony (of Tri-State) was down in the hole area alone. After a while it appeared he got freaked and ran out to join the rest of the team. He really seemed out of sorts when he got back to them. I can’t even imagine the feeling of being all alone in a cramped, pitch black space, listening for the slightest sound.
Bagans signaled the end of the investigation with another siren blast. The next step for the two teams was to review their findings and present their evidence to the judges. The winner was Tri-State Paranormal Research.
After the show’s airing, judge Aaron Sagers held a live video chat on his Paranormal Pop Culture web site and answered fan questions about the episode. He had some terrific tips for future teams including “working as a cohesive unit, divide and conquer, listen to your leaders, and take notes during the history tour segment.”
It really seemed like knowledge/use of history was the most important factor in determining the winner of this episode. I had noticed in both episodes so far that no one on the teams has been taking notes – at least if they were, it wasn’t shown in the actual episode. For something that plays such a major factor in the end, and during the investigation as well, the teams should certainly be taking notes.