A man's search for answers about his father's death lead him to paranormal investigations.
Steve Giddings’ father died in 1989. But Steve still talks to him.
In March, 1981, Floyd Giddings was repairing sewing machines at Lauterbach’s Cottage Hardware Shop on 15th Street and South Grand Avenue in Springfield, Ill., when a man walked in and started swinging an ax, killing one person and severely injuring two, including Floyd.
An elementary student at the time, Steve said he didn’t think much of his father’s “accident.”
“I lost a great father at a young age,” Steve, now 40, said. “It really didn’t hit me until later. I felt a part of me has been removed and I felt lost. I had a father in physical form, but not mental.”
For much of the rest of his life, Floyd suffered from amnesia and was unable to discuss what happened with Steve, but the event’s physical and mental effects were clear.
“Over the years, I’ve struggled to find more answers to what actually happened on that day,” he said. “I felt that I needed revenge.”
Instead of that, in 2005, he decided to try to talk to his dad.
Although he was skeptical, Steve allowed a friend to introduce him to the Springfield Ghost Society.
After learning the lingo — orbs (round spheres of light considered to be paranormal energy), EVP (electronic voice phenomenon recorded from places considered to have paranormal activity) and PI (paranormal investigators) –– getting some equipment and buying into the idea that paranormal phenomena exist, Steve’s first stop was the cemetery where his father was buried in 1989.
“I said, ‘Dad, are you here?’ and I didn’t hear anything, didn’t see anything,” said Steve, who took a voice recorder with him that day. “But I went back and listened to the recording and a female voice responded saying, ‘Your dad was here.’”
To Steve, this means his father has crossed over to heaven, though, he said, his grandfather may still linger.
“When I said, ‘Hi’ to my grandpa’s grave, there was a, ‘Hi’ back,” Steve said.
Since then, Steve has been spending hours in cemeteries across the region, homes and places considered to be haunted, having conversations with what appears to be no one.
When The State Journal-Register, Springfield’s local newspaper, asked its readers where the spookiest places in the area are, Steve immediately thought of Wolf Creek Cemetery.
Searching for answers
Beneath a full moon shrouded with fog, the broken, ancient tombstones in the small, secluded hilltop cemetery are illuminated as if a football stadium was nearby. Steve opens a gray briefcase and pulls out an MP3 player that acts as a voice recorder and an electromagnetic field detector and walks over to the oldest part of the cemetery.
He finds the headstone of John Keale, born in the 18th century, according to the stone.
“Come on John, make that thing light up!” Steve yells, with a voice recorder running.
It lights up just once, but Steve later believes his cell phone to be the culprit of its beeps.
In the center of the cemetery, a family plot — with most deaths occurring in the mid-19th century — is where most of the cemetery’s “activity” is, Steve said. In the past, his EMF detector, called The Ghost Hunter, has lit up several times, he said.
Walking through the plot is decidedly creepy, with headstones fashioned in the shape of chairs and a fence carved from stone surrounding the handful of plots.
To the back of the lot, Steve said a girl’s voice was recorded along a wooded area, saying her name is Eva. He says a tombstone in the cemetery holds that name, though he could not find it on that mid-October night.
Despite the lack of audible response, the idea of spirits swirling around the cemetery, as Steve describes it, is certainly frightening to some people. But to Steve, it’s not a matter of finding haunts; it’s allowing people to communicate with the dead.
On Oct. 22, Steve visited a home where the woman who owns it claims to have seen a woman, whom she believes to be the spirit of a miscarried daughter in her home that she shares with her surviving daughter.
Steve checks it out with a fellow paranormal investigator.
“The client and I were sitting in her living room talking, then we both heard a small growl of some sort and it never happened again,” Steve said. “(The other paranormal investigator) was in the (woman’s) daughter’s bedroom all night… He told me that he heard a voice saying ‘Jennifer’ or ‘Jenny.’”
Later, Steve said he captured more than 10 images of “spirit activity” in the home on video.
The ghost of Steve’s father, Floyd, is what drives him to continue this hobby that sometimes has him up all night during the ghost society’s busiest month, October.
“I’m still in the dark about what he died of,” Steve said. “All I know is that he was living in a high-rise… He died in his sleep.”
Finding out what happened to others’ loved ones and helping others find peace with what they believe are spirits invading their homes is what keeps him going.
“I get more intrigued as I do more research,” Steve said. “People come to me and say, ‘This might sound crazy, but…’ Well, I say, ‘If you’re crazy, then I’m crazy, and I know I ain’t crazy.’”