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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job

Updated: Mar. 16, 2022

These spine-chilling stories from real-life ghost hunters will have you hiding under your covers.

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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job
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Strangled in a church

One of the first investigations Greg Newkirk, a professional paranormal investigator, ever did still haunts him today. “I had taken a documentary film director to an abandoned church long-rumored to be haunted,” he says. “We’d only been in the building for half an hour before a loud knocking drew our attention to the church’s ten-foot-tall pulpit. For five minutes, we watched a thick, forest green fog manifest on the pulpit’s spiral staircase, before it slowly crept toward us.” That’s when, all of a sudden, the director Newkirk had brought with him began to frantically gasp for air as if he were choking. “Sure enough, he had two bright red hand prints wrapped around his throat. They almost looked like burns.” Think you have a ghost? Find out the 7 signs your house is haunted,

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An otherworldly creature

John Tenney, a friend of Newkirk’s and a fellow paranormal investigator, has memories of his own that would keep even the bravest of men awake at night. “The oddest thing I’ve seen happened a couple of years ago,” Tenney begins. “I witnessed a small hairy creature about 11 inches tall with deep inset eyes, large ears, and hooves. As the flash from my camera went off, it jumped backward into the darkness and vanished. I don’t have any problem with people not believing me because I still don’t know if I believe it… and I saw it. Learn about the 13 haunted house mysteries no one can explain.

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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job
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Tripped into a coffin

It seems as though supernatural creatures are rather attracted to Tenney, host of the spooky podcast, Realm of the Weird, as the hairy being with hooves wasn’t the only one to interact with him. “Once, while investigating an old cemetery, I heard a distinct voice say, ‘Careful,'” he shares. “In my startled state, I immediately began to walk backward. In doing so, I cracked through the lid of an old coffin and ended up falling into a grave. As I laid in the grave I don’t think I’d ever been more scared.”

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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job
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Time-traveling ghosts

Believe in parallel universes? Time travel? You might after reading this story Tenney recounts. “In the early 2000s, I was working with an older woman who was experiencing what she called ‘ghost children.’ She drew pictures of what they looked like. Years after she had passed away, I revisited her former home to speak to the new owners to see if they had experienced any ‘ghost children.’ The new owners had not seen any, but their real children had been drawing pictures of the woman who had been my client.” Are you brave enough to stay in one of these haunted Airbnbs?

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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job
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Smoke and apparitions

The number of spirits and creatures that Tenney has seen throughout the years is truly astonishing. Despite all his experience, though, he is still no closer to being able to explain any of it. “Over the last three decades I’ve seen a lot that I still don’t comprehend,” he admits. “Full-bodied apparitions wandering down the halls of hospitals, ghostly cats vanishing through walls and smoke-like patches of darkness writhing through hallways—after a while, it all seems almost normal.” Check out the most haunted places in the world.

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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job

The fear of reality

After all of the strange encounters Tenney has had, the worst he experienced is something every one of us does at one point or another. “For me, the scariest thing that can happen to anyone is the psychological confrontation a person can have with their own mortality while sitting alone quietly in a dark room. No one really knows how reality works. Everyone has their own opinion based on whatever facts or belief system they may, have but no one knows exactly what happens after we die. Confronting that as yet unknowable fact is both terrifying and exhilarating.”

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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job

What’s in the box?

“One evening last year as my wife and were driving home, we received an email from a frightened man in Indiana who had an effigy he needed disposed,” recalls Newkirk who runs The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult. It was only an hour or so out of their way, so they agreed to meet in a high school parking lot where the man worked as a janitor. As Newkirk and his wife were waiting, “A massive silhouette emerged from the darkness holding a cardboard box,” he recalls. “I cautiously got out to greet the man, then as he handed me the box, the street lamp above us blew. He just started laughing and informed me it’s because ‘he knows you’re here to take him and he doesn’t like it.'”

The man led them into the empty school. “Without exaggeration, nearly every light he walked under while holding that cardboard box flickered. He unlocked the door to a classroom and sat down behind a teacher’s desk, where he proceeded to unfold the flaps of the box and remove an absolutely chilling handmade doll with a twisted face and gaping mouth.”

“The janitor began to mutter things about hurting people and his fists balled up and he started breathing heavily,” Newkirk says. “As his huge, imposing figure started to rise out of the chair, I quickly grabbed the [doll], wrapped it up in a towel, and threw it back in the box. The janitor sat back down and started to cry.”

It was clear to Newkirk then that something much bigger and much more devilish was behind everything that had been happening. While it was their job to take the effigy into their care, the janitor had his reservations. “‘I’m honestly scared for you two about this thing,’ the janitor stammered. ‘L-l-lock it up. After you do your investigation, lock it up.'” Newkirk genuinely believes that this poor man was enduring some kind of evil possession or oppression. Spirit? Demon? He doesn’t know, but the case is still open and active.

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The Spookiest Things Ghost Hunters Have Seen on the Job
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The darkness of the mind

After all that Newkirk has seen—and continues to see—while he investigates the paranormal, it’s not the figures or the spirits that appear that are the scariest, but the human mind. “Dealing with the unknown is scary no matter what,” he says. “If you want to know the scariest thing can happen to you on a paranormal investigation, it’s witnessing truly unexplained phenomena and having your worldview completely thrown out the window. When you’ve seen what’s actually making that scratching noise behind the wall, you can’t ever un-see it.” Next, find out how to become a real-life ghost hunter, according to paranormal experts.