By Katie V. Jones
Immediately upon entering Laurel’s House of Horror for the first time, Mike Richey, of Charm City Paranormal, in Baltimore, said all his hair — including his facial hair — stood up.
“I’ve spent nights in haunted places all across the country,” Richey said. “That’s a first. I’ve never had that happen.”
He didn’t expect such “very dark, very negative” energy, either.
“I don’t understand what we have on our hands, but I have an idea and it is not good by any means,” he said. “I’m a bit nervous.”
Richey is willing, however, to explore it more with eager participants during nightly paranormal tours every weekend in October, after Laurel’s House of Horror closes for the night. The tours will be for groups of about 12 and will start at 11:30 p.m. and 1:45 a.m.
“It’s my first time ever doing this,” Richey said, of the tours. ”I’m not there to play things up or give a good scare. I like finding something cool.”
“They will have access to the whole thing,” said Chris Smith, CFO of Laurel’s House of Horror. “We will wipe out the staff and crew and turn the lights and sound off so the experience is true. It is not smoke and mirrors but true paranormal stuff.”
While the late times will add to the tours’ spookiness, if a place is haunted, “It could be 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., it doesn’ matter. It will show itself,” Richey said.
Richey became a paranormal investigator three years ago, after visiting an abandoned asylum to take photographs and having an unsettling experience.
“I was thrown out by some unseen force,” Richey said. “It was a terrifying experience.”
Richey decided to do his own investigating to understand paranormal activity after discovering that most of the paranormal investigations seen on TV are, as he said, “heavily fabricated.”
“Authentic paranormal activities are all around us if you open up to it and allow it to be seen,” Richey said. “There are different degrees depending on what happened at that place.”
While he is still delving into the history of the former movie theater in Laurel Shopping Center where Laurel’s House of Horror is located, Richey knows visitors are often emotional about their experience there.
“Thousands of people going through are all experiencing the same thing over and over — mainly it is fear,” Richey said. “Emotions are energy, and energy just doesn’t go away.”
Charlene Blankenshp, owner of Laurel’s House of Horror, fully believes the building is haunted.
“No matter what paranormal group goes through, every single time they feel a presence,” she said, noting that this year, her husband Richard Blankenship, who passed away in December, may be part of the paranormal activity. Richard’s uncle, Art Staub, died in 2014, the weekend before Halloween,while he was working in the haunt. The butcher shop scene in the house is named after him, and Blankenship is sure he plays a trick or two there.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Richey said. “There is so much in this place; it is hard to narrow it down. Nothing compares to it.”