Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

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Published: October 28, 2006 01:04 am

HALLOWEEN — Ghostbusters meet Jesse James. Or not.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
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Kearney, Mo. (AP) — Jesse and Frank James and their bank-robbing gang are the stuff of Wild West legend. So are rumors that their boyhood home here is haunted.

The James farmstead home is now a museum, and tales abound that a few employees have seen faces of a man and a child in the windows. Others have heard strange noises, and one employee reported that a mouthpiece from an antique phone inexplicably flew across the room, hitting her in the face during a tour.

Elizabeth Beckett, the museum director, discounts the haunting claims. But as a result of the stories, some employees refuse to be on the property after dark.

‘‘Granted, it is a little creepy going into the house in the dark,’’ Beckett said. ‘‘But what we have are raccoons in the attic.’’

Still, separating ghost stories from actual events has proven as difficult as separating the James myth from actual history. That’s where Miller’s Paranormal Researchers come in.

Members of the ghost-hunting group in Kansas City set out last weekend to see if the house is haunted. The home is where Jesse and Frank’s eight-year-old stepbrother, Archie, died during a raid.

‘‘There was a lot of tragedy on that property,’’ said Brenda Marble, the group’s co-founder and lead investigator.

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A GHOSTLY MALFUNCTION

Marble’s six-member team entered the farmhouse armed with home video cameras, digital recorders and pocket-sized digital cameras. Beckett didn’t attend the investigation, but several members of her museum staff did.

In each room, Marble and her group set up the large array of electronic equipment. One psychic with the group, Misty Maeder, couldn’t get her video camera to communicate with her computer. Was it ghostly interference or a tired laptop? Maeder couldn’t say.

‘‘It’s strange, I can’t even get it to reboot,’’ Maeder said.

Joyce Morgan, another psychic with the group, decided to try the first reading of the evening in the old kitchen, the site where it is said Archie was mortally wounded with shrapnel. Morgan grasped a tissue -- she says her nose tends to run when she is communicating with spirits -- and closed her eyes.

Speaking in a calm monotone with a southern accent, she channeled Zerelda, who said that she shot a bushy red-haired man named Henry, because she believed him to be a detective.

Some of the attendees in the room said they witnessed a motion sensor reacting when no one was within range, and said they heard someone whistle and knock on a door.

Marble also said she caught a barely audible EVP, or electronic voice phenomena, on a digital recorder. Flash bulbs regularly penetrated the darkened house as Marble and other members of her team shot photos with 35 mm and digital cameras.

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CHANNELING AN OUTLAW

When it was Maeder’s turn to do a reading in the kitchen, she paced in front of the fireplace of the darkened room, clutching a mini-digital recorder while relaying questions from museum employees to Jesse, the spirit guest of honor.

Maeder revealed that Jesse told her that he had a previously unknown child with an Indian woman in the Oklahoma territory.

Still clutching a tissue, Morgan spent most of the rest of the evening in Frank and his wife’s darkened bedroom. She said she saw a dark figure behind Will Davis, an intern at the museum.

‘‘I did feel chills behind me at that time,’’ Davis later told a group of other young museum employees.

Like those who believe the James brothers were a misunderstood Robin Hood duo vs. those who believe they were simply a pair of murdering thieves, the psychics landed in two camps.

Maeder believes the house is haunted by ghosts, but not by members of the James family. Morgan, on the other hand, thinks that James family spirits visit from heaven -- but that there are no ghosts, whom Morgan described as beings who haven’t entered the light.

Other beings, however were confirmed to haunt the grounds. Twice, a strange smell wafted through the house. Museum employees confirmed it to be the resident raccoons.

Jesse James, around the date of his marriage in 1874. (AP Photo) None)
 
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Psychic and paranormal investigator Joyce Morgan channels the spirit of Jesse James' wife, Annie. (AP Photo/Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell) KERRI FIVECOAT-CAMPBELL)
 
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Morgan begins her reading in the old kitchen. (AP Photo/Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell) KERRI FIVECOAT-CAMPBELL)
 
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Psychic Misty Maeder conducts a reading in the old kitchen of the James home. (AP Photo/Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell) KERRI FIVECOAT-CAMPBELL)
 
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