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Editor’s note: In keeping with the Halloween spirit, a couple of Los Alamos residents shared their Halloween stories. Albuquerque ghost hunter, Lisa Yorio also shared her supernatural experiences with the Monitor. These stories are meant for entertainment purposes.
What happens after death is a topic that’s been debated with no definitive conclusion. Psychics and ghost hunters travel to haunted places in hopes of making contact with the dead and proving the existence of an afterlife, sometimes broadcasting their experiences in television shows like the Discovery Channel’s, “Ghost Lab” and the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.” Albuquerque resident Lisa Yorio is one of those people.
Yorio has been interested in the afterlife and ghosts since she was a child.
“My mom passed away when I was nine years old and I wanted to contact her and prove the existence of the afterlife,” Yorio said. Because of her fascination, Yorio said she got “heavily involved” in doing research and reading about ghosts when she was a teenager, growing up in New York.
About 10 years ago, she started embarking on ghost tours and taking photos of areas said to be haunted.
“I’ve gone to haunted locations many times to get photos,” Yorio said. “I have over 100 pictures of evidence.” In fact, Yorio recently published a book titled, “Walking with Ghosts: True Encounters of the Paranormal.” The book documents Yorio’s personal encounters with ghosts across the country, including places like Salem, Mass., Gettysburg, Pa., Long Beach, Calif. and Old Town Albuquerque, to name a few. The book contains photographic evidence of Yorio’s ghostly encounters, which include apparitions in the form of mists, vortexes and orbs.
“These are actual historical places,” Yorio said of the spots she’s visited. “It (the book) includes a brief history and the experience while I was there.
Yorio said it took her a long time to have enough courage to put the book together.
“I was originally going to do a photography book, but I thought they (the readers) would want to know the history, where it was, etc.,” she said.
Yorio’s book begins with her experiences on the East coast. Places like New York City, Gettysburg, Pa., Maine and Massachusetts are featured. The book also showcases haunted places in Old Town Albuquerque, Corrales, Mesilla, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.
One of the haunted tourist attractions that Yorio visited was the Queen Mary ship, docked in Long Beach, Calif. She said when she went onboard ship, the resident psychic offered to do a séance, to contact the spirits living on the vessel, but Yorio and her fellow ghost hunters decided to strike out on their own in search of those who haunt the Queen Mary.
“I got a lot of orbs,” Yorio said of her photographs. “It felt uncomfortable in there.”
She said as she gets older, it’s more a feeling that leads her to photograph certain places.
“If I feel something, I’ll take a picture and there’ll usually be something in the picture,” she said. “I don’t see them (the ghosts) or hear hem talking to me.”
Yorio said that spirits need to grab energy from people or things and will sometimes take that energy from camera batteries or a person’s body. She said she’s entered places in which her camera battery has drained, but once she exits the haunted place, the battery power will return to normal.
In addition to her experience on the Queen Mary, Yorio said that she’s had other extreme experiences in her quests to photograph apparitions.
“Old Town (Albuquerque) was definitely a scary type feeling. There was a strong presence,” she said. She said there was a bookstore named Saints and Martyrs that used to be in Old Town, but has since been replaced with another store. “It was a religious store with artifacts. I felt this really uneasy sensation, like someone was standing behind me,” she explained. “I felt nauseous. There was something just evil, not right (in the store). I felt a fear that was overwhelming. I couldn’t’ take it,” she said. In an effort to escape the feeling, she left the store and soon began to feel better.
She had a similar experience in an antique bookstore in Salem, Mass., near the old Witch Dungeon and Howard Street Cemetery.
“I walked into this bookstore and something drew me to the back of the room. As I got deeper into the building, I felt really scared. I felt something evil, something heavy,” she said.
Yorio said she doesn’t usually have extreme feelings like the ones she experienced in Salem and Old Town, but she can definitely tell when a spirit is present.
“It’s just regular people who have passed on and not gone to the next plane. They’re sad, they don’t want to leave. Maybe they want to consult with family members,” she said. “There’s a lot of reasons why ghosts have stayed behind.”
Yorio said she uses basic equipment to document her findings.
“I just use a 35mm camera. I do have a digital recorder to get EVPs (electronic voice phenomena), that I also use.”
Yorio said she also uses thermal temperature gauges to look for cold spots because they are an indication of paranormal activity. She said basic 35mm cameras work best because digital cameras often produce orbs in the photographs. Though some ghost hunters claim that orbs are an indication of paranormal activity, Yorio said that’s not always true.
“There’s a lot of controversy about orbs and there’s no real scientific proof about what orbs are,” she said. “The dust (speck) and orb look similar, but as more expensive research on orbs is done, they’re starting to see there’s a nucleus in orbs. They’re round circles with a pinkish or bluish hue to it. Or it looks like it’s burning. If it’s flaming or moving, to me that’s a true orb. There aren’t too many orbs out there, but there are vortexes.”
She also pointed out that if you see a suspected orb in your photo, examine it closely: if it’s symmetrical, it’s dust.
In addition to Yorio’s ghost hunting adventures on the East coast and in the Southwest, Yorio has also been to New Orleans and various other places, to include the Stanley Hotel in Estes, Colo., the inspiration for Stephen King’s book and movie, “The Shining.”
To see some of Yorio’s photographs, visit www.lisayorio.com.
By Jennifer Garcia
Los Alamos Monitor
The White Nurse
The College of Santa Fe was originally built as the Bruns Army Hospital during World War II. Some students and avid ghost hunters will claim it also functioned as a mental ward or asylum for traumatized soldiers. They’ll also tell tales of the haunted dormitory; a favorite Saturday night dare is breaking into the building in the middle of the night with a video camera, for a little ghost hunting.
The favorite story, though, is of the White Nurse, a woman who was decapitated by one of her insane patients near what has become the cafeteria. She roams the halls of the old barracks, searching for her head.
Never one to miss a chance to laugh in the face of superstition, I decided one night that I wouldn’t bother going all the way around the building to my band rehearsal. The fastest way from my dorm room to our rented classroom was straight through the sterile white halls, past the cafeteria. Violin over my shoulder, I slipped through an unlocked door and headed into the building. The lights were off, so the halls were dark except for the ambient lighting from exit signs and the small outer windows.
As I neared the cafeteria, I couldn’t help but tease myself a little about the White Nurse, wondering if she enjoyed metal music or not. Maybe all of the noise we were going to be making down the hall would drive her off. Even as the thought occurred to me, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. In front of the cafeteria is a small courtyard and the hall I was walking down had a set of large windows looking out into the enclosure. What I thought I saw was a reflection walking through the panes of glass. What I really thought I saw was the reflection of more than one person, one of them wearing white and trailing along behind the other.
Superstition or not, I hugged my violin case to my chest and hurried as fast as I could to the other end of the old barracks, finally arriving to the safety of my friends and their noisy instruments. I didn’t bother to explain why I was out of breath. I just agreed to walk back with them — the long way around.
Haunted House fright
Around 1958 there was a Halloween party. We lived on 48th street at the top of Urban Street in the early 1950’s. That neighborhood had a lot of children and the parents had big parties for the whole neighborhood during the year. The Watermans lived next door to us and Bob had the Mayflower Moving Company (in addition to his normal job with the ProForce and a house moving business).
All the children in the neighborhood were in costume and we were put into the back of one of the moving vans so we could go to the party. I still remember how dark it was, every child was trying to scare everybody else and it was very creepy because we did not know where we were going. The truck drove around for a while and then stopped outside a house I never saw before. It was in pretty poor repair and we were led through the house in the dark. It was set up as a haunted house with witches, ghosts and goblins everywhere.
We ended up in a basement area where there was a big bonfire outside. It was very strange to be in a basement because all the houses we were
familiar with did not have basements. The adults had a party set up where we bobbed for apples and played games. I remember sitting around in a circle in the dark while someone told a story and body parts were passed around. There were peeled grapes for eyeballs, a frozen rubber glove was the hand that was cut off, etc.
After the party, the children were all loaded back into the back of the moving van, the door was closed making it pitch black, we drove awhile and finally ended up back on 48th street in front of our houses. I thought that was a great party and very spooky. It was years later that I learned from my mother that we went to Barranca Mesa.
The Watermans were building a new home from a recycled one, which Bob had moved onto his lot. My mother said she was a ghost or a witch in a closet, because there was a large hole in it and she had to stand there so a child wouldn’t fall in.
Another spooky thing about growing up in Los Alamos was the Guaje Monster. The story was that the scientists at the lab had an experiment go bad and it resulted in a glowing radioactive monster that lived in the Guaje Reservoir.
Over the years, stories about the Guaje Monster were told and I even heard about a chainsaw massacre Guaje Monster that was created as a prank to scare high school students who went out to the cemetery at night to “park.”