BY ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Donnie Lee and fiancé Randi Regennitter were sitting in the Keizer Heritage Center commons ground when they spotted the shadowy figure walking back and forth in the gazebo behind the building.
“The crazy thing was the guy investigating upstairs in the building saw it at exactly the same time,” Lee, founder of Redneck Investigation Paranormal, or RIP, said.
The trio took their full-spectrum cameras, EMF detectors and digital cameras into the gazebo and captured an orb on film, but Lee doesn’t place a lot of weight on orbs.
“Orbs can be dust or water or bugs,” he said.
Lee and the RIP team got permission from the Keizer Heritage Board to spend the night inside the building that once served as Keizer’s first schoolhouse.
Lee said his team witnessed the figure walking in the gazebo and heard some other sounds in that area they couldn’t attribute to man or animal.
“The coolest was hearing someone jingling change and there wasn’t anyone else in the area,” Regennitter said.
The team spent about seven hours combing through the nooks and crannies of the building, but the hottest area seemed to be the gazebo.
“We heard some children’s voices up in the big meeting room, but that makes sense since the building used to be a school,” she said.
Lee became a believer in the paranormal after an experience as a firefighter in Reedsport, Ore.
“We were on a fire call and down in a basement when we lost all oxygen, the hose went dead, and we lost visual of the hose in all the smoke. Then all of the sudden me and my fire chief saw a perfectly normal little girl standing in a spot in the basement pointing upward. When we got over there the girl was gone, but the bottom of the stairs were right there,” Lee said. It made him a believer in the paranormal.
Regennitter’s most powerful experience revolved around a house fire the week after giving birth to her daughter.
“Before the fire, we saw dark shadows moving on the walls and it would scare the crap out of me. To this day, you can still go back to the house and it has a weird sulphur scent. It’s definitely a bad space,” she said. “It made me curious though, I wanted to know more about why [ghosts] stick around and what attaches them to a certain place even when it’s been moved like the schoolhouse.”
While the RIP team members are satisfying their own natural curiosities they approach each investigation with the intent of debunking concerns.
“But about half the time it turns out that the people who have seen something are right,” Lee said.
Lee said the Kezier Heritage Center possesses some residual energies, but nothing he would classify as a haunting. He knows first-hand what that is like.
At an old logging camp past Idanha, Lee led a team that encountered orbs flying across the property at night.
“The road forked at one point and I sent one guy up in one direction and I went up the other way. As I got to the top of the road, I got hit. I went back five feet breaking my full-spectrum camera. It felt like a baseball bat went across my chest and it was all red. We went back up to see what had caused it and it was just a big, open area,” he said.
By comparison, the most “chilling” thing Lee experienced at Keizer Heritage Center was hearing some footsteps in the attic while he was there alone.
“It’s actually pretty peaceful inside, I think what’s there is probably connected with the things in the museum,” he said.