Most folks are frightened by the idea of having any proximity to ghosts, but N.C. State University student Tracy Wilson welcomes – even seeks out – ghostly encounters. And now a TV show on the Biography Channel is giving Wilson a chance to share one very personal paranormal experience.
Wilson will appear on Friday night’s episode of “My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera,” recounting the time she said she and her aunt interacted with her grandmother’s spirit in the family home in Maryland.
The student, who considers herself a hobbyist paranormal investigator, visited her late grandmother’s Maryland home for Christmas last year, planning a side trip to hunt for ghosts at Gettysburg. Without telling her aunt, who now lives in the house, Wilson took some photographs and picked up what she considered evidence of a paranormal presence.
“I caught this really brilliant, bright orb,” Wilson said. “Kind of over the front door, sort of near the closet.”
Aware that some people are weirded out by ghosts, Wilson cautiously broached the subject with her aunt, Lisa Slaughter. To Wilson’s surprise, her aunt had already suspected a presence there.
“She said, ‘You found something in the house, didn’t you?’” Wilson recalled. “I showed her the picture, and she was completely amazed.”
Wilson said her aunt told her that she “heard stuff all the time” in the house, and so did the dogs. Wilson and her aunt immediately tried to capture an Electronic Voice Phenomenon of their grandmother with a digital recorder, asking questions such as, “Grandma, are you OK?” Wilson said she has evidence of her grandmother answering that she was.
A few months later, Wilson wrote a letter to the Biography Channel, which is owned by A&E, describing her experience. Producers got back in touch with her right away.
“Most of the stories they get are scary and dark,” Wilson said. “Lizzie Borden and all this other stuff. But they don’t get that many stories surrounding family and love and how love actually does persist after our bodies are gone.”
Wilson said her family had been fragmented since her grandmother, Bernice Slaughter, died in February 2006. But the ghostly encounter last December changed that.
“It has really brought my family together,” Wilson said. “At Christmas, everyone was just elated and joyful to know that my grandmother’s spirit was still there in some capacity, that she was still there watching over us and loving us. And that was really the story right there: love.”
The “My Ghost Story” series flew Wilson and her aunt to Los Angeles in June to film the narrative part of the program in their studios. Wilson then went back to Maryland with her family and the show’s camera crew to re-enact the events of the night she and her aunt say they first connected with Wilson’s grandmother. The show also will use Wilson’s original audio and photographic evidence on Friday’s episode.
Wilson, who moved to Raleigh to study social work at NCSU in 2009, has been interested in supernatural phenomena since she was a teenager.
“I’ve always had a fascination, from the time I was able to read,” she said. “I always knew there was something more than just life here as we know it. And I had my own paranormal experience when I was 14 years old. I saw my Indian Spirit Guide. She came to me during some times of turmoil in my family, and she told me everything was going to be fine, and since then I’ve been an avid reader and researcher of the paranormal and the afterlife.”
Wilson said she watches “Ghost Hunters” and other ghost shows on cable TV, but she didn’t decide to start ghost hunting on her own until last year. She learned what kind of equipment to buy and how to use it by reading books and watching TV shows. The Maryland trip was the first time she put it to use.
Since then, Wilson has done lots of ghost hunting.
“There are a lot of local places that I go where I’m able to pick up some sort of activity,” she said.
She has hunted at the USS North Carolina battleship in Wilmington, the Dorothea Dix cemetery, Stagville Plantation in Durham and the Old City Cemetery in Raleigh. (“I got lots of great evidence there,” she said.)
Wilson usually hunts solo but says she would love to team up with other enthusiasts and investigate inside houses.
“I’ve been trying to find a good group to be a part of,” she said. “But if I can’t find one, I’d like to start my own.”