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They look for evidence of unexplained
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What lurks behind the door is anyones guess. Thats where Cristl Phillips and Mark Cisper of the San Joaquin Valley Paranormal Research team are among those who can gather evidence of the unexplained. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Every day is Halloween for San Joaquin Valley Paranormal Research.

By that, this investigative team based in Stockton goes year-round incorporating scientific analysis to go along with historical information in looking at unexplained occurrences in the area.

“Where there is history, there is tragedy. Where there is tragedy, there is story waiting to be told,” said Cristl Phillips, founder and lead investigator for SJVPR.

Some of those stories are famous – or infamous – places aired on ‘My Ghost Story,’ which is a television series on the paranormal that can be found on the Biography Channel. Included are Wolfe Manor in Fresno and Preston Castle in Ione.

However, many take place in SJVPR’s own backyard.

Phillips and Mark Cisper, who is the EVP analysis – Electronic Voice Phenomenon or “essentially the voice or sound picked up on the audio recorder but not picked up at the time of the recording,” he explained – conducted investigations on the Masonic Temple in downtown Stockton and Mr. D’s Pizza & Sports Pub, which once was home to the Pacific Tannery, a major industry in Stockton about a century ago.

They’re one of SJVPR’s 13 investigators. But only five are currently active since many have full-time careers and day jobs.

As for Phillips, she’s a wife and mother of six. Family always comes first, she says.

Her passion is the paranormal. She credits that fascination on the passing of her father at age 5. “I’ve always believed in spiritual activity and have experienced things upon a regular basis since I was very young,” Phillips said.

Her group is part of Atlantic Paranormal Society otherwise known as TAPS.

In California, other TAPS “family” members can be found in Sacramento (American Paranormal Investigations), Fresno (Central California Paranormal Investigators), El Cajon (Pacific Paranormal Investigations), Porterville (Porterville Ghost Society), and Los Angeles (The Atlantic Paranormal Society, West Coast).

Formed by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, this network of paranormal research groups come from around the world. They pool their resources, sharing past and current cases, ranging from homes, businesses, government places and historical sites.

TAPS also serves as resource and referral service for SJVPR.

While Phillips has an extraordinary feel for spiritual activity – at the Stockton Rural Cemetery, her personal playground, she witnessed several paranormal incidents including a full-body apparition – Cisper has a strong sense of hearing at 20,000 Hz and below.

He’s able to pick up the faintest of sounds from his sound analysis.

At the Mr. D’s research, Cisper collected some of his best EVP data from the basement of the 143-year-old building that, in 1973, was established as Stockton Historical Landmark No. 14. This once major industry produced leather goods and occupied the entire block with 100 employees.

“I know (from historical research) that this place caught fire at least four times,” Phillips said.

Cisper’s recording may have captured one of those moments. “You can hear a voice say ‘we just caught fire,’” he said.

 The Masonic Temple has a long history in Stockton. Try over 150 years.

TAPS referred this place to SJVPR. “It was a phenomenal investigation,” Phillips recalled.

She sensed places in building in which women were not welcomed. The investigation here only consisted of the top floor and attic. But Phillips and her team captured over 80 EVPs.

“I had a few awesome personal experiences (at the Masonic Temple) which were cool,” she said. “But unless there is scientific proof, it’s just a cool story.”

SJVPR takes a scientific and unbiased approach when handling each case, according to Phillips.

A preliminary investigation will take place upon referral, including a questionnaire with 40 questions. From there, the SJVPR team will do homework on the historical aspect.

Most of the actual investigation will take place between midnight and 5 a.m. That’s when the spirit world is most active, Phillips said.

“A lot of our work is done after the fact,” she added.

What comes out of those investigations can be hit or miss.

“It’s important that we’re respected for our research,” said Phillips. “What we offer is resolve.”

For more information, call SJVPR at 209.271.3735 or click on to