Now the Jonesborough-based team is slated to make its fourth appearance on national television in July.
Sitting in their office preparing for another investigation — one of three they’re currently pursuing — PTI co-founder and investigator Kathy Shephard said they stay “pretty busy” and that they’re “not short on investigations,” something PTI founder Robb Phillips attributes to their long-standing reputation in the area.
“We don’t ask anybody (to invite us in), they call us,” Phillips said. “20 years we’ve been doing this, and we’ve got a really good reputation and we try to maintain it.”
Of course, it helps that they’re based in Tennessee’s oldest town, which also happens to be regarded as one of the most-haunted towns in all of America.
“We try to promote (Jonesborough) in everything we do,” Phillips said. “Everything we do, we try to let people know about Jonesborough, Tennessee, that we’re located here and that it’s one of the 10 most-haunted towns in America — the history of it is just amazing.”
Phillips says that takes on extra importance when they’re on TV, something they’ll have another opportunity to do on July 1, when one of their most active investigations ever is featured on the Travel Channel’s “A Haunting.”
“We’re trying to get our own show, and that’s what our goal is, but we try to help a lot of people in the process too,” Phillips said of PTI’s goals for TV.
The Travel Channel isn’t a bad place to start though, and Phillips, Shephard and investigator Ken Webber have something special coming for viewers when they tune in.
The episode, titled “The Haunted Cabinet,” follows the team as they investigate a cabinet from a local man’s house they believe was incredibly haunted — and by something malicious as well.
All three placed the cabinet haunting in their personal top-10 most-haunted things/places they’ve been in contact with, with Phillips likening it to a “Dybbuk Box,” a box that has been — in Jewish mythology — sealed to contain a malicious spirit, or “Dybbuk.”
“I walked in (the room with the cabinet) and just immediately felt something there,” said Webber of his encounter with the cabinet. “I got that sense of being trapped; there’s just no way, no escape. I flipped my spirit box (a tool used to facilitate communication with spirits) on and said, ‘If there’s somebody in here, what’s your name?’ and it instantly came back and said ‘Mike’.”
“It’s a really interesting thing and the video footage of that (spirit) throwing things out is just amazing,” Philips said.
Skeptical? They’re used to it. In fact, they are, too, when they first get into a new investigation.
They’ve had people try to prank them with fake things, people who over-exaggerate what they’re experiencing and people who aren’t truthful, but that doesn’t stop them. If anything, it helps them stay on their toes when they’re in the field.
“Every bit of a person’s claim we try and debunk, and nine times out of 10 we do,” Phillips said. “Capturing activity — actual activity — it’s rare, and once somebody thinks they have activity they just blame a ghost.”
“We understand if they don’t believe, we don’t try to make them believe. It’s up to them,” said Shephard. “Usually people don’t (believe) unless they’ve had their own experience so we’re used to (skepticism).”
For Phillips, the motivation behind why he does it is pretty simple.
“I’m very religious, I feel I’m just a vessel, where God is just using us to do his work,” he said.
The episode detailing their investigation will air on July 1 at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel. For more information, photos and videos from their other investigations, visit www.ptitn.com.