This page is set up to listen to the men and women of the paranormal community - investigators, psychics, skeptics, parapsychologists and empaths.
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome to The Forsaken Club, Jayne Harris. Jayne is a paranormal investigator and co-founder of her company, HD paranormal, which specialises in the research and investigation of haunted objects. Jayne is perhaps best known internationally as the previous owner of Peggy the doll, purportedly one of the most haunted objects in the world. Following her and Peggy's appearance with Zak Bagans on an episode of Deadly Possessions last year, Jayne decided to pass Peggy on to Zak and his Haunted Museum in Las Vegas. For this Q&A, I wanted to talk about Jayne's interest in the paranormal, spirit attachments, skeptics and of course, Peggy.
Q: I’ve always believed that an interest in the paranormal is a deeply personal experience. What started your interest in the paranormal?
For as long as I can remember the idea of ghosts and a spirit world has been of interest to me. I grew up listening to my parents talk of their own experiences and I was fascinated. The real catalyst however was probably the death of my cousin when I was 17. I was already regularly attending a spiritualist church and going on investigations at that point, but it seemed to give me an even bigger thirst for answers and proof of an afterlife. I think for many people it’s when they lose someone close that an interest in life after death is triggered.
Q: Your paranormal investigation company, HD Paranormal Ltd, specialises in the identification and study of haunted objects. Can you elaborate on how this first came about?
Paranormal investigation and research into the metaphysical began for me as a hobby.
I’d spend my evenings reading about haunted locations and the various ghost stories associated with them, and after joining a small paranormal group when I was 15 I knew it was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until a few years later though that the subject of haunted objects came to my attention when I was at a service at my spiritualist church. At first I couldn’t really get my head around the idea, but the more I thought about it, and the more individual experiences I heard, the more it made sense to me and suddenly I began looking at each case of a potential haunting in a different way. Now when we are asked to attend someone’s home to investigate, I don’t go in with a view to finding out if the house is haunted. I go in simply to try to establish whether or not there is a spirit, or any residual energy present. If we gather evidence in favour of something potentially paranormal going on, then we remain open minded with regards to the potential cause.
Once we began approaching investigations in this way, I was amazed at how many times we found that an object seemed to be the centre, or the focus of the activity rather than the building itself.
Q: What are your personal feelings regarding how a spirit might become attached to a specific object?
I believe that when dealing with cases of isolated hauntings (hauntings which can be identified and experienced in relation to a specific object) what we are talking about is no different to a haunting within a home or location. What causes one can also cause the other. By that I mean, if someone dies in tragic circumstances, it is said that their soul can remain trapped, or in limbo in that place due to the heightened emotions in those immediate moments before death. The same is true of any objects or items they have with them or are wearing. Energy cannot be destroyed after all, simply displaced as Einstein proved, and so it is quite possible that at least some, if not all, of a person’s energy can be displaced into objects smaller than the building around them.
A building is of course simply a large object, made of physical matter.
In cases of a residual haunting, it can be as the result of repeated, prolonged activity in life, which imprints and can be replayed, much in the same way that the stone tape theory explains residual hauntings in buildings. If someone used to wind their grandfather clock at the same time every day for example, it’s quite possible that the image of them doing so could be seen by an unsuspecting witnesses many years later. The impression of this person, the imprint, the haunting would move around with the clock, it wouldn’t matter where the clock was. That is the point with haunted objects.
Q: If somebody claims to own a haunted object, what steps do you take to prove whether any kind of spirit attachment is genuine?
Firstly, I like to know exactly why they believe it to be haunted, as I would if someone believed their home to be haunted. I ask for examples of activity/experiences and try not to focus my attention too much on the object itself to begin with. I like to trace an objects history as much as possible, where it came from and so on as this can often provide the final piece of the puzzle. We then carry out an investigation in the person’s home, again in the same way we would do if they believed they had a resident spirit attached to the house. It’s only when we gather enough evidence of paranormal activity, that we begin to focus more on the object in question. We try to isolate it as much as possible and often this involves sealing it in a glass cabinet for observation. We set up motion detectors, infrared cameras and so on in an attempt to capture something unusual.
It’s also important for us as investigators to interview the client quite thoroughly and while it may seem invasive, we do ask about any medical or substance abuse issues which could potentially be causing or contributing to their perceived paranormal experiences. It’s quite a long-winded and laborious process but it’s the only way to be sure that anything we do capture is as valid and controlled as it can be.
Q: You are perhaps most well known for being the owner of one of the most famous haunted objects in the world, Peggy the doll. How did your ownership first come about and when did you first realise that Peggy was different from the other haunted objects that you own?
I received an email in September 2014 from a lady who was experiencing some quite disturbing things in her home, which coincided exactly with her purchasing the doll. I explain our first meeting with her, and with Peggy in detail in the book, but basically from the word go things seemed different. The psychic medium we took with us was nervous and anxious before we even arrived at the property, claiming that her spirit guides were not with her.
It was probably most clear to us however in February 2015 when we shared the first photo of Peggy online that this was an object that was quite different, as in the first 24 hours we were bombarded with messages from people suffering ill effects. We knew there was more to it than met the eye as these people had no knowledge of each others messages, and this was before it could be put down to suggestion as at that point we knew nothing about her.
Q: In your latest book, Peggy the Doll, you detail the physical and emotional affects that Peggy has had on others. Can you explain some of the most shocking examples of what Peggy was seemingly able to produce?
Initially the experiences that worried me most were the ill effects that pet dogs were apparently having after seeing Peggy’s photo. I would receive messages in the middle of the night from people telling me their dogs were spinning in circles, barking madly at the computer screens, and even having seizures while Peggy’s photo was up. Most of them said the bizarre behaviours ceased when the photo was taken down, but unfortunately in some cases the dogs reactions had fatal consequences and we had numerous reports of dogs dying. Things took a darker turn however when Katrin Reedik suffered a heart attack whilst we were conducting an automatic writing session with our psychic medium and Peggy.
After that we continued to get reports of chest pains from people and some even emailed us copies of their paramedic reports after having suspected heart attacks, mini strokes and asthma attacks! I suppose the next most shocking experience however was that of paranormal investigator Olivia Taylor who suffered a stroke during a lone overnight vigil with Peggy. I won’t go into details as don’t want to spoil it for anyone currently reading the book but her testimony is very frightening.
Q: What do you say to any skeptics who believe that such affects were merely the result of underlying health problems or the power of suggestion?
I am a realist and I know that a good proportion of reports, as the case is now well documented, will be 100% down to suggestion, and possibly even fakery (some people seem desperate to be involved in her story and will go to quite some lengths to pretend they have had a reaction). These aside though, we still cannot explain why over 80 people seemed to experience chest pains and headaches in a 24 hour period without any knowledge of each other’s experience and with no prior information on the doll. In February 2015 we simply posted a photo, with no description and yet people from all over the world got in touch experiencing similar things. I detail some of these in the book and there were far too many to be put down to coincidence or suggestion.
In many ways I am a skeptic myself! You can’t be a good paranormal investigator without approaching cases with a view to debunking them. I have to rule out every single possible natural explanation for what I see, hear and experience before I can even begin to suggest, to myself and others that it is potentially supernatural. What I do know is that during the time I’ve had Peggy the Doll, there have been too many instances in which I cannot explain away what has happened very easily. I would challenge anyone to live the last 2 years in my shoes and not be convinced that there is something very unusual going on with that doll.
Having said that when it comes to the paranormal I never try to convince skeptics of anything. That is not why I do the work I do. I don’t care who believes and who doesn’t. What I care about is experiencing the unexplainable for myself, and encouraging others to be open minded as I think for anyone, it’s only when you have had a personal encounter with something you cannot easily explain that you begin to wonder whether there is more to this universe than the 3 dimensions that are apparent to us every day.
Q: Last year, you went with Peggy to Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum on an episode of Deadly Possessions. Looking back, how did you find the whole experience?
Tiring! I was initially contacted in April 2015 about appearing on the show, and so it took about 8 months of discussion before we actually flew over the Las Vegas. Leaving my 2 young children for 5 days was very difficult especially being thousands of miles away, but without a doubt it was an eye opening and enjoyable experience…for the most part!
As anyone who has been involved in anything TV related will know, a large chunk of the time is spent waiting around while things are set up. Zak’s museum was the best place to have to wait around though, I have to say, as we got to explore the various rooms and see some of his collection before it got put behind glass so that was great. Peggy’s segment on the episode had to be reduced down to just 20 minutes and so inevitably there was a lot which didn’t get shown, which was a bit disappointing as some things happened during the séance which were pretty amazing (my chair rocking for one!) but it’s understandable that not everything can make it onto the screen.
Q: Peggy the Doll can now be found on display in Zak’s Haunted Museum for visiting members of the public to view. What prompted you to sell Peggy and what are your plans for the future post-Peggy?
The timing of it all has felt very much like fate intervening, as a few weeks before I received the call from Zak, I had spoken with my Husband (and co-founder of HD Paranormal) Simon about my feelings towards the case. To cut a long story short, I felt very much that I was at a crossroads, and that I had in many ways done as much as I could in terms of investigating and trying to evidence the existence of a spirit presence around Peggy.
I’ve had my own health issues as a result of owning her, which I never really talk about but do discuss in the book, and so when Zak asked me if I would consider letting him give her the séance room in his museum, I knew it was the right thing to do. We talked quite a bit about her care, and he asked me to remain involved in consulting on her care and the design of her room, which I’m very happy to do. I don’t think I could have handed her over if it had meant to end of my involvement. In many ways it was like sending a child to someone, and even Zak describes receiving her as becoming her ‘father’, which I can understand. When you take the decision to welcome an object such as Peggy into your life, it comes with great responsibility and I was pleased that Zak understood and respected that.
I feel that letting Peggy begin a new chapter in her story was a very fitting way to signal the release of the book too…although I must admit that over the past 18 months while I’ve been writing it, it has got longer and longer as more and more things seemed to happen each time I thought it was finished! Just this week I have been contacted by someone who believes they may have been the original owners of Peggy (before the lady we got her from) and say they got her from Germany which may help with the holocaust connections we’re often told the spirit has. We can never draw a line. Her story just keeps on going!
For me now, I have 2 main focuses post-Peggy! I have written and created an accredited online course ‘The Diploma in Applied Paranormal Research” which opens for enrolment on March 1st. It has taken about a year to develop, and once I have students enrolled that will take up a lot of my time as I am also tutoring.
My 2nd focus is an independent documentary we are producing entitled “Who put Bella in the Wych-Elm?” We began filming in December 2015 and it’s a project, which has organically grown as times gone on, and is now quite a beast! We resume filming next month and are hoping to have it completed towards the middle of the year depending on our interviewees’ schedules etc.
As always we have ongoing investigations, which we pick up on as and when we can and we always try to be on hand for anyone in need of help. As you might expect, the world of paranormal research and investigation is incredibly unpredictable and it’s not unknown for our plans and schedules to be completely thrown off course by a particularly exciting investigation!
Huge thanks go to Jayne for such a fascinating interview!
You can find out more about Jayne, her research and projects on her website: http://www.hdparanormal.com
Jayne's book, Peggy the Doll: a very different haunting, is available on Kindle or paperback. Buy it on Amazon (US) at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1530326869 or for Amazon UK: Amazon UK Peggy the Doll book