Personal circumstances led Chad Calek to career in ghost hunting

By Calek’s own estimation, he has visited about 500 haunted sites in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere.

  • Michael Muckian, Contributing writer – Updated 

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What does a ghost look like when it decides to show its face? Paranormal researcher Chad Calek knows. He’s seen two, up close and personal.

“Imagine a shadow against a wall, and then imagine the shadow lifting itself off the wall and coming forward,” says Calek, who has been researching alleged hauntings worldwide for 25 years. “But then there are many stages of paranormal manifestations.”

More recently, Calek has seen footage of a third ghost, captured on film during extensive work by an Australian paranormal team led by researcher Craig Powell. The results of that research, Calek says, were nothing short of remarkable.

 
 

The apparition recorded by Powell was dubbed “Sir Noface” because — well — it had no face. Calek says he was overwhelmed by what he saw.

“The film is mindblowing!” Calek says. “This was a full-body apparition. It’s just part of a film that’s a real jaw-dropper.”

By Calek’s own estimation, he has visited about 500 haunted sites in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere.

It’s been a career Calek says he never chose, but one that chose him through a series of personal circumstances that turned him into a true believer.

When the homeowner says it’s haunted…

Born into an atheistic family in Alvin, Texas, just outside of Houston, Calek had no background in religion or belief in life after death until his father, an engineer and man of science, suffered a debilitating accident resulting in third-degree burns over most his body. The doctors expected him to die from his wounds, but the elder Calek credits the healing touch of his wife’s hand on his forehead as having saved him.

“This was the first time he ever said anything like that, anything spiritual in his entire life,” Calek remembers.

The family moved to Persia, Iowa, Calek’s father’s hometown, so he could recover. They found a large house for a good price. The owners admitted that it was haunted, but the family didn’t believe in ghosts and moved into the property.

That’s when their lives were forever changed.

Calek’s mother suffered from frequent attacks that made her seem possessed, and inanimate objects would move around on their own. At one point, the TV clicked on in Calek’s sister’s room and, when the young man went to investigate, he saw black smoke billowing out from under the door. All of the little girl’s dolls had been set on fire.

“We had a wooden stairs on the back of the house that went up to the second floor and at least 100 times I heard footsteps running up those steps and stopping outside my door,” he recalls. “I was terrified, but I still opened the door and there was never anyone there.”

One element linking many haunted sites is a backstory of unresolved, often brutal violence. Calek dug into the history of Persia and found the town was built on a Potawatomi Indian burial site. The tribe, along with several others in the area, had been wiped out by advancing settlers, a part of what Calek describes as Iowa’s brutal history.

“Actually, the whole town was kind of haunted,” he remembers. “I couldn’t wrap my head around any of that, which set me on the road to becoming a paranormal researcher.”

Of the two ghosts he actually has seen, the first was in the family home in Persia.

“It was a large, somewhat bulbous figure about 9 feet tall, with defined arms and legs,” he says. “The other figure I saw was tall and thin, and that was at the Waverley Hills Sanatorium, a former tuberculosis hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.”

Both figures were human in form, but they did not have the distinguishing human features and were more shadowy in nature, the researcher says.

Sydney’s haunted island

Powell’s footage of Sir Noface comes from Australia’s Cockatoo Island. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and public park run by the Sydney Harbor Federation Trust, the island started as an overflow penal colony. Eventually, both boys and girls reformatories were established on the island, but reports of hardship and extreme cruelty — unresolved violence again — closed all the correctional facilities.

After several decades of dormancy — during which time the island evolved into a seagull rookery — the local government attempted to revive Cockatoo Island as a tourist destination. But increasing reports of hauntings and ghostly sightings made it difficult to attract very many visitors. Powell’s group was tasked in 2015 to explore and report back on its paranormal findings.

 
 

The highly industrialized island, which also served as a military base, has a few well-known ghostly residents. Foremost among them is Mary Anne Lucas, the wife of former island Gov. George Lucas, whose spirit is said to actively haunt Biloela House, the large sandstone residence that was the couple’s home.

There have been frequent sightings of a ghost known as George, a uniformed guard who still stands watch in the Officers’ Quarters on the island. There also have been reports of shadow figures haunting the former turbine room of the prison complex, a structure that now hosts art classes and workshops.

No one is quite sure who Sir Noface was, but thanks to Powell’s film, the spirit has leaped to the forefront as the island’s signature resident.

“In its first manifestations, Sir Noface lights up the room with an incredible light when asked, one that created no shadows,” Calek says. “The room has no electrical power, so it couldn’t have been artificially done.”

The second manifestation, the film’s “money shot,” is more chilling.

“This is a full-body apparition who steps out of a wall, looks directly at the camera and goes back into the wall,” Calek says.

“It’s a human-ish form that has all the right contours of the body but none of the details,” he adds. “Its movement appears very fluid and independent of gravity. Humans have joints and are kind of clunky when we move, but that wasn’t the case with Noface.”

The is no doubt in Calek’s mind the film offers absolute evidence of life after death, at least through ghostly existences.

Popular paranormal misconceptions

Maybe it’s the result of too many Hollywood horror films, but the American public holds some misconceptions about ghosts and haunted sites, according to paranormal investigator Chad Calek:

  • All haunted house are tumbledown, Gothic structures. “I’ve gone into places that look like the mouth of hell and have had nothing happen,” Calek says. “I’ve also walked into Betty Crocker homes and had all hell break loose. It’s not the location’s visuals, but its history that the determining factor.”
  • All hauntings are frightening, negative encounters. “That’s not true at all,” Calek says. “About 99 percent of all hauntings are simply the spirits cohabitating with the human occupants in the same space and time. You mostly hear about the negative ones for the same reason you mostly hear about negative news.”
  • All ghost hunting has to be done at night. “There is less distraction at night, but most manifestations happen during the day,” he explains. “It’s the fear factor, that people like being spooked out by these things that promotes the after-dark investigations.”