Memphis Ghost Group Helps the Living...and the Dead


  • Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue

A ghost at the Memphis Zoo? Yes, and there’s evidence. Mary, The Orpheum’s most famous spirit? She’s passed over. And The Woodruff-Fontaine House? It’s "filled with spirits."

All of this is according to Stephen Williams. He is a “veteran, clairsentient, paranormal investigator” and leader of the Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue (MGISR). The group does identify as “ghost hunters,” but they do much more than that.

“We don’t just investigate,” reads the group’s website. “We help them move on.”

  • Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue

In this case, “them” means spirits — ghosts — and Williams tries to help them cross over. MGISR’s motto is “investigate, educate, and rescue.” They investigate the haunting and educate the home or building owner about what it is going on. But they also educate the spirit in hopes to rescue them from whatever keeps them glued to this side of existence.

If any of this has you skeptical or scintillated, check out the evidence section of the group’s website. There, you’ll find photos and a collection of electronic voice phenomena (EVPs) of, what MGISR says, are voices of spirits either barely audible to humans or not at all.

Listen for the Halloween-perfect “oooohhh” of a ghost caught on a recorder during a late-night investigation of the Memphis Zoo, where ”paranormal activity had been witnessed multiple times by different people,” according to the group.

But this work is not just some Halloween-time spookfest for Williams and his group. They continue their work year round and never take a dime for it. For them, it’s service work, Williams said.

We talked with Williams about his work, how he educates spirits, and the scariest thing he’s witnessed in his 17 years as a paranormal investigator. — Toby Sells

Memphis Flyer: How did you get started in ghost investigations?

Stephen Williams:
I got involved in 2002. I was working here with these two ladies. This is before everything became really popular on TV, like on Ghost Hunters.
In 2002, I was in St. Augustine, Florida on a family vacation and took some photos on our ghost tour. I didn't know anything about it, and sent those photos to a couple of ladies who had a website here. At the time it was called Ghost Stalkers of West Tennessee.

We exchanged emails and eventually they asked me to start accompanying them. About that time is when we we got invited into people's homes. 
  • Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue
  • Williams

About 2006, those two ladies retired from it.

I changed the name to Memphis-Midsouth Ghost Hunters I was in charge of that organization. It ran continuously until earlier last year. I took a little break because of some personal things.

Then, I started this new organization. I just renamed it to the current name and found some really gifted mediums to work with. That’s what sets us apart from everybody else.

MF: Did you see something on those St. Augustine photos? What made you send them in to the two original ladies?

SW: It was what looked like an orb, a streaking orb. I didn't know anything about any of that at that time. So, I got back to the ladies that were running that website.
They said, go in your backyard and find where a spider has spun a little strand from the tree down to the ground. Take a picture. Sure enough, there was that same effect. But it left me intrigued.

I started going out to a local cemetery and just sitting there with a recorder and I got a voice. That just kept me going. It was up around Millington.

MF: Any idea what the voice said?

SW: It sounded like a child. I don't remember exactly. I have recorded so many (electronic voice phenomena — EVP) over the years. I don't remember exactly what it was. It was like a word or two. But it was definitely there. There was no one there with me. It was totally quiet. There was a voice.

What pushed you into getting more involved in that work?

SW: The people that contacted us were really terrified. They were perplexed. They didn't understand what was going on. It was affecting their lives.

In the beginning, I didn't know a whole lot about how to help any spirits that were at a locale that we visited. But I became more acquainted with people, and discovered methods of my own, and learned from others.

When we go into a place, we're going to communicate with whoever [spirit] is there. We're going to find out why they're there, who they are. Then we try to get them moving on to the next phase of their existence.

It helps everybody. It helps those lost souls and helps the people that are having disturbances. All that stops. Their lives go back to normal. So, everybody wins.

MF: So, that's one of the payoffs. You really do get to help people on both sides of the plane?

SW: Absolutely. We don't do like the guys on TV. They go in and collect a bunch of evidence and then leave with all the same things going on.
Evidence is not a huge part of (the work) for me anymore. Within the first year, I got definitive proof that this is not the end of existence. There is something beyond, OK?

Our focus is on connecting with whoever's there. I am an intuitive. I can sense their energy. I can tell if it’s male or female. I can tell if they’re what we call earthbound or if they’ve crossed over.

Sometimes it's the people's loved ones on the other side that are around. They'll do things. They'll leave coins, things like that, to try to get their loved ones' attention. Usually when that occurs, there's maybe a family crisis, or the person is having some a crossroads. So, these on the other side that have already transitioned, come in to let them know that they're supported, to try to get them in touch with people like us.

MF: In your time in doing this work, what was something that either scared you or what was just so unexplainable?

SW: At one point, the group had dwindled down to me and one other person, a guy who is very intuitive. We got called to an apartment Downtown where a person had been murdered.

A guy who moved into the apartment had a really terrifying experience where he looked in the mirror and the spirit was standing behind him and actually was choking him. So, we went down there.
The spirit actually spoke out loud, which is called ”direct voice” when you can actually hear it. She was very troubled. At the time, I didn't have a lot of knowledge about how to help spirits cross over.

But during that couple of hours that we were there, the guy who had moved into the apartment became overshadowed, I guess you'd say, by the spirit. He actually passed out. That was quite dramatic.

He passed out. Fell backwards and hit his head on a wooden floor. The only way we could get him back to himself was to get him out of the apartment and down the hallway. He finally started regaining his senses. The (female spirit) basically short circuited; she was so enraged.
MF: What are some of the techniques you use now to help spirits cross over?

SW: I work with very gifted mediums. I've been blessed to have those people come into my life. They are Jennifer and Kayla. They've been able to sense this energy since they were children. They’ve been able to communicate with spirits from a very early age. So, it's very normal for them. 
  • Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue
  • Kayla

We’re going into a house in a small town in Mississippi tomorrow and then going to another in Jackson, Tennessee on Sunday.

What we do is go in and visit for a little while. I will take a piece of equipment and sometimes they will interact with it. But usually, in my experience, when there are mediums on the location, they they don't waste their energy with equipment.

The mediums are clairvoyant and clairaudient, meaning they can see the energy and they can hear the thoughts of the spirits. So, they will connect with them and we'll get an idea of who's there. Then, we'll give them an opportunity to tell their story.

If they're in some traumatic loop, or something like that, we have methods of dealing with that. We also have connections to where we can call on their loved ones on the other side to come in and help them get across.

You see these people on TV, they go in at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. and they're there overnight. Gosh, thats’ crazy. We can usually go in within two hours and take care of what needs to be done sometimes a lot less time.
  • Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue
  • Jennifer
So, the intuitive aspect of it is what really sets us apart from most of the groups. I think there's a few other groups around here. I'm very complimentary of what they're doing. They just may not have the firepower to really go and be effective and make a change, a positive change. That’s our goal is to help those spirits cross and to help the people get their lives back to normal.

MF: So, that’s the “spirit rescue” part of what you do, right?

SW: Right.

MF: In all of your years of doing this, about how many cases have you worked on?

SW: I would say over 1,000 or maybe more. I never kept up with it. I have been in hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of homes and public places.

I have been in a lot of the well-known, allegedly haunted places here in town. You have the Orpheum, Earnestine & Hazel’s, and Fontaine House. The Fonataine House is filled with spirits.

I have been in that house with two different mediums who both connected with Elliot. It was one of the family members. He said he stays up on the second floor, a reclusive-type energy. He's not interested in leaving the place.

You can talk to them. You can counsel them. You can explain that they don't have to be here, but they have free will. So, they can make the choice.

The most famous Memphis spirit, I guess, is Mary at The Orpheum. What do you make of that one?

SW: I got invited down there one time and I had a very gifted medium with me. We feel like she crossed over because we talked to her. We were able to communicate with her and we feel like she did cross over.

We have not been back there since then to actually do a check. But when we called on her loved ones, some did come. I felt like she did release at that time.

She may come back. In my experience, what happens is when they cross over — even in people's homes — they're in a different vibration. They're at a higher vibration. Sometimes, they’ll just come around as protectors or to just to say thank you or that type of thing. 
  • Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue

They don't usually stay long. So, (Mary) may pop up here and there. But she's not in that vibration of what we call earthbound.

MF: Finally, I know this is kind of a Halloween topic. But your group does this year round. It’s not just a Halloween thing for you.

SW: Oh, yes. This is year round.

You can go into somewhere — and you don't have to go during “dead hour” or whatever they say on TV, which is such baloney. Spirits are there 24/7. People have experiences at all times of the day and night.

So, we can go into the home (and have gone into homes) at like at eight or nine o'clock in the morning, because it was the only time we could schedule. And we were able to connect and to do the work that we needed to do.

MF: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
SW: Just to emphasize to people that we do not charge. This is service work for us.
In my 17 years, I've had people offer me money. I always tell them that I support (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital). If you want to say thank you, make a donation. People normally do that.

Our motto is investigate, educate, and rescue. We’re going to investigate to see what's going on. Then, we educate not only the homeowner about what is going on and what we can do, but also the spirits.

We're going to counsel any spirits we find there and explain to them that they don't have to stay here. It's really a roadblock for them to stay. That’s the rescue, of course. Our goal is to rescue anyone who's there and help them move on to better to better existence.
  • Memphis Ghost Investigations and Spirit Rescue

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