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July 24, 2017

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Ghost hunters inspect a 180-year-old NM hotel site

Shepperd put to rest at least one mystery: a trio of guns Bond had found wrapped in a sack in an empty grain bin.

"My mother put those there," she said, explaining that her mother used the empty bins for storage.

Bond, 36, an artist who makes metal sculptures and home furnishings, bought the complex in 2006 and has finished renovating the old hotel into a 3-bedroom vacation rental or artist retreat. He hopes to open a microbrewery in the old saloon.

Bond seemed ambivalent about whether the property is haunted.

"These people claim to debunk it scientifically. I write it off to coincidence many times in my mind, but I'd like to see it proved scientifically," he said.

Rice said he's not out to persuade people to believe in the paranormal.

"Until they have a personal experience, I cannot change someone's belief," he said. "I don't take the time to try to convince them, because it is a useless argument."

Rice, a business analyst, said he became interested in investigating reports of hauntings after exploring an abandoned house with friends.

At the top of a staircase while his friends were on the steps below him, he said, someone or something pushed him down the stairs, lifting him off the floor and leaving scratch marks on his back.

The experience led Rice to work about 40 to 60 hours per week for WCGAPS, investigating for free and seeking donations. He hopes in many cases he can put clients' anxiety to rest.

"I'm hoping to go out and calm their fears. Other than my first experience, I have never experienced anything that's harmful. I want to explain what's there, whether there's something or nothing," Rice said.

For the investigation at Cuchillo, Rice says he'll research area building codes and the site's history, talk with residents, review the property's title history and look at photographs of the original buildings.

He and seven other investigators will bring cameras and video and audio equipment to record noises or anything found in the buildings. Unlike some other "ghost hunters," Rice said he doesn't use psychics to find ghosts.

WCGAPS's Web site contains audio links to alleged paranormal phenomena, like voices, which Rice says don't fall into the normal frequency for human voices.

Other than the push down the stairs, Rice said he's heard or seen a few strange things, like the "full-body apparition" of a woman he saw move across Monti's La Casa Vieja restaurant in Tempe, Ariz., which is housed in the city's original pioneer home.

Did he capture the image?

"It was exactly where we didn't have a camera placed," Rice said, but a camera did record his and the other investigator's reactions to the figure.

Often hotels or restaurants hope WCGAPS will confirm something paranormal because it's good for business, but owners of private homes usually are relieved when their haunting is explained, Rice said.

As for Bond, "I've really kind of lived in denial of the fact, but I'm curious to know."

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