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Kearney's very own ghostbusters: Two local guys have a cool hobby
Emily Wemhoff
Antelope Staff
Photo by Emily Wemhoff
Jacob Sikes (left) and Bill Sinnard (right) make their way to begin a ghost investigation. Sikes and Sinnard have spent three years investigating haunted places in Nebraska.
Infographic by Staff

Bill Sinnard and Jacob Sikes are two ordinary men with an unusual hobby. While most people ignore the thought of ghosts or pretend that the paranormal doesn’t exist, Sinnard and Sikes look for opportunities to chase down the unknown.

“We’re both Christian guys, and we both believe that you either go to heaven or hell after you die,” Sinnard said. “Then why is stuff like this still happening? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

They call themselves the Midwest Paranormal Investigators. I like to think of them as the “Ghostbusters” of Nebraska.

After creating a film company about five years ago, the two men began filming a romantic comedy. A couple years later, they decided to take a stab at creating a documentary about “hauntings” in Nebraska. The end result was a film called “Haunted Nebraska,” which featured Sinnard and Sikes and their progression toward becoming ghost hunters.

Goosebumps began to appear on my arms and occasional gasps escaped from my mouth as Sinnard and Sikes shared some of their paranormal experiences as we sat around an old creaky table in a dimly lit room in the Trails and Rails Museum in Kearney.

However, even though the topic is one of all seriousness, these two men have potential to someday become stand-up  comedians. Their occasional lighthearted jokes and enthusiasm brightened up the room. I soon forgot I was sitting in a building where paranormal activities have recently occurred.

How did you become involved in ghost hunting?

Sikes: After we created the film company we both agreed that hauntings were something we were definitely interested in. Since we had all the film equipment, we decided to make a documentary about the most haunted places in the state of Nebraska.

Sinnard: With zero experience.

Sikes: We were just like let’s just get some cameras and do it. We went to Centennial Hall in Valentine, the Argo Hotel in Crofton and the Grand Theatre in Grand Island. The Grand Theatre was probably our favorite.

Sinnard: Yeah, we caught this dark black shadow moving through the concession stand while we were in the basement and later found it on the security camera. We also had some books fall off a shelf, which we didn’t know if it was paranormal or if someone just bumped the shelf. Well, later on we were asking for these books to fall down again. The temperature dropped 10 degrees and the books fell again.

Sikes: We both also had personal experiences when we were younger.

What were those experiences?

Sinnard: For me, our house was haunted. My sister and I were the only ones that experienced it, other than the one night when my whole family was sitting in the living room and a big ball of light formed in the middle of our living room and hit our television. The TV never worked again. I would also see shadows in my room.

Sikes: I had an experience where I saw a very large black shadow. It’s about 8-feet tall and kind of has a human form. It doesn’t really walk; it moves and shifts. Bill and I have seen it multiple times and actually captured it on video.

Don’t you get scared?

Sinnard: We used to get really scared. Now it’s not only become a hobby of ours, but more of an adrenaline thing.

Sikes: Yeah, we just do it. We know that whatever happens, it’s not going to hurt us. I think being scared is something we both enjoy.

So what are you most afraid of then?

Sikes: Heights....and carnies.

Sinnard: My biggest fear, honestly, is the paranormal and not knowing what that is. The experience I had as a kid led me to find out what those were. That’s why I keep trying to deal with my fear by going out and doing these things, instead of hiding them and burying them deep.

Sikes: The best way to conquer fear is through action.

Sinnard: Yeah

Sikes: Dude, that’s deep.

Sinnard: That was deep. I didn’t know you were going to go that far.

Sikes: (asking me) Are you afraid being here?

No, not right now.

Sikes: Do you want us to turn the lights off?

So how many investigations have you done?

Sinnard: Probably around 30.

Around Nebraska?

Sinnard: Yeah, all in Nebraska.

What kind of “training” is involved?

Sikes: We read some books.

Sinnard: (lightheartedly) We read “Ghost Hunting for Dummies.”

Sikes: Actually, I did.

Sinnard: You did, I remember. Although, I think it was “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ghost Hunting.”

Sikes: Oh yeah, it was. Really though, if you want to do it, you get a digital recorder and ask questions. There are some risks, but they are very rare. There’s always the demonic and satanic side of it, but we stay away from that. We like the history side of it.

What kinds of questions do you ask during an investigation?

Sikes: We’ll ask, “Is there anyone here?” “What is your name?” “What year is it?” Basic questions like that.

Sinnard: I think everybody is curious to know what happens after they die. We both believe you either go to heaven or hell when you die, but why is this happening? We ask this from a scientific perspective.

Sikes: We also usually ask, “Have you seen Elvis, and how is he doing?”

Sinnard: To prove we’re not crazy though, we both own businesses here in Kearney. I own a business called Hability Solution Services. We do speech, physical and occupational therapy. Jacob owns OrthoMedics.

Sikes: I specialize in spine trauma. So if you break your neck, guess who gets to screw holes into your neck? We are legit. We don’t live in our parents’ basements.

What else do you do during an investigation?

Sikes: Well, we’ve also caught EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), which you take a recorder, and then listen back on it for voices.

Sinnard: You can’t hear them with the human ear, but you can hear it on a recorder. We’ve caught EVPs here at the Trails and Rails Museum that say “Help, free us.” There are different classifications for EVPs, but these at the museum are Class A, clear voices.

Sikes: We have gadgets like voice recorders, cameras, night vision cameras, etc. We try to take a scientific approach to it. We’re not out there going, “We feel like there are six people here.”

What has been your most memorable investigation?

Sinnard: I would have to say the second time we went back to Centennial Hall in Valentine to film the documentary. We went back and ended up going down to the basement. We actually heard a little girl’s voice.

Sikes: We called her out by name. We said, “Lila, if you’re here, we’re filming this movie and we need some proof.”

Sinnard: Then we heard footsteps and saw this shadow cross the doorway. The end of the movie shows us chasing this thing down.

Have you ever walked into a place and just knew “something” was there?

Sinnard: We try to not do that.

Sikes: We try to go in and assume it’s not haunted.

Sinnard: It needs to be pretty obvious for us to say that a place is haunted.

What is your favorite ghost movie?

Sinnard: “Ghostbusters.” Period. I know that sounds really clichéd.

Sikes: Scariest movie? Probably “The Mothman Prophecies.” There’s crazy stuff in that movie.

Sinnard: Maybe “Casper the Friendly Ghost?”

What do you hope to someday experience during an investigation that you haven’t yet experienced?

Sikes: I’d like to see a full body apparition.

Sinnard: Yeah, people say all the time that they see someone that looks just like a person. We haven’t seen that yet.

Sikes: Eventually we will as we keep doing this.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, how can they do that?

Sinnard: We have a MySpace page, www.myspace.com/mpinvestigators. We will actually be offering classes here at Trails and Rails. We’ll have a basic class and then for a few hours, you can actually go on an investigation. They can call the Trails and Rails Museum, or telepathically.

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