Margaret Prescott took a drag from her cigarette as she waited patiently inside a hot, aging building that was once a temporary freezer for the dead.
Prescott, 59, sat on a plastic lawn chair near the building’s entrance while her son, Monty Prescott Jr., 36, moved out large sections of insulated material from the building’s past.
The two were cleaning up the building on Port Avenue to transform it into Paranormal Fear Haunted House, which opened Oct. 5.
But the Prescotts also had other plans for the building before opening their haunted house. They planned to open its doors to the public to join them in conducting a paranormal investigation.
The building, which was used to store dead bodies for a local funeral home, had an interesting past that was about to be uncovered by the mother-son duo and other paranormal enthusiasts.
As intriguing as it sounds, this was not first time the Prescotts hosted a paranormal investigation.
In fact, the two have been investigating the paranormal for more than 15 years as Corpus Christi Spook Central, which they claim is the oldest running paranormal research team in South Texas.
Over their decade-long business, the Prescotts have conducted more than 150 paranormal investigations across the country. Some of the allegedly haunted places they’ve investigated were Tombstone, Arizona; Myrtle’s Plantation in Louisiana; the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi. There have been other places they were not allowed to disclose.
One of their first investigations, which gained them notoriety, was featured in the episode “Stalked By Evil” on the TV show “A Haunting.”
The beginning of Corpus Christi Spook Central
Margaret Prescott said her passion to search for “the unknown” began in 2005 after a paranormal experience changed her life forever.
“I was renting a shop off Holly Road around that time, and while I was there I noticed strange things happening around the shop,” she said. “One night, my son and I decided to conduct our own paranormal investigation. While we were asking questions on a voice recorder, something came flying across the room towards us. When we turned on the lights, we found an object on the floor by our feet. I loved it and I wanted to see more.”
Margaret Prescott said after her experience she immediately threw herself into studying the paranormal by reading books, conducting research and even joining a local paranormal group for a short while.
But it wasn’t enough. She said while she was with the group, she did not have the opportunity to lead investigations or find anything paranormal.
That was when Monty Prescott had the idea to start Corpus Christi Spook Central.
“I remember sitting outside and Monty came up to me and said, ‘Mom, what do you think of Corpus Christi Spook Central?’ I was like, ‘Wow! Who is that? Is that a new paranormal group? I would love to meet them,’ ” Margaret Prescott said. “He said, ”No mom. It’s you.’ I just about fell. I didn’t know if I could do this (running a paranormal investigative team), but we did. And here we are more than a decade later still doing what we love.”
Margaret Prescott said her six-member team of paranormal researchers dedicate themselves to helping others and educating the community about the paranormal.
“We want people to understand what the paranormal really is and that there is nothing to be afraid of,” she said. “You don’t need to be a believer, but we always ask people to have an open mind to understand that there is a possibility of there being ‘more’ out there.”
Margaret Prescott said she believes most people fear the paranormal because of its ties to death and the fear of knowing what’s on the “other side.”
“I’ve had people call me a lot in the middle of the night because they’ve thought they’ve seen something or because they played with a Ouija board, which happens a lot, and they really scare themselves,” she said. “They ask us to come out, and sometimes there’s nothing there.”
Not everything that goes bump in the night is paranormal
While the Prescotts have spent more than a decade searching for the unexplained, there is one thing that remains the same — they are skeptics.
“What I like to tell people is be skeptical and question everything because not everything you see is going to be paranormal,” Monty Prescott said.
Monty Prescott said the paranormal research team stays focused on retrieving evidence in investigations versus telling stories on what they experienced.
“If I can show you something, I won’t tell you what I experienced, but instead I will show you the evidence so you can be the judge on what it is I captured,” he said. “All I know is that no one was inside when I captured the EVP (electric voice phenomena) or video and I cannot explain it. Is it a ghost, maybe? Is it a haunting, maybe or maybe not? But not every building you go into is haunted.”
The duo said that while most TV shows like Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” and “Ghost Hunters” depict ghost hunting as active investigations, that is not always the case in real life.
“About 98 percent of the time we don’t find paranormal evidence at some locations and people may be upset by that,” Margaret Prescott said. “You can’t command a spirit to communicate with you because that’s not going to happen.”
Margaret Prescott said investigations can take several hours and several more before they are even conducted.
“When we get contacted about an incident, the first thing I do is head to the library to investigate the history of the location,” she said. “Then I will meet with the client, hear what they have to say about their experiences, and where we should concentrate our investigation.”
Margaret Prescott said her team will set up their equipment, which includes a DVR system, thermo-imaging cameras, audio recorders, still cameras, an Ovulus, ghost box and wireless audio systems, and head to the concentrated areas to further investigate.
When children are involved, the team makes it their highest priority to gather as much evidence as they can for their safety.
“We will gather as much evidence as we can to provide closure for our clients, but a lot of times, we just won’t capture any evidence,” she said. “It’s not to say that there is nothing there, but we just couldn’t capture anything.”
Some things just can’t be explained
Margaret Prescott said while a majority of the time the team does not find paranormal activity, they have had the opportunity to capture unexplained evidence.
“I have experienced several unexplained incidents of being touched, my hair pulled when there’s no one around and lifted off the ground before being gently placed near an exit door,” she said. “We have even captured footage of floating apparitions and eerie EVPs of hissing and growling at some locations.”
Some of the most haunted locations the Prescotts have visited over the years were right here in Corpus Christi.
Those include Blackbeard’s on North Beach, the old Nueces County Courthouse, the Sidbury House in Heritage Park, the USS Lexington, the Corpus Christi home featured on “A Haunting” and the now-destroyed Bill Witt Hanger at Bill Witt Park.
“I’m glad they finally took it down (the hangar),” Monty Prescott said. “That place was … I had to carry my mom over my shoulders to get her out of there. It was insane.”
Margaret Prescott said the two had experienced technical malfunctions such as a camera not working, a light exploding, growling noises and a voice that asked her, “Why are you not dead?”
“This job is not for everybody,” Monty Prescott said. “You can never really be a pro at this, but when you have a passion for it and are curious about what’s really beyond what we know, then you have what it takes to do this.”
The group the Prescotts were accompanying on this night was about to find out if they had what it takes. Under a full moon, they entered the old building that had been used to store bodies.
The paranormal investigation was about to start. As the lights went out and the front door was pushed shut, the room went silent. A heavy feeling filled the air as the group stepped into the unknown.
Tips to know before you conduct your own paranormal investigations:
- Don’t trespass.
- Always be respectful and ask permission to investigate locations before you go there.
- Do your research on a location (the history of an area, the buildings, etc.).
- Get equipment that is affordable for you. (A recorder and a camera with night vision is a good start.)
- Don’t taunt or challenge spirits because they could become aggressive or you will more than likely not get any evidence.
- If you don’t get any evidence, don’t be upset. You can always attempt another investigation.
- Don’t expect an investigation to happen the same way as it does on TV. Investigations are long and sometimes uneventful.
Meagan Falcon covers entertainment, things to do and trending news in South Texas. Consider supporting local journalism with a digital subscription to the Caller-Times.