NEW BEDFORD — When Angie Ruiz died on June 25, 2013, she left behind two children, but she may have left something else behind.
Flash forward eight years later when Todd Sylvia and his fiancée Marissa Weiner move into an apartment at the former Kinyon Campbell Business School where Ruiz had lived. Their daughter, Julia, age 7, began hearing pounding on the walls.
Sylvia and Weiner had already been researching paranormal activity for a decade and knew they had to contact the presence they believed was in their apartment. They came across Ruiz’s obituary and concluded she was the entity in their home. For months they sought out family members, when two of Ruiz’s family members came forward.
[Editor’s Note: Video’s linked to in this story contain strong language. Discretion is advised]
The four got together at Sylvia’s apartment, where he set up paranormal detection equipment and a video camera. In the video, contact seems to be made with Ruiz, but attempts to move her spirit on didn’t work. Ruiz did not want to leave, Sylvia said.
“She wanted to stay behind and take care of her children,” Weiner surmised. “When people do pass there is a light, but some choose not to go into it.”
They also found what they believed to be another entity in the apartment complex — a man named Terry, who may have died tragically at or near the property.
“We are not sure who he is. He said he was run over,” Sylvia said.
Sylvia and Weiner started their journey into the paranormal a decade ago when they lived on Flint Street in Fall River in what they call “an extremely haunted house” according to their website Relatively Paranormal.
Sylvia said he began seeing a man in the large bureau mirror, who looked to be in his 50s, wearing a denim shirt, and with greasy hair. He didn’t tell Weiner, but she later saw a man in the same mirror and described him to Sylvia — the description matched.
They dove into books, documentaries, and television programs about the paranormal.
Of the equipment paranormal investigators use like EMF meters, special cell phone apps, night vision video, there’s an item called a spirit box that captures sounds and translates them into English words. Sylvia built a spirit box from scratch using crystals and an energy pump that he calls the Vortex 4.
In several videos produced by Sylvia, he and Weiner are filmed using night vision optics and when communicating with spirits the sounds heard are captured by the Vortex 4, which Sylvia then captions on the video according to what he believes the recording is saying.
With a particular interest in historical homes, Sylvia and Weiner distributed pamphlets around New Bedford hoping to find someone experiencing paranormal activities.
Matthew Hasenstab, who lives on the third floor of the old Andrew Gerrish Jr. House on County Street saw the pamphlet and contacted Sylvia.
“We actually found out about Todd when they were dropping off pamphlets about investigating potentially haunted locations in the area,” Hasenstab said. “Funny enough, the activity in the entire building seemed to be spiking around the time we received that pamphlet.”
The house was built in 1825 and was a south-facing Federal style home. In 1881, the home was bought by Attorney Wendell H. Cobb. According to records from the Preservation Society, provided by Spinner Publications, around 1882 the north wing of the home was removed and relocated to County Street and Grinnell Streets.
The existing home was converted to a Queen Anne style and situated to face west. It was named Barristers Hall in 1954 and became a mixed-use building with offices on the first and second floor and an apartment on the third.
Hasenstab lives in the apartment and invited Sylvia and his investigators to check things out. With cameras rolling, they seem to contact two sisters, Caroline and Sarah Seabury. They lived in the home around 1888, according to Preservation Society records.
The video takes a dark turn when the investigators enter the basement after they seem to contact a male entity. Sylvia thinks it is someone who believes the house belongs to him, not the Seabury sisters. The male entity threatens them, according to the voice picked up by the Vortex 4.
“The entire experience was actually really exciting,” Hasenstab said. “Seeing first-hand how much activity was actually occurring was shocking but reassuring as well, especially all of the unexplained slams and footsteps that were occurring when no one was upstairs in the apartment.”
Hasenstab said he’s a strong believer in ghosts and “got verification from what I believed to be happening and that’s all I could’ve really asked for from the experience.”
Besides the occasional door slams and strange noises, Hasenstab said the odd activity has dissipated significantly.
Sylvia does not charge any money for his services of contacting spirits or attempts to remove them from a home.
“I don’t believe in taking any money for this. I want to help people,” he said. There are no investigations lined up at the moment, but Sylvia said there are a couple of places he’d like to get into to investigate. He believes there is a murderer and his victim spiritually trapped inside the former Foxy Lady building in New Bedford. Sylvia said he would also like to get into the former home of Lizzie Borden in Fall River before it’s sold.
“We have strong faith in God,” Sylvia said. “And we say the Lord’s Prayer in every room when we are cleansing a house.”
“We live. We die. And there is something after — we don’t know what it is,” Sylvia said. “We don’t have all the answers. We don’t profess to.”