HAYWARD — Word is there's something dwelling in that 1886 Victorian next to Kennedy Park, and it doesn't like company.
Paranormal researchers and the curious public agreed after last weekend's investigation — whatever it is that's lurking in the old McConaghy House does not want you there, and it's not too timid to let you know.
"I was skeptical going in, trying to debunk everything," said Eric Borghesani, a 39-year-old San Francisco police officer. "But now I believe that there is definitely something in that house. It freaked me out."
Borghesani, his wife and daughter to went to the paranormal event, a dead-of-night affair that had 25 people tagging along with the American Paranormal Research Association at two of the Hayward area's most prominent historical homes — the Meek Mansion and McConaghy House.
The event started with the association's presentation of previous findings, both at the homes and during prior investigations — sort of a "best of" compilation of photos, videos and recorded Electronic Voice Phenomenons.
The EVPs are a staple of paranormal research. It's easy — take any voice recorder and stake out a suspected haunt.
Turn it on and ask away, as they did at the Meek and McConaghy — in the attic, in the bedroom, in the basement.
"What's your name?"
"What year is it?"
"Can you make a noise to let us know you're here?"
That last request is one that's
"Step ... back!"
"Get ... out!"
"Just let them know ... dad!"
Such are the voices of the McConaghy House, described as "darker" than the apparently aptly named Meek Mansion, where the best clip sounded like "You act like Molly" or "You act like Mommy" or "I want my mommy."
Then there are the photos.
Borghesani clicked one after another with an infrared camera, and as he did so, something caught his eye.
"There was movement," he said. "I couldn't see it with my eyes, but I saw it in the viewfinder."
The image was captured — two frames, taken seconds apart, show a doorway and little more, then a little more than that. A disembodied dress-shape hovers in the right side of the photo.
"We definitely felt like there was something in the room," Borghesani said. "Then I opened the closet door and there were three white dresses in there. I said, 'Holy crap!' "
The Hayward Area Historical Society, which hosted the event at a price of $75 per ghost-hunter, said the two evenings were both great successes.
"We've been getting a lot of people asking us when we're going to do it again," said Heather Farquhar, collections manager for the historical society. "I think we probably will, but we'll wait until the weather is warmer."
The historical society was approached by the Bakersfield-based paranormal investigators, who have hosted similar events with other historical groups around the country. They don't charge for their services — the goal is to gain access to potential paranormal hot spots and document their findings.
Brandon Alvis, 22, founded the group four years ago. He said he became interested in the paranormal after losing two brothers, one to cancer and the other to suicide.
He said the McConaghy evidence rated an 8 on a scale of 1-to-10. That's a high ranking, but not quite as compelling as the little girl's voice he heard in the first-class swimming pool of the Queen Mary, or the multiple shrieks recorded at the Villisca Axe Murder House.
But Alvis said he remains a skeptic. Despite all his unexplainable findings through countless hours of reviewing data, Alvis maintains he can't vouch for the existence of spirits at the Meek, McConaghy or anywhere else.
"I'm not saying it's a ghost," he said. "But things did happen that cannot be explained. What it is, we just don't know."
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Reach him at 510-293-2473 or email@example.com.