At one time, as early as 2010, it was estimated that the City of Hermann had over 1,000 stray cats in town. Threatened with a trap and kill program, some concerned citizens got together and created “Ferals in Peril,” a non-profit group that would run a trap, neuter and release program. According to the groups website information, they’ve been very successful, spaying/neutering more than 1,000 cats, as well as finding homes for hundreds of cats and kittens. Today there are very few homeless cats in Hermann area. But the activity costs haven’t abated and that’s why the group is sponsoring a Haunted Ghost Tour benefit on Friday, July 26. New Haven resident Dan Terry will host the Tour, sponsored by the 1837 Bar at Hermann Crown Suites. The Hermann Advertiser-Courier met with Dan in a meeting room at the New Haven Regional Library to discuss the tour and what he thinks about this paranormal, spooky stuff he seems to relish. He wears a Ouija Board printed t-shirt emblazoned with “Beyond the Shadows—Spookstalker.com”
You have to wonder how people do the things they do and usually it starts with the imagination or a strange experience. For this reporter, a fascination with ghosts started with a matinee of the 1966 movie “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” when Luther Heggs (played by Don Knotts) aspired to be a reporter for his small town newspaper, the Rachel, Kan. Courier Express. He gets his big break when the editor asks him to spend the night at the Nick Simmons mansion, for the 20th anniversary of a famous murder-suicide.
For spookhunter Dan Terry, his imagination was fired by the 1974 television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, starring Darren McGavin. A movie was also made in which Kolchak, an abrasive Las Vegas newspaper reporter, investigates a series of murders committed by a vampire.
When Dan got his drivers license in the late 70’s, he was free to check out all the places he’d heard about that were “haunted.”
“I started out because I really wanted to know what’s on the other side,” he explains.
He has stayed true to his mission which is just searching for ghosts, not interacting with them to create a spooky response, such as ghost busting. He has been a police officer since 1986 and has had to indulge his ghost hunting as time allowed.
In his words, “I try to help families that have a ‘problem.’” “It’s just taking police work to another level.”
He says “ghosts” are people that have passed on and for whatever reason, have not crossed over to the other side. Terry says it might be simple fear of being judged, or maybe the ghost doesn’t see any reason to leave their home. It’s their home, so why should they leave?
“I think I came across one recently who didn’t even know “she” was dead,” he says. “Simply put, ghosts are humans that have died and don’t want to go. I can speak with certainty—this [life] isn’t the end.”
He says there is something on “the other side,” he just doesn’t know what it is.
“That’s what I love—just trying to find out something new,” he says.
Everybody that deals with the paranormal is a novice because there is always a situation that will show you something that can’t be explained in the normal sense.
“Anyone in the ghost hunting world who calls himself an “expert” is out to get your money,” he says. “There are no experts in something you can’t recreate.”
Dan is excited to be hosting another ghost tour in Hermann. His excitement is piqued by the paranormal activity here.
“It’s an amazing town for ghosts!” he exclaims.
He had trouble getting the locals to talk to him about haunted places, but he was contacted by a man that worked at a local restaurant. They needed “confirmation” that they weren’t just seeing and hearing things.
“It was crazy haunted!” said Dan. “That opened up the town and the locals began talking to me.”
Dan tells his tour visitors not to expect a showcase of high-tech ghost busting equipment. He started out using a recorder and a camera, but has progressed to using divining rods and an instrument that measures electrical energy charges. He has used a product that measures temperature and electromagnetic fields called an “Ovilus.” These readings are combined and each combination of readings corresponds with a database of words. The Ovilus then allows a spirit to speak the words. It was even used in two paranormal "reality" television series: “Ghost Adventures” and “Paranormal State.”
Dan showed me a photo taken in the Showboat Theater on 4th Street, during an event that was held at the venue. In the back of the room was what appeared to be a blonde woman wearing some sort of fur drape, like a mink or fox stole, a style from the 1930s or 1940s. It was notable because there appeared to be a fuzzy glow around her.
This reporter asked Dan if all of his encounters were with Casper the Friendly Ghost or with something more demonic. He has a protestant preacher friend that told him to beware, because all that is left on this earth are demonic presences.
“He was surprised that all I had experienced were friendly ghosts,” said Dan. “You get what you are looking for.”
He says with one exception, he’s only dealt with human spirits—or a “recording” of what was living spirits that keep coming back. It’s called a “residual haunting.”
“There is no conscious thought on the thing you are seeing—it’s like the playback on a VCR,” he says. “When [environmental] conditions are right, you get the right catalyst, you see this spirit walking into a wall or whatever, but it’s not a real ghost. The real ghost can communicate and react.”
Visitors that take Dan Terry’s tour will visit haunted places in Hermann, hear the stories, take a whirl with the divining rods and see some of his evidence of local spirits. There is apparently a ghost cat that haunts one of the hotels in town. A siting of that would certainly be appropriate for a tour helping Hermann’s “Ferals in Peril.”
For more information, call 573-486-2044.