Janie Daum sometimes wishes she never got involved investigating the paranormal and speaking with spirits.
“Most people that want to do it, they get obsessed with it,” she told FFX Now. “They want more. They want to be touched. They want to hear them. They want to see them. And that’s not always going to happen.”
Daum has been running Northern Virginia Paranormal out of her home in Vienna for about 12 years. She works with a medium to investigate all sorts of disturbances: ghostly run-ins at homes, moving furniture at department stores, odd happenings at old museums.
She specializes in electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), the recording of sounds that could be the voices of spirits.
“I’m still the kind of person that’s on the fence about a lot of things. There’s no just black and white,” Daum said. “There is just a lot of gray area and you just have to listen to what you’re hearing from the spirits, what you’re recording and playing back.”
Daum’s interest in the paranormal was sparked partly by her 18-year-old daughter. They watched the TV show “Paranormal State” together and decided to go on a trip to investigate a purportedly haunted bar in Long Island.
“I got an EVP from a man who said his name was Tommy,” she said. “And that kind of got me hooked.”
That wasn’t the first time, though, that Daum experienced something unexplainable. After her grandfather’s funeral, she spotted him walking down the hall of their home.
“There are little things in my life that kind of drew me to this direction,” she said.
Though she had some hesitations, Daum says her investigations stem from a desire to help folks in need, both those on this mortal coil and those that have left it.
“I always try and find out [the spirit’s] names, who they’re attached to, and if there’s any message that they need to get to a living being that is still walking the Earth, and if there’s a way we can help them,” she said.
Most spirits don’t mean any harm, she says. They are simply lost, stuck, or otherwise can’t go through to the light. However, spirits have the same character traits they did when they were alive.
“If they were an S.O.B. in life, they’re still an S.O.B. on the other side,” said Daum.
She prioritizes investigations for families with children. For instance, when a child repeatedly talks about a man who comes out of their closet and claims to be a doctor, that family needs her expertise.
“If it’s a repeating thing that is continuously happening, it’s not just a child’s imagination,” she said.
While Daum doesn’t like to reveal specifics out of respect for her clients’ privacy, she does more investigations in Loudoun County and rural Maryland than Fairfax County.
Fairfax County is more affluent with newer buildings, she explains. Plus, some are embarrassed about calling paranormal investigators.
“Even if they have issues, things happening that they can’t explain, they don’t want anybody to know about it,” Daum said.
That being said, she’s willing to share some stories about businesses that have since closed — like the Amphora Restaurant near her home in Vienna.
“I knew George[Bilidas] the owner and I was there after his death,” Daum said. “And he [was] there. He actually came and sat in the booth next to me and playing with a bunch of keys in his hand.”
There was also the time she got called to investigate the women’s restroom at the now-closed Lord & Taylor’s at Tysons Corner Center, which has recently been repurposed as a mass vaccination site.
“The woman who worked at the register there, which was just outside the ladies’ restrooms, would see the clothes on the racks move,” Daum said. “One customer was in the ladies’ bathroom and heard a chair being dragged across the floor.”
She went to the store and attempted to do EVP readings, but the music from the overhead speaker was too loud. When she asked to have it turned down, mall management wasn’t exactly on board.
Other cases have involved televisions randomly turning on at a teacher’s house in Fairfax, employees being bothered at a Fairfax County-owned building, and a Herndon neighborhood built on farmland.
“The farmer lost his land because of taxes,” Daum said. “He’s still around and he’s upset.”
After a bit of lull in 2020, she says calls for her investigative services have picked up again. She’s happy to help anyone who believes they have spirits in their home or workplace. Northern Virginia Paranormal can be reached via Facebook or by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do encounter a spirit during this Halloween season or any other, Daum has some advice.
“We have to…always respect these spirits and treat them as if they’re a person. Some of them don’t even know that they’re deceased. Some of them think they’re still alive,” she said. “And they have feelings. You can hurt their feelings by the things you say to them. So, you do really have to be careful.”
Photo via Gregg Scott/Flickr
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