Portals To Hell: McCormick Farm
Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman return with a new episode of 'Portals To Hell', continuing the show's second season with a two-hour-long special. In the first of these nine new episodes the investigators get unprecedented access to investigate the former McCormick property in Stratton, Colorado once home to father-and-son serial killers.
Tom and Michael McCormick had been killing for years, and while all the victims reportedly buried on the grounds have never been discovered, it is estimated there are as many as 17.
Since buying the farm shortly after the murders, the current owners have experienced paranormal activity all over the property, which includes reports of unexplained sounds, apparitions and phantom faces with red eyes.
The property is a very industrial looking ranch, now owned and run by Chuck and Leslie Clapper. Leslie told the investigators that she wanted answers. She said, "I would like to know who is here and why they are here."
That's exactly what Jack and Katrina hope to find out as they conduct a mammoth paranormal investigation at the remote farm, which Jack describes as "Disneyland for serial killers." As the duo arrive, Jack says, "if you were gonna kill someone no one's gonna hear them screaming out here."
During their initial walk around Jack had some interesting and sustained triggers on one of his ghost hunting tools. Katrina speculates that this could be caused by "residual electricity" which is a bizarre oxymoron. Electricity is the flow of electrons, to have residual electricity would imply no flowing electrons, an impossible state which by definition wouldn't be electricity at all.
Katrina isn't surprised that the property is haunted given the horrific things that have happened there, but says "what concerns me the most is the story of the red eyes, that's in folklore. That concerns me because that's not what we would consider a human spirit. The wouldn't be something from a victim, that wouldn't be something from a murderer."
Given the unproven nature of ghosts and the lack of any hard evidence that truly differentiates between human spirits and non-human entities, it seems like a leap to assume that a human spirit can't have red eyes, but that's exactly the type of thing Jack and Katrina will be trying to get definitive answers about.
The Bunk House
As night fell, the investigation got underway. Katrina thought that they needed to put themselves in the shoes of the previous witnesses. She explained, "what are they doing when they experience something. They're not out with a recorder looking for ghosts."
Since the witnesses are usually alone and not actively ghost hunting, they decided that Katrina would spend some time alone in the bunk house, an area of the ranch that is said to be the most unwelcoming. Here voices have been heard and the red-eyed figure has been seen outside the window.
To further put herself in the shoes of the owners, Katrina role plays being a member of staff at the ranch. The investigator became quite unsettled during her time in the bunk house as she started to hear movement around her and said she felt like someone was constantly hovering behind her.
Jack didn't have a much quieter time while outside in the tech van monitoring Katrina's progress. Pretty soon into the vigil one of the cameras elsewhere fell over so Jack went to investigate. While he was out he found the door to the newer of two workshops open and couldn't resist going in to investigate. Inside he heard footsteps, as well as a metallic sound and shuffling like movement at the back of the space.
Later, Katrina went to the old shop. This workshop was built by the McCormicks in the 1960s and at least one of their victims was killed here. Today there are reports of people feeling nauseous here, but the location proved quiet enough for Katrina to start to fall asleep on a camp bed.
Meanwhile Jack spent some time alone in the bunk house. He also heard movement around him here and moments later a REM-Pod triggered. A REM-Pod is a device that senses changes in electrostatic and beeps if anything gets close to it. This was too much for Jack and he left.
After their vigils, Jack and Katrina both question whether the sounds they heard in the bunk house could have been a mouse or the wind, which seemed like a reasonable assumption but they make no attempt to test either of these claims.
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After only 10 minutes or so of actual investigation, Jack and Katrina take a break from ghost hunting to speak to more witnesses and to enlist the help of psychic, Shaun Crusha.
Upon arrival Shaun picks up on "something in the field" which he felt was trying to get his attention. This was the field where some of the bodies had been found and it's believed more could be buried there. Next, in the old shop he reported feeling stomach pain, could this tie in with the owners' reports of nausea here?
In the bunk house Shaun picked up on the energy of two men arguing and fighting. He suggests there there is a lineage link between the two men. Of course this could be Tom and Michael McCormick.
Shaun also said a lot of deaths happened here and that not all the remains have been found. This is also correct and had already been confirmed by some of those involved in the criminal investigation who Jack spoke to earlier in the episode. Shaun is also able to give details of the circumstances of two of the deaths - again this was confirmed earlier.
Shaun was very accurate and if he genuinely knew nothing about the location in advance, then it was a pretty accurate psychic reading, but the psychic sweep felt like an interruption to the investigation that added nothing. Shaun didn't tell us anything we hadn't already learnt from the witness statements. The information he told Jack and Katrina wasn't used to further their investigation in any way. In fact they totally ignored his advice.
The Old Shop
Eventually Jack and Katrina resume their investigation, but with an odd change of tactic. Their initial approach of going it alone and putting themselves in the shoes of the previous witnesses had been working, they'd heard strange sounds and were seemingly getting activity.
Shaun had also confirmed this and told them that they will get more activity alone, but now for some reason they've come together and have started actively ghost hunting using gadgets, the one thing Katrina initially said they should avoid.
They start by using a GeoPort, this is a ghost hunting device that monitors vibrations, radio waves and electromagnetic frequencies. It's thought that intelligent spirits can manipulate or use the device's sensors to relay intelligent responses in the form of words or phrases. Katrina thought she heard the words "Tom McCormick" through the device a couple of times, but they don't seem to get much else. Perhaps Shaun was right.
Going It Alone
Jack and Katrina did eventually decide to split up again, based on the fact that psychic Shaun had told them they might experience more on their own... however they weren't alone, Katrina went to the old tire shed with a camera man.
Standing behind the camera might mean you're not seen on TV, but it doesn't make you invisible to a ghost. This is fine they're making a television show after all, but why tell us you're alone?
This shed is supposed to be ten times worse than the old shop. The owner, Leslie, has reported feeling short of breath here and even Katrina experienced something there on her initial walk around. She felt like she had been touched or poked in her back.
Early on in the vigil they said they could hear the sound of male voices, unfortunately this wasn't picked up on camera, but moments later they heard strange shuffling sounds. Katrina tried to capture the sound of spirit voices in the form of electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) using an audio recorder. Although she didn't get any meaningful response, she did get an interesting breathy sound which seemed responsive.
Meanwhile Jack was in the new shop, but he wasn't truly alone either. He was joined by three crew members.
The new shop is close to where the old farmhouse once stood until it was burnt down after a lightning strike. Here the farm's workers have heard footsteps of unseen people following them around and an angry old man's face has been seen standing outside the windows.
Jack was wearing an unusual military-style night vision headset while setting up an SLS camera. This is a special type of camera that uses 3D mapping technology to detect human-like shapes in the darkness, it highlights them on its screen in the form of a stick figure.
Again this is sort of the opposite approach to their original belief that they shouldn't be actively looking for ghosts, this was proven when the SLS yielded no results, yet straight away they heard knocking sounds - which of course is something that was reported by the owners.
Despite this, Jack starts using the GeoPort again, they think they hear the name of one of the victims and a voice telling them all to get out of the building.
Later as Jack returns to the tech van, he heard sounds in the long grass in front of him and moments later a pebble landed at his feet.
Katrina says "this is interesting, it's like every time something happens, we're not actively looking which is very similar to every single story we've heard on the farm so far." This was of course Katrina's original theory and plan of action, she notes once again that "Leslie's not out here ghost hunting."
They then brought in Leslie, but despite what they've just said they didn't just leave Leslie to experience things. The crew blindfolded her and put headphones on her to eliminate her senses and then conducted another GeoPort session and started calling out to whatever spirits might be present - it's the exact opposite to the very valid observation Katrina just made that confirmed that they shouldn't be actively trying to ghost hunt.
However this did lead to one of the most interesting parts of the investigation. While in her sensory-deprived state Leslie reported that she had been touched and felt a tingling in her left arm.
A little while later she seemed to start channeling whatever entity is at the farm by speaking various odd phrases. She mentioned murders and shootings, which was interesting, but of course Leslie would know about these violent incidents so it's hard to say whether the words were coming from here or someone else.
Leslie had originally told Jack and Katrina that she would like to know who is haunting the ranch and why. She didn't really get any clarity on this as a result of the duo's investigation, but she did seem to have a very interesting experience.
Although the investigation was a little disjointed and contradictory, it was nice to see the return of 'Portals To Hell'. It was an interesting an atmospheric location, but it wasn't the biggest and given it's size it probably didn't need to be a two-hour episode.
The problem with extended episodes of ghost hunting shows is that the intro and tour just seems to be more dragged out, then padded out with extra witness interviews and a psychic sweep. You don't actually get any more investigation. In the whole two-hour show there was only around half an hour of ghost hunting - about the same as you'd normally expect.
Portals To Hell continues next week on Really as part of the channel's #Freakend event, bringing viewers three nights of paranormal entertainment every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
You can watch in the United Kingdom and Ireland as part of the Discovery family of channels. You can watch Really on Freeview (17), Sky (142), Virgin Media (129) and Freesat (160), plus YouView, BT TV and TalkTalk TV. Or watch previous episodes on demand on Discovery+.
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