A three-day foray into the supernatural took place from May 19-21 at Palace Station Hotel & Casino. Ghost hunter/authors Robert George Allen (Adventures of a Ghost Stalker) and Janice Oberding (Haunted Nevada) presided over the event known as the Las Vegas Paranormal Conference – The Supernatural Side of Sin City.
All Photo Credits: Stephen Thorburn
Day One featured a slideshow presentation narrated by Anne and Sharon Leong (co-directors of technology for the San Francisco Ghost Society). The sisters played EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recordings collected during their stays in European castles and related stories of legends, sightings, and mysterious occurrences at each location, including that of Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a. Dracula.
Robert George Allen flanked by The Leong Sisters
The Author and Count Suckula - a Bloody Door Prize
Debbie Bender of Virginia City (Nevada) Ghost Tours gave a talk on “Truth in the Paranormal” and related the difficulty that paranormal researchers have in collecting verifiable evidence in the age of Photoshop and CGI.
Debbie Bender Lectures on Truth in the Paranormal
Day Two featured talks by Allen, Oberding, Virginia Ridgeway (caretaker of the haunted Goldfield Hotel) and Helmey Kramer (Haunted Encounters, Biography Channel). The highlight of the day came at sundown, when a bus full of attendees arrived at building 10 in Liberace Plaza (the showman’s former dressing room) for a séance.
Helmey Kramer of The Biography Channel's Haunted Encounters
With more than one attendee dressed in sequins, the group was ushered into a foyer that contained a hidden entrance behind a bookshelf. The very red room beyond held rows of chairs that faced a round table upon which two candles burned. Pictures of deceased entertainers (Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Dean Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, and Michael Jackson, among others) filled a large portion of one wall.
Janice Oberding, one of the conference organizers, serves as the director of the Nevada Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society and is the author of five books pertaining to hauntings around the United States. She has been featured on the Travel and History channels, and along with Debbie Bender and Virginia Ridgeway, served as mediums for the séance in the hopes of putting participants in touch with Liberace, the legendary showman whose last gig on earth was 1987.
Seance Mediums (L to R) Virginia Ridgeway, Janice Oberding, and Debbie Bender
Although his signature tune, “I’ll Be Seeing You” was played, the performer did not materialize, but his presence was felt by several sensitive attendees. An angry female presence with a name like Jennifer/Genevieve was also reported to have been present and had to be reassured by the mediums present that no disrespect was meant by the group.
But Did We See Him?
A vase full of white carnations was placed on the table as Virginia Ridgeway spoke directly to Liberace, asking for a sign of his presence. With outstretched hands over the flowers she proclaimed excitedly, “He’s here! He’s here!” and directed everyone to look for movement in the blossoms. There was some, Virginia declared, almost imperceptible. You’d think the flamboyant Liberace would prefer to toss them to the group instead. The blonde bling-meister was not known for subtlety.
A Last Laugh for Liberace
The group went on to take Allen’s Haunted Vegas Tour, which he created in 2004, and includes
the Motel of Death, a haunted celebrity home (by the celebrity, no less) and places where Bugsy Siegel, Elvis, and Redd Foxx hung out in life and may still, in afterlife.
Day Three featured the Goodsprings (Nevada) Ghost Hunt on the haunting grounds of the former mining town located about 30 minutes from Las Vegas. Created by Allen in 2012, the tour searches for two ghosts that reportedly reside at the 100-year-old Pioneer Saloon, and includes a pizza party, probably to provoke one or both of them into stopping by for a sight(ing) if not a bite.
Throughout these events, conference attendees as a group seemed reverential, open-minded, and polite when discussing their own paranormal experiences. They talk shop about research sites, evidence collection, and incidents that would make the average citizen shiver and shy away. Instead, they continue onward into the unknown, hunting the unseen with uncommon determination.
It would almost be unbelievable, except for the fact that they don’t believe in that word.