Ursula Bielski (Conference Organizer and Host)
Ursula Bielski is the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. and the host of PBS' "The Hauntings of Chicago" (WYCC).
An historian, author, and parapsychologist, she has been writing and lecturing about Chicago's supernatural folklore and the paranormal for over twenty years and is recognized as a leading authority on the Chicago region's ghostlore and cemetery history. Ursula is the author of ten popular and critically acclaimed books on the same subjects including the Chicago Haunts series, Graveyards of Chicago and her latest, Haunted Bachelors Grove. Aside from her writing, Ursula is a thirty-year veteran paranormal investigator and has been featured on numerous television documentaries, including productions by the A&E Network, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, SyFy, The Travel Channel, and PBS. She's been a judge on "Paranormal Challenge" and a guest on "Ghost Adventures" and the "Maury Show." In addition to her books, Ursula is the author of numerous scholarly articles exploring the links between history and the paranormal, including articles published in The International Journal of Parapsychology. Ursula is a past editor of PA News, the quarterly newsletter of the Parapsychological Association. She also edits children's books on the paranormal for Bearport Publishing in New York City. A graduate of St. Benedict High School in Chicago, Ursula holds a B.A. degree in history from Benedictine University and an M.A. in American cultural and intellectual history from Northeastern Illinois University. Her academic explorations include the Spiritualist movement of the 19th century and its transformation into psychical research and parapsychology, and the relationships among belief, experience, science, and religion.
David Schrader (Master of Ceremonies)
Since 2006, Dave has been the Executive Producer & Host of the wildly popular Paranormal Talk Radio Show; Darkness on the Edge of Town or Darkness Radio. He is now the co-host of the blockbuster, Beyond the Darkness podcast. His "Army of Darkness" spans the globe, led not only by Dave's top notch interviews of paranormal researchers and celebrities, but by his tireless fundraising and advocacy of myriad causes which has raised countless dollars for charity. Dave interviews intriguing guests revolving around the Paranormal and the Unknown. Dave is the coauthor of the book, The Other Side (2009, Houghton Mifflin), and has contributed to TAPS ParaMagazine (The Official Magazine of SyFy's Ghost Hunters Show). He is frequently a guest speaker at related conferences worldwide, and has been featured on Paranormal Programs on A&E (Paranormal State) and Travel Channel (Ghost Adventuress and Co-Host on Paranormal Challenge), plus affiliates of ABC and NBC. Dave has been an active participant in hundreds of investigations worldwide and has connections to top personalities and inventors specializing in paranormal activities and equipment. Dave is a recurring fill in Host on Coast to Coast AM.
Jen Weigel: Psychics, Healers and Mediums. A Journalist, A Road Trip and Voices from the Other Side
Jenniffer is an award winning broadcast journalist based in Chicago. She won an Emmy for her on-camera reporting for CBS and has also worked for ABC, NBC, WGN (TV and radio) and WLS (radio.) After her father died of a brain tumor, she decided life was too short to shiver on an overpass reporting, “It’s cold outside. Back to you.” She started her own production company and hosted the Emmy nominated food and wine show called “Taste” for NBC in Chicago. She worked as a reporter and columnist (“Lessons for Life”) for the Chicago Tribune from 2010 to 2015, where she covered business innovation, the “Remarkable Woman” beat, lifestyles, travel, and food. She also helped launch the Tribune’s video department. Jen’s real love is adding humor to life’s tragedies through her writing. She’s written four books: “Stay Tuned”,“I’m Spiritual, Dammit!” “This Isn’t the Life I Ordered” and “Psychics, Healers and Mediums. A Journalist, a Road Trip and Voice from the Other Side.” They are all listed under the books tab on this website. Her audio books can be found on the audio books link of this website. Jen hosts the “Friday Funnies” comedy showcase once a month at the Wilmette Theatre, as well as “Conversations with Weigel: A Live Series Exploring Spiritual Enlightenment,” where she interviews authors and gurus from across the country. Her podcast “I’m Spiritual, Dammit!” is on WGN-Plus.
Reverend Tim Shaw: What’s Really on the Other Side of the Door?
Tim Shaw is a Psychic Medium, Reiki Master Teacher, Spiritualist Healer, Ordained Minister, Urban Shaman, Backwoods Primitive Trekker, Flintknapper, Urban Explorer, Traditional Leatherworker, Historical Re-Enactor, Radio Show Host, Author, and Speaker. He is the host of the Internationally Acclaimed Black Cat Lounge heard each Thursday at 8PM EST on the Para-X Radio Network. Rev Shaw has co-authored Haunted Rochester and authored his own The Ghosts of Buffalo: Spirits, Murder And Mayhem In The Nickel City” Tim Shaw’s writings have appeared in such magazines as “TAPS Para Magazine”, “Haunted Times”, The Fort Niagara Journal”, “Light Bridges”, “The Courier”, “Civil War Gazette”, “Wilderness Way”, “The Camp Chase Gazette”, “Military Images”,” On The Trail” as well as many others. Rev Tim has also been featured on The SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters (The Well of Horror),The Discovery Channel’s show Ghost Lab), “CBS Radio”(The Wake Up Call, By The Soul, For The Soul, and The Psychics Next Door), “Paranormal NY”, Half Yard Productions “Ghost Ops” (Fort Mifflin/William Howe), and Core Productions Doctumentery “John Zaffis, The World Within“. Producing LIVE Internet Radio and Podcasts is something that Rev Tim really enjoys. Along with his own show he also produces “Stirring The Cauldron With Marla Brooks” on the Para-X Radio Network, “Everyday Adventures” seen on several Internet Networks as well as independent productions.
Jim O’Rear : Working in the Paranormal and Entertainment Industries
Trained in New York at The American Academy Of Dramatic Arts, Jim has worked steadily as an actor, stuntman, and special make-up effects artist on such projects as Star Trek 4, Stephen King's The Boogeyman, ABC's Nashville, Lethal Weapon 3, NBC's Fatal Encounters, The Dead Matter, Fall Of The House Of Usher, A Christmas Carol, Mortal Kombat: Conquest, and many more. Wanting to get some of his own ideas onto the screen, Jim successfully moved into the area of screenwriting, selling a number of horror-related screenplays, including The House Of Pain, Hayride Slaughter, Vampyre Tales, Wolfsbayne, The Deepening, and Scream Farm. Jim’s writing also includes several novels and paranormal books including “Tennessee Ghosts,” “Mortuary Of Madness,” “Hollywood Paranormal Films,” “Traveling In Tennessee,” and the how-to autobiography “Magic, Monsters, And Me.” As an independent filmmaker, Jim's work as a director/producer has been seen all over the world in the international award-winning hits The Hospital, Camp Massacre, The Hospital 2, and Ghosts Of Tennessee, just to name a few. Jim continues to work on several films per year, recently completing work on Don’t Look In The Basement 2 (the sequel to the 1973 horror classic) and Race With The Devil. As if that isn’t enough, Jim continues to write for horror publications all over the world, consult for film projects internationally, and is the founder of Celebrity Ghost Hunters.
Scott Tepperman: Working in the Paranormal and Entertainment Idustries
Tim Ellis and Brad Blair: Journey through the Supernatural
Tim Ellis and Brad Blair have been reading, researching and educating themselves on ghosts, UFO’s, cryptids, and everything strange, for over 30 years. Their love of the strange has been a lifelong pursuit that these two best-friends have been chasing since meeting in elementary school. Tim and Brad first met in the 3 rd grade and it was an instant match of weirdness! They quickly learned that while other children their age were afraid of ghost stories, THEY LOVED THEM! They spent their childhood riding their bikes to the local library and checking out every book they could get their hands on, that dealt with haunting’s and ghosts, UFO’s, Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and anything else that mainstream media shied away from, they wanted and needed to know more. Their love for the field never changed as they grew up, and even though they would take different paths for college, those paths would meet up again after graduation, and so began the second chapter of their lives, and the need to learn and grow, in the paranormal. In 1999 Tim and Brad, along with another childhood best-friend, Steve LaPlaunt, started discussing the adventures of putting together a “research team” that would take their interest in the field to an entirely different level. In 2000 their dream became a reality when the three lifelong friends started the Upper Peninsula Paranormal Research Society. The UPPRS was started in a day and age before the explosion of popularity of “ghost-hunting” tv shows. They were researching the field, helping families and homeowners, before it was the “cool” thing to do. In 2008, in their constant efforts to legitimize their work and the reputation of the field they were studying, they incorporated The Upper Peninsula Paranormal Research Society, and became a Non-Profit 501 (c) (3). In 2010 Tim and Brad decided it was time to shine the paranormal light on the state of Michigan and created The Michigan Paranormal Convention, and to date is one of the largest paranormal gatherings of TV Stars, radio stars, authors and lecturers, in the MidWest. It was this same year that Tim and Brad decided to also hit the road on the lecture circuit, bringing their research and findings to those who wanted to learn more about the field. In 2014 they added another notch to their paranormal belt with the creation of the widely popular pod-cast, Creaking Door Paranormal Radio. Their pod-cast is backed by a group out of Detroit Michigan and can be found at www.slackjawpunks.com . This is just another platform for the two childhood friends to continue their journey, as they never stop growing and learning in this amazing field of the strange and paranormal!
Brian Cano: Paralosophy
Brian is best known for his work on The Haunted Collector as the progam's Tech Specialist, responsible for the implementation and use of all the gadgets and gear. Best known for mixing old and new techniques of investigating, he often finds himself doing the physical tasks, such as crawling under houses and up into attics. He also served as second in command of the team and helped manage the deployment of the crew itself. Ultimately, his goal as an investigator is to measure, quantify and get empirical evidence to support the claims of paranormal activity reported while maintaining his skeptical edge.He first recognized his desire to explore the unknown at a young age. Growing up in Staten Island, New York, Brian often took note of abandoned buildings recessed within the woods near his home during Sunday drives with his parents. They called to him, sparking his imagination and his curiosity. Alone or with friends, Brian began exploring the old and abandoned buildings, despite the countless rumors of what may have happened within their walls. Tall tales of Satanic activity, missing children or ghostly sightings were often told, but instead of deterring Brian from his new found hobby, this element of fear and danger only served to add to the allure for him. Since then, he's been looking into the darkness and exploring the dangers that come with the decay of civilization's footprint. Expanding his experiences in urban exploration to include paranormal investigation, there are few places he will not go. When not crawling in the dark, Brian is a video editor and produces an independent series of paranormal documentaries, entitled, SCARED!. Brian's work has been praised in several publications, including TAPS Paramagazine and Haunted Times Magazine. Various episodes of SCARED! have won awards at several film festivals."
Tim Dennis: Conspiracy Theories
Tim is a life time resident of Minnesota, he grew up in Blaine and attended Winona State University where he studied Mass Communication and Radio Broadcasting. He later graduated from Brown College in 1993. Tim has continued working in radio behind the scenes.Tim's interest in the paranormal also stems from his youth with dream visitations from deceased relatives. Although the more skeptical of the two, Tim remains open minded and willing to explore the many possibilities of the paranormal. His grounded nature helps keep Dave in check. Tune in weekly to share his experiences on the Beyond the Darkness podcast.
Scott and Terri Rorek
The Roreks are both psychic mediums who have also hosted the popular Z Talk Radio and have been involved with paranormal investigation and with helping other develop their psychic abilities.
Dana Matthews & Greg Newkirk: The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and Occult
The world’s first mobile museum of the unexplained, the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult is the only place where curious guests can hold real haunted objects, meet the occult experts who’ve spent their lives collecting supernaturally-influenced artifacts and researching the unexplained, and even help further the field of paranormal research by investigating the mysterious pieces themselves. Our mission is to bring allegedly haunted, cursed, and otherwise supernaturally-influenced objects to the public in an effort to promote further study into the timeless mysteries of the unexplained. Rather than hoard their incredible collection of haunted items behind a dusty glass case at Weird HQ, paranormal investigators Greg Newkirk and Dana Matthews established The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, a roving display of the most fascinating artifacts collected during their supernatural adventures. Since 2014, Greg and Dana’s traveling museum of the weird has been fascinating, educating, and terrifying guests at some of the country’s most popular conventions and private events like Strange Escapes, ScareFest, and Ghost Adventures‘ Nick Groff’s cross-country tour. By freely sharing the only collection of independently-studied haunted objects in the world, the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult provides unprecedented access to evidence of the supernatural, removing items of paranormal notoriety from private collectors and placing them directly into the hands of those curious about the wide world of the strange and the unexplained. With a few extreme exceptions, all artifacts in the museum are available to view, hold, photograph, and even test by the general public and paranormal investigators alike.
Chris Halton : Haunted Earth
Chris is the Producer and Director of Haunted Earth, one of the UK's most popular paranormal online shows.
His background as a police officer found him working in varied roles and including that as a commended Detective and Field Intelligence Officer. This work has given Chris a clinically proven ability to assess data, and combine that with his psychic gifts to provide informed and intelligent observations of paranormality which is quite often captured to camera as he detects it. In 2015 Chris created Haunted Earth as a means of capturing and sharing paranormal activity through the internet. Over the years, Haunted Earth moved from just directly being a paranormal group into an organisation that provides high quality shows and documentaries covering many different aspects of paranormal research, filmed in Europe as well as North America. The show is notable for its attention to historic detail, lush scenery and classic appearance. Haunted Earth's episodes have been viewed more than 27,000,000 times and featured on CNN.
James Annitto of Dominion Ministry: Demonology: Occurrences of the Beyond
James Annitto is a Demonologist and ordained minister,who has worked alongside many other specialists in this field. James is also a paranormal investigator/researcher/Co-Leader of Paranormal Speciality Crew (PSC), member of Sanctuary Paranormal and the founder of The Dominion Ministry . He has been in the paranormal field since the early age of 15, investigating graveyards and legendary surrounding in the New England area such as Mercy Brown, Ladd School, USS Salem, and Slater Mill His knowledge of the paranormal came from reading many books by in his early years. Watching Unsolved Mysteries, Scariest Places on Earth and then, eventually, Ghost Hunters increased his interest and knowledge of the field. His first ever experience came when his aunt showing him a ghostly figure peeking out of a window during one of their vacations. With this experience James came to love the paranormal and knew that he wanted to be a part of this field when he got older. Being a teenager of 15, it was difficult for him to become part of a research group let alone start his own, so he travelled to graveyards with his digital camera and a flashlight until he was able to form his own group’s years later called Ghost Hunters of Supernatural Truth (G.H.O.S.T.). G.H.O.S.T. consisted of Andre Correia formerly of R.I.P.S who appeared on “The Haunted” episode “Demon Attack,” and other members from different areas of the paranormal field with experience levels of none to a few years. James gained a lot of experience running the team and calling clients/business/homeowners. After being in the field for the last 11 years, James has gained a great deal of experience from working with many well respected members of the paranormal field. He has appeared on many radio and local television shows. James has also given scores of lectures at libraries and expos. James began a new level of his paranormal life when he began his studies in demonology and the ministry. Dedicating himself to helping others in the field and those who are in need of a cleansing or blessing, he travels anywhere he is needed free of charge. Even though he has close to 400 cases under his belt, he never makes himself to appear as if he is better than his peers in the field or unavailable to someone who requires his assistance. If for some reason he is unable to help, he always passes the case along to another in the field with equal or more experience than himself. James in March 2015 created The Dominiom Ministry to change the landscape of the spiritual warfare field, bringing many spiritual warriors together. With the ministry, James hopes that any client from any walk of life will be helped through out the entire country.
Christopher Saint & Rachel Marie Booth: Ghost Orphans: Children of the Grave
Rachel Marie Booth is a wife, mother, artist, associate producer, illustrator, model, writer, Avenged Sevenfold enthusiast, teacher, business degree holder, life student and business owner. Christopher Saint Booth born in Yorkshire, England started his career at an early age. Influenced by The Beatles, singing and strumming at the age of four. Atlantic crossing brought them to Canada where at the age of thirteen he was writing and performing at the local establishments. In 1978 he was invited to combine forces with Juno award winner, Sweeney Todd. (London Records) Worldwide touring commenced immediately as their new gold album paved his way to sunny California. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, greeted with a publishing deal (RCA Music) he began writing vocalisations and musical scores for film, cable and television. Desires of new creative outlets began development, now reaching out to the visual side of entertainment. Audio with Video studios were soon built to quench this creative thirst. Christopher, a successful film and music Director, Producer, Production Designer and Composer has written, edited, animated, directed and scored some of Billboard's Top Ten releases including, Film Features, Erotic Thrillers, Music Videos and worldwide releases. Christopher is married to Rachel Marie and the father to Gabriel & Alyss B. Christopher is an Author, Producer and Director of films and documentaries for Discovery , Destination America, Syfy, Chiller, NBC Universal, Spooked TV Productions, At&t, Vimeo, Apple iTunes, Netflix, Roku and more worldwide. CEO of Spooked Television Releasing. Films include Dead Still (Syfy), Death Tunnel (Sony Pictures), The Possessed, Spooked, Children Of The Grave (Syfy Channel/NBC Universal), The Exorcist File-Haunted Boy (Redbox), Children Of The Grave 2, Soul Catcher and DarkPlace.
Jeff Belanger: My Own Ghost Adventures
Jeff is the writer and location scout for the wildly popular Travel Channel series, Ghost Adventures. One of the most visible and prolific paranormal researchers today, Jeff is also the founder of the legend tripping movement and is the Emmy-nominated host and producer of the New England Legends series which debuted on PBS in October of 2013. Since 1997, the journalist has interviewed thousands of eyewitnesses to paranormal occurrences. He's the ultimate insider and knows how to connect with people from all walks of life when it comes to the unexplained. He is the author of over a dozen books on the paranormal (published in six languages) including the best sellers: The World's Most Haunted Places, Weird Massachusetts, Our Haunted Lives, and Who's Haunting the White House? (for children). He's the founder of Ghostvillage.com, the Web's most popular paranormal destination according to Google, and a noted speaker and media personality. In January of 2014 he was asked to give a prestigious TEDx talk in New York City and he's lectured at MENSA's national conference. Belanger created the cable/Web talk show, 30 Odd Minutes which was available in over 9 million homes in the United States and Europe on Sky TV. Belanger has written for newspapers like The Boston Globe and USA Today, and has served as the writer and researcher on numerous television series including Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Challenge, and Aftershocks on the Travel Channel. He's been a guest on hundreds of radio and television programs including: The History Channel, The Travel Channel, Biography Channel, PBS, NECN, Living TV (UK), Sunrise 7 (Australia), The Maury Show, The CBS News Early Show, CBS Sunday Morning, FOX, NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates, National Public Radio, The BBC, Darkness Radio, Australian Radio Network, and Coast to Coast AM.
Jack Brinatte has had numerous experiences with the parnaormal throughout his life, leading up to his interest in forming a paranormal research team He's one of the most unusual investigators you find; he and his teammates are all "Real Life Superheroes." Vigilant and sharp, focused and cutting edge, Jack Brinatte (also known as Razorhawk) is one of the Real Life Superheroes who patrol their local streets around the nation to bring down crime. Outside of his superhero work, Jack is also a talented costume designer and a voracious advocate of the poor. Jack has founded "HOPE"--which stages fundraising for and distribution of necessities to the homeless. He is also a founder of the Great Lakes Alliance, which brings together costumed activists from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida and has successfully launched toy drives for Toys For Tots, as well as People Serving People, an organization dedicated to providing transitional housing for families, “to get them back into the working world, in their own homes and their own lives.” We'll find out how Jack's myriad interests harmonize in an interview at Chicago Ghost Con.
In addition to his adventures in paranormal investigation, which led Bryan to write his book, Paranormal Pursuits, Dorn is also an active and successful pro-wrestler known as "Ian Xavier." We'll find out about his alter ego and how Bryan's two passions overlap in an interview at Chicago Ghost Con!
Jay Bachochin: Getting Started in Bigfoot Research
Jay Bachochin and Mary Marshall will go through all the proper procedures to have a safe & successful hike. They'll describe all the different equipment and techniques you will need to search for Bigfoot. Jay will also talk about and show some of the strangest encounters he had in the woods. Jay Bachochin is the founder/researcher of WPI Hunts the Truth, an organization that seeks answers to the strange and bizzare. Since 2007, Jay has investigated the Ghost Phenomenon, UFOs, The Beast of Bray Road, Mysteries Drownings in LaCrosse and is currently tracking the Wisconsin Sasquatch. Mary Marshall is host of the Paranormal MD podcast and teachers investigation techniques and paranormal theory at various community colleges and institutes.
Ben and Pamela Pavalon: The Modern Victorian Séance
Ben and Pam are the founders of the Chicago Ghost Hunter's Meetup, one of Chicago' most active paranormal investigation interest groups. They meet monthly at the Red Lion Lincoln Square and host a variety of speakers and investigations. Each October, Ben and Pam host a seance at the pub, focusing on the history of seances and their modern counterpart. The Pavalons will host a "modern" Victorian seance incorporating an historic setting and modern communication tools.
Vince Pitisci: Introduction to the Genius of the Tarot
Vince PItisci is the author of the critically-acclaimed, Genius of the Tarot, and one of the most popular Tarot Readers in the Chicago area. Vince will share the basics of Tarot functioning and reading in this one-hour workshop.
Open Ghost Box session with the Rezmans
The Rezmans have been researching the paranormal for many years and are the hosts of the popular One Foot Out of the Grave podcast. The Rezmans will share tips for ghost box research and conduct an open session using some of their favorite devices.
Daniel Reiter: Methods and Techniques in EVP Research
Daniel Reiter is one of the most respected EVP researchers today. In this one-hour workshop Daniel will share his tips and tricks for EVP collection and processing and help you get better samples in your next investigation or even in your own home.
Sam Maranto: Getting Started in UFO Research
Sam Maranto is the State Director for Illinois MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) and a certified Field Investigator. He's also the State Representative for the Disclosure Project. Sam has been involved in two major mass sighting investigations (Tinley Park and Rockford, Illinois) as well as numerous other investigations. His research into the UFO phenomenon started in 1964. He is also a UFO witness and had his first sighting in 1959. The latest sighting was in May, 2003 in Orland Park. Sam's workshop will help others who are interested in becoming involved in UFO research and investigation.
Wendy Moxley Roe: Researching Family & Place Histories
Together with Karl K, Wendy has been a tireless advocate of Bachelors Grove Cemetery, one of the "world's most haunted place," for over six years. Through tedious research she has pieced together much forgotten history of the settlers of the Grove, which you can see as a work in progress on their website, The Path to Bachelors Grove. Wendy also pooled her research with Ursula Bielski, author of Haunted Bachelors Grove to produce the most complete list of Bachelors Grove burials that exists today. Wendy will share her tips and tricks for researching family and place histories as part of your investigations in this one-hour workshop.
Tinamarie Ronan: Introduction to Crystals
Tinamarie Ronan, an intiution expert, will help attendees understand the myriad powers and uses of crystals in investigations, healing and protection.
Open Ghost Box Session with Daniel Reiter
Daniel Reiter has spent numerous years engrossed in "ghost box" research and is both knowledgeable and skilled in their operation and use. From "Frank's Box" to the latest apps, Daniel will talk about pros and cons of each and share tips for both beginners and veterans in this branch of EVP research while conducting an open session using some of his favorite ghost boxes.
Meet Our Speakers. Hosts, Moderators & Workshop Teachers!