What do you do when someone breaks into your apartment, leaves previously closed windows wide open, turns on the television and cranks up the volume, then shuffles around in your bedroom while you’re on the couch down the hall? Ray Savino used the experience to start a career.
Did we mention the person in question in the above scenario was a ghost?
When Savino graduated from high school in Pennsylvania, he rented an efficiency apartment next to a large cemetery. After coming home and finding a number of strange things happening on more than one occasion, he and a friend decided to consult a Ouija Board to see if they could solve the mystery.
“He swears up and down that he never moved the planchette, and I swore up and down I never moved it,” said Savino. “But we were asking questions and it said there was a little boy there named Toby. So, we went out and combed the cemetery and happened to find a headstone for a little boy named Tobias. Was it the same person? I don’t know. But the coincidence started my fascination with the paranormal.”
He didn’t know that paranormal groups were a thing, but he discovered one when he moved to Hampton Roads in 2007. He didn’t like the direction they were going in, so he started RTL Paranormal.
“Little by little, we started investigating homes, historical locations, museums, and even military bases, and the company created its own life,” explained Savino. “We started building a reputation around Hampton Roads and were blessed to keep growing.”
By the way, RTL Paranormal is a non-profit agency and never charges a cent for their investigations. Savino is able to finance the venture as the owner of a paranormal talent management company called Flumeri Promotions that specializes in hosting paranormal events.
“About two years ago, I tried to do something different,” said Savino. “I saved up my money and got some guys from the TV show ‘Ghost Hunters’ to do an event for me. That was at the Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, Virginia. The next day they went to the Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville, Virginia. I don’t know what I did to impress them, but they asked me to be their manager. That’s how my second business came about.”
Between RTL Paranormal and Flumeri Promotions, Savino still does a lot of private investigations as well as fundraising events and other promotional events. “I enjoy doing fundraisers for historical locations,” he said. “We do food drives, fundraisers to collect clothing for the less fortunate, we’ve donated to women’s shelters, as well as CHKD in Norfolk. I found another passion in that I really enjoy setting up events.”
For those who are skeptical about the paranormal, Savino suggests the best way to make believers out of nay-sayers is to experience an investigation and draw their own conclusions. “The only thing I can tell people who don’t believe in the paranormal is, I’m not going to be able to sway your opinion my way. Why don’t you just come on a ghost hunt to see for yourself what we do?”
Although he has so many to choose from, one of his favorite “conversions” was at the Applewood Colonial Bed & Breakfast in Williamsburg. Savino was taking a digital photo of the Twin Oaks Suite and later discovered that the flash had bounced off a mirror in the room and reflected a purple aura toward him. In that aura was an apparition of a woman behind him. “It looked like she had long hair, parted in the middle, but almost more like a loose ponytail,” he said. “And you could see facial features, but it was distorted because of the way the photo was taken.”
The husband of the couple who owned the B&B was a very skeptical person and just happened to be in the room at the time the photo was taken. When they entered the suite, they had latched the door closed. Savino then said, “If there is someone here with us, make your presence known.” Right next to the husband, the doorknob jiggled, and the door opened about three inches. That made a believer out of him immediately. “That’s why I enjoy people who are skeptics joining in on the ghost hunt,” said Savino. “They might just experience something they can’t explain, and they turn into a believer themselves.”
Savino uses a variety of techniques during investigations, including audio and video reviews. “I’m technologically stupid and I don’t know how to do all of that stuff people do with Photoshop and all that,” he said. “Some people will also amplify their audio to clean it up a bit, but when you do that, you distort the recording and you get what we call audio pareidolia, where the more you try to clean it up, the more it sounds like something else. Whatever I listen to and whatever I catch on video, that’s how you’re going to hear and see it.”
Some quick facts about investigations:
– They aren’t always done at night
– They can happen in new home and buildings as well as older sites
– A haunting may not have anything to do with a particular structure—it could be caused by something that happened on the property or because of an object that is brought into the home
– There are investigations that reveal no paranormal activity
“Not everything is haunted,” explained Savino. “A perfect example of that is an investigation we did in a private home for a woman in Virginia Beach. She was claiming to hear voices and strange noises, and smelling strange odors. She was an elderly woman with health issues who was confined to the living room. Our investigation found that she had a grandson who was sneaking people into the house at night, which explains the voices. We found a Mountain Dew can with some weed in it hidden behind a curtain in his bedroom, which explains the strange smells. And there was a hole in the ceiling of the laundry room where birds had nested and had babies, which explained the strange noises. So no, not everything is haunted.”
What happens if paranormal activity is discovered? RTL Paranormal can recommend people who can cleanse your home or psychics that can try to make contact with the spirits to determine why they are there. “If you go into someone’s house, you take on the responsibility of continuing to help them however you can,” said Savino.
A large part of what RTL Paranormal does is to debunk as much as possible upfront. “You really have to be a detective when it comes to things like that,” said Savino. “If you’re trying to be a legitimate paranormal group, you have to debunk as much as you can. Whatever you can’t debunk, then you can throw it in the category of being paranormal.”
What do you do if your kids are talking to people who don’t appear to be there, you see shadows moving about in your home, you’ve experienced getting scratches on your body in the middle of the night, things get thrown at you by an unseen force, or any other unusual circumstances you can’t explain? Reach out to RTL Paranormal on their Facebook page or call Savino at 757-869-8099.
Interested in going on a public hunt? RTL Paranormal and Flumeri promotions are hosting an event with psychic April Busset on December 11 at the Masonic Temple in Norfolk.