Peters Township grad chasing ghosts around Pittsburgh
T.J. Porfeli has a message for anyone who is skeptical about ghosts or laughs while watching television shows such as “Ghost Hunters” or “Paranormal Lockdown.”
“There’s always going to be the hardcore skeptics, but we don’t fake anything,” said Porfeli, a 2001 Peters Township High School graduate. “The places we visit have a solid history of ghost activity.”
The co-founder and president of operations for local ghost hunting team Ghosts N’At, which is based in Eight Four, welcomes guests to spend a night with his crew as they visit historic sites to capture proof of spirits, apparitions and other signs of paranormal activity.
Porfeli became interested in the paranormal in 2005 when he first viewed an episode of the SyFy Channel’s hit television series “Ghost Hunters.” Porfeli soon began going on his own ghost hunts, but it wasn’t until 2008 when he had his first contact with the paranormal while visiting the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, W.Va., when a voice saying “help me” was captured on Porfeli’s recorder.
“We’ll go through an hour’s worth of silence just to hear a voice for five seconds,” Porfeli said. “It really adds to the excitement.”
In 2014, Porfeli met fellow ghost hunter Brett McGinnis, and soon people started accompanying the duo on their haunted hunts. In 2015, Porfeli and McGinnis started their Ghosts N’At business. A full-time computer software warehouse manager during the day, Porfeli spends another 25 hours a week managing Ghosts N’At, where he’s in charge of marketing, contacting locations and payroll for their employees.
With a staff of a dozen investigators and an arsenal of thermal imaging cameras, voice recorders, electromagnetic detectors, video surveillance cameras and shadow detectors, Ghosts N’At takes along with them anywhere between 15 to 90 participants on public ghost hunts. Participants are split into groups and spend anywhere between 30 to 40 minutes in a specific room or location at a haunted site before rotating to another location – or hot spot – within the site to hunt with a different investigator.
Previous hunts have taken place at Hill View Manor in New Castle, Hotel Conneaut and the W.A. Young and Sons Foundry in Rices Landing. But Porfeli’s favorite location is the Greene County Historical Museum near Waynesburg.
“There’s always constant activity at that location,” Porfeli said. “We’ve heard footsteps, voices, chimes on the door alarm ringing, and a camera was physically grabbed out of Brett’s hands. At one point, Brett and I were standing back-to-back surrounded by footsteps. We got out of there fast.”
The group is returning this weekend to the historical museum at 918 Rolling Meadows Road and tickets, which are $40, are still available for the event that runs from 7 to 11 p.m. May 20. For more information or to purchase tickets for the upcoming ghost tour in Greene County, go online to www.ghostsnat.com or call 724-263-9603.
When asked how he chooses a location for a paranormal adventure, Porfeli takes a calmer tone.
“They have to be historic places so we can raise money to preserve the site,” he said. “We’re showcasing locations that people would never visit. We’re helping preserve history.”
But have any ghosts followed Porfeli home?
“Not yet, so I guess I’m lucky,” Porfeli said with a laugh. “But, if it can cook and clean, it can stay.”