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Confessions of a Paranormal Junkie
A fascination with ghosts is also a career path for Noah Voss, who's spent a lifetime chasing the unexplained
 

 

By Becky Meyer Pourchot

 

04/19/08 - Madison Magazine

 

 

Fueled by rumors of a family ghost, two school-aged boys creep carefully down a darkened hallway, holding tightly to a large tape recorder in hopes of capturing voices from beyond the grave. For most kids, sharing spooky tales under the protection of their Scooby Doo sleeping bag would have been scary enough, but not for ten-year-old Noah Voss. He wanted to find a ghost.

The boys' careful attempts that night were unsuccessful and Voss' friend quickly lost interest, but for Voss this was just the beginning. He had taken his first steps into the world of paranormal adventuring. And although to this day he still finds few tangible clues of the paranormal, Voss is continually driven by the thrill of the hunt.

By day, Voss now works as a life safety inspector, inspecting fire alarms--a mundane job in comparison to the busy life of his alter-ego as a paranormal junkie, hooked on the excitement of following clues, visiting creepy places, collecting information and meeting interesting people along the way.

With his Peter Parker exterior, it's difficult to imagine this clean-cut, twenty-nine-year-old searching a thick forest in Eastern Wisconsin for abandoned ghost towns or casually having conversations with strangers about bug-eyed visitors from outer space, but when he is out in the field, decked out in equipment like a science fiction hero, Noah is in his element.

As a young adrenaline addict, Voss combined hobbies of inline stunt skating and snowboarding with thrill-seeking research into Bigfoot, ghosts and UFOs. As a teenager, he ventured around Wisconsin with friends, stopping by graveyards and the locations of monster sightings. When simply visiting these places wasn't enough for him, he begun documenting his visits with photographs. Next came the high tech ghost hunting equipment, using electromagnetic-field recorders, video equipment and Geiger counters in an attempt to quantify his experiences. In college, Noah became well known for his quirky obsession, gaining the nickname "Fox" after the X-File's paranormal special agent, Fox Mulder.

Voss' wife Jennifer knew exactly what she was in for when she married him two years ago. Their earliest dates as students at MATC were spent in graveyards "legend tripping" with friends. "We did it year-round," Voss says of the visits. "We wouldn't just go to a graveyard randomly. We'd go to a place that we had researched for the past ten years. We'd be looking for the next clue, spending all night driving around back country roads looking for a piece of a story."

On one occasion Voss and his friends searched rural Wisconsin for the Ridgeway Phantom--a famous entity reported in parts of Iowa and Dodge counties. This creature was said by witnesses to take the shape of men, rabid dogs and haunting balls of light, so Voss' gang was eager to see it for themselves. With Voss behind the wheel, they speed past isolated farms, listening to the radio blare, as they enjoyed the breeze whisk through the open windows. Suddenly out of the darkness a gray shape emerged, blocking the car's path. Voss slammed on the breaks, squealing the tires and missing the large cow by only a few feet. He joked later that according to legend this cow could have been the Ridgeway Phantom in disguise, but he's far from convinced. Since then he has returned to the area for research and has even produced a short film about the phantom.

Aside from dabbling in filmmaking, the Sun Prairie resident is also a small business owner and an author. In 2001 he started getghostgear.com, the REI of ghost hunting paraphernalia, selling detection tools like thermal imaging cameras and night-vision goggles to ghost hunting devotees. A number of his devices have been purchased by Sci-Fi Channel's reality show Ghost Hunters. In 2004, Voss became the director and eventual owner of UFOwisconsin.com, where he posts local reports ranging from strange lights in the sky to encounters with unearthly life forms. The results of his research have coalesced into the recent release of his book, UFO Wisconsin: A Progress Report.

Voss also speaks regularly at paranormal conferences across the country, talking to audiences about his research into UFOs and other strange phenomenon. After these events he often acts as a sounding board for an array of people who are eager to share their bizarre paranormal encounters. "It's very therapeutic for some of these people. They get very emotional, some to the point of physical tears," he says. "Some people come up after the program with a story that stuck with them for forty years, but they never had told anyone. Their husband or wife might be standing right next to them, with crossed arms and say, 'How come you never told me this?'" Voss approaches people with an openness that encourages them to share their stories. "I don't pass judgment on the person, rather understanding that everyone has a unique and subjective perspective on experiences," he says. "You have to have the motto 'anything is possible.'"


 

Although Voss hears unexplainable, chilling stories, he rarely gets scared. In fact the more intriguing the case, the more deeply he wants to understand it. At the end of one conference a man approached him and begun quizzing him on alien abductions. After awhile, the man's girlfriend nudged him and said, "Show him! Show him!" The man rolled up his sleeve to reveal a blistered spot on his arm that looked as though a small object were injected into it. Along with this, the man claimed to have experienced "missing time" within weeks of the wound appearing. Rather then discounting the man's strange story, Voss pointed to the wound and asked, "Can I touch it?"

Voss enjoys collecting people's wild stories, but it's the adventures in the field that excite him most. He cites a trip in 2006 to Walworth Country, traveling with Weird Wisconsin co-author and regional werewolf expert Linda Godfrey to track a reported werewolf-like creature. Voss and a team of paranormal experts set up camp overnight and searched for clues, using motion detectors and night-vision goggles. Some people waited in the dark, while others flushed out the area with flood lights. They came across abandoned buildings and even a pack of coyotes; however no oversized, fur-coated humanoids were found. As always, Voss didn't consider this a setback. "You have to find some kind of enjoyment in [the adventure] and stop and reflect on that. Otherwise I'd probably be very disappointed and bitter at this point."

Like a real life Fox Mulder in a never-ending quest for the truth, Voss remains vigilant. Although little green men aren't knocking at his door, he continues collecting tales. "I am a seeker of knowledge and a recorder of stories. If I can divine some answers someday, great, that'd be icing on the cake, but it's definitely the adventure that matters."

Noah Voss and his colleagues will share their bizarre adventures of real-life ghosts, UFOs, vampires and other mysterious creatures with Madison audiences at The Unexplained Conference, the longest-running paranormal program in the U.S., on April 26 at the Alliant Energy Center at 7 p.m. Cost is $9 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under at the door.

 For more information visit UnexplainedResearch.com or call (715) 271-1831.


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