day, Chad Lewis of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is an
unassuming grant writer for a nonprofit organization.
By night and weekend, he's Chad Lewis, PI, one of a
handful of paranormal investigators in the state.
Lewis, 29, logged roughly 30,000 miles last year
crisscrossing Wisconsin to inspect everything
from alleged haunted houses and crop circles to
reports of vampires, werewolves, and
who received his master's degree in applied psychology
from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2002
after completing a thesis on paranormal perception,
takes his work as seriously as Fox Mulder ever did.
He's been doing it for nearly ten years, and he has a
methodology--interview witnesses, observe physical
evidence, dig through archives, pore over flight data,
check facts--which he calls "vigilant
skepticism." And though he's public about his
paranormal work--he hosts The Unexplained, a
twice-weekly radio show in Eau Claire, and often talks
to paranormal groups--he's picky about his venues.
"I won't talk in a beer tent," he says. Last
year he declined an offer from Elmwood's UFO Days.
skepticism usually means debunking UFO reports.
"Most UFO sightings can be explained
logically," Lewis says. "A plane. A planet.
An international space station. But people at UFO
fests? They like to talk up UFOs. I'm a firm believer
in the paranormal, but I can't sit by and let a
dubious claim go unchallenged."
year and a half ago he got a typical call from a man
in Lodi who claimed that, in Lewis's words, "UFOs
were flying all over the place." After driving
four and a half hours to the location and being
greeted by a gathering of believers, he quickly found
the explanation. "He was looking at the Madison
airport," says Lewis. "They were standard
planes. If he would have described it better on the
phone, we wouldn't have come."
has strong opinions on the UFO-capital issue. Though
he spurned its beer tent, he calls Elmwood the
"first legitimate capital." Testimony, he
says, is extensive. Hundreds of residents have
reported sightings. "And George Wheeler was a
trained observer, a solid witness. People in Elmwood
don't like to talk about this stuff. They don't want
to see UFOs--it just happened." He's not so
certain about Belleville. "I'm skeptical of UFO
capitals that benefit from the tourist industry,"
he says. As for Dundee, which has reported not only
UFO sightings but also crop circles and a Loch
Nesslike lake monster, Lewis has serious doubts:
"I'm just waiting for the vampire sighting."
also suspicious of the timing of the much-heralded UFO
sighting during Dundee's UFO Daze in 2002. "You
have to ask," he says, "is there a motive?
Is the town benefiting from the UFO?" He adds a
caveat: "I hate to joke about this, because
Dundee could be an area of high paranormal
activity." Sightings or not, he acknowledges
Dundee as the main clearinghouse for UFO-related info.
"There's no place in Belleville and Elmwood where
you can go in the middle of the year and talk about
the PI says it's a mistake to focus only on the Big
Three. He's working on a book with fellow PI Rick
Hendricks called "The Strange and Unique History
of Wisconsin," which covers, among other
things, the mysterious lights near Crivitz, a
40-foot-tall UFO beacon near the town of Poland, the
ghosts of Caryville, and werewolf sightings in Walworth
theories about the preponderance of odd Dairyland
sightings exist in the paranormal community
(extraterrestrials like iron ore, they need water,
there's a city under Lake Michigan), but Lewis has a
more earthly hypothesis that has less to do with UFOs
and more to do with Wisconsinites. Wisconsin seems to
embrace its image as a weird state, he says, and so it
has an infrastructure to report that weirdness. There
are dozens of UFO Web sites based in Wisconsin.
Lewis's colleagues are scattered throughout the state.
He runs down a list: "Todd Roll in Wausau. Linda
Godfrey, who studies werewolves, in the
southeast. Rick Hendricks in Madison." The
investigators share data about paranormal occurrences.
It's possible there's more UFO action to report in Wisconsin,
says Lewis, or "maybe we're just good at
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