What was that lurking in the shadows behind the garage? Did I really see and hear that or is my overactive imagination running wild again? If you have ever asked yourself these questions, don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. You’re probably not alone.

People around the world have been seeing and hearing the unexplained for centuries. Chad Lewis, co-author of The South Dakota Road Guide to Haunted Locations will be one of four speakers at the upcoming Unexplained Conference in Sioux Falls on Friday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. The event will take place at the Anne Zabel Studio Theater.

Geared for the general public, this conference will focus on first hand accounts of the bizarre and will give those in attendance a chance to share their personal experiences.

“Our conference focuses on the local cases and gives the people the facts without trying to sway them in any direction,” said Lewis. “We share our stories and our findings and we encourage those in attendance to do the same. People that have been witness to the unexplained, are usually willing to tell their story once they realize they are not alone.”

For Lewis and his group, the stop in Sioux Falls is especially unique. The Anne Zabel Studio Theater is one of the places listed in the book as being potentially haunted.

“Most of the places that we feature are public places such as this,” said Lewis. “People want to know about places they can actually visit and experience. We don’t want some place that had an occurrence one time a hundred years ago and nothing since.”

Lewis said the book includes pictures and descriptions of the sites, along with the background, the ghost lore and the legends. He said that they try to separate the fact from the fiction and leave it up to the people on what to believe. Lewis and Fisk have found that people are more comfortable making their own decisions on what is haunted as opposed to being told.

Watertown is home to one of those sites researched by Lewis and his group. There is a house in the city that has long been considered haunted. Several families have called this house home, but none of them stayed very long. According to Lewis, the family that was living there at the time of his inquiries, has moved on as well.

“Before they moved, the family confirmed to us some strange happenings in the home,” said Lewis. “They claimed that they would put the children to bed at night and then hear running in the upstairs hallways. When they would investigate, the kids were fast asleep in their beds. They also recanted periods of knocking on the walls that could not be explained.”

South Dakota is filled with stories of the unexplained. Examples of the bizarre include a father and son spirit roaming the Judge Amidon Monument; The mysterious apparition haunting the Sioux Falls Playhouse; werewolves prowling the woods of South Dakota; UFO’s spotted in the skies; unsuspecting hotel guests coming face-to-face with Seth Bullock.

Lewis has a masters degree in applied psychology and is a paranormal investigator for Unexplained Research LLC and research specialist for the Mutual UFO Network. Lewis hosts both The Unexplained television series and The Unexplained radio talk show. He has been featured on South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s “Haunted South Dakota” episode of Dakota Life and heard on South Dakota Public Radio.

Most of the South Dakota stories investigated by Lewis and co-author of the book Terry Fisk, are from the Black Hills region. The Lead and Deadwood areas are hot beds for paranormal reports. There have been reports from places such as Sica Hollow State Park and the School for the Blind in Gary, but those have not yet been researched. They had a total of 200-300 calls of strange happenings in the state and after investigating most of them, they have narrowed the field down to 80 sites.

“We get 200 to 250 calls a week now from people looking for assistance and guidance into the paranormal,” said Lewis. “We have been in 18 states and several countries this year. We can’t get to all of them, so we hook up with researchers from other areas to help out.”

Lewis said that with Halloween fast approaching, the number of cases has picked up. He said that people think Halloween and the imagination kicks in, resulting in many questions.

“This time of year always brings out more calls,” he said. “Whether or not they believe in the paranormal, they are interested because it is Halloween.”

Reaction from people regarding their research has been varied. He added that the majority show interest in the subject and may be able to relate due to their own experiences. The reaction is rarely negative, although there have been certain groups questioning their work.

“There are those conservative thinkers or religious groups that feel our work may be bordering on the dark side and that is their opinion,” said Lewis. “We don’t argue the point with them. They have the right to their beliefs and we don’t expect everyone to agree with us.”

The Sioux Falls conference will be one of two stops for Lewis and his group. They will also appear in Rapid City on Oct. 11. In its second year, the tour is expected to draw roughly 300 people at each stop. The presentations are two of 100 given by Lewis and his group each year.

“After 14 years of paranormal studies, I can honestly say that I have more questions than answers.” said Lewis. “I have seen things that I just cannot explain. Every time you think that you have a theory on why something is happening, another event will contradict that and your theories are out the window.”