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While some spend their spare time knitting or watching sports, others use that time to pursue something a bit … darker. Demon hunters, paranormal investigators and UFO spotters are among us, folks. And they’re having a blast.

Since starting his podcast/Youtube channel, “The Ethan Clerc Show” and the crew has invited people from all backgrounds in the southern Minnesota area.

Periodically, Clerc and the crew have brought individuals from a certain niche — the paranormal. 

Clerc has interviewed ghost and demon hunting experts, UFO field investigators and psychics

“I’m definitely a skeptic and I want to believe.”

Though a nonbeliever, he believes that bringing in people like Mr. Wolf (a demon hunter), Adrian Lee (psychic and author) or Michael Cimino (UFO field investigator) gives people a chance to research into the subject more.

“You have to do your research,” Clerc said. “It’s good to be open minded about it because if you are, then you have a better chance of discovering something you don’t believe in.”

Being a skeptic, he said, allows one to ask better questions, which then might provide more evidence in a particular subject. 

Clerc is right. So we decided to sit down with a few of these folks to ask some of those questions.

And we found that, sometimes, you can come out with more questions than answers.

Demons, beware …

Mr. Wolf had no choice, he said, but to learn how to read the energy around him. It was for protection. 

He recalls unexplainable activity in his Mapleton family home as early as age 3. The house was haunted, and whatever was there took every opportunity to mess with him. 

Late at night, Mr. Wolf (not his real name) would hear what seemed like dragging nails in the attic. Eventually, he heard whatever had been tormenting him drag itself across his bedroom floor.

It wasn’t until he was 16 that he started to piece the information together that some kind of paranormal being was in the attic.

“I wanted to fight back.” 

He began to learn how to protect himself — and eventually others — from the unknown. 

The easiest way to describe it, Mr. Wolf said, would be magic. 

“But I don’t really call it magic because there’s really no ceremony to it.”

He realized he could manipulate the energy around him. The idea became more profound for Mr. Wolf when he began to read epic fantasy novels by author Terry Goodkind. The more he read, the more the world of magic made more sense. 

Demon Hunter 1.jpg Sibley Park.

“But I was raised Lutheran,” he said. “So it’s like, ‘Oh no, magic is bad.’ It just got to a point where I had to do something.”

He continued to self-educate, especially in alchemy and shamanism. He found a common link between the two practices.

Mr. Wolf explained the common link is changing our perception to other worlds.

“At the same time, like Tesla said, everything is energy,” he said. “There’s the alchemic principle of the duality material. For every physical, there is a metaphysical.”

Through years of training and education in both practices, Mr. Wolf said he has learned to make different tools combining metaphysical properties. These tools are used in his demon hunting, including a gun with an apple wood frame filled with crystals.

“I got a crystal. It’s kind of like the trigger. That’s the contact point. Then it’s pushing my energy through the contact point and into the frame.”

The combination of the crystals and his own energy, he said, helps focus in on a target energy — basically cornering an evil spirit. 

He’s been investigating for 22 years, always keeping a toolbox full of crystals, a Pandora’s box, essential oils and a Happy jar on his person.

The Pandora’s box is the first thing that comes out during an investigation. It has magnets, a variety of salts, several different types of obsidian and a black tourmaline. 

“The Pandora’s Box absorbs negative energy. If you think about it in terms of science, humans are on the plus spectrum, anything else is in the negative spectrum.”

This serves as a magnet to draw in the negative spectrum, again cornering the negative spirits. 

He then pulls out the Happy Jar — full of Frankincense, Palo Santo, celestite and selenite — to counterbalance the negative energies attracted to Pandora's box. 

“If that’s not how happy smells, I don’t know what is,” he said. “This is putting positive energy out.”

He uses these tools during his investigations, including the time he helped his friend’s son whom they believed was possessed by a demon. It was in the Twin Cities when Mr. Wolf was in his late 20s. At the time, he made use of what was in his friend’s kitchen to whip up a version of “Voodoo goofer dust,” which is a hexing technique for good intentions. This particular goofer dust — made of sea salt, basil, oregano, black pepper and cayenne — was concocted to target bad energies.

“We went through what she had, and I found anything that had exorcism-breaking and protection properties.”

For two weeks he had the victim place the mix on the middle of his forehead, then on his chest.

“Because that’s the soul core. That’s why when you feel emotions, it always comes from right there first.”

The main idea is to make the host —in this case the victim — be incompatible. That night, Mr. Wolf said the demon that had latched onto the victim had been standing only a couple feet away from him all night.

“It was the shadow of it, really. And it was just staring daggers at me. It was so mad that I cut that kid loose.”

Ultimately, Mr. Wolf said demon hunting comes down to energy.

For as long as he can remember, he’d been able to pick up and identify different spirits. 

“In this room right now, there’s seven ghosts and three nonhumans.” 

This particular night, he said, the three nonhumans were a fairy, a very old soul and an angelic spirit. 

Thankfully, nothing malicious. But that’s not always the case, he said. 

“It’s not an issue of a spirit. There are people here that are not human. Not everything that wears a meat suit is human."

Ghostly historian

Matthew Kohler was a fireman when the Schmidt Brewery was up and running in St. Paul. 

Not a firefighter, a fireman — one who lit the fires in the furnaces and the lamps in the basement’s brewery. He died April 16, 1904. Spilled oil on himself, set himself on fire and wasn’t able to put the fire out.

Kohler burned alive at the Schmidt Brewery.

Adrian Lee, author, historian, psychic and paranormal investigator (among other things) was able to unearth the death of Kohler during an investigation he had done at the brewery in St. Paul in 2008.

It took Lee nearly two years to figure out who Kohler was. During the investigation, a disembodied voice was picked up through the equipment — “Matt,” the voice said — and when asked who Matt was, the voice reportedly replied, “A fireman.” 

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A historian by trade, he began to research using digitized newspapers dating to the 1860s. He searched until he discovered a news clipping confirming Kohler’s death and profession, now immortalized in Lee’s book, “Mysterious Minnesota.”

Lee moved to Minnesota about 10 years ago from London, discovering and investigating different parts of the state. Many of his investigations led to his aforementioned book, of which one includes Mankato and can also be purchased on Amazon. (You can also check out his show “More Questions than Answers” every Friday at 10 p.m. on the Dark Matter Digital Network.)

“That was the moment I suddenly realized that we can talk to the dead to gain information from them to do historical research and use them as a tool to bring back history that’s been lost,” Lee said. 

He has been a paranormal investigator for more than 20 years and has investigated all over the globe. But it was Kohler’s compelling story that lit the idea to rediscover untold history. 

He thinks that learning and interviewing the dead are vital in humanity's history. In investigating, there’s a primary source in the event that happened. 

And sure, there are paranormal teams investigating that are happy to get activity or an EVP (electronic voice phenomena), and that’s it. 

“What a waste of time,” Lee said. “How are we learning from them? How are we furthering ourselves? What can we solve? What can we bring back historically?”

Lee’s work is distinct in searching for those answers. 

“Uniquely, about the work I do, is that I’m using (the dead) to further history. I’m bringing back history from the lips of the dead.”

He explains that, as a historian, one can simply make an educated guess based on the information left in history from newspapers or death certificates and banking details. It is all secondary material.

“Could you imagine, via the equipment and psychic skills, being able to talk to somebody that was actually there? Because you could interview them,” Lee said. “I’ve interviewed the dead and asked them what it was like in the fire. How often do you get to use primary material as a historian? That’s like asking your granddad what he did during the war.”

Ghosts aren’t the only thing Lee has encountered. In 2017, during a separate investigation in a Redwood Falls cemetery, he said the team experienced UFOs.

“I was actually talking, or trying to talk to Maude Kleeman. That was the woman who was killed by William Kleeman with an ax,” Lee said. “I was at the cemetery talking to her, asking if her husband had killed her.”

The investigation had barely started with niceties, Lee said, then the activity above ground started.

“There was the most mad UFO activity and we had everything recording. We were running the equipment and the first thing that happened was all the equipment went just nuts.”

The ghost box they were using (a tool to communicate with spirits through radio waves) began to make noises Lee didn’t recognize. Then the compass they had started to act up and all their EMF (electromagnetic field) meters started to light up like Christmas trees. 

They looked up and there was a big, yellow, fiery ball of light that moved around the sky.

“This was one of the most important sightings in American UFO history because it’s the first time ever that there’s empirical data attached to a UFO sighting,” Lee said. 

The UFO then left. Then came back but red this time. Then left and came back orange. 

It has been reported and investigated by the Mutual UFO Network.

Artist by day, UFO hunter by night

MUFON was founded in 1969 and is a nonprofit organization in which volunteers investigate submitted reports of UFOs around the country.

One volunteer is local artist Michael Cimino. 

His interest in ufology began early as a kid, picking up books about UFOs and aliens. It wasn’t until two years ago that Cimino began to pick up the subject again and revisited it as a real hobby.

He began doing amateur investigating, which led him to join MUFON during one of his research sessions. 

“All of this information (on MUFON) is available to the public, and once I started seeing this, it’s still a very modern phenomenon,” he said. “Most people think that ufology, or the study of UFO, it ends at Roswell, but that was genuinely the beginning of it and the reports that are coming in now are staggering.”

Cases like the Redwood Falls UFO that Adrian Lee and his team had incidentally captured are just one example. 

There are other forms of finding UFO videos, too — YouTube. However, Cimino said the front pages are usually flooded with clickbait videos with no merit. It does a disservice.

“We've totally lost like the human nature of it, or the human phenomenon, and then that's kind of what led me to MUFON.”

There was one video, however, that was filmed in Mankato during a terrible thunderstorm in 2011.

“Gusts of winds 40 mph with heavy lightning activity,” Cimino said. 

The video shows clouds moving sporadically, among a few balls of lights that pop up in the video. To this day, Cimino hasn’t been able to explain what was occuring in those clouds.

Cimino is still a “trainee” in field investigating but has taken on a few in the MUFON database. 

Each trainee receives the field investigators manual that is purchased from the MUFON website, in which the trainees must study and then can take a test.

“The book is extensive and the test was either 150 or 200 questions,” Cimino said. “We’re talking about knowing your categories, how to classify a UFO, how to collect physical evidence without tampering.”

Other categories include making radiation surveys, using Google Earth, using a compass and learning how to use Madara, a magnetic anomaly radar. Cimino received his certification last year. 

Anyone that has access to the internet is able to share their experience with MUFON by submitting a report, which is then fully investigated by a field investigator, such as Cimino.

There are about 100 cases in a year’s span in Minnesota. It begins by verifying the identification of the reporter, which can be done by researching online. An interview with the reporter follows.

“The most important part is the initial interview. We try to get it as soon as possible so that no memories either disappear or distort. Then there is evidence.”

If there’s physical evidence claims, like a scorch mark or cattle mutilation for example, the investigators go together to check out the area. All data is then collected. Videos and photos submitted, to prevent hoaxes, are then analyzed by Cimino. Then another interview is conducted with those who reported. 

“We have the scientific method, a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, analyze the data and come to a conclusion. Every single case we go through that,” Cimino said. “If the person reported this and they saw it, we are always trying to put together a genuine scientific method to all of our approaches. We speculate as little as humanly possible.”

Because, after all, when people report anomalies or experience a UFO, most people didn’t want to encounter that.

“A lot of these people genuinely believe what they see in the sky is something. Some people are scared, very scared and unsure and insecure about what they saw. We do everything we can to build a solid case on every single person who makes a report, that’s the important thing.”

One way to corroborate a story is by calling local police stations and airports. Cimino has done both. And … well, he’s not particularly liked at particular police stations. Mainly because of his incessant research; if they don’t respond to Cimino’s request, he calls again. 

He does introduce himself as a MUFON investigator, which at times can be difficult to explain.

“It’s so easy to certain people to come off like a person with a tin foil hat. You don’t want to be. You’re just trying to piece a story for another person’s peace of mind.”

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