SyFy's The Haunted Collector Returns: Interview With John Zaffis
REMOVING THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT
Interview With John Zaffis of "The Haunted Collector"
The show centers around John Zaffis and his team of paranormal researchers, including his son and daugher, with their objective being to answer the call — that not many may want to answer!
The Haunted Collector sees Zaffis investigate disturbings that might be caused by an object that is seemingly haunted. Zaffis then goes in and removes the object, cleans the unruly energy and either returns the object to its owner or stores it in his museum where he has amassed quite the haunted collection!
The first episode of season two has the team heading to Warsaw, Kentucky where a woman claims her house is being haunted, which could be the result of a devastating accident that occurred between two steamboats in 1868 with more than 60 people killed. And the episode is said to reveal some startling footage!
Cosmic Book News participated in a conference call with Zaffis about the episode, his start in the industry, ghostly investigations and more.
John Zaffis: Well when I was 16 years old, I had an experience. It was the middle of the week, a Wednesday evening, and at the foot of the bed we had like a 6-foot figure that actually appeared. It was transparent and it was shaking its head back and forth.
Well at 16, again I wasn't really into it or anything. And I had gone downstairs and was explaining it to my mom, what I experienced, and my mom really wasn't one to talk about the paranormal. She was petrified of it -- a lot like my daughter.
But anyhow, I started thinking about it at that point and started digging into things and started researching things. We didn't have the Internet, so the only thing I was able to do was actually get books and start meeting people.
But I was very fortunate. I look back upon it today that I had that opportunity to work with my aunt and uncle, Ed and Lorraine Warren. And the education that I actually achieved working with them, you could never get out of a book or anything else.
I was exposed to a lot of different things, and that's what really got me into it. Then I started digging in even deeper. And the more I got into it, realizing that people have had paranormal experiences for thousands and thousands of years, and seeing and reading all of that really intrigued me even more.
And to this day I'm still intrigued by a lot of the things that we don't quite understand. And we're trying to prove so many things out. We're looking at it from a scientific perspective. And I hope before I turn into a ghost that we're able to prove everything from a scientific method.
Can you talk about the case about the two steamboats that crashed in 1868?
John Zaffis: Yes. Interesting perspective on the case. Her parents had owned the property. They were restoring it into a beautiful bed and breakfast, and the daughter and the grandson had gone to stay in the property so that it was occupied. And they were having a lot of activity going on.
They brought a lot of antiques in, a lot of different personal items and things. And during the course of the investigation, there were many items that were actually conflicting with us trying to determine what was actually happening.
But as you go through your investigation and you're actually eliminating things and ruling out the possibility of certain things, sometimes you never know what the end result will be.
But in this particular case, the end result to me turned out to be a very significant thing that is a good possibility, that our conclusion does tie in, and the paranormal activity did actually calm down in the home.
John Zaffis: Yes. Usually what we do when we go in, naturally we choose the cases that have items associated with them. So and if it's in a particular room, what we normally will find is a lot of times we will get high readings, EMF, off of particular items in a room.
So a lot of times we'll focus in on that to see if this could be causing the disturbance. And in this season you will definitely see us doing a lot of experiments to try and prove or disprove if it's a particular item that could be triggering the activity within a room.
And the other thing, a lot of times with items you will get EVPs, electronic voice phenomena. What that is is sometimes we'll pick up different information. We can get names. We can get different things associated with a particular item.
And that's where it gets intriguing, because a lot of times I take a step back and I try to connect these things to see is it this item. Or is it something else that might be trying to trigger us? So it's an in-depth process, but the majority of the time what I look for is to see if we can get any evidence that is surrounding a particular item in a home that could be causing the disturbance.
You store the items and you have a museum of the paranormal. Now are we going to see more of the museum? Or any - what kind of happenings happen in the Museum of the Paranormal?
John Zaffis: Well the museum is a barn on my property. And yes, all the items are stored in there. Now with me, it takes a lot to even get me to pay attention to activity. A lot of times people will come in. They'll do EVPs and do different things around the items, and they will pick up different energy and, get some fantastic results from it.
I'm hoping we'll see a little bit more of the paranormal museum. I think that's very important because people continuously do ask that question. "Well, John, we only see you put the item in. We never actually get to see anything that is surrounding it."
We did a few commercials with items that are actually on, the TV episodes. And people have been very intrigued by that. They're very interested in, all the other items that I have and the different things that I've collected over the past, 38 years of actually being involved with this and collecting them. So I'm hoping we'll see a little bit more in some of the footage that will be in the episodes.
As you accumulate these items, do you ever worry that your museum is a potentially dangerous place?
John Zaffis: Not really. And the reason I say it that way is because there's a lot of bindings and different rituals and different prayers that are continuously done over the items. Here again when we're filming in the museum and things are moved, they will be put back in the places that they were removed from. And there's a lot of things that I do over these items, from a spiritual perspective, to bind that energy to them.
So I'm very guarded and very cautious with this. But again, the building, the barn itself, was designed in a very unique way. As I was building it, there were a lot of things that were done from the foundation all the way up to the second level in it, to actually seal the building, protect the building.
I have a lot of spiritual friends -- Native American, shamans, priests, ministers -- that when they are here visiting, I will always ask them to, do from their belief system to be able to protect things and bind different things. And there are items that are in the museum that I do feel that we were able to break some of the energy that was associated with them.
So again it's a continuous thing, to protect the items. But the most important thing is, to me, is that if I can bring peace to a family, I can calm down the paranormal activity that's occurring in their home, I'm used to dealing with these types of things.
So bringing them here to the paranormal museum and confining some of that energy, I hope, will bring peace to somebody out there, especially an investigation we worked on. And that family can move forward without having to worry about that.
Have you ever been more afraid or more anxious before trying a new challenge or at a new location that you've never really been to? Or do you feel that you're so used to it, you're good -- you're just ready to just grab it and go?
John Zaffis: Well no, because we deal with the paranormal. So I'm very anxious and I'm always guarded. And it's not so much for myself, because I look at it from this perspective. I understand the paranormal a little bit. when we leave this physical body, do I know exactly where we're going to go? No.
But I'm very cautious with all of the kids. They're going into it. They're trying to research. They're trying to be involved with things. And you've got to be very guarded and very careful, because a lot of times spirit and these different types of energies can trick you.
So I proceed with caution no matter what I do or how I do it. And you will see me in this season get very excited in several episodes when I'm very concerned and very guarded for all of the team members, because that's a big responsibility as far as I'm concerned, with getting them involved with it and learning this field.
But I do understand, on the other hand, they do have to jump in and they have to learn just like I did. But as being a parent and all of them being my friends, I'm very guarded and very cautious.
But like I said, in this season you will see John reacting. You will see how I inter-react with all of my team members and different things that are very personal and very emotional at different times.
So it's - again looking at it from that whole angle on what's happening and having my team members, you've got to remember here again not only am I doing a TV show, I have one of my daughters and I have my son there. So that's a double whammy for me when we're out there investigating.
Do you feel that a lot of the paranormal activity is maybe centered from maybe objects that come from asylums? Or objects that are children's, like dolls? Or maybe something that might come from a ship?
John Zaffis: Well actually it could be all of the above. If something came from a ship and there was a tragedy, can some of these items hold onto energy? Absolutely. I feel probably the most things that I have in my - my things that I have in the museum are toys and a huge collection of dolls.
I mean over this past weekend I just worked on a case where a woman had purchased a lot of different dolls, and she had them in her home and she had a lot of activity. And she was so petrified by those dolls - and a lot of times they're beautiful dolls. It doesn't necessarily always mean all the dolls are haunted. But she was so petrified of it, she wanted all ten of those dolls removed. So...
John Zaffis: Yeah. I mean again with the factor, a lot of people don't like having paranormal activity in their home. And if we can do something by removing an item -- I mean whether it's a little tiny trinket or whatever it could possibly be -- it's important to be able to help those people regain that confidence of being able to live in their homes and be comfortable there again.
So it goes right across the board. It's not really restricted to, any types of items. I've seen things from, gosh, a button that came from a grave site up to, a couple of pieces of furniture.
So it's not really restricted to any type of an item. It depends if it was involved with, a tragedy or something, or something even on a beautiful end where energy could attach to it, but yet it's causing a paranormal disturbance in different locations.
John Zaffis: Yes. I'll answer the first one for you. A lot of times you have to remember it's energy that we deal with. And energy can attach to absolutely anything -- glass, metal, stone, wood. And it will hold onto this energy.
And a lot of times when these items get involved with individuals, you have to remember we're made of energy. So our energy, we're like batteries. And once that is - and I call it activating it. An item can be dormant for many years and it can be, come into the hands of somebody, and it can activate the haunting that's associated with that.
So there again, we have to remember it can attach to absolutely anything of significance -- clothing, furniture, jewelry, a little tiny knick-knack. Absolutely anything can hold onto things. And it's most important to go in and look at that to see which item.
And, boy, when we go into locations like museums or antique stores -- wow, that's like looking for a needle in a haystack. So what we try to do is look in that particular area in those buildings where there's the most activity occurring.
And what we'll do is, do our EMFs in that area; our EVPs; our surveillance, and try to see if there's anything occurring with one particular item. But there are a lot of times there could be several different items that can have energy attached to them and can be causing a disturbance.
Now have I also gone into some of these types of locations -- a museum or an antique store -- where we did not actually get anything concrete as far as evidence around an item? Yes. So it tells me sometimes we need to look at the building. We need to look at the property. We need to look at several other things that could be causing the paranormal activity, and it might not be an item at all.
It seems like a lot of the items tend to be, like you said, antiques. Have you ever had a more modern item that was maybe causing the haunting?
John Zaffis: Oh, absolutely. We have some of the dolls in the museum that, they may be a year or two years old, where they associated with something, that something could have gotten attached to. Absolutely.
Newer items, little statues or things like that - depending on the circumstances. Did somebody pass away, and they had a particular collection of something, and they had a statue in there that might have been a favorite item, and that energy just automatically attached to it? Yes.
So here again there are items that are newer items -- statues or pieces of clothing and things of that nature; books. A lot of times you can have energy associated with books and different things like that.
Newer items -- swords or, things that could have been used in occult activity -- that can have energy associated with it. And it can be a newer item. Again, a lot of things that are used in different ways can have energy attached to it. And it doesn't always necessarily have to be an old item.
Do you have any particular role models that have inspired you in this field? Or not just this field -- who are your heroes?
John Zaffis: Oh, well my number one hero would be - Ed Warren, Lorraine Warren, Hans Holzer are probably the ones that were most prominent as I was learning and growing up in the field -- Dr. (Rohl). I mean many of these people looked at things from different perspectives and shared their information in bringing it to the forefront in our field.
And a key thing that's so significant is that people that have investigated over, the course of many years, their knowledge base and the things that they can, sit down and share with you are things that you could never get out of a book.
So I always tell people, gravitate towards us old people -- because I'm one of them now -- that, have a lot of knowledge. And if there's something that I understand or something that I can share as far as information for the next generation to understand, that's the way I look at it.
But again, I think if I'm looking at things from a perspective, there's several people out there that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. They were the pioneers in our field, and they carried those scars of going through those times where people would continuously ridicule them and, try to debunk everything that we're trying to understand and share with people out there.
It's a difficult field, but I have several mentors out there that I have a tremendous amount of respect for and always will.
Is it more of a challenge this season to kind of find the right cases for the show as opposed to it was last year?
John Zaffis: Well it's always very difficult because you'll get a lot of submittals that will come in for investigations. And again we try to get a good comprehension. did this person bring something new in their house? Did they bring any antiques?
Those are most important. Why? Because, here again that's what our show is focused on, is the paranormal end of it, of having a haunted item in their home. So yes, there's a lot being involved with it in researching these cases and trying to find these things out.
And I had a fantastic, fantastic production group this season where everybody was jumping in. We're all asking each other questions and trying to get a better understanding of it. I'm looking for the certain items that could be affiliated with an investigation that we will be filming.
And to be quite honest with you, I was very excited about the cases that were chosen this season around. Unfortunately some of them that I wish we could have done, we just didn't have the time. And we only did 12 episodes and some of them we just couldn't actually get to.
But the ones we did that we did choose and we did work and we did film, I am extremely excited. As you could tell, I keep throwing that out because most of the places we went to were places that were just very intriguing.
Having Aimee dig into the history and the items, the history associated with that, are things that, really came to the forefront in this season.
Tune in Wednesday, June 6th pm for more from John Zaffis and "The Haunted Collector" on SyFy.
Here is a sneak peek at the episode:
Haunted Mansion/ Ghost Mill - Sneak Peek
Every object has a story in season 2 of Haunted Collector.