If you have ever wanted to investigate the paranormal, volunteers from the International Paranormal Reporting Group are willing to guide you through the investigative process and loan you the equipment for an evening of ghost hunting.

If you have ever wanted to investigate the paranormal, volunteers from the International Paranormal Reporting Group are willing to guide you through the investigative process and loan you the equipment for an evening of ghost hunting.

The investigations take place in Darkwing Manor, an old Victorian house at 4192 Coleman Creek Road, west of Phoenix. The home, which owners Tim and Tina Reuwsaat have spent the past 10 years restoring, is best-known as a Halloween haunted house that's open to the public the last week of October.

But there's more than mere trick-or-treat ghostly activity in the home.

According to Tina Reuwsaat, a decorative arts historian, the house was built in 1908 by the Hovers, a family who owned several orchards.

"The Hovers were very successful in the orchard business and built the house to show that they had made it," said Reuwsaat.

In the past, Reuwsaat has had paranormal investigative groups stay overnight in the house to seek evidence of ghosts. Reuwsaat and her husband usually spend those nights in their motorhome on the property, giving the investigators full access to their home through the night.

"I've had a few paranormal investigative groups here, and they always leave happy," said Reuwsaat. "They usually capture lots of EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon)."

Sara Werner, director of the Southern Oregon chapter of the International Paranormal Reporting Group, has conducted a few investigations in the house and had the idea to open it up to the general public.

"We take a scientific approach and try to debunk things," said Werner. "A lot of stuff can be explainable, but we also try to document evidence of the paranormal."

The researchers use digital video recorders with night vision, cameras, digital voice recorders and personal observations.

"We don't use Ouji boards or psychics," said Werner.

"All the investigators who have been here have been very professional and very respectful," said Reuwsaat. "They are very sincere. They aren't up to any monkey business and they aren't nut cases."

In addition to restoring their house, the Reuwsaats have a large collection of mourning and funerary items in their front room, including dresses a woman in mourning would have worn, coffin plaques, hair wreaths, hair jewelry and a very rare tear bottle.

"The women in the family would capture one of their tears when a family tragedy would take place, and over the years the tears would collect and be a symbol of everything the family had gone through," Tina Reuwsaat said.

About 10 years after the house was built, a two-year drought took place that damaged the Hovers' orchard business so badly that the bank repossessed the house, according to Reuwsaat.

"The second owners, the Canfields, had only one child, who died at a young age," said Reuwsaat, "and her mother was so distraught that she closed up the toy room and her bedroom for like 30-some years until they sold the house."

A couple of elderly women who came by the house one day told Reuwsaat they had been playmates of Elizabeth Canfield, the young girl who died, and said they had attended the funeral, which was held in the backyard of the home.

"Elizabeth's mother had given them mementos to remember her by," said Reuwsaat. "Those ladies had books that had belonged to Elizabeth. They decided to return them, so they are here now."

Several visitors have told Reuwsaat about strange noises and sightings in the house — a volunteer who helps with the annual haunted house said she thought she saw one of the Hovers' sons during the day — but Reuwsaat hasn't seen anything otherworldly herself.

"People who are psychic tell me I'm closed off and can't see them," said Reuwsaat. "I don't know if I believe in ghosts, but I'm certainly afraid of them."

So is her brother.

"My brother refuses to sleep in the house. He thinks it's creepy," said Reuwsaat.

There are two horse-drawn hearses on the property, and one, which was used during the Civil War, allegedly has caused bad luck for everyone who has been in possession of it, she said, adding that the ghost hunters like to explore the carriage house.

The Civil War hearse was involved in several car accidents when it was transported from Virginia to Oregon, and was damaged in a car accident in front of the Victorian house.

"A drunk driver ran into our driveway and smashed into it," said Reuwsaat.

While it was being restored, the man working on it suffered a heart attack and his wife had a stroke, according to Reuwsaat.

She says while she's not sure if she believes in ghosts, she did have one unsettling experience.

"When I was taking a photo of the restored hearse, this image came up," said Reuwsaat. "There was a silhouette of a woman wearing a white veil. It's really spooky looking. It wasn't me, because I was wearing a blue tank top."

The Reuwsaats have had some bad luck of their own while in possession of the old hearse.

"We lost a son five years ago," said Reuwsaat. "When we bought the hearse, it was supposed to be for him. He was going to inherit it. He died in a house fire in Portland, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer last January. But it's part of life, who can say?"

Those curious about studying paranormal occurrences in Dark Wing Manor are invited to spend the night with investigators and use their equipment. Investigations will be conducted one Saturday each month through December, starting Aug. 17. Each one starts at 8 p.m. with a tour of the mourning museum. The cost is $25 per person, which includes snacks.

Four paranormal investigators are present for each event, with a maximum of 12 people able to attend.

"We always work in the dark," said Werner, who confirmed that investigators have picked up EVPs in the house. "If there's going to be activity, it's going to happen at any time. In the dark, there's less outside contamination."

Werner suggests participants wear comfortable clothes that don't make a lot of noise, bring snacks and be ready to learn and have a good time. The outings last four to six hours. Participants must be older than 18 and sign a liability waiver.

"We'll go over all the evidence, and it will be posted to the website," said Werner. "It usually takes about 12 days to go over the evidence."

For more information on the ghostly investigations, see www.iprgc.com/investigatewithus/darkwingmanor.html.

Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or avalencia@mailtribune.com