Express & Star

'I want to find the truth': What life is like as a ghost hunter

"I need to find the truth about the paranormal."

This doll appears to move by itself in footage caught by Afterlife Paranormal

When Charlie Harker was aged just seven, he witnessed his first "ghost".

Inside his old home, Mr Harker, now 56, saw an "apparition of a teenage girl" who is believed to have died in an accident.

The spine-chilling encounter sparked a life-time passion for finding evidence of the so-called afterlife.

It has taken Mr Harker, a paranormal investigator, to some of the Black Country's and Midlands' most haunted places.

On his journey, he has amassed an eerie collection of photographs and videos of alleged ghostly apparitions.

Among them is a doll which seems to move on its own at the notorious Station Hotel, in Dudley.

Now Mr Harker, from Pelsall, in Walsall, has lifted the lid on what it's like to be a paranormal investigator.

Charlie Harker

Asked where his interest began, he told the Express & Star: "When I was really young, about seven-years-old, it was broad daylight.

"It was in a set of flats in Highgate, Birmingham. I saw a little girl sitting on a chair looking at me.

"I thought nothing of it. But when I told my mom, she said that was the spirit of a little girl.

"In the 1950s in those flats, there was a gas leak. And my mom's sister got out. But they couldn't get her out. It was Marie, she was 14-years-old who died in the flats.

"Ever since then, it has really been on my mind. But it wasn't until later on - about 10 years ago - when I started getting into it."

Since he began ghost-hunting, Mr Harker has built up a successful investigation team, made up of six people, who have gained more than 13,000 followers on Facebook. Among the team is his fiancée Teresa Hughes.

Charlie Harker, right, and his fiancee Teresa Hughes, left

His videos - filmed during his paranormal investigations - have received thousands of views.

One shows a children's doll appearing to fall over inside a room at Dudley's old Station Hotel, which is known for being haunted.

Then there are photographs.

In one, a face can be seen above a gravestone at Wednesbury's cemetery, in Sandwell, while an orb is caught at Smethwick's swimming centre.

An alleged ghostly apparation of a face caught at Wednesbury's cemetery

Mr Harker has held countless paranormal investigations over the year. So what areas does he consider to be the region's most haunted?

"I have been to Smethwick baths which have an underground," he said. "We got some good EVP [electronic voice phenomena] from the morgue and the air raid shelter.

"Smethwick baths is pretty well haunted. We have also been to old Graiseley Hall in Wolverhampton which is called the Old Crying House.

"We caught the spirit of a little girl under the chair in there on camera."

Another haunted place is the old White Ladies Priory, up in Stafford, which is now a series of brick ruins.

Mr Harker claims to have seen an apparition of a white figure there.

"When I was walking past the actual gateway where you walk in, I saw a white figure, but I couldn't see the head.

"They always say you can see the white lady up there. So I believe I actually saw her with my own eyes.

"It was only like a glimpse as I turned round. It was standing outside the doorway. That was one of the weirdest things I have seen."

On his group's Facebook page, there are numerous photographs and videos showing what are believed to be ghostly apparitions.

He says their work is 100 per cent authentic.

They approach it from a scientific point of view, using electronic recording equipment and ouija boards - but no mediums or psychics.

"I can say 100 per cent I am not sceptic," he said. "I believe in what I do."

Attempts to communicate with dead may be off putting for some people, considering what consequences this could bring.

But this has never put Mr Harker off.

"I have never had anything follow me home" he said. "I don't say it is not going to happen. But it hasn't so far.

"It doesn't concern me. Last year, we were doing live ouija boards on the internet. I have done 35 of them. That doesn't bother me."

He continued: "I can tell you something now that probably no body knows.

"There are two bad spirits that you could ever encounter today.

"The first spirit is a spirit that wants to come from the darkness. It wants to invest a soul and it wants to stay in the living.

"The second spirit is a spirit that wants to come from the darkness, it wants to come into the soul and take the soul back to the darkness.

"They are the two worst spirits. It hasn't happened for years. It hasn't happened since 1961 when that was reported. But it has happened in the UK yet. But they are the worst."

He added: "You have also got spirits of the light which are like family relatives or it could be someone who is nice. You have got spirits who might have committed a murder and on the other side they are still bad.

"They can do things like knock pictures over. Poltergeist activity. They are angry on the other side because they are not here now being angry.

"You have got all sorts of spirits in different ways. They can whisper in your ear, you can hear footprints, these are some of the signs they can send.

"Not all spirits are bad, a lot are good."

Asked about how he has gathered this knowledge, Mr Harker said: "Because I have been doing it 10 years, I have experienced a lot of them.

"I have got to experience them myself. I have never had something really bad happen to me."

To visit the group, search for Afterlife Paranormal on Facebook.

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