Mitch Flores knows where all the Central Coast ghosts are.
Flores is a paranormal investigator who started a local group that has organized more than 150 ghost hunts on the Central Coast, looking for evidence of spirits, poltergeists and the undead.
His first ghost encounter came at age 12 when he was on his paper route. Flores saw a pale man staring at him from a second-story window in a house that had been vacant for years after a man hung himself in the backyard.
One night in 2007 when he was working as a custodian at a local high school and experienced some ghostly activity. He then got the idea to start a paranormal investigative team.
“I came home, my brother and I were watching ‘Ghost Hunters’ and I thought ‘what the hell? Why don’t we do something like this?’” Flores said.
Thirteen years later, the team refers to themselves as a scientific-based paranormal research team. This means they do their best to document the unexplained with an aim to explain why it’s occurring.
The team uses an electromagnetic field meter (EMF) “which is designed to pick up electromagnetic fields in the air that the spirits give off” and infrared surveillance system which “allows us to see light above and below our normal vision,” according to the team’s evidence analyst Rob Burr. The team also uses an audio recorder.
Flores said audio recordings captured through a standard voice recorder are designed to pick up a lower frequency than people can hear. Ghosts are constantly talking, but human ears cannot pick up on their low frequency, according to Flores.
There are three classes of frequency, according to Flores. Class A’s are “you and me talking,” Class B’s “might have some static, but you can hear it” and Classes C and D are not clear at all.
Flores said there are many haunted places in San Luis Obispo County brought to the area for many reasons.
“I shot straight up with the chills. I had the chills from the bottom of my foot to the back of my damn head.”
“Paranormal could be brought there by you and I, by people who believe in the dark side of religion and spirits, spirits could be passing through,” Flores said. “The Central Coast is haunted. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have become who we are today because of it”
Some of his most “insane” experiences have occurred in people’s houses, many of which are still being lived in. It is in these places that he has physically interacted with and even been called a “fool” by the spirits he is hunting. But, Flores claims that is what he looks forward to the most.
“I want to get pushed, scratched, yelled at,” Flores said. “That’s what I do this for.”
Here are some locations where Flores has experienced just that:
Port San Luis Lighthouse
Some hunts take a little longer than others to collect evidence; this was the case for Flores at the Port San Luis Lighthouse.
“Certain techniques trigger certain energies,” Flores said. “If you bring the vibe of what [the place] was known for, directive mentality … that’s what’s gonna get it.”
According to a 1916 Public Health Report, a 15-year-old girl died of polio Sept. 1, 1916 and it had been reported by multiple sources that she still resided there. Flores went into the investigation in search of her.
When he asked: “Sweetheart, I understand you got sick out here. Are you with me right now?” A “light anomaly” floated down the stairs from her bedroom, entered the dining room and into his back.
“I shot straight up with the chills. I had the chills from the bottom of my foot to the back of my damn head,” Flores said. “It went from one of the most peaceful places, to some of the best video evidence that we’ve captured.”
The Far Western Tavern, Guadalupe
The Central Coast Paranormal Investigators’ “biggest” hunts have been at the old Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe. In the four times the team has investigated it, Flores said he has gotten “the most incredible evidence.” In fact, he said The Far Western Tavern is the place that keeps him going when he doubts his work.
“That place produced every form of paranormal activity that one could ask for,” Flores said. “Ectoplasm, shadows, heavy footsteps, disembodied voices you could hear with your ear.”
The restaurant only gave them three hours to investigate in a noisy banquet room on the second floor of the building.
Originally built in 1912, the building has been a string of businesses and was even a brothel at one point, according to Flores. Because of this, Flores knew that many people had passed through and was hoping to experience some of them. Despite being in a rush, Flores was able to pick up a voice on his recording within an hour and a half.
“Crystal clear, this voice comes on and says, ‘Get out,’” Flores said. “It sounded like you and me. Male voice. It was directive, it was on a mission.”
In that hour and a half of recording, the team managed to get “20 Class A recordings.”
The next night, the tavern closed early, Flores called in sick and got his team to go back to investigate for eight hours. This is when he caught evidence of a little boy and girl, as well as having a spiritual touch on his hand. But, these paled in comparison to what happened next.
“I’m sitting there with the camera and I see a light anomaly float towards me — I shrugged it off,” Flores said. “I walked towards it and it shot away from me, but stayed at the same level and stopped … I said, ‘I see you’ and right as I said that, a voice said ‘You love me.’”
The company moved to a new location in 2012 due to structural issues, but the team kept in touch with them and they built a relationship. Today, the building is a historical museum.
Although the team caught clear audio of the spirits at the Far Western Tavern, they have been able to verbally communicate with others in other locations as well.
Santa Maria Inn, Santa Maria
The Santa Maria Inn holds a lot of historical value on the Central Coast. Built in 1917, the main highway went right along the front of it. Because of this there was a lot of congestion, many horses and wagons, but also a lot of death and horrible things that happened in that facility.
“Room 221 was always believed to be haunted by a sea captain, but no one knew details,” Flores said. “We were able to talk to the woman who was married to the sea captain. She was killed in the room … She clearly mentioned that she was killed and thrown down the staircase that’s why she’s seen.”
Private Residence, Santa Barbara
Burr recalled this location as his “craziest” memory of investigating. About six months ago, the group went to a house in Santa Barbara and used EMF meters to try and capture evidence of the spirits residing there.
“We had them all spread out on the table, and each one of them would go off at different times and then all at once … There’s no way that all these meters would go off at a different time without moving,” Burr said.
The Clubhouse, San Luis Obispo
Although Flores has not been there yet, Cal Poly’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house is one place he and his team would love to explore.
According to Weird California, the residence, located at 740 West Foothill Blvd., was built in 1917 by Eugen Johe as a wedding present to his son. It operated as a brothel in the 1940s, opened as a restaurant in the 1950s and became The Clubhouse in 2007. But, it shut its doors in 2012 and became the rental home it is today.
The “club” got its fame in local news from a video of a freezer door being slammed shut by itself, according to Flores. However, its current residents are experiencing paranormal activity as well, such as feeling “weird cold spots” while walking around the house.
Wine and viticulture senior Eric Beaulac lives in a room where a person was reportedly burned alive. He claims to have encountered the ghosts of the house since the day he moved in.
“When I first moved in, I noticed that there would be a lot — if my room wasn’t spick and span — there would be a ton of flies that would appear … all on my window,” Beaulac said. “I would leave for the day and come back like two and a half hours later there would be like 40 flies on my window … but, if I put away all my stuff, then I wouldn’t get flies again.”
Bioresource and agricultural engineering senior John Reggiardo said that he too feels an energy imbalance when the house is “trashed,” but it feels as if the house is pleased when they clean up, “sort of like a thank you for picking up.”
“I haven’t really felt any malicious intent. It’s more of the ghosts letting us know that they are here,” Reggiardo said. “This is their house, but live in it as you please … The weird things they do are more mischievous, so they aren’t trying to be mean about it, but just mess around.”
Getting the chance to get in there and investigate is something he “would fly back for,” according to Flores.