By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor
As a police officer with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office since 1988, L.T. Cochran is used to handling unusual situations.
But nothing beats the abnormal predicaments he finds himself battling with the Plant City Paranormal Research team. Instead of handcuffs, tasers and pepper spray, Cochran uses prayer, holy water and video equipment to solve these metaphysical mysteries.
Cochran used to do investigations with a group in Sarasota. But his Christian background clashed with the beliefs of some of the members who were spiritualists and Wiccan. He left to start his own team, formerly known as the Plant City Center for Paranormal Research, in 2007. There were 28 people who joined the group, some from as far as Fort Myers and Sarasota.
Since then, Cochran has whittled his team down to about eight key investigators, who are all local.
As the founder of the Christian-based paranormal investigation team, Cochran has looked into hundreds of cases, sometimes working on three per week. He’s encountered everything from slamming doors to objects flying off shelves. And despite the work’s intriguing nature, Cochran prefers to keep his investigations low-key and professional.
“I don’t care about publicity,” Cochran says. “I’m not going to be the next one on The Atlantic Paranormal Society. None of that.”
Cochran doesn’t advertise his services. Instead he is more focused on helping people — the main reason he is involved with paranormal investigation in the first place.
“The people that really need me, they find me,” Cochran says. “They don’t know where to turn, they’re scared to mention what’s going on, what their neighbors will think.”
Before Cochran begins an investigation, he conducts research on the house or building, including the history of the house and any other factors that could cause someone to think they were suffering from paranormal activity, such as carbon monoxide testing.
Cochran completes a typical investigation in stages. On the first night, he and his team say a prayer of protection before entering the house or building. Then, he sits down with the owners and talks with them about their experiences and about the history of the house. The owners can say a prayer with Cochran if they choose. Cochran concludes by walking around the house.
If the paranormal disturbances keep occurring, Cochran will come back a second night and set up equipment to monitor. Cochran has about $5,000 of technical equipment, including night-vision video cameras and voice recorders. Sometimes, he will ask questions out loud. He says he has captured voices.
“I try to offer solutions with Christian ethics and morals,” Cochran says. “Sometimes, you can never get answers.”
Cochran has studied the paranormal for years and focused his time on theology and demonology. He served as senior international director for United Paranormal.
Cochran says there are two forms of paranormal activity. Residual is energy that remains with the house, building or land but does not interact. It is like a memory pressed into the environment. There is not much you can do about a residual energy.
Intelligence is an energy that can interact by pulling hair, changing the temperature and other occurrences. In this case, Cochran will say a prayer for the energy’s salvation.
There also can be negative energies. In 2008, Cochran and his team experienced a strong negative energy that made team members nauseated. A cross around one resident’s neck broke into seven pieces.
Cochran always has been interested in the occult. He grew up in a 150-year-old house in Ohio. His family believes the house to be haunted by the spirit of a young boy they nicknamed the “Hector the Spector.”
“Ghosts were just something natural to me,” he says. “It was so prevalent in the house I grew up in that we never thought anything about it.
“Every day, every night, you’d hear footsteps walking up the stairs, and there would never be anyone there — The whole nine yards,” he said. “The fear of it was never part of my thought pattern.”
Contact Amber Jurgenesen at [email protected].
In addition to paranormal investigations, Cochran and his team also help with historical preservations. Last year, they raised more than $1,000 for the James McCabe Theater, in Valrico, through a cookout. Everything was donated or funded by the investigation team. The team also hopes to host an event for the Frank Saxon House, in Brooksville.