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In Character with Matt Gatlin

A conversation with an interesting Portlander
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Matt Gatlin, local ghostbuster, is especially busy this time of year. The Halloween season is a fine time for recruiting, as well as investigating, things that go bump in the night.

Matt Gatlin, director of the Portland office of the International Paranormal Reporting Group, is not a believer in ghosts. Not quite. He manages more than 70 investigators (many volunteers) who are ready to spend a night, if that's what it takes, to determine if your home or workplace is haunted. He's seen some spooky stuff. Still…

Portland Tribune: How's business?

Matt Gatlin: We're going into our busy season.

Tribune: Halloween. But that doesn't really have anything to with the paranormal, does it?

Gatlin: For us it does. It's the one month of the year when there's a strong emphasis on ghosts. Scream At The Beach is a haunted house where people get the bejeesus scared out of them, and we're going to be setting up a table there. The kids are our future.

Tribune: You say you've been investigating for 20 years, so what exactly do you believe now?

Gatlin: I'm personally somewhat of a skeptic. I've seen apparitions. I've been pushed by an unknown force during an investigation and definitely heard things. We've seen doors close. But 90 percent of all claims we are able to utilize our seismic methods to determine it's not paranormal.

Tribune: On the other hand?

Gatlin: There was a case where a client and her child were being physically manipulated by an unknown entity. They claimed they were being scratched. There were objects being thrown around the home. They saw shadow people, noises in the night, electric appliances turning off and on.

We turned on all our equipment - four bullet cameras with infrared, seven different audio recorders and handheld video recorders. We were sitting there asking questions and literally people were being touched by an unknown entity. I was sitting on the floor right next to the door and somebody was on the other side of the door jumping up and down wanting to come in.

Tribune: Why didn't you just open the door?

Gatlin: We did. They didn't want to come in.

Tribune: What do you mean?

Gatlin: There was nobody there. The door was closed and the knocking continued. We went into the kitchen and there were keys being thrown off the counter. We were sitting in the dining area and the spirit decided to join us. It decided to start touching the women of the group. I asked, 'I would appreciate it if you would leave the women of the team alone.'

The touching stopped. It almost appeared to be an intelligent being. There was just no possible explanation. We couldn't debunk anything. Our conclusion was this location was haunted.

Tribune: Wait a minute. You just said you were a skeptic.

Gatlin: There are times when we can't explain. I'm right on the fence now because of some of the things I've seen over the years.

Tribune: Another example?

Gatlin: I received a call from a client who (said) there was a vortex in the closet, basically a doorway to the spirit world. There was demonic writing on their furniture; there were also shadow people that visited on a regular basis. Doors were opening and closing daily. They claimed they were terrified to live in their home.

Tribune: And you discovered?

Gatlin: It was a rental property. They wanted to get out of their lease. They made it all up. We get those calls.

Tribune: Is Portland a good place for this line of work?

Gatlin:B Water holds a high level of energy. With all the waterways we have I feel Portland is definitely a hotspot. This week, one of the bigger hotels (in the area) has a high level of activity, so we will be setting up investigations with them.

Tribune: Are they hoping you prove there is haunting or not?

Gatlin: If a hotel can validate that they have paranormal activity, it will boost their business. They'll sacrifice rooms and give them to us to investigate because they want us to validate their claim.

Tribune: What's the most scared you've ever been?

Gatlin: I was in Desert Storm and I was on board the U.S.S. Nimitz in the Red Sea and there was an enemy boat that attacked one of the boats. We were assigned to general quarters. I was unfortunately stationed on guard outside. Every single door on the ship was closed. With the burning oil wells off in the distance you could look over the side and see hundreds of glowing white sea snakes in the dark. My job was to report if somebody was coming aboard to attack. I stood there for four hours in pitch darkness armed with my radio.

Tribune: So sitting around in a haunted house doesn't throw you, does it?

Gatlin: Not so much.