GHOST HUNTERS; A Paranormal Research Group in Flagler County Is Led by a Guy with Ghostly Experiences of His Own

By Vrabel, Jeff | The Florida Times Union, October 31, 2005 | Go to article overview

GHOST HUNTERS; A Paranormal Research Group in Flagler County Is Led by a Guy with Ghostly Experiences of His Own


Vrabel, Jeff, The Florida Times Union


Byline: JEFF VRABEL

ST. AUGUSTINE -- On a special and sad evening 14 years ago in Pennsylvania, as he knelt alone and crying in his bedroom, Tom Iacuzio's grandmother stopped in for a visit. It was his 12th birthday, but he wasn't particularly expecting her, since it had been months since her funeral.

The two had been close and for years had kept up their own little tradition -- every birthday, she'd treat him and his family to dinner. This was the first year she wasn't around, so he'd spent most of his day by himself, praying and missing her.

Sometime that evening, as the sun fell on his 12th birthday, the closed door Tom had spent hours behind made a click. He raised his eyes, but there was nothing to see, nothing but a quiet breeze, until the mattress next to him sagged slightly like someone had taken a seat there, and he felt a hand stroke his hair. Silent and moving nothing but his eyes, he watched as the mattress righted itself and the breeze blew the other way again, back through the door that quietly closed itself, clicked shut and didn't make another sound for the rest of his birthday.

BE SKEPTICAL IF YOU WILL

Before we go any further, it should be noted here that Tom Iacuzio is not, as one might have reason to suspect, nuts.

Yes, his business card identifies him as the founder of Central Florida Ghost Research, a Flagler County-based paranormal research organization grounded in "scientific research and techniques." True, he has made recordings in empty rooms of voices speaking in strange tongues. And, yeah, there was that one time he witnessed a soldier getting his leg amputated, which is a story worth hearing even before the part where he mentions the soldier was injured at Gettysburg.

But Iacuzio is not a psychic friend, has no interest in reading or adjusting your chakra and never once asks for your credit card number. He's not only a seemingly gregarious sort, but he's totally cool with your skepticism.

"I'm not an ambassador to the field," the 27-year-old said on a tourism-brochure-pretty afternoon at Scarlett O'Hara's in St. Augustine, a haunted building in a haunted city -- its second floor has hosted two rather gnarly murders. "It's not like I need to change everyone's mind by the end of next week or I'm fired. It is what it is."

And then the non-ambassador tells a story.

"We investigated a residence at Fort Dix (a U.S. Army base in New Jersey)," he said. "A military house with a woman and her three kids. The youngest daughter, three years old, started telling me about the black man with no face who'd play with her in her room. The girl's 3 -- she couldn't have made that up. And she also told me that he spoke a weird language."

Before long, the mother began seeing the same faceless man, and she recognized his mystery tongue as French. "I took French in high school," Iacuzio said. "I knew a little. So we set up audio recorders, and we got this guy asking us to find out who he was, to find out his story."

So Iacuzio got to work, digging up deeds and property histories and news clippings and finding that that the house dated to before the Revolution. What's more, in the late 1700s, there had been a grisly accident there involving a houseboy who'd been brought over from the West Indies -- an area owned, at the time, by the French.

"They were moving an oak tree on the property, and what they'd do was saw off the tree almost halfway, tie ropes to it and pull it down. But this guy got caught underneath it. It actually hit him in the back of the head and drove his face right into the ground, killing him."

Until he materialized, well over 200 years later, pleading for help from a 3-year-old girl. That's the thing about ghost hunting. It is what it is.

WE CAN'T OVEREMPHASIZE THIS

When discussing the practice of utilizing scientific methodology to investigate potential paranormal activity, there is one cardinal rule to keep in mind above all others: Do not bring up Ghostbusters. …

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