How Godfrey’s Richel Stratton Found A Career In Ghost Hunting
This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Friday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.
Richel Stratton was 8 years old when she had her first encounter with a ghost.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, and someone was standing at the foot of my bed,” Stratton remembered. “I told my mom about it, and she didn't believe me. The next night my sister woke up to the same person standing at the foot of her bed.”
Ever since then, the Godfrey, Ill., resident has had a passion for exploring paranormal activity.
“I wanted to know more. I wanted to figure out what this was about,” Stratton said. “I am searching for answers — always. … I believe that there are ghosts. I believe that there's paranormal activity — things that we can't explain or can't explain yet. So I'm trying to figure out how to explain them or what causes it.”
To do that, the dental hygienist joined Riverbend Paranormal, a paranormal investigative group based in Alton, Ill. The group’s co-founder, Brian Murray, let Stratton’s sister join but wasn’t sure he wanted Stratton, too.
“Initially he was like, ‘We have enough team members. We don’t need another one.’ But my sister was persistent about it, and then she brought me along,” Stratton recalled. “I ended up joining and have been investigating since.”
Stratton and Murray have since become best friends, taking their ghost hunting across the nation through their work on A&E’s “Ghost Hunters.” The two neighbors have traveled from Alaska to Florida to find the truth behind the tales.
Their latest investigation was into the Rhode Island farmhouse that inspired “The Conjuring.” There, Stratton and Murray worked with fellow paranormal investigators Kendall and Vera Whelpton to understand and document its paranormal activity.
In the new documentary, “The Sleepless Unrest,” the four friends spent two weeks sleeping in the infamous house — something others do not normally do.
“I think almost every single night of our investigation and stay at ‘The Conjuring’ house, we all looked at each other and were like, ‘Should we be doing this? What are we doing right now?’” Stratton said.
She added, “We submerged ourselves into it. We wanted to really know what homeowners go through. Because as investigators, you may go investigate for a night or a couple hours here and there. But it's way different living in someone's footsteps.”
Stratton said the house hardly let them sleep at all. But she said she tries to remember that there is a story behind each spirit. She said she doesn’t worry about them following her home, instead telling them firmly to stay on site.
“I like to believe that these ghosts and spirits [and] entities [are] people that just passed on,” she said. “So if you're respectful to them, they'll be respectful to you.”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.