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Exclusive interview: Ghost Hunters Shari DeBenedetti on the new season

Shari DeBenedetti is part of the team as Ghost Hunters returns on discovery+. Pic credit: Discovery

The OGs of ghost hunting are back on Discovery+. The famous Ghost Hunters have beefed up their ranks and are ghost-hunting in jails, mental institutions, bed and breakfast spots, and homes. 

TAPS member Shari DeBenedetti rejoins Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, and the gang as they take us to the Missouri State Pen in the premiere, a creepy prison built in 1836 where the gas chamber rocked out 39 deaths, and one by lethal injection until it shuttered in 2004. 

The Hunters were a TV staple for the paranormal, airing from 2004 to 2016 on SYFY with five spin-off series and resurrected for two seasons on the A&E network in 2019 and 2020. 

Now, streaming giant Discovery+ has reunited the band and then some. 

Monsters & Critics hunted ghosts at the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, back in 2008 for four days with the TAPS team and the then Sci-Fi gang before the SYFY rebranding.

What is TAPS and who are the Ghost Hunters?

Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson founded the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS). The Discovery+ new reboot features Shari DeBenedetti with other TAPS team members Hawes, Gonsalves, and Dave Tango. Kindred Spirits stars Amy Bruni, Adam Berry, and Dustin Pari join them in this Halloween kickoff event at the “Bloodiest 47 Acres in The USA.”

There will be 13 one-hour episodes, and we know one location for sure in Missouri.

Still, Brian Brehm of The Winchester Star reported their presence in Winchester (Virginia) and Frederick County / Northern Shenandoah Valley. Brehm cited Justin Kerns, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, as his source, saying they shot an episode in the city and another in the county.

Exclusive interview with TAPS/Ghost Hunters’ star Shari DeBenedetti

Ahead of the haunting premiere this October 31, Monsters & Critics spoke to Shari Debenedetti about this exciting new reboot.

Monsters & Critics: How did you initially connect to TAPS?

Shari DeBenedetti: I’ve been investigating for 25 years. I used to live in a very active house, and all these things happened: footsteps, knockings, voices, the lights turning on and off. I was held down in bed, and a full-body apparition appeared in my room. Long story short, because of that specific night, I thought, what is going on in this house? Am I going to get hurt, or is anybody else getting hurt? So I researched and talked to whomever I could. Remember, this was the 1990s, and not many people were talking about it back then. 

I just explored the subject. Through that, I found the TAPS team, Jason, and others who had events and went around and talked to people. So that’s how I initially met up with them.

I’ve known Jason for 20 years and other staff members. I had my team, and the more I learned about this subject, the more experiences that I gained allowed me to go and help other homeowners going through the same things my family went through. But, unfortunately, there are not that many people to talk to about this phenomenon.

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It’s scary to have to go home and live with whatever the heck might be trapped in there. People are always asking, ‘Oh, you’re the new girl.’ And I’m like, ‘well, I’m not the new girl. I’ve known TAPS for decades. I did off-camera work and worked with many different local teams and task teams for TAPS. But, I was not on the TV show until 2014, and many people still haven’t even seen seasons 10 and 11, So they still think I just started now. But I’ve known him [and TAPS] for a long time.

M&C: Now, in your particular house, did you get to the bottom of what this entity was that was palpable to you? What was the story in your own home?

Shari DeBenedetti: We lived in this house, and the first couple of years, nothing was going on in the place. And then suddenly, as I mentioned, things started happening and that it was just more crazy things. So, unfortunately, we moved out of the house before I was comfortable enough to investigate that particular house. 

And I never actually got to figure out what happened, but I’m assuming it was a [spiritual] hitchhiker—knowing what I know now—maybe somebody came home with one of us. Because initially, that house wasn’t haunted, but then it became haunted. 

It didn’t hurt me, other than it held me down. And then when it appeared, it was a doppelganger of my boyfriend at the time, to make me feel more comfortable and not be like if I just saw some stranger in my room, if so I’d be going even crazier and would have been even more scared. 

Maybe they [ghost or spirit] didn’t want to scare me. I don’t know what that entity wished to do. It is so hard to know if you don’t investigate it. So maybe it’s this, and perhaps it’s that. Unfortunately, I will never know.

M&C: What’s your end goal when you go to a property, and you get paranormal reports?

Shari DeBenedetti: I want to teach our clients everything I know and that I’ve experienced, and I want them to realize that these things might happen. But it doesn’t mean that they will harm you. Spirits and ghosts are not all bad, and even if clients see shadow people. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s not a negative thing just because something tapped you on the shoulder. They’re not trying to hurt you.

I want to talk to people as much as possible so that they’re not so frightened of these things, and unfortunately, there are some shows out there that are not teaching the right thing, and in doing so, are making people more scared than what they should be. 

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And I want our clients to know what’s going on by building on everything we found out, between the location’s history and what we’ve experienced. I want them to be comfortable. 

If they say, ‘Can you stay another week?’ We would. We will do whatever it takes for those people to be comfortable because we would never want to go there and say, ‘well, this is what it is. See you later.’ And then leave. That’s not what we’re about on Ghost Hunters. 

M&C: Have you ever been in that situation where the place had harmful paranormal energy?

Shari DeBenedetti: Honestly, I’ve never had that experience. I can’t answer that specific question because I’ve never been to a place where it was just so bad. After all, when people give us the claims, I’ll go to those claims, try to either disprove or debunk them or come up with another alternative answer. 

We’ll try to figure out is it a spirit, is it a ghost? Is it evil? I’ve never personally had anything evil cross my path. And when people are scared and think a paranormal entity tried to push them downstairs, well, there could be other things, if it was a ghost or spirit, we always have to check the EMF, a lot of people are so sensitive, they think that there are things around them, they might be hallucinating because they’re afraid all the time. So they think it’s an evil thing, and we’re like, ‘no, it’s just the EMF,’ and there are other things that it could be. 

But I’ve been doing the 25 years, and I’ve never had anything evil affect me. So we have a consulting demonologist and had to acknowledge his command of the investigation place and what could be cleared away, like negative energies. So they come in, and afterward, there is a whole new feeling, and the people say, oh my gosh, this is great!

But was I scared in that place? No. It all depends on the people. If it makes you feel comfortable having us grab a demonologist, he can do whatever he needs to the house. If that’s what they want, that’s what we’ll do. 

The scariest thing that’s ever happened to me was being held down in bed. But when I go to people’s places, there’s nothing there that makes me feel scared. I will feel like, okay, somebody is looking at me and not wanting me to be here, but [so far] these spirits have never done anything to me.

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M&C: Are any of you that has more perception is more sensitive to paranormal energy?

Shari DeBenedetti: I honestly don’t. Everybody has a sense, and you should always go with your gut in what you think and feel. I think we all have that same sense. 

None of us are psychics or mediums. We’re not like that. We’re more of, ‘Let’s down to business and like all the scientific stuff. So I think we’re pretty much on that same level with that.

M&C: Why do all of your investigations seem to happen at night when people you interview will experience the event during a shift during the day, or they have their encounters during the daytime, but she waited until night. Is it for effect, or is there a reason?

Shari DeBenedetti: At nighttime, all the environmental noises will quiet down. The working world is loud during the daytime and at night, and everything quiets down. There is less traffic, fewer planes, you can hear it better. When things light up when there are spirits, they glow, and we could pick up that better at nighttime, obviously a lot better than the daytime.

Most of our clients have day jobs when we do our home visits, so we always try to do things at night or during the weekend because that’s when we have free time. The other thing is that if we go through everybody’s claims, we investigate during those times.

And then some things do not always show on TV. Depending on the property’s size, we’re at places for at least a week and sometimes two weeks. So producers don’t always show everything.

M&C: Tell me about the locations other than the Missouri state prison, which kicked off the new Discovery+ season. Where else do you go?

Shari DeBenedetti: I don’t think I can tell you where we’re going. There are some homes, BnBs, other jails, mental hospitals, and things like that. 

We still have to be careful with COVID. We’re trying to get into more homes, but the problem is that people will call us, but then they don’t want 20 people in their homes. 

So we’ve been to so many unique places and caught so much activity, even activity that I’ve never experienced before. 

And we have so many people coming back from the past, and some famous people that they’re even coming in and still investigating with us. So it’s an exciting season. There are many secrets, a lot of specials, and some of these people I’ve never investigated with before.

Ghost Hunters begins Streaming Sunday, October 31, on Discovery+ as part of Discovery’s cross-brand “Ghostober” programming extravaganza.

April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and...read more

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