For Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango – two of the main investigators from the long-running television show Ghost Hunters – investigating the paranormal has evolved over the years, with advances in equipment and updates to protocols.
But the core philosophy of Ghost Hunters has always remained the same, they explained, which is to try to determine whether more earthly reasons are contributing to someone’s experience.
“There are people who come to conventions and they say ‘that’s why we watch you because sometimes you don’t catch something,’” Tango said. “Sometimes there is a case and there’s nothing happening there and they respect us for that and I appreciate that about them.”
Ghost Hunters, led by lead investigator Jason Hawes, first premiered back in 2004. The show follows Hawes, Gonsalves, Tango, and Shari DeBenedetti as they investigate reports of hauntings. They are members of the group TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), based in Rhode Island. A revival of the series is premiering with a new season sneak peek on Halloween on the streaming service discovery+.
The approach of trying to debunk a haunting has reaped positive results for homeowners and business owners who seek the team’s help.
Gonsalves recalled one case where a woman was afraid to sleep in her upstairs bedroom because of a red glow she was seeing. “She was terrified,” he said.
In trying to help her, the team wanted to recreate the conditions in which the woman had the experience.
“The tv was on, all the lights were off except for the hallway light. We saw that at least, I’d say, once, maybe twice a day, there would be a commercial that would come on the screen. It was actually a Verizon commercial and at the end of it this big, red logo came up. The whole screen turned red,” Gonsalves said. “What that did was it bounced off this crystal vase thing she had in the kitchen and projected a light over to the staircase and that helped her. She was no longer afraid to go upstairs to go to bed. If we didn’t recreate the condition in which she had the experience and if we weren’t trying to disprove it, then that would have just been a ghost and she’d still be terrified of it.”
Gonsalves said while the team doesn’t assume ghosts are the reason for all activity, sometimes that possibility is hard to ignore.
“We are always trying to disprove things. We don’t think anything is a ghost right away unless it’s so obvious, which does happen,” he explained. “There are times when a few things happened to us in this season coming up where no questions need to be asked. We just looked at each other and say, ‘oh boy, it’s going down.’ Sometimes you don’t get the chance to try and disprove it. Sometimes it just happens and there’s no doubt in your mind.”
However, Gonsalves said 80 percent of cases can be disproved.
The Halloween episode will feature the group’s investigation of the Missouri State Penitentiary, which TAPS has investigated before.
“In the last 6 to 7 years, the activity has just ramped up, and ramped up to a point where they can’t keep a security staff,” Gonsalves said. “We did have a good reason to go back there.”
The episode will feature other familiar faces to Ghost Hunters’ viewers, including Amy Bruni and Adam Berry, who have since started their own show Kindred Spirits.
At one point in the upcoming episode, Gonsalves and Tango locked themselves in a gas chamber.
“It sounds grisly and it was, but it was a great technique and we did have some amazing experiences,” Consalves said.
Researching the history of a location has become a much bigger focus for the show. In past years, the team would do a preliminary investigation and then hand the case over to another team for “after care,” but now TAPS is investigating from beginning to end, Gonsalves said.
“We are bringing resolution, we are doing really deep, deep, deep dives into all the history and fixing the history for a lot of these people in places, and that is quite rewarding,” Gonsalves said. He added that sometimes the research will uncover discrepancies between what the owners believed happened and what actually happened, such as finding out someone died hundreds of miles away in a hospital as opposed to the home, or finding out the correct identity of the deceased.
“We’re able to pinpoint who the person is through historical research and let them know it actually isn’t this person but it is this person and that is really cool,” Gonsalves said.
In addition to the history, the team has some new equipment to help with the investigations as well as a process they call “real-time analysis,” for which they focus on sounds – through headphones connected to a digital recorder – so they can analyze in the moment as things happen. The team investigates in pairs, one wearing headphones and one not.
Tango said this season also brings back the TAPS van, a fixture from the show. “She’s just as much a part of the team as any other team member. When I sat in that van, I was like, ‘here we go, this is it.’”
The show has also led to a longstanding friendship between the cast. Gonsalves has known Hawes since the early 1990s, and is best friends with Tango. The two first worked together in 2005 when Tango was a guest on an investigation of the Beechwood Mansion in Newport, RI.
“He instantly started pranking me. It just naturally started to happen,” Tango recalled about Gonsalves. However, Gonsalves has taught him how to be level-headed in approaching a potential haunting, Tango said.
Gonsalves said Tango – besides his ability to take a good-natured ribbing – brings a different perspective to the job. “He processes things much differently than I do and it’s a great complement to how my brain works. A lot of times, I don’t know where to turn on a case or don’t know where to turn on certain things. The perspective he gives to it keeps us moving and going.”
Viewers of this season of Ghost Hunters will see some good evidence, Gonsalves said.
“What I really like is the mystery and the intrigue and the story and how it unravels,” he said.
The new season of Ghost Hunters sneak peek-Special Halloween Event will be available for streaming starting on October 31 on discovery+. Their brand new season debuts on discovery+ on January 1. If you’d like to hear more from Dave and Tango, you can also read our Ghost Nation interview with the pair right here.