We're happy to leave the unknown alone.

Hide and Seek 

We're happy to leave the unknown alone.

Exploring haunted houses can be risky.

And we're not talking about the scare factories under the 12th Street Bridge. The poltergeists that infect real residences won't break character if you kick them in the shins, and they won't shut down their shenanigans at a curfew-friendly closing time. Local ghosts aren't as vengeful as the cat-voiced child and crab-crawling woman dramatized in The Grudge; people who've actually seen them invariably live to tell the tale.

However, paranormal investigator Alan Reeves warns us that not all area apparitions live on the Casper side of the spooky spectrum. "Just as there are both good and bad people, the same applies to spirits," explains Reeves, founder of the ghostbusting group Seekers of the Unknown. "The evil entities will prey on your fears, attempting to break down your family's unity and destroy your sanity."

Reeves' warnings aren't an alarmist sales pitch; the supernatural-savvy Overland Park resident works a day job and accepts only donations as payment for his services. As a hardcore haunt hunter -- he's spending this Halloween weekend in the Bermuda Triangle -- Reeves understands the impulse to explore the unknown.

Proceed, if you dare, to Kemper Arena, which is allegedly the stomping ground for deceased wrestler Owen Hart. The WWF muscleman fell to his death from the venue's ceiling during a stunt gone wrong and is said to peer down from the rafters, still tethered to his faulty cable. Kemper meets several of Reeves' criteria for an infested location -- it has abnormal cold spots (especially when the Missouri basketball team plays there) and items disappear and then reappear later (like minor-league hockey teams).

For fledgling spirit seekers, sites on Reeves' watch list include Johnson County Industrial Airport (175th Street and Interstate 35), where witnesses report shadowy figures that they believe to be victims of fatal crashes at the former military installation. There's also the Epperson House (52nd Street and Cherry), a mansion that now houses the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design as well as the organ-playing spirit of a former resident; the Hotel Savoy (219 West 9th Street), where a clean-freak ghost turns on the shower; and the Warner House (1021 Pennsylvania), staffed by a saber-wielding Civil War soldier and a playful child.

In Lawrence, the most famously haunted building is the Eldridge Hotel (701 Massachusetts). Between 1855 and 1863, Col. Shalor Eldridge twice rebuilt the hotel after pro-slavery forces demolished it. Should its new owners, who bought the site at a bankruptcy auction for $2.92 million this month, eliminate Eldridge's name from the property, they'll surely invoke the wrath of a much less genteel ghost than the one who merely fogs up fifth-floor windows.

For his part, last Halloween Reeves visited the KMXV 93.3 studio, which, according to morning-show hosts Rocket and Teresa, was haunted. Photos from his findings appear on the Seekers' Web site. In one shot, the terror-inspiring phrase Jingle Jam is clearly visible on a dry-erase board. Listeners report that ungodly noises plague the station throughout the day.

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