Challenging the most common notions about what happens to people’s spirits following their deaths has been a long-running source of contention between those who heavily rely on science and religion for answers. Hoping to continue their mission of uncovering and documenting more definitive proof of the paranormal experiences they’ve had with spirits, paranormal investigators Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman have embarked on one of their most gripping lockdowns yet. During tomorrow night’s world premiere of the two-hour supernatural television event, ‘Paranormal Lockdown: The Black Monk House,’ they’ll share their evidence from their special investigation. The Yorkshire, England home is universally feared to hold the most violent poltergeist activity ever reported.
Groff and Weidman, who are famed paranormal investigators who united for Destination America’s hit series, confined themselves to the infamous house for a record-breaking 100 hours, the longest paranormal investigation ever to be broadcast on television. They traveled to the Black Monk House in an attempt to capture the most convincing paranormal evidence ever to be recorded.
The Black Monk House currently doesn’t house any permanent occupants, as it continues to challenge paranormal investigators and enthusiasts. Over the last 50 years, visitors to the home have reported unexplainable demonic sounds, objects levitating and people being physically attacked. It’s believed that the spirits in the house can be traced to an ancient burial ground and gallows that were once located near the land where the building currently sits.
In an effort to celebrate the historic investigation, TLC will air a ‘Paranormal Lockdown’ marathon that culminates with the new special premiering at 9/8c on the cable network. The episode, which was produced by Groff Entertainment, will then have a special encore presentation on Destination America at 11/10c.
Groff and Weidman united with cinematographer Rob Saffi to conduct their historic investigation into the Black Monk House. Groff and Saffi, who also produced the ‘Paranormal Lockdown’ special together, previously collaborate on such paranormal shows as ‘Ghost Adventures’ and ‘Ghost Stalkers.’
In honor of the Halloween special’s two-hour premiere on TLC, Groff, Weidman and Saffi generously took the time recently to participate in a press conference during New York Comic-Con at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Among other things, the investigators and cinematographer discussed how they decided to film at the Black Monk House when they discovered the hauntings date back 50 years, thus leading the home to became known for hosting the seemingly most violent poltergeist activity in a residence in history. The trio also explained why ‘Paranormal Lockdown: The Black Monk House’ became one of the most personal investigations for them.
“The Black Monk House kept coming up on our places to go,” Weidman explained as she began discussing why she and Groff decided to shoot a special for their reality show at the English residential home. “Originally, we weren’t going to go there, because there’s another place in England where we really wanted to go. But what makes this house so special is that the hauntings go back to 1966, and they have been active for those 50 years.”
The haunting of the Black Monk House began when Joe Pritchard, his wife, Jean, her mother, Sarah, and their two teenage children, Diane and Phillip, moved in, Weidman further noted. “When the family went away, the son stayed behind with his grandmother. Dust and chalk started to appear in mid-air and then fall to the ground, and they didn’t have an explanation for it,” the investigator added as she continued discussing the home’s history.
“They thought it was weird, but they didn’t think it was paranormal at the time. But then things started ramping up. Objects began to disappear and then reappear, even when the family didn’t touch the items. From there it went way, but it did come back,” Weidman also revealed.
The television host also shared that Jean has experienced the feeling of being chocked, which the family thought was their worst experience. But Jean decided to stay in the Black Monk House, and only moved out within the last 10 years. “Investigators have been visiting the house ever since, and have told stories about being scratched and pushed. They also see what they believe are dark demonic figures in their photos,” Weidman also shared.
The investigator added that while the house has a notorious reputation in England, the case hasn’t received as much exposure in America. She pointed out that The Enfield Poltergeist, which was featured in last summer’s hit horror sequel, ‘The Conjuring 2,’ is the haunted English house that is the most well-known to Americans.
Groff also chimed in on why he was drawn to visiting the Black Monk House and filming the ‘Paranormal Lockdown’ special there. He pointed out that not only is the house haunted, but the land it sits also has a dark history. “We went to the house because The Black Monk is known to be the most volatile poltergeist in Europe, and that’s what really fascinated us,” he revealed. Groff added that as researchers, he and Weidman are always looking to put themselves in situations where they can uncover the truth about such threatening spirits. “We’re not trying to say that ghosts do or don’t exist; we’re in the middle, and are trying to say what happened.”
‘Paranormal Lockdown: The Black Monk House’ was one of the most personal investigations for the hosts, since they were on location there for 100 hours straight. Groff pointed out that “Living at any location for 100 hours is crazy, but this (location) actually hit a nerve with me.”
The investigator also compared the special to the show’s Season 1 episode that chronicled his stay with Weidman at the Hinsdale House in New York. That lockdown “really affected us. Stuff started happening at both of our houses afterward, so we started documenting things. We set up home security systems, which captured apparitions…What’s scary about this is that something negative really starts to take a hold of you.”
Saffi also discussed why the team felt drawn to document the occurrences at the Black Monk House in the special. “As we started doing our research, we realized there was no option but it turn this into a longer investigation. It became very personal for us, and went beyond the show,” the cinematographer explained.
Since the Black Monk House does conjure negative energy within its visitors, Groff admitted that it was unusual for him and Weidman to be drawn to investigate. “We’re all very positive in nature. We’re always like, where are the dark, negative locations? But that’s not necessarily the reason why we pick our locations. We actually pick our locations after doing our research,” the investigator emphasized.
But it’s the locations that maintain the darker energies are the ones that often drawn people in. Groff also noted that witnesses to the paranormal can easily confuse the innocent spirits of people who died at a location with darker and more negative entities. “I think the scariest things are what we don’t understand,” he admitted.
Groff added that the Black Monk House is a location that truly stays with people. “The negative force from the house is something I walked away with,” the investigator revealed. Weidman agreed with her fellow investigator, and noted that once a dark force attaches itself to a person, they’ll always be drawn back to the location where they first came into contact. “That was what we experienced at the Black Monk House, but we didn’t realize it at the time.
“This is something I have seen over the course of my career, even with my colleagues. These things pull you back in, even when you try to get away. So that’s an interesting concept that we explored,” Weidman further explained. “The negative energy that feels like it can overtake your body and mind” is something that the investigators experienced, and tried to fight, at the English house, Groff also divulged.
The negative energy that the spirits bestow upon the investigators at The Black Monk House was amplified by the fact that they were locked in the house for 100 hours straight, Groff also explained when asked if fatigue ever impacted them. “Imagine living in a house for 100 hours with only granola bars and cereal, and only sleeping for 30 minutes at a time. I wore a bracelet that monitored my heart rate, and it said that I only went through REM sleep for a few minutes before I woke up,” he revealed.
“There wasn’t any running water, and we were living in the same clothes. I even wore my shoes when I was sleeping, because I was scared to not wear them. But when I did take them off, my toes were white, because my blood circulation had been cut off,” Groff also noted. He added that overall energy levels in the house impacted his physical health so much that his nose started bleeding.
Weidman also revealed that the Black Monk house negatively impacted her, to the point that after arriving on the first day of the investigation, she soon became fatigued, even though she had enough rest. “There’s something about the house that instantly affects you,” she emphasized.
“It really is dusty and dirty, and you just can’t breathe,” Saffi also noted as he chimed in on the house’s overall environment. “But at least I was able to go back to the hotel, while these two had to spend the night,” the cameraman added with a laugh. “Since we chainlocked ourselves into the house, so we could guarantee that (Groff and Weidman) couldn’t leave during the investigation, I was lucky to be able to leave.”
Saffi added that they developed a constant feeling of claustrophobia while they were in the Black Monk House, which lead them to always want to leave. “There’s the question of how much that weighs into our experience there. So we took into account the bracelets they were wearing, which helped us know their conditions while we were there,” he explained.
“We always look into the psychology behind what we’re doing, and that’s what I find so fascinating,” Groff revealed. “As a human being, we want to know how the brain and body function, and what our breaking point is. We think, what’s the worst that can happen? That’s an ongoing joke that we have,” which garnered a laugh from Weidman. “We try to stay positive…but we’re in this gritty environment, and it’s like we’re on this horrible camping trip.
“But we love, and have a passion for, the paranormal. We love going on these journeys, and feel this is what we’re destined to do. We talk about our jobs all the time, and even film when we’re with our families,” Groff admitted. “We’re interested in the whole conceptual idea about death. It fascinates us, and I love talking about it.”
The investigator also explained that they welcome anything that could happen to them while they’re at the locations, because “We know what we signed up for. But there are times were we do over-react, because we are humans. If something attacks us physically, we can become ill. That’s why we have cameras on us all of the time, so that we can document it.”
Weidman also noted that they like recording their findings, so that they can show people what happened to them. They also enjoy when people reach out to them and share their personal experiences, as it helps validate their research.
“That’s part of the reason why we have (Saffi) with us,” Groff added. “I was so used to filming everything myself” on his previous paranormal jobs. But having someone like Saffi, who solely works as a cinematographer at the locations with the investigators, helps document things Groff and his colleagues may not have been able to capture on their own. “Wait until you see the Black Monk House-we tried to think outside the box.”
“Every step we’ve taken along the way, as we put together the (camera) gear package for the show, was completely from the prospective of investigating and pushing the paranormal forward. We always say this is a show for the paranormal investigators,” Saffi divulged.
“I’m constantly asked if the paranormal exists, and why don’t we have any footage of ghosts on camera. The thing that no one ever asks after that is whether we have the right equipment. Maybe we don’t have the right equipment when we’re out investigating, and that’s what I think is important,” Weidman revealed.
“I think we’re getting closer to having the right technology. If you only think you capture things on night vision cameras, you’re limiting yourself,” the investigator insisted. “Think of all the things that scientists can detect with special equipment. It’s the same thing with the paranormal; we’re waiting for something to be discovered.”
When then asked if something happened to them when they were children that ignited their interested in the paranormal, Weidman revealed that she grew up in haunted houses. “The first time that I remember that something was weird in my house was when I was about three or four years old. I was playing with a puzzle at the bottom of the stairs. I would always be scared to go upstairs by myself. I would want to sleep in the same room as my sister, and since she’s older, she became annoyed with it,” the investigator explained.
“One night she started to go downstairs and peeked through the banister. She looked into my room and saw me sitting on my bed. She said I turned and looked right at her, and we made eye contact. Then when she went back in her room and I started calling her. She looked downstairs, and I was sitting down there,” Weidman also revealed. “She asked, ‘Katrina, how did you do that?’ I asked, ‘Do what?’ We went back and forth, and then figured out that there was someone in my room who looked like me, and wasn’t supposed to be there. That was something that always impacted me, and keeps drawing me in.”
Groff also had an experience when he was a kid that has left an impact on him. “I remember coming home from school and going upstairs. I don’t know if this was just my childhood imagination, but I remember looking through a sliding glass door, and there was a shadow there. It scared me so badly that I ran down the stairs and out of the house. I stood outside for a couple of minutes, and then my mom came home. I thought maybe there was a burglar, so I went back inside.
“That stuck with me all these years. I then became interested in ghosts and the paranormal. I felt like it picked me, and brought me on this destination,” the investigator added.
While Groff and Weidman became interested in investigating spirits early on in their lives, Saffi admitted that he was never interested in the paranormal field. “I grew up as a film buff, and loved horror movies. This is also my tenth paranormal show that I’ve shot. But I’ve never had that moment where I was ripped from my comfort zone. So going into this show with these two, I did have a pretty good idea of knowing what’s what,” the cinematographer explained.
Saffi also admitted that he “was ripped from my comfort zone during the Trans- Allegheny episode last season. I was forced to stare at something on my screen that wasn’t there in front of me. That was the moment where I went from thinking I had all the answers to altering my perspective. I don’t know what’s out there. Being involved in a lockdown will make you question what you think you know.”
Being locked in the Black Monk House was so sinister for the investigators and cinematographer that it has affected all of their families, Groff pointed out. Weidman agreed with her fellow investigator’s sentiment. She admitted that while she had a few days off from shooting while in England, she visited Westminster Abbey and asked for a private blessing from one of the priests.
“I was so shaken by what had happened at Black Monk House. I’m not even Catholic, but I still asked him to bless me. He sat with me and asked why I felt like I needed protection. I told him the reason why, and he said, ‘Okay, than.'” Even with the blessing from the priest, Weidman admitted that “I still feel as though there’s been a negative cloud over me since we returned home from the Black Monk House.”
Weidman also revealed that she and her fellow investigator have experienced difficult times since returning home to America from England. Groff “lives outside of Boston, and I live outside of Philadelphia. There was one night where I had woken up and went downstairs. When I was going back upstairs, it was still dark, and I felt this overwhelming feeling that something was standing next to me,” Weidman divulged.
The investigator added that her mood changed, and she suddenly lost sense of time and her balance. “I then ran to put the light on in the dining room, but there wasn’t anything there. I said, ‘If anyone’s here, you’re not welcome in my house, so go away.’ I then went back to sleep. Nick texted me later that day, and he had a weird experience at the same time.”
Groff agreed that the experience “was creepy. I think (the spirit) affected us because it knows us. I think locations can leave a lingering effect on us. Even Rob can sit there with his skeptical mindset and say, ‘How can that happen, and be picked up on that device?’ So we sit and have discussions, as we want to share those experiences.”
When then asked if she and Groff possess a sixth sense when it comes to picking up on spirit, Weidman explained that “Some people are born with amazing eye sight, and other people need a little help. It’s the same thing with your sixth sense-some people are more attuned to it…I don’t think believing in the paranormal is crazy, but some people have it in their head that it is. They don’t believe the paranormal is real, because it hasn’t been documented.
“I have been picking up on things since I was a kid. I hear and see things that aren’t there. Or we could be meeting someone for the first time, and I’ll know something about them that I couldn’t have possibly known,” Weidman revealed. “I think the longer I’m in the field, the more attuned it gets. The more you open yourself up to it, the more you’ll become connected to it.”
Groff agreed with his co-investigator, noting that “The more locations we go to, the more sensitive we become to energies, which we’ll feel through goosebumps and being cold. We don’t always understand what’s going on, but we know it’s happening, and we’re trying to validate that.”
Watch the opening sequence of, as well as a clip from the investigation featured in, ‘Paranormal Lockdown: The Black Monk House’ below. Check out photos of Groff, Weidman and Saffi from the reality show’s New York Comic-Con press conference below.
Written by: Karen Benardello