FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio — Karlo Zuzic may be the project manager of what he describes as one of Ohio's foremost "paranormal research" groups, but the Parma man says he does not really know that much about ghosts.
"It's really hard to know anything about them," he said. "We know there's something there that we can't explain."
Zuzic is one of about eight people who will conduct a half-day, overnight investigation of the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse tonight to see if years-old rumors that the house is haunted by the spirit of a dead cat are true or just old wives' tales.
They will use audiovisual recorders, night-vision sensing tools and walkie-talkies to identify the presence of the cat or any other spirits. Rumors of the ghost cat go back to at least 1989, when former lighthouse curator Pamela Brent reported seeing and feeling the spiritlike feline.
Then, about nine years ago, the mummified remains of a gray cat were found. They remain on display at the museum there. According to lore, a Capt. Joseph Babcock lived in the lighthouse in the late 19th century and gave many cats to his bedridden wife. His son died of smallpox at the age of 5 and is believed to possibly inhabit the lighthouse spiritually, Zuzic said.
Zuzic, 39, is part of the Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits, or ORBS, a self-financed group founded in 2007 by 18 members who investigate claims of spiritual habitation for free.
"We do residential properties, we do business properties -- any people that have any kind of paranormal activity, we're there for them," said Zuzic. "It'll give them answers to what is actually happening in their homes. Is there a spirit or is the plumbing bad?"
Zuzic said he encounters a number of skeptics.
"I'm hoping to find answers to make them believers," he said.
Dan Maxson of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society, which operates the village-owned lighthouse museum, is a bit of a skeptic. But he said the publicity could help draw more people to the museum when the paranormal investigators produce a documentary of their findings.
It was difficult to persuade other members of the society to go along with the plan to bring in the detectives, he said. He estimated that half are opposed to the inspection.
Will proof of spirits change their minds?
"Our goal is to educate and preserve," said Maxson. "So I guess that would be an education lesson for all of us."