The Phantom Programmer
Meeting the people behind Wimgo…
Our newest programmer at Wimgo is Mike Ricksecker and he has earned the title The Phantom Programmer because of his hobby of paranormal investigation just like on the TV show Ghost Hunters. Yeah I know. I had the same reaction. I was both intrigued and disbelieving because I’ve never seen a ghost or a ghost hunter in person. In fact I’ve never had a paranormal experience of any kind outside of the feeling that something was there in an otherwise empty room. So I cannot discount whether ghosts are real, but I now have proof that there really are at least a few out there hunting after them. I may become convinced about the ghosts though, especially after listening to the stories Mike tells from his investigations.
Wimgo: I guess we should start with a few normal questions. How long have you been married? How many children do you have?
Mike Ricksecker: Robin and I will be married 18 years on August 15. We have four children: Collin, 18. Arielle, 16. Chase, 14. Cameron, 9.
Wimgo: How do you balance the day job and family with the paranormal investigations?
Mike: It’s a very delicate balance. I try to spend as much time with my family as I can when I’m at home. Our investigations are generally every other week, so that helps with the balancing act.
Wimgo: Do you have any hobbies outside of paranormal investigations?
Mike: Writing. Computer games. Wine making. I’m a big baseball fan and used to play back in the day.
Wimgo: What was it that got you into paranormal investigations?
Mike: I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal since I was a kid because ghosts were such a mysterious thing that people didn’t know much about. I enjoyed both reading and writing ghosts stories, but it wasn’t until I’d written a mystery novel and a couple paranormal ghost stories in my adult life that I was offered an opportunity to write Ghosts of Maryland. That really set me off down the path I’m currently on.
Wimgo: What investigations have you done so far?
Mike: As a member of Society of the Haunted I’ve been on dozens of investigations including residences, historic locations, and cemeteries. The most notable, perhaps, is the investigation in Edmond that was featured on Animal Planet’s television show The Haunted.
Wimgo: Do you have a favorite investigation?
Mike: My favorite investigation was a night at the Stone Lion Inn in Guthrie which was extremely active in paranormal activity. Doors were opening and closing on their own, objects were falling off the walls, and I caught an interesting white wisp on camera.
Wimgo: Do you have a scariest moment?
Mike: Aside from a couple things I experienced as a child, I haven’t really been scared by the paranormal.
Wimgo: What was the experience? What happened?
Mike: A shadow figure once lurked near my closet during the middle of the night and approached me at my bed. I also witnessed a strange blinking type of apparition in the shape of a gorilla at my grandparents’ house. To a young child, both were quite scary, but I’d love to see them again. I have seen other shadow figures as an adult, but they have darted out of the room instead of approaching me.
Wimgo: Have you ever seen things move by themselves?
Mike: My experience at the Stone Lion Inn mentioned above is a great example for that with doors opening and closing on their own and objects falling off the wall. The back door of the Edmond house in our episode for The Haunted blew open multiple times during an intense moment with the homeowners’ daughter.
Wimgo: Why are ghosts so hard to find and capture on video?
Mike: Unfortunately, you can’t make the paranormal act on demand, so trying to capture something becomes a big waiting game. Just seeing something with your eyes is rare enough and usually happens very quickly, so there is a degree of luck in having the camera pointed in the right direction at the right time. Even then you hope you have the camera focused properly when the shot is taken.
Wimgo: Have you ever felt like a ghost was trying to communicate with you? What were they trying to say?
Mike: There have been a number of occasions in which we’ve been able to get a ghost to respond to questioning by asking it to light up an EMF (electromagnetic field) detector for a yes response to questions. In those cases we’re trying to find out if it’s a male or female spirit, if it’s connected to the house or the family, and how long it’s been there. Other times we’ll pick up EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) in response to our questions. These come across our audio recorders as eerie whispers and can range from anything from a word to a complete sentence.
Wimgo: What proof have you acquired so far?
Mike: I’ve captured a few interesting photographs including that white wisp just after a bureau drawer closed on its own, an unexplained self-illuminated ball of light at an abandoned church, and a bed impression first thing in the morning after nobody had been there at the Samuel Mudd House in the room where John Wilkes Booth spent the night. I have a nice collection of EVPs and a couple video clips of our interactions with EMF detectors as well.
Wimgo: What do you say to people that don’t believe in ghosts?
Mike: I tell them I respect their opinion but I know what I’ve seen and experienced. Perhaps one day they’ll experience the same and their opinion will change.
Wimgo: Are there a lot of haunted houses in Oklahoma?
Mike: There are quite a number of haunted locations in Oklahoma. They’re a bit more spread out than what I’m used to back east, but they don’t lack in quantity. I really had to pick and choose what to write about for my upcoming book Ghosts and Legends of Oklahoma due out September 28.
Wimgo: What investigations are coming up?
Mike: We’ll be investigating an old sanatorium in Arkansas, and later we’ll be revisiting the 101 Ranch near Ponca City. We’ll be following up on a local residential in between.
Wimgo: What do you eat while on stakeouts?
Mike: We try to hit some of the more recommended restaurants in the area where we’re at or that are along the way. For instance, if we’re on the way to Lawton we’ll stop in at Meers for the big pie burger. Our case manager, Cathy Nance, is a chef, so she usually has a list of great places for us to check out.
Wimgo: You’ve only been here a short time, but do you think Wimgo HQ is haunted?
Mike: I haven’t yet come across anything that would make me think Wimgo World Headquarters is haunted… but you never know.
Mike Ricksecker is the author of the Chase Michael DeBarlo mystery series, Ghosts of Maryland, and the forthcoming Ghosts and Legends of Oklahoma. As a paranormal investigator and “ghostorian” with Society of the Haunted he has appeared on Animal Planet’s The Haunted. His first novel, Deadly Heirs, was published in 2004.
Descended from settlers of Frederick County, Maryland, Mike has lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, Alaska, Maryland, and Oklahoma. He and his wife have four children and a cat.