This is the kind of thing that gives paranormal investigators a bad name. Police in Hackensack, New Jersey, arrested a Connecticut woman identified as a ghost hunter after she and a male partner were caught breaking into and burglarizing a submarine submerged in the Hackensack River. Were they looking for the ghosts of the crew … or souvenirs they could sell?
"I’m kind of surprised that anybody that swam out there is still alive. For anybody to have stolen anything after it was flooded they would have had to be swimming underwater inside the boat.”
Leslie Altschuler, vice president of the Submarine Memorial Association which manages and maintains the USS Ling submarine, told northjersey.com that the historic World War II submarine was not easy to get to, especially since it had been broken into and flooded on August 14th of this year. In that case, still unsolved and not thought to be related to the ghost hunter, vandals broke into the 312-foot submarine permanently moored next to the New Jersey Naval Museum. In the process, they opened the subs hatches and flooded it, possibly to hide what they had stolen, which included four bronze memorial plaques valued at $10,000.
While investigating that case, the Pasack Valley Daily Voice reports that the police found evidence that another break-in had occurred after the flooding. Using surveillance videos and social media posts, they identified Jon P. Stevens and Laura Palmese as the couple who parked at the nearby Heritage Diner, swam to the sub, entered it and stole some items, including "a lantern and a Medical Corps lieutenant shoulder lapel." Those items and possibly more were found when police searched Stevens’ home. That’s when they also found out about Palmese’s other interests.
"Our mission is to research, investigate, educate and provide assistance to those who are experiencing the paranormal phenomenon."
Shamus Denniston, director of the Connecticut-based Thames Society of Paranormal Investigations, told nj.com that Palmese is a “doctor of psychology” who has worked with the group as a "paranormal investigator" in the region, although he says she was no longer associated with the group. That may be because she was using it as a cover for a sinister hobby.
"I know she has a side hobby to do urban exploring."
Capt. Peter Busciglio of the Hackensack police says this is becoming a problem.
"There are two or three of these groups. They go to abandoned warehouses, old psych wards and take things."
According to Denniston, that’s probably what Palmese was doing in the sub since the USS Ling is not known for any paranormal activity. Commissioned on June 8, 1945, the Ling received one battle star for World War II service and was later used as a training ship until 1972, when it was saved from the scrapyard by the Submarine Memorial Association which brought it to Hackensack, where it was restored to near-mint condition. Unfortunately, the site was sold for development and the Ling needed to be moved, but then Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 and the sub has been closed for repairs ever since.
It’s unfortunate that the same buildings and structures visited by paranormal investigators with standards they uphold to protect the sites (the Thames Society of Paranormal Investigations is a good example) are also used by so-called “urban explorers” and more obvious vandals, thieves and just plain destructive types. It’s destructive to the historical sites and to the professions of investigation – paranormal, historical, scientific or otherwise.
Once again, this is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.