The tall, shadowy figure of a man with a sheepish grin has been spotted roaming the grounds of the La Quinta Resort.
The man, who also wears a large hat, has reportedly appeared at the foot of a bed, and has occasionally been spotted gazing into a window. A security camera, perhaps, once saw him, too—as a dark mass moving swiftly down an otherwise empty passageway.
Enter the Palm Springs Paranormal Investigation Team. The small, somewhat underground group investigates reported hauntings—and welcomes any skeptic or adventurer who is willing to join in the hunt.
Donnie Thompson is joined by Jorge P., documentarian; Gloria R., medium/sensitive; and Jana B., “seasoned” investigator and technical adviser. At a recent, invite-only meeting, they decided to investigate the La Quinta Resort.
The La Quinta Resort, built in 1924, has long been the site of apparitions and “sightings,” as reported by many guests and employees. The team interviewed guests who reported seeing the aforementioned man in the hat; other guests reported hearing a child’s voice whispering outside in the corridors. The team mapped out the grounds to cover the “hot” areas where entities or energies appeared or were reportedly felt.
On a recent night, the team traveled to the resort for the hunt.
Gloria slowly walked the grounds, grasping her amethyst necklace and leading the team down a back corridor.
She paused for a moment.
“Something happened here. It’s a heavy, almost sad energy,” she said. “I’m having difficulty breathing, and the air feels as if it is just a bit colder.”
Donnie readied a voice recorder, and Gloria began to ask questions into the darkness. “Would you like to tell me your name? Did you die here?”
Jorge began shooting photos in the direction of the dark corridor.
“Ok, we need to move on. I’m getting a feeling that we need to leave this particular location,” Gloria said.
She later explained: “Often, some spirit activity does not want to be bothered, and the basic rule is that we need to respect that.”
Jorge displayed a photo of the corridor, where a small gray mass appeared against the darkness of the building.
“This could be the poor lighting, the movement of the camera, or possibly what is called an ‘ectoplasm mist,’” he explained.
Donnie turned off the recorder. Jana snapped a few photos of her own, and they then continued on, toward a bell tower. It’s rumored to have been the site of a suicide long ago.
“Rumor has it, there is some ‘activity’ there—some odd shadows and unexplained noises and voices,” explained Gloria.
I asked Gloria about her necklace. It’s an “amulet,” she said, and it offers protection against evil entities or negative energy.
“It was given to me by someone I love, and it holds a lot of positive energy,” she said. “Anything can hold that sort of power or energy—say, a ring from someone you love, or an ancestor’s watch. Those items are protective. It’s essentially ‘good energy’ insurance to hold an amulet.”
Donnie said the team uses a mix of modern science and a connection with the spirit realm in their investigations.
“This is a voluntary group, and we do this for fun,” he said. “We want our members to see that some things can be explained, and some cannot.”
Added Jana, as the team approached the bell tower: “Bring your open mind—and a camera.”
The team pointed cameras toward the bell tower and shot a few photos. As Jana and Jorge surveyed the pictures, Gloria walked into a courtyard below the bell tower. She then seemed to sniff the air.
Donnie talked a little more about what was going on: “We were told a bell tower (was the site of strange activity), but not which one, specifically, being there are three bell towers located on the property.”
However, Gloria was immediately drawn to this particular tower. As the rumor goes, someone committed suicide by hanging from one of the beams within the bell tower, but the team found no public record of any such occurrence.
“We hear it was a guest in one rumor, and then we hear it was an employee,” Donnie said.
Gloria, meanwhile, was feeling something.
“It was here. Something occurred here, and I’m not picking up on anything in particular, but there is a heavy sadness to this particular area. Something feels a bit out of sorts—a feeling of incompletion.”
She was then asked if this was the location of the rumored suicide.
“I’m picking up something, an incredible sadness,” she repeated, putting her hands over her heart before adding that she needed to leave the area.
Donnie continued to hold a recorder into the air.
“Is there someone that would like to talk to us?” Gloria asked before retreating.
Jorge examined the pictures. “Some shadows and lights can be eliminated as a trick of the mind, as in when we want to see something, it can very well appear,” he said while looking at a photo of a small blur of light that seems to be streaming from the darkness of the bell tower.
The team huddled and played back the recorder—only to hear crickets and the rustle of leaves. Then, faintly, in the distance: the slightest sound of a sigh.
“Now, that could have been one of us breathing, but it sounds as if someone is breathing a slight ‘no,’” Donnie said.
The team later moved to a portion of the lavish grounds that is rarely used.
“Here is where I felt something touch my shoulder. There’s activity here,” Gloria said as we stood in the courtyard of what was once the hotel’s main dining commons.
Jana adds: “It’s been documented that there were many private parties held here, and being it’s an unused area of the resort, most of these rooms are utilized as storage in the off-season.”
It’s also an area where guests and employees have reported strange activity before—“noises coming from inside these casitas that are locked up and unused,” Donnie said.
A repetitive soft knocking was captured on the recorder. “This could be the old plumbing, or it could be some sort of activity,” Donnie said.
As lights from the beautifully decorated casita-style building spilled from the windows, Jorge continued snapping photos of the courtyard. One frame, pictured at the top, captured what seemed to be odd blurs of light in the foreground.
After the team left the La Quinta Resort, their work was far from done. “We will look closer at the footage, the (recordings), the photos, and at our next meeting, (we’ll) present the material to each other and either debunk the rumors or investigate further,” Jana said.
Donnie said that the club tries not to take itself too seriously.
“Our goal mainly is to welcome all to join us and essentially have a fun time,” Donnie explained. “Sure, we might capture things unexplained. Yes, often the psychics or mediums will feel something. But most of all, if someone were to join us on an adventure, it would be up to (the person’s) discretion to walk away a believer, or just have a great evening meeting people—ghosts or not”
The team later sat down to survey the Jorge’s photos, carefully examining three—out of 30—photos that seem to include some sort of out-of-place lighting or shadow. (The camera was reportedly still when the picture below was taken.) Jana documented the experience in a journal, while Gloria reviewed a map and marked the “hot spots” where she felt the most activity—including the area where she felt something touch her shoulder.
The team concluded that certain areas merit further investigation, but the majority of activity sensed was of a peaceful nature.
During this part of the investigation, at least, the tall man with the sheepish grin and the big hat remained elusive.
“After this investigation, the next step would be to research the guests and the particular suites where the ‘tall man’ has been spotted, and set up an all-night investigation,” Donnie said.