Courtesy of the Palm Springs Paranormal Investigation Team
The interior of La Casa at La Quinta Resort, which was once a hideaway for Greta Garbo. Credit: Courtesy of the Palm Springs Paranormal Investigation Team

The figure of a mysterious woman, cloaked in a white gown, seems to glide across the pathways of a local resort. A mysterious tall man with a hat has been seen wandering those same halls.

Who are they? What do they want? Or are the people who say they’ve seen these figures just … mistaken?

Enter the Palm Springs Paranormal Investigation Team, or PALS for short.

We first met this group six years ago, and decided it was time to check in again. Donnie Thompson is the lead investigator—an experienced ghost hunter and documentarian. Katy V., a local medium and intuitive, claims experience in energy work and auras. Gloria R. is a local medium and psychic, and a practitioner of the spiritual arts. Greg G. is a Riverside-based audio/visual student and technical aficionado.

The members of the team talked about some recent fascinating experiences, in a variety of places—from a suburban home in Cathedral City that houses an alleged “angry shamanic spirit,” to a Coachella cemetery that’s home to the spirit of a hitchhiker who frequents the adjacent street, thumbing his way to nowhere.

“Places hold energy,” Katy said. “It is not often what we see, but more of what we feel.”

Added Gloria: “What we do is not to scare people … but to put minds at ease. Perhaps there are things we can rule out—and things we cannot explain so easily.”

However, Donnie is quick to point out that whatever has been happening at that Cathedral City house is … different.

“It was bad energy. Now, could the owners of the house be imagining things or pulling our leg? Sure,” he said. “But regardless, if something occurs within reason, we want to see it through, perhaps so that the family can sleep at night.”

With that, the group invited me for a follow-up visit to the place we looked into six years ago: The La Quinta Resort. Opened in 1926 and a longtime getaway for the famous and non-famous alike, the La Quinta Resort is one of the Coachella Valley’s oldest and most refined landmarks … so who could blame a spirit or two for wanting to stick around? When last we visited, we experienced a few blurs on a photo and the feeling of multiple energies, as conveyed by the psychic. Greg and Katy weren’t with us on that visit six years ago; Donnie and Gloria were.

Others have had more dramatic experiences at the resort. On the record are various stories of mysterious disembodied voices calling out to guests and staff members—and an account of the spirit of a woman who mingled with guests in their villa until 4 a.m. Then there’s the YouTube video of an unexplained phenomenon—that looks like the ghostly figure of a man walking a pathway. 

On our recent visit, we met in the parking lot adjacent to the beautiful ballroom. I then interviewed our contact, who works in guest services.

“I have worked at this resort for a long time and have seen, from a distance, what looks to be people walking and vanishing into walls,” she said. “I have heard voices/whispers, seen orbs, and heard people in the (hot tub); and upon taking a closer look; they’re gone. I have seen television screens go absolutely ‘white snow’ during the 3 a.m. hour.”

Do any of the happenings seem threatening? “Not to my knowledge. Most of the experiences are very brief, and some of them are just rumors.”

Another staffer said he’d seen some strange things, too.

“I have seen lights flicker in empty rooms, doors shut on their own, and we have had several reports of excessive ‘typewriter noise’ in and around a particular suite,” he said. “Security has said that their emergency line rings on the swing shift at 3:10 a.m. periodically; however, no one is on the line.”

Gloria and Katy began by wandering the courtyard area, illuminated only by the string of lights against the waterfall. They whispered to themselves, often calling out as if to speak to anyone who would listen. Donnie, armed with an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) box, and Greg, with a simple 35-millimeter camera, stayed a slight distance away from Gloria and Katy to capture any movement.

Gloria held a cross on her chest, and sighed heavily. “Let us know you are here. Did you pass here?”

After some discussion, wandering and requests for pictures, I asked them what they were seeing.

“A figure of a man. Tall, wearing a hat,” said Katy.

I asked if he’s threatened by our presence or poses a threat.

“No, quite the contrary. He’s quite happy here,” she said.

Gloria explained that there are a few souls surrounding the area that wander at night. A “lovely woman in white” with a “small dog” passes the outer edge.

“There is much activity near the fountain courtyard. It’s as if many people in this life are called here from their past life. … This could be why people resonate with this place so well. The tranquility of these surroundings calls to them,” Gloria said.

Later, we sat collectively to review the footage on the camera. Nothing seemed to be amiss or out of place. Donnie also reviewed the EVP spikes, which seemed to have picked up “activity” in the courtyard.

“It’s stronger, or spiking nearest the corridors,” he said.

We continued the investigation through the darkened pathways. Katy and Gloria walked with a deliberate pace; when they stopped, so did we.

“There are a few souls wandering about. A small child,” Gloria said.

Adds Katy: “A young man. All are very playful. They won’t tell me why they are here or why they will not pass through.”

“Indeed, it’s almost as if … ,” Gloria said, pausing with a smile. “… They are on vacation as well. They are peace here. They share the space with the other guests, they tell me.”

Donnie’s EVP tends to spike a bit when pointed toward the corridor. Not wanting to bother guests, Greg utilizes his phone without a flash. When asked if he sees anything unusual upon review, he notes nothing strange.

“We want to re-visit the area where the photos were taken on our last visit,” Donnie said.

We continue to La Casa, where we captured some odd images last time—be it due to poor photography or something else.

Greta Garbo was perhaps the most celebrated resident of La Casa—and in this area, staff and guests have seen a beautiful lady, wearing a white flowing gown, walking a dog.

We enter the courtyard. The lights inside La Casa are dim, but offer enough light to look inside. The interior is neither ominous nor eerie; it’s welcoming and subdued.

“I smell lavender. French lavender,” Gloria said.

I ask Gloria and Katy if they sense a presence. They do.

“I sense the woman is someone who is very private, and takes refuge in this place, but is very joyful. The woman is very glamorous; she’d put today’s celebrities to shame,” Gloria said with a laugh.

Added Katy: “There is nothing negative. Some are lost, and some are just permanent residents here.”

Said Gloria: “The woman walking her dog: She is peaceful, free. This is a place she loved most.”

I asked them to describe what they see when they sense a presence.

“It’s sometimes forms, or shapes, not shadows,” Katy said. “It’s almost as if we are interacting as we would with any guest who was, say, walking by. We acknowledge respectfully and move on, as to not disturb them.”

Donnie and Greg explored the courtyard with the EVP, which has jumped every so often, but not significantly. Greg shot a few photos with his phone, with flash both on and off, and intended to compare them with some daytime pictures he shot on an earlier scouting visit.

After a while, Gloria and Katy both said it was time to move on. I asked if something or someone was telling them to leave.

“Yes, but it’s a polite sort of tone,” Gloria said, with Katy adding a knowing glance from Katy.

The spa, when we last visited, was home to an entity who likes to frequent the bell tower above.

“Again, a place of peace, tranquility, is very appealing to this entity,” Gloria said. “The overall vibe of relaxation, the sanctuary courtyard, the large cooling fountain, the smells of eucalyptus … he’s not disturbed, but watches over this part of the property.

“You see, someone loved this place. It was his place of respite. He’s not a danger; he’s more of a caretaker.”

When asked if this was the same energy as last time, Gloria said it seemed to be.

Katy agreed that the entity seemed content. “He’s very happy here. He’s very protective, almost loving. He is happy this place exists.”

I asked if he could see us.

“Yes, he acknowledges us. He’s not posing a threat. He’s glad we stopped by,” said Gloria.

I wondered what he looked like.

“A tall gentleman, with very kind features,” Gloria said. “He was part of the hotel’s inception. I think he might be someone who was instrumental to the property prior to its being built.”

With no activity from the EVP, after taking a few photos of the bell tower, we continued on our way.

For information on the Palm Springs Paranormal Investigative Team, email Philip Wayne is a local freelance writer who can be reached at