Warren witch investigates the paranormal
WARREN — Melanie Vincent usually lets people get to know her before telling them that she is a “ghost hunting witch.”
Born and raised in Warren, Vincent discovered Wicca around 30 years ago, while working for the domestic clerk of courts. A co-worker gave Vincent a deck of tarot cards.
“From there I went to the book store to find a book on these tarot cards, but instead I found ‘The Complete Book of Witchcraft’ by Raymond Buckland,” Vincent said. “That book taught me so much. It changed my life.”
At the time, Vincent was Baptist.
Now, Vincent, 53, says mantras, casts spells and thanks the gods. Her “church” is the forest.
She said she is drawn to witchcraft because it is a balanced system of belief.
“It’s not just female dominated, and it’s not male dominated. It’s equal. Every witch knows that if you send out evil, you’re going to get it back, so you tend to live a nicer life.”
Recently, Vincent set up an Ostara altar for the spring equinox on March 20. The altar included candles representing the four elements and four directions, colored rocks representing chakras, sage and rosewater, and symbols of springtime, among other items.
A crafter and maker of dreamcatchers, trees of life and jewelry, Vincent takes her wares to psychic fairs. She enjoys hiking and shooting targets with her husband, Timothy.
She also hunts ghosts.
Vincent first toured the active — she doesn’t like the term “haunted” — Hotel Conneaut with a friend in the early 2000s.
“We spent a lot of time, just me and her, in the hotel hunting. We had other teams come in, and we watched and learned from them,” Vincent said.
Vincent said her interest in the paranormal stems from a personal interest to know there is something more to this life. On a professional level, she wants to prove that ghosts exist.
“I have proved it to myself many times now,” Vincent said.
In 2013, Vincent officially started her ghost-hunting team, Researchers Investigating the Paranormal, or RIP. The team has traveled all over Ohio and beyond investigating active places. Vincent has investigated Hillview Manor, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Moundsville Prison and Wildwood Sanitarium, just to name a few.
The most active place she has been is Middlepoint School, she said. There, she said she felt a ghost grab her. The entity then came back and smacked her friend in the head.
“Was I scared? No. I was surprised,” Vincent said. “I was not scared because I asked for it.”
She said there is no fear in ghost hunting. While places may feed visitors stories, that’s only to build up the fear factor.
“It is very rare that you have activity happen at the time you are there. That’s the reason that a lot of investigators have recorders and cameras,” Vincent said.
She has a range of tools, including EMF, or electromagnetic field readers; motion-detected objects; cameras and recorders; dowsing rods; and pendulums, which also are used in witchcraft.
When investigating, Vincent and her team take turns watching monitors and going to sections of a building to attempt to communicate with spirits. Afterward, Vincent pours over hours of footage and audio files to see what they missed.
Another aspect of ghost hunting is taking tours of the buildings that highlight history and architecture. Vincent does her own part in preserving history as a board member of the Warren Heritage Center, which cares for the historic Kinsman House in Warren. The organization, aimed at preserving Warren’s history, has hosted galas and participates in Christmas on the Square.
Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, Vincent has stayed busy by scraping floors and painting walls upstairs at the house. After decorating the house for Christmas this winter, Vincent helmed a video project, “Celebrations of the Holiday Season,” which invited people of different beliefs to talk about the ways they celebrate.
Vincent also hosts ghost hunts at the Kinsman House, where the spirit of Olive Perkins is said to reside, and other figures have been seen — although she does the tours as a ghost hunter, not as a board member.
A solitary witch, Vincent practices her faith on her own, but she said there is a local Wicca community.
“Turns out there’s a huge community — a lot of people in our own neighborhood that you wouldn’t know about,” Vincent said.
Vincent also has found a place in the paranormal community, and she and her team have been featured in several books by Pennsylvania author and spiritualist Angel Rae.
Vincent’s three daughters are grown, and she has grandchildren now.
She met her husband, Timothy, first at Sunday School at her Baptist church in Howland, then they went to school together at Warren G. Harding High School. They reconnected around 20 years ago, while she was working at a bar.
After managing a few fast food restaurants and small stores, then working at Target, Vincent now happily devotes all her time to her faith, passions, family and volunteer work at the Warren Heritage Center.
She recommends anyone who is interested in Wicca or the paranormal start by reading a book, attending a psychic fair or visiting a local herb shop.