Chicago Policeman chases criminals by day, ghosts by night

By Sophia Coleman

All kinds of spirits and apparitions are abundant in the city’s rich history of gangs, speakeasies and corruption. And of course, there are the ghosts many wish to get in touch with, like family members or friends who have passed. But how do we reach them?

Brian Maloy, founder of Chicago Ghost Investigations, 500 W. Cermak Road., has the solution.

Maloy, who is a police officer by day and a self-proclaimed ghost hunter by night, founded CGI in 2005 to give people a different type of ghost hunting experience.

He was inspired to get involved in the spirit world because he had an out-of-body experience while serving in the Army in his early 20s.

“I stood over my body, saw my face in my sleeping bag and saw my grandfather to my right, who had passed away years before,” Maloy said.

In that moment, he said he became a believer in the paranormal, and the desire to contact the spirit world hasn’t left him since.

Claiming to be the most unique ghost tour in Chicago, Maloy gives guests the ability to interact with spirits in the paranormally active warehouse located in Al Capone’s old stomping grounds.

“We teach them how to use scientific equipment, locate a spirit and monitor energy levels and environmental changes at a location,” Maloy said. “Then they do their own thing and run their own investigation. But we’re on hand for advice.”

Some of the tools CGI uses are thermal indicators, electromagnetic field detectors and divination rods.

Thermal indicators are used to detect hot and cold spots to get the general idea of the temperature in the room. If there are drastic fluctuations, chances are paranormal activity is at play, Maloy said.

EMF detectors are used to measure the electromagnetic fields that ghosts can manipulate through the natural energy they produce.

“A basic EMF is relatively low,” Maloy said. “The EMF will rise if an entity is near.”

One of the most historic and important tools to communicate with ghosts, according to Maloy, is a divination rod. The L-shaped rod dates back to the Roman era and was declared satanic in the Middle Ages.

“Needless to say, the use of divination rods is not satanic, and they are, in fact, excellent tools for detecting paranormal activity,” Maloy said.

The rods are useful for communication with spirits because they answer simple questions using the energy force of both the ghost and the holder of the rods.The vibrations, in turn, cause the rods to move in an “x” form, which answers the questions in a “yes” or “no” fashion.

When the spirit is asked a question, such as “Are you a female spirit?” the magnetic energy it produces will cross the rods to answer “yes.” Once the question is answered, the spirit will be asked to uncross the rods, which will confirm that the ghost is female. Once a ghost is asked if it’s male, the rods will wait to form an “x.”

The spirits are asked various other questions, such as “What does your name begin with?” The interviewer will then have to go through the alphabet until the first letter of the name is determined. From there, names will be guessed until the spirit answers “yes” to a particular name.

Maloy explained that 10 standard questions must be asked in “yes or no” format, otherwise the spirit won’t have the ability to answer and sufficient evidence cannot be obtained in order to find conclusive records.

Because he is a police officer, Maloy can easily locate records of the dead by using the extensive police database.

Previously, there were seven other places CGI would frequent, ranging from Excalibur nightclub, 632 N. Dearborn St., to old theaters and churches with ties to Capone.

However, the investigators did not have permission to use those locations whenever they pleased because they were at the mercy of the property owners.

CGI moved to the warehouse three months ago, which is rumored to have been host to one of the safes that Capone used to stash his loot.

However, notorious gangsters aren’t the focus of the tour. Usually, guests end up bringing some of their own spirits, which CGI calls BYOGs, or Bring Your Own Ghosts.

According to Margo Schafer, CGI guide and psychic, the BYOGs are some of the most emotional experiences for guests.

While coming in contact with lost loved ones may be upsetting at first, Schafer insists that by the end of the tour, guests feel content knowing their family member or friend is still very much the person they knew.

“[Spirits are] just like regular people you talk to everyday—they joke around, they all have individual personalities,” Schafer said.

Christine Carlin, a guest during an Oct. 9 tour at CGI, is a nurse at Bolingbrook Emergency Room and had the experience of coming in contact with one of her patients who had passed on.

Carlin, who held the divination rods, remembered the patient after a series of questions directed by Maloy. The spirit was that of 22-year-old Isaac, who had been electrocuted.

“I had high expectations,” Carlin said of CGI. “I’m in medicine, and I experience death all the time. Since approximately 2001, I’ve had experiences that I could never explain and all of a sudden, it became a fascination for me.”

This interest in the spirit world brought Carlin to CGI with her daughter, Abby, 16, who came in contact with her grandfather while on the tour.

“It always interested me and it was amazing to see it really happen,” Abby said. “It was comforting [to come in contact] with my Grandpa.”

Maloy said skeptics often come in expecting nothing more than a creepy setting and old ghost tales, but after their experience, they come out as believers, or at the very least, with a different outlook on the spirit world.

“The tours are very enlightening; we are able to meet good spirits out there,” Maloy said. “The more research I do, the more I really understand that the spirit is a continuation of the sub-conscious.”

Tours are available seven days a week from 8 – 11:30 p.m. The tour costs $35–$50 with student discounts available. Reservations are required. For more information, visit