One Man’s Fascinating Quest to Understand a Spooky Phenomenon
Rick C. Dodson was driven by soul-rattling personal experiences to investigate a phenomenon in which disincarnate beings are said to speak through electronic devices.
For example, some people have said they’ve picked up a ringing phone and heard a dead relative on the other line. Some people have said they’ve heard spirit messages in the white noise between radio stations, or have seen faces of dead friends looking out at them and speaking from a fuzzy television screen. These are known as electronic voice phenomena (EVP).
Dodson’s quest for knowledge was not a popular one when he began it in the 1980s; it was a down-right odd one to his family and friends in small-town Texas. Nevertheless, Dodson wrote countless letters and made countless phone calls in that pre-Internet era. He got in touch with pretty well everybody who knew anything about EVP. His quest extended even to famed physicist Stephen Hawking.
“Getting in touch with that fella was a job though,” said Dodson with a laugh. He hand-wrote a unique letter to every professor he could contact at Cambridge University, where Hawking works, explaining his reasons for requesting Hawking’s direct contact information. Most declined to release the information, but “One wrote me back and said, ‘Here it is, good luck, I know you’ve tried hard.’ My name was going around the teacher’s lounge there probably … ‘Somebody answer this guy and get something on Hawking’s desk!'”
His persistence earned him a response, but Hawking didn’t have any insights on EVP for Dodson.
Whenever Dodson has been tempted to question his own senses, years after his personal paranormal experiences, strange phenomena have reappeared in his life as affirmations. He shared with Epoch Times the stories of his EVP experiences, the insights he’s gained as an avid amateur researcher, the time he scared himself silly, and more.
Talking With the Dead?
In 1980, Dodson spontaneously visited his father from out of town. Shortly after he arrived, his father left the house briefly, and the phone rang. Dodson picked it up and a woman’s voice greeted him, calling him by the name he used as a child. He was surprised and asked who she was, but she would not answer his question.
“She began relating things from my past that very few people knew,” Dodson recalled. “She did most of the talking. Each time I spoke, it was as if she didn’t hear me, although clearly she did. Her words were sort of shaky at times, but entirely lucid. She talked for nearly 30 minutes, and I kept asking who she was. All she would say is that she could not tell me because I couldn’t understand.” He became frustrated, and when he pushed the mystery woman to reveal her identity, the woman began to cry and admonish him for poor manners the way his mother or grandmother might have scolded him when they were alive.
“My emotions were running wild. I was feeling worried, confused, upset, baffled, and frightened,” he said. Eventually, the woman said it was a mistake for her to have called and hung up, leaving him wondering. His father could not shed any light on the matter; he rarely received phone calls and he couldn’t think who it might be.
Several years later, the second occurrence revived his curiosity just as it was beginning to fade. He had moved into a new house and had a new phone number, one he hadn’t yet listed nor given to friends and family. The phone rang, and a woman on the other end asked for Dodson’s mother by name.
His mother had died 11 years earlier and had never been in the town he was currently in. Dodson suspected he was in for another strange experience and wanted to remain calm this time to find out as much as he could.
He asked the woman to give what information she knew about his mother; the woman was able to name his mother’s church, where she had lived, and other personal information. The woman identified herself as Susan Owens, a name that was unfamiliar to Dodson except that it was the name of a teacher he had as a child. The woman became irritated when he kept asking questions and she asked why he wouldn’t put his mother on the phone. He replied that his mother was dead.
“She was silent for a moment, then she simply said, ‘Oh.’ [Then she said,] ‘This is Ricky, isn’t it? … I know she’s dead, Ricky, and I need to talk to her.'” She apologized for calling, said it was a mistake, and said she couldn’t explain to him because he wouldn’t understand—much as the caller years earlier had done. Asking around, he could not place a Susan Owens in his mother’s life.
About six months later, Dodson experienced EVP of a different nature, this time involving a cassette player instead of a telephone. He got the urge to listen to a cassette tape his friend, Bill, had sent him years earlier and which he hadn’t listened to in a long time. The tape jammed up in the middle of a song. The whole tape player stopped working. Dodson couldn’t get any of the buttons to budge and he couldn’t get the tape out of the machine, so he left it.
Later that day, he received a phone call informing him that Bill had died that morning in a car accident. “I can’t tell you why I did what I did next,” Dodson said. “I walked into my workroom and straight to the tape player. … I pressed the play button. It went down as easily as a hot knife through soft butter.”
The tape had jammed in the middle of the song, “Wild Horses,” and when Dodson pressed play, it continued with the line, “Let’s do some living after we die.” Bill had died at approximately the same time the player jammed that morning.
Dodson first heard of the term “EVP” when a book on the phenomenon fell off a bookshelf in a used bookstore into his hands. His experience expanded beyond himself—other’s had this happen to them too! Glimpses of an ethereal world tantalized him and the desire to see it clearly compelled him.
Fellow experiencers sent him letters pages-long sharing their EVP encounters. From a group he joined, he would receive in the mail snippets of EVP recordings captured by the famed Spiricom machine. This machine was built in collaboration by George Meek, who financed Spiricom, and Bill O’Neil, the psychic engineer. Meek had said that at least one psychically endowed person must be involved in the operation of this EVP device; O’Neil was his psychically endowed person. Dodson wasn’t satisfied with the snippets of recordings. He wanted to track down the device used by O’Neil himself and full recordings if possible.
Through much effort, he did. Listening to and watching video recordings of Meek and O’Neil with the machine convinced him further that the Spiricom communications were genuine. He could see that O’Neil was in his homey clothes, interacting with the machine on a daily basis—it wasn’t some orchestrated show. He heard the personal conversations between the Meek and O’Neil. He heard the “spirit” voices; he even heard these voices suggesting tweaks to the machine, which O’Neil and Meek would then make to the improvement of its functioning. Unfortunately, Dodson said, he has lost these tapes over the course of decades and moving house. But what he learned from them remains with him.
Dodson decided to try his own EVP experiments. He made some recordings of white noise to listen to for voices afterward. He recalled the one and only time he heard something unusual.
“I ran the volume up to the maximum and listened closely. I heard the voice clearly. This part will sound somewhat stupid, but I thought it said either, ‘Hello, Ricky,’ or of all things, ‘I love Jesus.’ I know they sound nothing alike, but I could hear both of the phrases on the tape. … Suddenly a cold chill came over me. Then a blast of adrenaline surged through my body. I realized that I was sitting in my truck at 3 o’clock in the morning with a ghost.”
He ran to his bedroom and got into bed with his wife. “At the time, that seemed like the safest place to be. Like a child hiding under the covers to keep the night monsters away, I suppose!”
We often hear of amateur ghost hunters or investigators of the paranormal, but we don’t often consider that if such a person finds what he’s looking for, it could scare the “bejeeblies” out of him, as Dodson described it.
Dodson hesitated to share his experiences with members of his family. But he was glad to have opened up to his grandmother, who, it turns out, also had an EVP experience.
She and her husband had moved about 75 miles away from their old home. She felt uneasy about it, because her daughter (Dodson’s mother) had died and she felt she was leaving her daughter behind.
“One night, as she was contemplating this emotion, the phone rang. She picked it up and the voice said one word, ‘Momma.’ Grandmother told me that she knew it was my mom. She recognized her voice and a feeling ran through her that she described as a burst of knowledge. The feeling told her that my mom was telling her she had come with her to her new home.”
Dodson reflected: “I will admit that I have moments that I find myself doubting all of this, but it did happen and there is no denying it. It has happened to tens of thousands of folks around the world. … Whatever happened to me, whatever it means, whoever the voices were, and why the tape stopped all satisfy me that there is more to reality than I thought. I find myself constantly scanning the seams of reality looking for a tear in the fabric.”