This Va. ghost hunter hasn't been spooked -- yet

 Paranormal investigator Lori Miars, co-founder of Northern Virginia Spirits and Paranormal Investigators, reaches out to the dead at Broad Run Cemetery in Ashburn, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. According to a plaque beside the graveyard, 35 family members and friends of John LeFevre, whose family once owned and farmed the land, were buried there between 1750 and 1911. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

Paranormal investigator Lori Miars, co-founder of Northern Virginia Spirits and Paranormal Investigators, reaches out to the dead at Broad Run Cemetery in Ashburn, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. According to a plaque beside the graveyard, 35 family members and friends of John LeFevre, whose family once owned and farmed the land, were buried there between 1750 and 1911. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

ASHBURN, Va. — “Is that you, Mary?” Lori Miars probed, stooping in front of the crooked, weathered tombstone. 

The paranormal investigator spoke softly as she held an EMF (electromotive force) meter over the grave of Mary E. Havener, who died at 14 in 1852. Miars’ wife, Kathy Anderson, filmed as Miars delicately surveyed the Broad Run Cemetery plots dating back to 1750. 

“They were people once,” said Miars, 56. “Just because they’re on the other side doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same respect.”

Miars and Anderson are among the four co-founders of Northern Virginia Spirits and Paranormal Investigators (NoVA-SPIs), a group that has for the last 10 years studied the unexplained. 

In her pursuit of the paranormal, Miars has two primary aims: comforting those who believe they’re experiencing hauntings and treating spirits with respect in the process. 

“We believe in helping people,” Miars said, adding that NoVA-SPIs investigations are always free of charge. “Help them feel comfortable enough in their own homes, ‘cause they’re scared, their kids are scared. And when kids are involved, then that’s priority one.” 

Miars continued, “We’re giving [clients] their own peace back; you can’t put a price on that.”

When calming her clients’ fears, Miars is careful not to upset other entities. NoVA-SPIs created an acronym to reflect this practice: PETS (People for the Ethical Treatment of Spirits). 

“We see so many going in and just disrespecting ‘em, like, ‘You have no right being here, you need to leave,’” Miars explained. 

She added, “If you want them to interact with you, you want to find out why, what’s going on that’s causing this family to be in such turmoil, you’re not gonna get ‘em anywhere with going in and being really disrespectful.”

In her decade as a paranormal investigator, Miars has never felt frightened on the job.

“I never felt threatened enough to be scared,” she said. “I’ve never been one of fear.”

Curiosity is what ultimately drew Miars to ghost hunting, which she says isn’t always as dramatic as it appears on TV.

“I needed to know more … there had to be more than just this existence,” she said. “There has to be a way that something happens after you die.”

Lindsey Leake