BY AARON SAGERS
With John Zaffis' new show Haunted Collector just days away from its June 1 premiere, I spoke with the paranormal researcher about his work, the new series and his paranormal museum. Listen in to the audio clip or check out the transcripts below.
Q: Hey John, how’re you doing?
A: Hello my buddy, how are you?
Q: I’m great. Good to hear from you. I’m looking forward to seeing the full show. As you know, I’ve been lucky enough to investigate with you and I’ve seen the museum. And a lot of times people think that these items are just old but there are also some pretty commonplace items and very new items, right?
A: Aaron, unfortunately I can’t say that. You’re going to have to watch the show (laughs). No, actually a 1940s outfit; a woman’s dress with a jacket. A young lady had picked it up, she liked dressing in the older attire. And she started wearing it and she had it in the house and she started having a tremendous amount of activity in her home.
So she was explaining it to me and we were going back and forth and this is maybe about a month and a half ago. And she described the dress and the little jacket that she was wearing over it. She felt like she had energy around her like a tingling which is very common, because again we’re dealing with energy that it’s attached to some of these items.
So at that point in time I had recommended to her to remove it and she did and everything stopped. She brought it back into the house again and the situations started back up again and she felt like somebody was watching her.
So she got back on the telephone with me; we were talking going back and forth. And she said, “Mr. Zaffis, I don’t care what you say, I’m packing it up and I’m shipping it up to you.”
Q: And then you ended up with it. So what was the very first item that you personally acquired for the museum?
A: The very first thing, oh my gosh, many years back was just like a little statue that this woman had picked up. And she had it in her home; it was a little ceramic thing and she would find it moved in different spots and different locations.
And she was very tormented by this is the best way I can describe it. A very stable person and it was part of like a collectible thing that she had.
And we went in to do our investigation and we were talking, going back and forth. And in speaking to her and everything and looking at the fear on her face of this little ceramic status was something I think that really intrigued me.
I don’t think it’s more than like two or three inches high. And she wouldn’t touch it; she wouldn’t go near the cabinet where it was; wanted absolutely nothing done with it.
That’s what actually got me going, Aaron, on some of this. It was like can an object actually hold on you know, to spirit because that’s how we would refer to it. Today I refer to as energy because, you know, we have a little bit better understanding of these things.
How can this happen? Why would it happen? And that’s when I really started delving into these different things and trying to get a comprehension on how it could hold on to the energies of a deceased person. Or, you know, that’s what intrigued me and that’s what really got me going with this because most people didn’t - you know, most people don’t even realize it over the course of years, how many cases and how many different investigations many within the paranormal community have investigated where, you know, it might have been a piece of jewelry of a piece of furniture or, you know, some of the most least obvious things that people bring into their homes and can wreak havoc.
Q: And going from an object that’s just a couple of inches high to having a barn full of these things, I mean, where were you storing these before you had the museum? Also what was the breaking point where you decided, I’ve got to put all these in a separate structure?
A: Well, that’s my wife; she made that decision. You know, for many years I just stored them. You know, I had them in boxes; I had a small barn on the property. I just kept piling things and piling things.
And about seven years ago, I think it was 2004, I said let me pull some of them out and let me just set up, because originally it was in the basement of the house. I had a couple of rooms down there and I had a lot of the different items.
And I just had them and I would just talk about the stories and some of the things that relate to these items. Because some of the stories are so bizarre and crazy - as you know, Aaron - you can’t make these things up.
You know, so it’s intriguing and then I was really thinking about it and I said I have to make a decision. And my wife said to me at one point in time; she says I don’t care what you do with them, she said, “Just get them out of the basement of the house. I don’t want them in the house anymore.”
And that’s when I was, you know, tossing the idea around, what the heck could I actually do. And I said, “Let me just throw a barn up in the backyard and actually put the things in there because it is separate from the house.” And I can actually take a lot of the items that had bindings and that were buried in salt and what have you and actually put them up and be able to talk about some of the stories and not be that concerned that, you know, some of these things were in the house.
So yes, you know, I had them set up but a lot of the more heavy-duty items; the idol and, you know, things like that, I never actually wanted some of those things in that area. So that’s how it all actually came about.
Q: And the show has similarities to something like Antiques Roadshow or Hollywood Treasures or Pawnbrokers, except the fact that it’s your team pursuing these items. So do you watch any of those other shows? Have you ever seen any of those other ones?
A: I watch them all. You know, you have to...
Q: So what do you think? What the draw of those shows?
A: I’m intrigued. Yes Aaron, I’m very intrigued by items. I think people are very fascinated about trying to look at different things that people have and trying to, you know, just look at the grand picture of so many of those items that are out there that, you know, people have. They’ve never spoken about them, where have they come from, you know, how old can the item be.
Those are different types of things that, you know, just actually intrigue me. And it’s very fascinating at some of the things that people collect. And, you know, some of the collections of things I’ve seen in people’s homes are, you know, really bizarre.
I mean I thought I’ve collected some, you know, really bizarre things over the course of the years from homes but, you know, watching some of these shows and seeing some of the items I mean, it’s very intriguing.
And here again I think one of the key aspects with items, you could see an actual physical, you know, piece of furniture or jewelry. It’s not, you know, where we’re just looking at it and saying okay, that’s a ghost picture or, you know, somebody caught something in a piece of video.
You’re seeing an actual solid item, and I think that’s what intrigues many people out there with the fascination of so many different TV shows out there about antiques and collectibles, and a lot of those different things.
And the popularity today I think is very strong and people just wanting to be able to see solid objects.
Q: Finally, Ed Warren; you were very close with him; a very famous investigator in his own right. What would he say to you when you told him that Ed, I’ve got my own TV show? What would he say to you and what advice would he give to you?
A: Well I’m hoping he would be very proud of me. He always would say to me at different points in time, you have what it takes kid; it’s in your blood. And, you know, I always reflect upon all that knowledge; everything that he had shared with me.
I think some of my most personal items in the museum are, you know, the things that he had given me from investigations I did with working with him.
But I’m kind of hoping today, you know, him and as most people don’t realize, my mom and Ed Warren were twins. And both of them unfortunately today are no longer here with us, but I’m kind of hoping and taking a step back that they’re looking down upon the whole situation at some of the family members and, you know, I’m hoping he’s proud.
I’m hoping, you know, take that step back and say, because he always called me kid , and say, “Kid, you know, you did remember some of the things I did teach you over the course of the years.”
You know, but it is something I’m reflecting very strongly upon. And Aaron, as you know, you and I know each other very personally and Ed was my mentor. He was my friend.
He was someone that most people didn’t really know Ed - most people knew Ed Warren. I knew Ed Warren, my uncle. And the many times he would just stop by my home and him and I would just sit and talk and it would just be him and I. And the knowledge base that that man had could never, ever be replaced.
See JOHN ZAFFIS on Haunted Collector, Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on Syfy