People of the Pines: A Unique Examination of Various Ocean County Residents

New Jersey Paranormal Investigations

As a child, my mother was the President of the Ocean Nature Conservation Society in Ocean County. We spent a lot of time learning about our ecosystem, endangered species in our county and attending environmental events. It was at a Pinelands Jamboree event at Wells Mills County Park in the late 90’s when I first remember hearing about the Jersey Devil. In between musical performances, an older gentleman took the stage and told the story of the Leeds family and Mother Leed’s 13th child.

I wasn’t scared by this man’s story, as I was already fascinated with all things paranormal, and had read and re-read every Goosebumps book I could get my hands on. From that point on though, I was intrigued by my hometown’s folklore and the pinelands that gave the story a home; the pinelands outside my window. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with the founder of New Jersey Paranormal Investigations, Barry Ruggiero, who has dedicated his life to examining mysterious phenomenon.

Barry Ruggiero started New Jersey Paranormal Investigations about 6 years ago and has been investigating the paranormal for over twelve years. Barry specializes in dealing with  hauntings and has investigated both residential and commercial locations. His team utilizes Infrared surveillance systems along with high end audio equipment to capture any abnormalities. “What I like about our group is that we are a diverse group of people. Michele and I lead with scientific methods, while Gale and her husband Rob are excellent with Spirit Box (A device used for contacting spirits through the use of radio frequency) communications, research and history and Jackie is a reiki master.” Barry believes that this makes his team stronger as they are able to conduct an investigation from several perspectives.

With so many investigations under his belt, I asked Barry which one was the scariest to be involved in. “We did an investigation for a girl and her boyfriend up north in a three-story home. They described many paranormal events happening in their house, like doors and drawers opening on their own. We went into the basement because we heard noises down there and discovered that no one was there. I was conducting an EVP session there and after reviewing the audio there was a voice, but the voice didn’t sound human. On the audio, I asked if there was anyone there and playing it back on the recorder, you can hear a very deep raspy voice say ‘I’m here’.”

The main pieces of equipment his team uses are EMF detectors, K2 meters, Mel meters, thermal imaging cameras, motion detectors, infrared cameras and digital recorders. These instruments can detect changes in atmosphere, read thermography and record high/low range tones. “I really enjoy working with the EVPs [electronic voice phenomena]. It’s wild to hear a voice that you know wasn’t there during the investigation.”

When I asked Barry about the Jersey Devil, he responded, “I have interviewed many witnesses face-to-face about the Jersey Devil. Some of the stories are scary, but my personal opinion is that you would think by now someone would have caught the devil or at least have some good video footage of it, if it was real. I think it’s a great urban legend, I just don’t see enough evidence to believe that it’s true.”

So what should someone do if they believe that their house is haunted? According to Barry, “Never provoke what is there. Call someone who deals with this sort of thing on a regular basis. You do not want to try to communicate with something that you know nothing about.”

New Jersey Paranormal Investigations regularly has events and lectures that you can attend. In 2018 they  will be investigating the White Hill Mansion in New Jersey, so stay tuned for more info on that investigation and many others by visiting their website at:! If you would like to consult with Barry’s team about a potential haunting, you can reach him at

Chelsea Eriksen is a freelance writer and marketing professional who has over 8 years experience writing for major magazines, websites and blogs. She graduated from Wells College in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a minor in Advertising. Following her graduation, she interned for Relix Magazine and Big Hassle Media in NYC and soon after joined Effective Immediately PR’s publicity team in NYC and became Vice President until 2015. During her time there, she helped to grow their team from 5 publicists to over 25 in just 3 short years and expanded their offices to the West Coast. She has worked with a range of clientele, from independent artists and budding businesses all the way up to major brands including Clarks, Converse and Sonos. Currently she works as a PR/Marketing Coordinator for Direct Development PR in Hazlet, NJ and resides in Forked River, NJ. For any marketing, social media, public relations or content writing needs, you can reach Chelsea at