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Encountering the Unexplained with Monroe County Paranormal Investigations

Amanda Dudek the Genesee Valley PennySaver

Mar 18, 2023

Article featured in Genesee Valley PennySaver in October 2021.

To view the article in it's original format, please visit:

October 29, 2021

October is certainly the season for scary. The rustling of fallen leaves, darkening days, chilly breezes, and a myriad of shadows make the perfect backdrop for spine-tingling sounds and half-seen apparitions. While many of us react to the eerie and unexplained like Shaggy and Scooby disappearing down an epically long hallway, Monroe County Paranormal Investigations’ Robert Pistilli and Brian Cardilli, along with their team, put themselves squarely in its path. 

Monroe County Paranormal Investigations (MCPI) was founded in 2002 by Robert Pistilli. Drawn into the study of near-death experience and cryptozoology by his own life experiences, Pistilli joined Western New York Paranormal (WNYP), now disbanded, and was “hooked” after his first investigation. “I loved the idea of helping people in this way,” he explained. As demand for WNYP’s help increased, Pistilli decided to create his own group, and MCPI was born. A few years later in 2007, Brian Cardilli joined his team.

“I was always interested in the subject,” said Cardilli. “As a kid, I was always getting out books from the library on ghosts, and I watched a lot of ghost shows. I wondered if there was a paranormal group in the Rochester area. There were actually quite a few, and MCPI looked the most credible. One email and an interview at Tim Horton’s later, I was part of the team.”

Although fascinated with the paranormal, what Pistilli and Cardilli both enjoy most about MCPI is helping those who reach out. “What we do is a service to the community and is always free of charge,” shared Pistilli. “Homeowners call us, usually saying something like, ‘This is going to sound crazy, but…’” To date, MCPI has investigated over 1,000 private homes, not to mention numerous other locations of note. 

Upon receiving a call, MCPI asks additional questions such as when the activity started, how frequently it occurs, discernible patterns, number of people in the home, home history, etc. as well as conducting their own research of the property. “If there are children in the home, it is moved right to the top of our list,” said Pistilli. “We want to help people feel safe in their homes.”

Cardilli warns that this is about helping others, not excitement. “If you are thinking about getting into paranormal investigations for thrill seeking, don’t,” he said. “You have to be patient and vigilant. There are many times when we go into a home and stay for hours, but nothing happens.”

“Or we are there for hours because things never stop happening!” Pistilli interjected.

Nevertheless, both agree that paranormal investigation requires many tedious hours reviewing video, sound, and other recordings. Equipment used includes video cameras, digital voice recorders, pendulums, EMF recorders, digital thermometers, still photos, night vision, and dowsing rods. However, the best tools, said Pistilli, are the investigators themselves.

In fact, Pistilli and Cardilli recall many unexplained phenomena they personally witnessed. They have investigated phenomena from Rochester to Buffalo and across the Finger Lakes Region. When asked about any particularly hair-raising experiences east of Rochester, Pistilli and Cardilli did not hesitate.

“We received a call from clients in Macedon who were very interested in the paranormal themselves,” Cardilli recalled. “They had many Ouija boards. Their home used to be a funeral home. It still had the system for moving bodies from floor to floor from its basement mortuary.”

“Rob and I were both at the end of a hallway standing shoulder-to-shoulder when we thought we saw movement. We both ran down the hallway and burst through the doorway with a loud pop!” Cardilli continued with a chuckle. “We both ran into different rooms but found nothing.” 

Pistilli and Cardilli each separately told the story of what they saw to a fellow investigator in another room, and their stories were eerily similar. Referring to items like Ouija boards, however, Cardilli and Pistilli advise against dabbling. “If you are able to get it to work, then you have probably opened a doorway that you do not know how to close,” Cardilli said.

“We were also at a bed & breakfast in Naples,” Pistilli recounted. “Reports of supernatural activity there were of people having these experiences when they were playing card games. It was two or three in the morning, and Brian and another investigator were playing cards. Brian was counting, “Two, four, six…” and a whispered voice said, ‘Seven.’”

“It was really close to my ear when I listened to the recorder, but I didn’t hear anything until we played it back!” One year later, MCPI returned and was playing the popular card game Cards Against Humanity.  “Based on our number of players, the ‘judge’ should have received 10 cards back, and she received 11. We only realized it because none of us played the winning 11th card,” said Pistilli. 

MCPI shared many more experiences: a haunted farm in Canandaigua, an eerie pizza shop in Bloomfield…their supernatural stories go on. However, MCPI emphasizes that what they want most is to help people. “We advise you to call us rather than try to do these things yourself,” they said. “We are more than happy to come out and help your family, and all our services are always free.”

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