Tony Risley is a paranormal investigator with DPPI Des Plains Paranormal. he also studies study tai chi, kick boxing, and jujitsu and spent time as a soldier in Iraq. He is an Empath and an administrator at Ghostly Paranormal Encounters, a Facebook group with over 19,000 followers. He often conducts his investigations with Kellie Harley.

tonyR3 hopkins


Interview with Paranormal Investigator Tony Risely.

Hi Tony, it’s great to talk to you today. Maybe you could start by telling us a little bit about what first caused you to have an interest in the paranormal? (How old were you, what was the nature of the event, what were your thoughts immediately after the event, what are your thoughts about the event now)

Hello Virginia! The first experience that I can remember was when I was 8 or 9. I kept hearing footsteps come down from attic to the side of my bed. I heard that for a couple of years. At the time I was scared because I knew there wasn’t anyone there. Now I look back and I go out on investigations looking for that kind of evidence again!


You say you are an empath. How does that effect you and how did you first recognize this gift in yourself.

Yes I am an empath, and it is a curse sometimes. I feel what others feel, my heart will race, my gut will get sensations that are not normal. I am able to help some people which is a blessing. But those that I truly want to help I am unable too. I first became aware during my time in Iraq in 2003-2004 at the time I wasn’t sure what it was. Looking back something was letting me know that something or someone was close.


Many empaths I have spoken with have said that it is in many ways more of a curse than a blessing. How have you found ways to accentuate the positive aspects and negate the unpleasant aspects?

Over the last 10 or so years I’ve learned how to control and harness the gifts that I was given. As I said before it can be a curse sometimes because I am unable to help some people in the ways that I want. Then on the other side of the same time I have been able to help newly aware empaths get those feelings we get under control. That to me is worth those I can’t help. The negative with being an aware empath is overshadowed by the positive hands down. Being able to connect to someone on a soul level like I am right now and help them harness their gifts is well worth the pain that I will go through.


What advice on grounding and shielding can you offer to other empaths?

I am working with 2 other people right now. One is a close friend Kellie Harley. The other will remain nameless because I did not give her permission to say her name for this interview. Kellie has gifts and the best way I coach her and our mutual friend is to just acknowledge what you feel and let it pass through you. Look at it as a coffee filter. The coffee filter lets the good through but holds back the grinds which most don’t like in their coffee. Being a shield now that’s more complex and can be dangerous. If you stretch yourself out too thin by shielding others then you put yourself in danger and trust me don’t ever do that. The  Shielder must be able to protect themselves before they protect others. Learn how to guard yourself first, being able to shield yourself on command will become second nature. Only then can you help others then. Have patience, patience is a must, nothing worth anything in life comes quick you must take the time to understand what is it you are.

Recently you spent a night in the Hopkins House In Kalamazoo, Michigan. What is the story behind this house?

hopkins house at night


The story behind the Hopkins house I am far from am expert on. But what I know is the it was a bed and breakfast long ago. There is a man who stands in the attic and looks out the window. There is a lot of paranormal activity there. Again I do not know or recall everything I was told while there. I wish I know more than I do. When I investigate anywhere I don’t research it at all I like to go in blind.


What was your experience in the Hopkins House and what evidence did you gather?

Going into that place was just amazing! The owners are just so kind and welcoming and are investigator’s themselves. From the moment we started to walk through the house before the investigation I started to sync with the house and the energy. My friend Kellie seen me “spazz out” as she said which just my reaction to a spirit walking by me. I get tingly and goosebumps when the spirit is strong. The video recording did capture a full body apparition walk right past me when I reacted. In the attic I was touched on my right arm and the K2 meter even showed is difference spiking when I spoke to whoever was touching me. Kellie was touched for the first time ever coming down the stairs. To this day she still talks about that and is unable to explain it. I just laugh and say “welcome to being a paranormal investigator Kel”. There were great EVP’s captured during the night as well as pictures of orbs. All in all I say that everyone should check that place out.

TonyR1 hopkins

When did you first decide to become a paranormal investigator?

I didn’t really decide too become a paranormal investigator I think I was always one. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world as a part of the U.S. Army and every place I went I wanted to investigate local places. But with the laws the way they are in other countries I wasn’t able too. I just have a passion to understand the unknown. It’s like a fire burning in my soul that I have to get answers, proof, or something to help understand the unknown. Like most i have lost a lot of friends and family over the years. I want the same answers that we all do. I know that they are with me to this day.


What are your favorite ghost stories? Have you investigated any of these stories?

My favorite of all time has to be Waverly. Every paranormal investigator knows about that legendary place. I have yet to go there to investigate. With my work schedule it is hard to get the time off. The other which I recently went too is bachelors grove cemetery here close to Chicago. I was not able to actually do a investigation yet, but plans are in the works. One thing I did do because something told me to was to take a piece of the original road home with me. Now I must stress NEVER take anything from anywhere. I did it because I am able to shield myself. I have total respect for those who are still there, but again never remove anything from anywhere. It is impossible to tell what is attached to that object.
You grew up near Ashmore Estates which is said to be a paranormal hotspot. What was your experience with growing up there? Did it influence you later in life?

Ashmore estates, there is so much to say about that place. I came in contact with a demon there. How i love to provoke them. I hate bullies in any life. Another don’t do for the readers out there. Do NOT provoke under any circumstances. Things can and will attach to you and make your life a living hell. Growing up playing around in that place was awesome, I was so young and didn’t fully grasp what was there. Ashmore estates is a abandoned state mental hospital, my father (who I have no contact with) worked there before I was born. So I guess I have always been drawn to there. The biggest thing I learned there that I take with me to this day is to always show respect to those who are no longer with us in a body form.


You were in Iraq until ’04, as an empath and someone who is sensitive psychically did you have any experiences while you were there? How did that effect you at the time? How does it effect you now?

Iraq, the year of hell for me personally. I said before that I have became an aware empath over there. A huge part of my soul is still there. Everything that I went through over there and with all of the friends that I lost, it made me not want to leave there. I know that my brothers and sisters that were taken from us are still there in one way or another and I strongly feel that I belong with them. I like many am deeply affected by the events that happened in my year there. This is when I wish I wasn’t an empath. I relive everything that happened in my dreams almost every night. I see those we lost in my dreams wishing I could help them knowing that I am unable too. To this day I feel deep down all of them and feel what we felt when we were there. It was an honor to fight for and serve this country I call home.


You are quoted as saying, ‘When life throws you a curveball hit that mother fucker out of the park’. What was the curve ball that made that be your mantra?

The curve ball i speak of is the trials and tribulations of life.  No life is not easy but, that’s no excuse to sit back and accept this shit that we all go through. Knocking it out of the park means take every challenge and turn it into a positive gain. No its not easy but nothing in life is easy.


How do you handle outright cynics and unbelievers? Do you find people are open to your interests in the paranormal or are they dubious?

Those who don’t believe don’t bother me at all personally. There are always those who won’t believe because of their religious or personal beliefs. And that’s great too. I personally refuse to push my beliefs onto anyone because to me its just wrong. Now if someone wants to ask questions then whole heartedly I will sit with them and talk, ask them questions, and listen to them. It’s those that don’t believe that makes me and most other paranormal investigators do what we love. I welcome them.


What would be the single biggest piece of evidence you ever discovered, recorded or experienced that you would say is ‘proof’ of the paranormal?

The evidence that was captured at the Hopkins house was amazing and to date some of the best I have ever gotten during an investigation. There are photos of orbs coming towards me while I was being touched. Again great EVP’s you name it we caught it. My best evidence was also the most creepy, I was scratched with “the mocking of the Trinity” more than once. For those who don’t know what that it or means, it is a demon scratching. Do not go looking for them at all ever. They don’t have rules or respect.


What advice can you give to people who aspire to be paranormal investigators?

My best advice to anyone who is looking to get into this field is simple. Be careful and show respect at all times. It becomes an addiction trust me. A new friend I made Rick Waid wrote a book on the obsessions with investigating and he is spot on. Tread lightly, don’t investigate without permission, don’t break into places, do not show disrespect towards the spirits. More or less common sense is the rule of law here. Be careful and mindful and of you get scared there is nothing wrong with leaving where you are. It takes some people time to work their way up to investigate all night. There are countless of places to investigate every state has them. Just research and contact the people who own the property. It’s not worth going to jail for trespassing. A lot of places are public areas like bachelors grove cemetery or even Gettysburg. When you investigate leave the place as you went into it. Remember to always announce who you are and that you are not there to cause harm or show disrespect. You may think you’ve lost your mind talking to what you think is yourself but its about respect.

One final thing is to get on Facebook and look for paranormal groups. Yes I’m an admin in Ghostly Paranormal Encounters with over 19,000 members. But there are tons of of other groups which I am a member of a lot of them. When I started investigating there wasn’t any social media like there is today. Hell we didn’t even have the internet when I was a kid lol. So use social media to connect with like minded people world wide

Virginia thank you so much for this interview! You asked me questions I wasn’t expecting and I loved answering! Don’t hesitate to ask me anything else anytime.

It was a pleasure to interview you Tony, I look forward to interviews in the future.