Another ‘Ghost Hunter’ Arrested: Florida Man Jailed For Chasing ‘Spooks’ With A Machete

A Florida man who reports cheekily refer to as a “ghost hunter” has been arrested after admitting to Volusia County deputies that he had been chasing “spooks” with a machete. Both he and his female partner were taken into custody and charged with several counts, not the least being child endangerment.

The Mirror reported on August 2 that Volusia County authorities found Jonathan Ponce, 31, and his girlfriend, Meghan Silva, 26, high on the drug Molly when they were called to the house of the Deltona, Florida, couple. According to WESH in Orlando, officers initially discovered Silva, who was allegedly under the influence, running down the street away from the house. She told them she was running from Ponce because the man had a machete.

Although deputies found Ponce in the house, the machete was found in a front garden in the front yard of the couple’s home in Deltona. When asked, Jonathan Ponce, who admitted to being high on Molly, also admitted that he had been using the machete on a “spook search.”

A search of the home uncovered a sheathe for the machete in another room, where a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old were sleeping. The so-called “ghost hunter” was immediately arrested and charged with child neglect. A charging affidavit was also completed against Silva.

Police reported that Ponce and Silva were behaving erratically and acting paranoid. Molly is a psychoactive drug that is sold as “pure” MDMA, the active ingredient in the synthetic or designer drug Ecstasy (or “E”). The problem with Molly, as ABC News reported in early 2013, is that much of the drug, which usually sends the user into a mild hallucinogenic state of euphoria, being marketed on the street is counterfeit. Its chemical formula has been altered by an atom or two, thus increasing the danger of using it. And then there is the repackaging to consider, where the drug can be further altered. Molly is almost never pure MDMA, which in itself is not safe to use, either.

But an alleged drug-influenced “ghost hunter” waving a machete at imagined “spooks” isn’t the same as the paranormal investigators that search for evidence of spirits and hauntings. And yet, ghost hunters run afoul of law every now and then themselves.

In May of last year, four people were arrested for breaking into the historic Ness Church in Litchfield, Minnesota. The building, according to WCCO in Minneapolis, has been a target of ghost hunters for years, its legend growing with an accumulation of YouTube videos. Police caught the four after responding to a burglar alarm they tripped when they broke windows to gain entrance. Responding officers pulled over a vehicle they saw leaving the church grounds, capturing and arresting the self-described “ghost hunters.”

WIVB in Buffalo, New York, reported in September 2014 that 14 amateur ghost hunters had been arrested over a two-month period for trespassing on JN Adam complex, which is said to be haunted. However, authorities are warning people to stay away from the deteriorating complex because of safety concerns.

In November 2013, a group of men, all would-be ghost hunters, were arrested after they burned down the historic LeBeau Plantation mansion in New Orleans. According to LiveScience, the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office said the men had attempted a “provocation,” an act designed to prompt the resident ghosts into showing themselves, by setting a fire in the old house. The seven men were allegedly high at the time, according to St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Polman (per WDSU in New Orleans). The 159-year-old mansion was completely destroyed by the fire, the building nearly consumed by flames by the time firefighters arrived on the scene.

As LiveScience notes, amateur ghost hunting, spurred on by the SyFy Channel show Ghost Hunters and its clones, has become popular in recent years. Besides the countless arrests for simple trespassing and cases of breaking and entering, many have been injured and some have been killed pursuing ghosts, which scientists, for the most part, are of the position that they do not exist.

But some 34 percent of Americans do believe that ghosts exist, according to a LiveScience infographic, despite what science has to say. And such beliefs will occasionally prompt the more adventurous to seek out ghosts and spectres in so-called haunted houses and landmarks. When given a bit of a boost by mind-altering substances, those beliefs will also lead to some, like Jonathan Ponce, to become a “ghost hunter” and start chasing “spooks” with a machete.

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