Inside an old Victorian house in Rio Grande City, UT alumnus Alejandro Dominguez stands in the dark, capturing the silence with a recording device. When he plays it back, he hears a little girl’s voice saying “Mama” amid the white noise.
Dominguez, a paranormal investigator, travels to haunted sites around the country with a camera and sound equipment in hopes of capturing the supernatural. He uploads his findings to his YouTube series, “Dead Explorer,” which has amassed 26,000 subscribers since its creation five years ago.
“[I love] traveling and visiting historic sites and spending time alone in them,” Dominguez said. “People get to go inside some of the places I’ve investigated during the day, [but] I get to go in after hours and have the whole place to myself. I’m like a kid in a candy store.”
Unlike ghost hunters on television, Dominguez said his YouTube channel is gimmick-free. He doesn’t have to aim for high ratings that television shows depend on, which he said gives him the freedom to be honest in his work.
“On most investigations, about 90 percent of the time, [paranormal] things don’t happen,” Dominguez said. “When [paranormal] moments do happen, that’s awesome, but it’s not like television, where every single time you go somewhere that’s supposedly haunted, ghosts show up.”
Dominguez has recorded voices, seen unexplained lights and watched fellow ghost hunters appear to be choked and scratched by unexplainable forces, but he said he’s never seen what people think of as a typical ghost.
Before investigating on-site, Dominguez does research to give historical context to any paranormal activity he might experience. When he recorded the girl’s voice in Rio Grande City, he attributed it to the little girl who died in a well there years ago. Then when he saw lantern-esque lights in Anson, Texas, he traced them back to a legend of a woman who searched for her lost sons with a lantern in a snow blizzard.
Dominguez said he does not typically jump to the conclusion that ghosts caused any unexplained event. He said he believes that being skeptical is a good thing because it allows people to distinguish between the paranormal and something that has a logical explanation.
“I’m not one of those who say ‘Oh, that fell over — it must be a ghost,’” Dominguez said. “You can’t really say that legitimately. I try to be rational.”
Sommer Carter Jones, a fellow paranormal investigator, has starred in several episodes of “Dead Explorers.” She said the level of thought Dominguez puts into his videos by adding commentary, history and graphics, combined with his commitment to not faking anything, make his videos different from other online paranormal investigation videos.
“He presents it for what it is,” Jones said. “He’s really honest. [The videos] are interesting and exciting even if nothing happens.”
Dominguez said conversations about the afterlife and ghosts were standard for him growing up in Mexico. He remembers seeing a woman’s veiled face staring at him through the third story window of his grandparent’s home when he was four. The image inspired years of questions, research and a “geeky obsession” with ghost hunting shows on television.
Dominguez also developed a love for filmmaking over the years and began creating YouTube videos that eventually turned into “Dead Explorer.” He hopes his videos show viewers that anyone can become a paranormal investigator.
“You don’t need the fancy equipment you see on television to be a paranormal investigator,” Dominguez said. “If you want to find out if there is a ghost, go out with your eyes and ears and try to find out for yourself if there is.”