Interview with Paranormal Investigator and ‘Haunted Collector’ Presenter, John Zaffis

Mention his name to anyone interested in the more mysterious side of life, and they will certainly know him. John Zaffis has been at the forefront of paranormal investigation for over 45 years.

Having studied the subject under the watch of his Aunt and Uncle Ed and Lorraine Warren, he spent years investigating the paranormal. Zaffis eventually went on to host his own TV show — Haunted Collector. The show was a huge success (it still is today), and followed Zaffis on the trail of some of the most haunted items the world has ever seen.

For many years, I have followed the work of Zaffis as he traverses the realm of the paranormal. I recently invited the renowned investigator for an interview, and he kindly agreed.

We spoke over the phone at length about his experiences, what motivates him, and what his relationship was like with Ed and Lorraine Warren. I found Zaffis to be a warm, intelligent and good-humoured individual, with stunning insight to the paranormal realm.

Here I share the details of our exchange…

Zaffis amongst haunted objects…

You’ve been involved in the paranormal for most of your life, what kicked off the interest for you?

It started when I was 16 years old, and I had woken up in the middle of the night, and there was a tall, transparent figure at the bottom of my bed. It was shaking its head back and fourth. I raced downstairs and told my mum about it, and she asked me to describe the figure. I told her and she said, “that was your grandfather!” I asked her how she knew. She said, “You don’t remember him, you were too young, you were only four when he passed away. But he was stern and always shook his head back and fourth.” So that’s what intrigued me.

At that point, I made the decision to get into the paranormal. I was fortunate enough to have an Aunt and Uncle who were knowledgeable on the paranormal — Ed and Lorraine Warren. My mother was Ed’s twin.

Your TV show, Haunted Collector, has been running for many years now. The idea of haunted objects is a fascinating one. Is it actually more common than people think, to have objects that have energy — or is it rare?

Today, you have to be “buyer beware” on these things. You go online and there are so many haunted items out there. I believe energy can attach to land, objects and houses. So I look at this… this is something that can occur, it can happen. But I do feel most antiques and objects have no paranormal activity at all.

You have years of experience in dealing with haunted objects — can I ask you, is there a particular item that unsettled you the most?

Yes. One item that I refer to as an Idol. It was a case I worked on many years back. The young man got himself involved in conjuring things up… and in this six week time period, this man almost destroyed his life. He was hysterical. He was seeing things in his room. This idol — a black statue — contained whatever he had conjured up. His parents were horrified. It was an unfortunate situation, and I went in and helped them and everything ended up working out okay for the young man.

In 1998, you founded Paranormal and Demonology Research Society. Can you tell me a little about this?

I founded it with several different individuals who wanted to get into paranormal research. I wanted to teach people some of the knowledge that I had gained… So here we are many years later, still investigating and getting involved. People are looking for information, they’re looking for answers on how these things can happen… For me, one of the key objectives is trying to prove something scientifically.

It seems that the paranormal was bound to be in your life, considering your Uncle and Aunt were Ed and Lorraine Warren. I have a lot of respect for their work. Do you mind me asking — what were they like as people? Did you learn a lot from them?

Well, it’s an interesting question because I always viewed them differently — they were family. It was very unique, I had an Aunt and Uncle that chased ghosts! It opened up many opportunities for me to meet a lot of people that were in the field. I got to meet priests, ministers, rabbis, shamans, medicine men… that helped to build my foundation.

I was grateful. I remember sometimes mum would cook dishes and ask me to drop food off to Ed, and they’d put me in the car and take me off investigating.

Have you watched the series of horror films based on their work, such as Annabelle and the Conjuring franchise?

Absolutely. I make it a point to go and see them. The biggest reason, is people will ask me, “well is it true, John?” If you want accuracy you want to watch a documentary… when we go to the movies, we just want to be scared. The Conjuring and The Nun were two that made me jump right up in my seat.

There are factual things in the movies, but they do veer off. All these movies… they always take some of the facts and then ramp it up to make it scary.

For people who want to study and learn about demonology, what would you recommend as a good starting place? Are there things to be wary of?

Today, that is very fashionable for people to call themselves demonologists. It’s important, just like in any other field, to work with people who have been doing it for years… spiritual people. The main objective should be to learn and gain as much knowledge as you possibly can. I still believe in the basics: you can gain more knowledge by working with those who have been involved in this industry. You have to be guarded and careful, though. Once you open up that box, you have to be able to close it.

Finally, John, what keeps you going — what inspires you to keep working in this field?

We are still, to this day, researching and digging into this field. Are we able today to say, ‘we can document this from a scientific perspective?’ No…why? Because these things have to reoccur and reoccur… keep repeating… [in order to verify them] I’m hoping within the next few years we can learn more.

The thing that keeps me going is the search. You have to keep an open mind because there are times I take a step back and have to say “you know what, this didn’t happen that way.” You have to re-evaluate things.

It’s just one of those things that keeps me going. I keep an open mind with absolutely everything.

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Freelance writer and published author.

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Fiona Dodwell

Fiona Dodwell

Freelance writer and published author.

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