MARGATE — Ed Nardo’s cousin was a skeptic. The little boy peeking out of a shed in a photo was merely a board and some tarp, the specks on another photograph just some dust or a trick of the light.

But Nardo believes — and he’s very persuasive.

The proof, he said, is in the images, the recordings, the videos — all of which he has accumulated as head of his own paranormal investigation team, Spectral Visions. And it just continues to pile up.

“I made a believer out of my cousin,” Nardo said. “If you’d have told me years ago I would get into this, I would have said you were nuts. But it’s fascinating.”

Nardo, of Margate, has seen his photographs published in that bible of the bizarre, Weird NJ magazine, and has conducted investigations — all free of charge, of course — at a number of homes throughout the area. He’s even had an unfortunate encounter at the old Atlantic County Jail (more on that later).

His spectral hobby began on a whim, “in Cape May, of all places,” Nardo said. He and his skeptic cousin joined a combination dinner and ghost tour at the Hotel Macomber. He was intrigued, and then he was hooked.

Pretty soon, he dived headfirst into the world of the paranormal, stocking up on the latest in ecto-detecting gadgetry for his Spectral Visions team, which includes his cousin and former skeptic Frank Ruszin, of Margate and Shirley Reich, of Vineland, among others.

Besides the HD-quality digital camera, there’s the EMF detector, a specially built device that lights up like a Christmas tree when electro-magnetic fields are detected — “If the sound goes off, that means they’re right on top of you,” he said — and the “paracorder,” which does the reverse and sends out energy for spirits to feed on, like the greedy souls they are.

The green laser, meanwhile, shoots out not one but a series of laser beams, creating a sort of planetarium-in-miniature that makes it easier to see a presence in the room.

Most intriguing, however, is the voice recorder, which picks up Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVPs, and has certainly garnered its fair share of unexplainable phenomena over the years.

“People think that we hear a disembodied voice,” Nardo said, explaining that EVPs are only noticeable upon playback, not in real-time. “I’d be jumping right off that thing if I heard that.”

Nardo cued up one eerie, female voice in particular, one that gave her name as “Missy” in response to Nardo saying his name was Ed — a being speaking from the distant past, now preserved for eternity as a mp3 file on an iPad.

Missy was a spirit that had been haunting a family in Mays Landing, Nardo said. “We’re afraid of the monster girl” is what some little girls told their mother — so his team went to investigate.

The girls told Nardo that she looked ugly and kept wanting to play with them even though they were afraid of her, and added the peculiar detail that “she carried a bucket with fish in it.”

Nardo’s verdict: the girl must have drowned while at a lake, and the resulting decomposition of her body before it was found led to her “ugly” appearance. He called out to her to follow the light, which he described as “daddy holding a lantern.” And just like that, the monster girl was no longer in this world.

Other EVPs include the Paul-is-dead-esque clip of a voice giving its name as “Lance Cooper” — that becomes the phrase “dear wants help” when played in reverse.

“When I played it backwards, every hair on my body stood up,” Nardo said.

Then, of course, there are the photos. Nardo knows all about the controversy over whether “orbs” are merely dust particles, reflections of the light or spots on a lens. His theory is that the faulty orbs can be detected by the solid, ring-like “crust” around them, while authentic ones are solid circles.

“Even if you want something to be something, it might not,” he said. “But sometimes you get something without a logical explanation for it.”

It’s the more evocative images that really raise questions. One picture, taken in Corbin City, features a beautiful, multicolored image that others have said looks a lot like an angel.

“You don’t get colors,” he said. “Unless it’s ethereal. It’s the only thing I can think of.”

Another image, from the Gettysburg battlefield, resembles a Southern general charging on his horse, sabre held high. Yet another features a shroud of swirls and mist around a backyard flagpole flying the stars and stripes — which on second glance becomes even more eerie when you realize there is no flagpole, and there is no flag.

Some images, though, are too disturbing to even show, he said — lest some of that bad energy re-enter the world. One shows what appears to be “the head of a dragon on an angel’s body,” while another reveals the malevolent being that haunts the Atlantic County complex in Mays Landing.

Nardo said he mocked the being as he turned and took a photograph — which he regretted when he could barely move the next day. Do not anger the dead.

In the end, though, Nardo said he just wants to get out a positive message about what lies beyond.

“That’s what I want to let people know,” Nardo said. “That there is something out there. To let them know this is not the end. It’s the beginning.”

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