Mark Fults learned a long time ago that if he was going to talk to dead people it needed to be on his terms.
A psychic medium, ghost hunter and author, Fults has just released the second edition of his popular ghost story collection, called "Chattanooga Chills." The book features more than 50 stories of hauntings and supernatural sightings set in Chattanooga.
He is working on another book with at least 50 more stories to be released in the near future. This book will focus more on his paranormal investigations.
Recently, Fults has participated in the taping of several ghost hunting TV shows as an expert psychic. He said a much larger TV deal is in the works, but he was unable to give details.
In a conversation at his St. Elmo home, Fults spoke at length about his psychic ability and some of the stranger things he’s seen throughout his life on the dark side in Chattanooga.
"I had a relative that thought Chattanooga was just a big graveyard, and you can argue that," he said. "We’re kind of sandwiched between Indian wars, civil wars and death."
Fults alluded to the sacred Indian burial grounds of Citico Mounds, Cameron Hill and Chickamauga Battlefield. He also hinted at "satanic activity" on both Signal and Lookout mountains, which involved ritualistic killings ranging from the 1960s to the present day.
"There are satanic people who are intellectuals who do not do the shock jock stuff," he said. "Then, there are people who do the kidnapping people, killing people, killing animals."
He remembers one instance during the 1980s that was particularly disturbing to him:
"I knew a man who worked at the nature center, and he approached me and some other people about the eagles," Fults said. "They had been damaged, and they were taking care of them. Someone had broken in and drained the bodies and left the heads. It would’ve been 1985 or 1986. Apparently, they saw some teenage boys in a creek they were trying to chase off ... they were trying to do a sort of ritualistic cleansing in the water. They drained the blood, left the bodies and took the heads."
Downtown is full of ghosts, too, according to Fults. He has investigated areas of Underground Chattanooga—a series of subterranean tunnels left after the elevation of the city streets following a devastating flood in 1867—and notably haunted locations like the Hunter Museum of American Art and the Walnut Street Bridge.
"Downtown is pretty special. I keep finding more and more stories that I don’t expect to find," he said.
The story of Augusta Hoffman is of particular interest to Fults. Hoffman was in her 40s and allegedly murdered by her rich aunt and uncle, the Bennetts, for a small sum of money. Her body was discovered a year later under the floor of the Bennetts' home at what was then 15 Bluff View. It is thought her spirit then moved to the Hunter Museum when it was built and never left.
Fults was one of the first to ever make contact with Hoffman’s ghost, which he writes about in the book.
"She didn’t appear to me like she did to other people, " he said. "Others had seen her, and she was all bloody. She was nice and tidy to me. When she was murdered, it was an international case ... I mean, the Bennetts’ house stunk for six months. But yeah, she’s there. She looked fairly decent when I saw her because she knew she was going to get interviewed."
One of his favorite spots is the Chickamauga Battlefield, which he said was haunted long before the Civil War.
"It’s pre-Civil War and pre-Native American," he said. "It had already been used spiritually, and there were humanoid beings that still walk that line that were watchers that were called to watch the barriers and outline. That’s old, old ... 3,500 years, at least."
Fults said most people would be surprised at how much voodoo and satanism exist in Chattanooga.
"I found all sorts of stories about witches," he said. "A lot of it had to do with the black culture that was here after the Civil War. They had people who were getting vexed and would come to the voodoo queens, and they would put cups up to them that were filled with snakes, salamanders and bugs. Then they would say, ‘Oh, somebody got you!"
He also remembers an incident near Third Street where a decapitated German shepherd was found with a dead chicken on top of it.
Death and being psychic
Fults realized at the age of 6 that he had the ability to see and communicate with the nonliving, but he "turned it off" because it was incompatible with his family’s Baptist faith.
But the ability never went away.
By 18, Fults became interested in metaphysics, a branch of philosophy that deals with abstract concepts. Throughout his 20s, Fults dabbled in ghost stories and Wicca while delving into the dark history of Chattanooga by collecting newspaper clippings and old photographs.
When he was 30, he was badly beaten—nearly to death—by a group of teenagers. Fults said he died twice while in the hospital.
"During that near-death experience process, I became more connected to not just seeing the spirits, but understanding what they were doing," he said.
Fults recalls hearing a preacher deliver his last rites over him. He said any uneasy feeling that he was having dissipated once the process of death began.
"I wasn’t feeling any pain," he said. "It was like if you had panes of glass and things just started getting projected onto them. I could see a night scene with trees and lights coming out from behind the trees and people moving in the lights. As they moved closer, I started to vibrate in my chest and began pulling out of my body."
He believes they were calling his name, but for some reason, it wasn’t his time.
His psychic ability became more attuned following his near-death experience. Suddenly, he was more able to communicate with the spirits around him.
"Being psychic is a lot like having a radio receiver," he said. "You have to be able to adjust your energy because you’re just picking up theirs. There are meditations you can do to improve it. And the more you do, the more you’ll start picking things up."
Fults said anyone can become a psychic with the proper meditations and willingness to pick up on the energy.
"I tell people to imagine having a dial in your hand," he said. "You just turn it down, because if you don’t, you won’t sleep. There’ll be dead people at your bed going, ‘Hey! Look at me!’"
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