While doing research for the blog, we came across this story, which at first presents itself as a feel-good tale of bouncing back from financial oblivion. But it piqued our interest for another reason as well: reading between the lines, it would almost seem as though this guy went broke because of his paranormal group. Not sure if that’s really what happened, but I can see it happening. I mean, the family has an RV and an ambulance, both of which he bought for his ghost hunting group. Those are pretty lofty expenses, even for the most dedicated of ghost hunters. Read on…
MADISON – Michael Carroll had just come back to work as an assistant manager at Cumberland Farms in North Branford after a two-day hospital stay.
Standing 6-feet 8 ½-inches tall, Carroll, 32, was recovering from a bout with a painful, genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome that often affects tall people, and now he stood over the store’s cash register.
It was noon on May 30, time for Carroll’s lunch break when he remembered he had spent $15 on a Powerball ticket five days earlier — something he does not do very often. He stared at a screen beside the register flashing the latest winning Powerball numbers: 2 6 19 21 27 25 — the last one the Powerball number. Anyone selecting all the numbers before it would win $2 million.
He pulled out his wallet, slipped out the ticket he had bought in this very store and glanced at the numbers he had picked: 2 6 19 21 27 — they were all there except for the final one. If true, that meant while he had not won the Powerball fortune, he was now an instant millionaire.
Carroll froze in disbelief. He was virtually broke. A paranormal group he had formed (called NEST) and bought equipment for because of his deep belief in things he was convinced science couldn’t explain was much less active than he wanted it to be because of his lack of funds — though he was still pursuing it avidly. Bills were piling up.
He read the ticket and the screen again. Again. Again. His hands shook. The numbers didn’t change.
“I just didn’t believe it, couldn’t believe it,” he said. “My hands kept shaking, I called my girlfriend, Lisa, the woman I am going to marry, though I had not yet proposed because I didn’t have the money to buy a ring.”
“When he called and started screaming, ‘We won, we won, we won,’ I shared his original view. I just didn’t believe it. I was stunned,” said Elisabeth (Lisa) Pfeifer, sitting beside Carroll in a Guilford Library meeting room last Friday.
“We had been living with the help of the Madison Food Bank and couldn’t even pay our cell phone bills, so the phone had been shut off,” she added.
“When Mike insisted he had the winning numbers and hung up. I called back and told him to sign the back of the ticket and guard it with his life.”
Cassidy Knight, 10, one of two girls Pfeifer had from two previous marriages, recalled the moment when the phone rang. “I saw mom smiling like she hardly ever does and when she told me. I couldn’t even speak.”
Pfeifer’s second daughter is Madeline Beardsley, 13. “When I hung up the phone,” Pfeifer said, “it got so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
Carroll and Pfeifer waited five days until the following Tuesday (June 4) before going to Rocky Hill to claim the prize.
”We had to ask my Dad for $20 to buy gas so we could make the drive,” Pfeifer said.
They were ushered into a room where they were asked lots of questions to make sure their winning ticket had been purchased legally and was the legitimate winner.
Then Carroll was given two checks – one a huge fake one and one a real one for $1.366 million, the amount he won after the deduction of state and federal taxes.
Now it was really real – yet Carroll, Pfeifer and the girls still had trouble believing it.
In recent days, that has changed. Carroll bought Pfeifer an $8,500 engagement ring, but hasn’t proposed or given it to her yet.
“She won’t know when it’s going to happen, but she already knows I intend to be the father of her two girls for as long as I draw breath,” Carroll said.
To pay back the Madison Food Bank for helping them, Carroll and Pfeifer bought $3,300 worth of food, put it in his vehicle (a 1992 Ford E-350 ambulance they use to transport their psychic phenomenon equipment for NEST) and drove it to the bank.
“I believe in giving back,” Carroll said. “And NEST is not only about exploring such things as haunted houses, but helping restore old buildings and helping people in need.”
In keeping with that spirit, Carroll gave Cumberland Farms coworker Jessica Waters, who sold him the winning Powerball ticket, $1,000.
“I was really shocked when I found what had happened,“ said Jason Hoffman, a close friend who has known Carroll for 18 years. “I couldn’t be happier for him. He is always helping people in need and would give you the shirt off his back.”
Kirk Simmons, a man Carroll has called uncle all his life though they are not related, said last week: “Good for him, something like this couldn’t have happened to a better man.
“But I admit I was worried when I heard the news; he is always helping people and I was concerned he would give a lot of it away.”
He needn’t have worried. Carroll has hired a top flight financial consultant and well-known financial adviser to invest what he has left — some $850,000 — after he and Pfeifer bought themselves a new Madison salt box home, he said.
It cost $147,000 — and is steeped in history because Carroll said “if you don’t love history, you shouldn’t live in New England. We got at a bargain price because it is in bad shape — but are spending $350,000 for renovations. It is surrounded by two gorgeous acres, has two stories, a basement and an attic and will have four bedrooms and one and a half baths. There is also an out building we are going to turn into a radio station to help publicize our paranormal group we have named the New England Spiritual Team — NEST.”
“That’s how I met Mike,” Pfeifer said. “I had been interested in the paranormal for years and I found his group on the Internet and contacted him. One thing led to another and it became obvious we belong together.”
Carroll said his belief in psychic phenomena began after his brother Christopher died when he (Carroll) was just 2. “I began actually seeing his presence and talking to him and did so repeatedly over the years. I realize people thought it was odd, but I didn’t.
“I know there are things out there we know much too little about.”
The couple recounted a number of supernatural experiences they have shared — including their NEST inspection of the Granite Theater in Westerly, R.I. where a number of people reported seeing three apparitions over and over again.
“We investigate such reports free of charge and with a healthy skepticism,” Carroll said.
“We brought our digital cameras and special electronic equipment and Nov. 11 of last year, took pictures and actually saw the apparitions, including a girl wearing a peacoat and a boy playing in a the theater’s sound booth. Though the photos are clouded by what we call psychic fog, they are still quite clear.”
They have shared numerous other paranormal adventures and with their new-found wealth, hope to experience many more.
Pfeifer, 39, has red hair and hazel eyes and stands 5-foot-3 in her stockinged feet — fully 17 inches shorter than Carroll, who has brown hair, blue eyes and a slim build.
“People call him the Jolly Green Giant and call me Sprout,” Pfeifer said.
“But we click — and I believe we always will.”
The key piece for me is where the article states “He was virtually broke. A paranormal group he had formed (called NEST) and bought equipment for because of his deep belief in things he was convinced science couldn’t explain was much less active than he wanted it to be because of his lack of funds — though he was still pursuing it avidly. Bills were piling up.” Pursuing avidly even when bills were piling up? Was he just continually spending money on the group, and thereby putting his family into bankruptcy? If that’s the case, then I don’t have much sympathy for him. But it seems as though he’s a good person and always giving, however it makes one wonder how much he gave, and at what cost. Either way, it’s good to see someone who gives so much back to the community win the money. I just hope he’s learned his lesson about investing too much into a field that doesn’t have a lot of potential for profit. The fact that he’s creating a radio station to publicize his group tells me he may still need a little guidance…