According to the police report, Steven Foersch – a case manager with PUPS – collected $2,472 for nine overnight stays at the mansion between January and July of this year, but failed to turn the funds over to the Norristown Preservation Society. Foersch was also given $150 to have a tree removed from the Selma Mansion property by the preservation society, but the work was never done and the money was never returned, police said.
The PUPS group has a statement on their website. Foersch collected the money in place of the founder, Lisa Terio, for this event which took place from January through June. In June, it was discovered that the funds were being personally used by Steve Foersch. Terio and other members of P.U.P.S. helped with the investigation and have terminated their association with Foersch.
The theft has little directly to do with the fact that they are ghost hunters. There are a lot of people in various volunteer orgs that will pocket some money. But this does bring up a tangential point. Many historical societies are reliant on donations to keep up historic structures. Visits by ghost hunting groups and ghost tours have become an important stream of income for them. It’s debatable whether promoting paranormal tourism is a good tactic or not. The people who pay to stay at these facilities to find “paranormal” evidence do it for the enjoyment of a historic place and the thrill of the evening. Having recently participated in such an event, I can see the draw and the value of cooperation between the groups. But I can’t say that I feel all that good about it. Is there harm? No, probably not. People are getting more use out of the facilities. But it does tend to cheapen the history when the greatest value from the site is from those who seek to reinforce their paranormal beliefs. In the process, history gets rewritten.