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How real-life horror visited ‘rock star’ ghost hunters, dead in alleged murder-suicide

Mark and Debby Constantino.

Hunting ghosts often requires more than a spooky hospital or prison, a Ouija board and a flashlight. Sometimes, state-of-the-art technology is needed. So, when necessary, the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” whose hosts “investigate the scariest, most notorious, haunted places in the world,” hits up its favorite audio specialists — Mark and Debby Constantino of Reno, Nev.

“We are EVP specialists,” Mark explained during one visit. “What EVP is, it’s the capturing of spirit voices on recording devices.”

“Ghost Adventures” asked the couple to listen to a recording made at an abandoned prison. Was that a scary, disembodied voice whispering “I’ll kill you”?

Debby declared the recording “freaking amazing.”

“You hear a woman: ‘I’ll kill you!'” she said.

But now, whatever hokeyness and fun surrounded the Constantinos’ audio adventures is gone. On Tuesday, in a tragedy as horrific as any the couple investigated, Mark allegedly killed Debby, another man and himself as the chaotic personal life of the estranged couple unraveled.

“They were rock stars,” Jeadene Solberg, the founder of the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters, told Northern Nevada’s KOLO 8. “If you talk to anybody who is coming into the paranormal, who’ve seen the TV shows, they’ll ask: ‘Do you know the Constantinos? Have you worked with them?'”

The Constantinos, married in 1989, seemed a perfect match. It’s not every couple that can geek out on the paranormal for decades.

“This photo and the next are of me in 1989 in our second apartment in Wayne N.J.,” Debby wrote on the couple’s Web site. “By far the darkest place we have ever lived. The foremost thing we experienced was being scratched while sleeping in the front room. We both experienced this simultaneously while hearing the brass handles on a chest we had in front of us get lifted & dropped several times. You can see what appears to be 3 towers of mist to my left which would be in the front room.”

Debby was the leader — but Mark was on board.

“Debby has the gift of attracting spirits,” the Web site read. “She considers herself born with the natural ability to see, feel and hear spirit. She also feels she vibrates on a level to glimpse into the nature realm. … Mark grew up with a strong belief in the Afterlife, but never experienced anything until he met Debby.”

The lecture circuit and minor TV fame seemed like a bonus.

“We have been blessed enough to have traveled and investigated some of the most haunted locations in the country with some of the most prominent people in the field,” the Constantinos wrote. “Over the past several years we have been channeling most of our time and effort into receiving EVP on a consistent basis.”

And “Ghost Adventures” was the best of the best when it came to ghost-hunting TV.

“There are a lot of people out there doing paranormal shows,” Debby said in 2008. “They’re a dime a dozen now. What makes this show unique is that they’re going to some of the most haunted evil locations. … If you really want to be frightened, they’re doing the horror.”

But what looked like charming eccentricity evidently masked personal horror. Signs that all was not well with the Constantinos were many.

In March 2014, Debby was arrested for domestic battery, as Reno’s KRNV reported. She allegedly cut Mark’s arm with a kitchen knife after an argument about money. Then, six weeks ago, Mark and the couple’s daughter, Raquel Constantino, allegedly kidnapped Debby. They were accused of strangling her and breaking her nose, and protection orders were issued — an incident that perhaps led the couple to file for divorce on Sept. 10.

This wasn’t the end, however.

This week’s incident began Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. KOLO 8 reported that a woman returned to her home in Reno to find a male roommate — not yet named by police — dead. Her other roommate, Debby Constantino, was missing.

The woman called police. However, they were all too familiar with the address.

“There’s a history at that location of domestic issues,” Lt. William Rulle of the Reno police said. “This female is also … a victim, a couple of months ago, of a kidnapping.”

Pinging the Constantinos’ cellphones led police to an apartment complex in nearby Sparks, Nev. There, near Sparks High School at his daughter Raquel’s apartment, police said Mark staged a dramatic standoff, firing his gun when they attempted to enter. Students were kept inside as the incident unfolded.

“Give me 15 minutes to gather my thoughts or I’ll kill her,” Mark said, as the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

“We ended up locking the apartment down,” Rulle said, “creating a barricaded-subject situation.”

Armed SWAT teams from Reno and Sparks rushed to the scene as police tried to talk Mark down. Mark was also reportedly in contact with Raquel, who was not at the apartment.

“Negotiators were on the phone with him for a significant portion of that time,” Brian Miller, deputy chief of the Sparks Police Department told KOLO 8. “Obviously the major focus of that conversation was for everyone to come out, and for this to end peacefully and for nobody to get hurt.”

The wait went on for nearly three hours. At about 1:30 p.m., shots were heard. Officers then stormed the apartment, and Mark and Debby were found dead inside.

“This is a huge tragedy for a lot of people,” Miller said. “It’s horrible.”

Police fired no shots, and none of the officers were injured, police said.

The paranormal community expressed shock, and offered condolences.

“A very tragic dark day,” Zak Bagans of “Ghost Adventures” tweeted.

“This is such a terrible tragedy,” co-host Nick Groff wrote.

In 2012, Mark offered comments on a album by Groff that now seem quite eerie. The record dealt with what comes after death.

“Nobody knows exactly what’s coming up,” Mark said. “… I want to put religion aside and just want to think that it’s more important about how you are as a person while you’re here, which is gonna matter more as to where you end up on the other side.”

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