Every week, The Dead Files heads to locations all over the United States to help people who think their homes or businesses have a paranormal activity that puts them in danger.
This paranormal show is very different from shows like Ghost Adventures. Instead of heading in with equipment, trying to see or hear paranormal entities, The Dead Files is set up as more of a true-crime series — but with spirits.
Amy Allan is a physical medium who heads into a home to see and speak to the spirits there.
However, up to a month before Amy shows up, Steve DiSchiavi arrives in town and researches the location. As a former NYPD homicide detective and a private investigator, Steve interviews, researches, and talks to experts to find out what could have caused the problems to begin with.
Then, in the end, the two come together to discuss their findings and compare notes. Together, they help the people discover the root and cause of their paranormal activity and advise them on what they should do to help.
Shawn Lealos: Before you started The Dead Files, you were a detective for 21 years; you were a marine. Did you believe in the paranormal at that time?
Steve DiSchiavi: Well to answer your question, I mean, I never been what I would call a total skeptic. I consider myself an open-minded skeptic. I’ve always thought there was something going on. I never ever in my life up until today, never experienced anything. I never disregarded it. I never didn’t believe there was something paranormal.
Even when you grow up Catholic, it is always that you know – you die, you go to heaven, if bad, you go to purgatory, if not you went to hell, and then that’s the way I was raised.
But as far as believing 110% jumping in, and then believing everything everybody says – absolutely not. So, I consider myself more of a skeptic of human beings than I am of the paranormal.
Shawn: You went from being a private investigator, working for the fraud department at Merrill Lynch, into doing this. What made you decide you wanted to start working in this paranormal investigation area?
Steve: Well, it took a lot of convincing at first, to be honest with you. When Jim Casey, along with the production company who owns the show, reached out to me, we had done some other projects involving just private investigation, nothing to do with the paranormal.
So, he reached out to me with this. I was like because there’s no way in hell I’m gonna do a paranormal show — that’s just not me.
Then when we discussed how it would work, and then when we did the sizzle, it got interesting to me because I didn’t have to be part of the whole paranormal end of it. I could do like a pragmatic investigation that involved basically witness stuff and facts. So, I thought that was pretty cool.
To this day, you know, 13 seasons later, that’s the way it is, you know. I do my thing, she does hers. And it works. You know, I don’t get involved in her stuff. She doesn’t get involved in mine. But when you put the two together, it comes out for a good case.
Shawn: You know, it’s interesting because for people who are new to the paranormal mystery shows, you look at Ghost Adventures, and they have all the equipment, trying to hear things and see things. Your show is angled more of like a true crime show, you know a mystery show like a true crime documentary. That makes you very unique
Steve: It’s funny. I tell people it’s a docudrama; I don’t tell them it’s a paranormal show. It’s almost like a documentary with all the history stuff. And you know, people ask, why don’t we use the equipment things that you mentioned?
I’m like, if you have somebody who can actually see and talk to dead people, why do you need the equipment, right?
Shawn: My wife’s kind of an addict to the true crime shows. And she loves The Dead Files, where I don’t think she would appreciate some of the other paranormal shows. So, it’s bringing in people who normally wouldn’t watch paranormal shows because it’s very different.
Steve: Yeah. I find a lot of couples are able to watch it. You know, and I don’t want to sound sexist or anything, but a lot more females are interested in the paranormal than men. It’s just the way it is, right? And I find a lot of men that don’t believe in the paranormal whatsoever will sit and watch the show with their wives or girlfriends.
They’re interested in the history part of it. So, you know, it’s not just for one type of a person. You’re gonna love it if you love the paranormal, you’re gonna love it if you like the history. It makes the audience a lot broader in that sense.
Shawn: Jim Casey said that Amy goes in blind, she knows nothing about the case. She doesn’t even know what city she’s going to. That way nothing can influence her. Tell me a little bit about your process compared to that. How do you go into each episode’s case?
Steve: Well, my stuff starts way before we even get to the property, you know, pulling deeds and chain of title, and stuff like that. So, my process starts way before. Then, reaching out to historians to help out on the location and genealogists that help us.
Anytime that I come across a client and research before we even get there, I’ll try to reach out to a local cop to see if he knows anything about it and if he could pull any records. My end of it starts way before we even hit the location. There’s a lot involved.
Then, when you get there, you don’t know where it’s going to take you, as far as what the witnesses are going to tell you. So, you gotta figure out that sometimes out of nowhere, the witness will tell me, “well, you know I heard that a woman hung herself in the basement.” Yet, I didn’t find anything about that.
Then I gotta start looking even closer into something like that. closer and something like that. So, there’s always a monkey wrench thrown in somewhere, but to answer your question, my process starts at least 30 days before we even hit a location.
Shawn: So, on this Coming episode, you guys are going to help a couple who own a bar, a family bar that came down from his father. It’s not a house, it’s more a place where there’s a lot of people who could get hurt in these situations. How do you deal with trying to convince them that it’s time to leave if they resist?
Steve: Well, you know what, I’m so used to people not helping themselves. You know, help me help you. That’s the thing. I’m trying to help you, but you’re not listening. Listen, I was 25 years working in the streets, trying to help somebody. They don’t want to listen, and there’s only so much you can do. They take your advice, great, but I’ve learned not to take it personal.
And that’s just from being a cop for so many years. If I took it personal, I’d come home and, you know, sob every night. It’s just that I care for these people, and to see them not really understanding that. Listen, you know, your family is more important than a building, your family is more important than a business, a family and people are more important than a house.
I just got home yesterday from an investigation in Iowa. And the guy with me, he’s like, I don’t care what the story is. I’m not leaving my house. Right. Are you listening to yourself? You know, they’ll probably cut it out of the episode, but I had to get in his face. I’m like, you got two kids, and your wife is being terrorized. Are you telling me your house is more important and your family? And he kind of looked at me, oh, no, I’m not saying that. Well, you are saying it, you just told me that.
Sometimes I kind of look at these people and I’m like, I get it. Listen, when it comes to finances, I totally get it. But if you say to me, I don’t know if I can afford to do it, I’ll do what I have to do – that I get. But when you’re like, but I love my house too much. I’m not leaving it. You’re more concerned about you and your house than your family?
So, when you call people on the carpet like that, they kind of take a look at themselves. But, I’m right in the guy’s face, saying, you know, you sound like a real dick. You might want to rethink about what you’re saying.
Shawn: This week. It’s a big thing. It’s the Native American curse from the Seminoles that was massacred in that town on that land. I mean, that also talks about the history. You’re talking about the history of that land. I believe you said it was the worst Native American massacre.
Steve: The Native Americans – really, both sides. It’s amazing. You know, I was never much into school when I was in school. But you know, what I know about learning history today, I mean, history is fascinating. And it’s amazing the stuff that people went through, that we really all should just take a second and think about what people went through and how good we got it today.
Shawn And, you know, this case makes it a lot bigger than just someone died here, can we cleanse it? There’s nothing that can be done. Everything’s just going to be temporary. And they soldiered on and that’s kind of scary when you think you know there are customers who are going to come in there, there’s employees, this is gonna be a dangerous place for a long time.
Steve: With them, this was such a sweet couple. They basically told everybody that comes in there that there is s**t going on here. You know, be aware of it. I guess if you’re one of those people who are afraid of it, don’t come in. Basically, they lay it on the line for the customers, and everybody knows them in town. Everybody knows what stuff’s going on. So, it’s one of those things like you know, you’ve given them disclaimer, good for you at least.
Shawn: What, you’ve been doing this for quite a while now. What case scared you the most when it came to the actual supernatural elements involved?
Steve: I’ve never actually been scared or afraid of anything that people told me about. I’ve never had an experience ever in my life. So, nothing’s gonna scare me. What scares me more is what the people are going through, and not being able to help. That bothers me more than you know not – scares me is not a good word. I am scared for them.
For me, it’s, Christ, we’re coming up on almost 200 episodes. So, you know, it’s hard to pinpoint one particular, but you know, when you look at like crime victims, like I always say, it’s hard to not empathize with people, even though you don’t understand what they’re going through. So, my fear factor is more for them, than for myself.
Shawn: You look at the premiere episode of the season and you have the couple with the two little girls that they adopted – their grandchildren they adopted. That would seem to be frightening because you have children, barely older than toddlers, who could be in danger.
Steve: It’s almost like child abuse in a sense, but nobody, nobody living doing the abuse – it’s the paranormal. So that’s the fearful part that. You know, if a guy walked into my house with a gun or a knife, I can handle it, right? I’ll take care of that. How do you handle something you can’t see?
That would scare me. That would frustrate me to no end. I feel for these people, especially when you’re trying to do the right thing by adopting kids. They took the kettle to the frying pan.
Shawn: I would assume in the beginning you were skeptical, possibly of Amy’s ability to talk to the dead and see the dead. When was it you started to believe this?
Steve: No. Actually, after we did the first sizzle together, we did it with a bunch of other mediums. I was sold on Amy right at that sizzle. And I called the producer, I said, listen, I’m interested in doing the show and there were five other female medians at this sizzle. And the only one that had any kind of chops and had any – for me to say, you know, this just seems legit and she’s really, really good. I told them, I’ll do it but only if she’s in it. If she’s not in it, I’m not gonna bother because the other ones didn’t show me anything
Shawn: So, you were involved first. And then she came on after that?
Steve: No, actually, they were trying to get a show involving a female medium, but they wanted to find a way to bring some facts into it. So, Jim had worked with me prior, trying to get me on a TV show as far as a private investigator goes, and nothing to do the paranormal.
And he called me and then he pitched this thing to me, and I kind of turned him down at first. And then he convinced me to come meet Amy and the rest of the girls, and you know, we’ll do a pilot and see what happens. And that was it. You know, I didn’t think it was gonna go anywhere, I didn’t think it was gonna go past the first season to be honest.
She’s the real deal.
Shawn: When you’re investigating a murder case, I assume it should be pretty easy to get experts and people to talk to you about it. Do you find it more difficult when it comes to a show like The Dead Files to get people to take you seriously when you call them and want to talk to them?
Steve: Early on, we had a tough time, especially trying to get law enforcement to talk to me about an old murder was really tough. But now that we’ve been on, and we can say just watch a couple of shows on YouTube or whatever, once they see how we work and how the concept is, then most of the time, they’re more than willing to help out and talk about stuff on TV.
Oh, yeah, we had a tough time. It really was tough.
But, you know, our credibility – the show has a lot of credibility, it’s not one of those – like, I’m not gonna mention any names, but it’s not one of those shows where people walk around and bump and scare each other and that’s it. Our show is a lot more, I’d say more professional, is the best word I can use. You know, it’s more professional in its approach.
I think that appeals to law enforcement to get more involved. My background makes it a little bit easier as well.
Shawn: You’ve talked to a lot of people – you mentioned 200 episodes, so hundreds of people. What kind of advice would you give people if they started to feel that there was something wrong in their home? How they should try to deal with this?
Steve: That’s a tough question, for me. That’s more of an Amy question.
The only reason being is, because of the paranormal, I have zero advice to give people. I could tell people listen, do some research on your house, go down to the municipal building, get your block and lot number, do a chain of title, find out who owned the home prior, do some newspaper research and see who might have died in the house.
As far as the paranormal goes, if they were going to bring somebody in – and this is only quoting Amy – make sure that they’re reputable, right. A lot of people come to these homes and are just there to get their jollies off. They’re not gonna have no interest in helping anybody. They are more interested in, “look what happened to me or look what I saw or what I heard?”
They’re not genuine and want to help people. So that’s where you got to be careful. I tell people if your gonna employ a paranormal group to do investigation in your home, be very careful and be very diligent on how you pick people. It’s very important.
The investigation we just did, they brought in a team a few years back, and right after they left, everything went crazy in the house. They just made it worse.
Shawn: Well, thank you for your time. I’m enjoying the new season and like I said, I got my wife hooked on it and she’s loving it now.
Steve: I appreciate you even wanting to interview me and your support of the show, and thank your wife for me as well.