KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO
Mary Occhino, left, star of SyFy Channel’s upcoming ‘Mary Knows Best,’ filming an episode Monday at the Old Mill Inn with co-owner Barbara Pepe. A psychic who claims to speak to the dead, Ms. Occhino was trying to connect with ghosts reported to have been seen, heard or felt at the Mattituck restaurant.
Lights flared, cameras flashed and nearly every head at Mattituck’s Old Mill Inn and Restaurant turned to catch a glimpse of psychic phenomenon Mary Occhino, who stars in cable network SyFy’s new reality television show “Mary Knows Best,” debuting tonight at 9 p.m.
Ms. Occhino visited the restaurant on Monday, with SyFy documenting it all from start to finish, to explore reports of paranormal activities there and for Ms. Occhino to check out the vibes herself. Producers did not indicate when the episode would be on television.
Her visit left patrons telling ghost stories for most of the evening. “It was rather exhilarating,” said inn co-owner Barbara Pepe. “There was just so much information to take in. I can’t wait to see the show!”
The new show, which chronicles the daily life of Mastic resident Ms. Occhino and her family, focuses on the supernatural and, according to SyFy, often involves encounters with the deceased. SyFy producers chose the Mattituck inn as the setting for an upcoming episode after hearing stories about a ghost named Mrs. Holmes, who is said to haunt the 200-year-old building.
“There have been quite a few people who have actually seen her,” said restaurant co-owner Bia Lowe. “I’ve been here for five years, and I’ve never seen anything or have any evidence of her being around. But I do respect the reports.”
Although SyFy producers told Ms. Occhino nothing about the inn or its ghostly history, Ms. Occhino said that as soon as she saw the building she felt something similar to the “Amityville horror” — only without the horror.
“I knew from before we stepped in,” she said. “From the windows, I saw a little girl standing out. I told my daughter that the girl had either passed away or left a residual energy.”
Ms. Occhino, who charges $450 for a 30-minute telephone reading, said that residual energy is much like the aftereffect of a camera flash. A psychic reads residual energy, she said, in much the same way that a non-psychic sees the flash of a camera several seconds after taking a picture.
“It’s not a job,” Ms Occhino said. “It’s who I am … to me, it’s like breathing.”
Ms. Occhino identified at least half a dozen spirits while she was at the inn, according to Ms. Pepe: a woman named Laura, a tall gentleman with white hair, an old piano player from the 1930s and several other spirits, including Mrs. Holmes.
“She had quite a bit to say,” Ms. Pepe said. “She just kept throwing out names from the moment she walked through the door.”
Although Ms. Occhino’s profession is often met with skepticism, many patrons at the restaurant said that they, too, had had encounters with ghosts at the pub.
“There have been a couple of times when I’ll be sitting here at the pub, and something will fly off the counter,” said Brian Phillips, an EMT with the Mattituck Fire Department. Mr. Phillips said he believed he’d heard the voice of Mrs. Holmes 15 years ago at the restaurant. He said he was on the inn’s second floor when a woman’s voice whispered in his ear that “everything is okay.”
“She’s just letting you know she’s here,” he said. “And she’s not here to harm anybody.”
Other patrons who believe they’ve had encounters with Mrs. Holmes appreciated Ms. Occhino’s revelations but called for a healthy dose of skepticism.
“She’s definitely a psychic,” said Mattituck resident Wade Carlin, who said he’d felt Mrs. Holmes touch the top of his left ear two weeks ago. Later, Ms. Occhino revealed to him that it was actually the ghost of a woman named Kitty, who was known to wear a red dress and be friendly towards men.
“You just got to keep an open mind but question everything,” Mr. Carlin said.