Ed and Lorraine Warren; two of the most renowned paranormal investigators in American history. While they are now known to a larger audience due to their characterizations in the phenomenally successful franchise that spun-off from The Conjuring films, the Connecticut natives accrued an almost four decade history of investigations into the paranormal – long before the current slew of reality based “ghost hunting” television shows. So without further hesitation, let us take a look at seven of the more notorious investigations conducted by Ed and Lorraine Warren.
“The Smurl Haunting”
&The Smurl Haunting is named thus, for Jack and Janet Smurl. They claimed that a demon was haunting their home in West Pittston, Pennsylvania between the years of 1974 and 1989. The demon was alleged to have thrown the family dog into a wall and pushed their daughter down the stairs. The Warrens arrived at the Smurl household in 1986 to conduct their own investigation. Ed Warren described the demonic presence as “very powerful” and claimed that the entity was able to shake mirrors and move furniture. Warren claimed to have recorded audio footage of knocking and rapping sounds caused by the demon.
“The Enfield Poltergeist”
&This well known case formed the subject matter for The Conjuring 2. This case saw the Warrens flying overseas to London, England in order to investigate alleged poltergeist activity in the north London Borough of Enfield. Peggy Hodgson – a single parent – had initially called the police after two of her four children had reported knocking sounds on the walls. Peggy herself claimed to have witnessed furniture moving around with no explanation. This was apparently also corroborated by a police officer visiting the house.
Ed and Lorraine Warren were convinced that the events were of supernatural origin and appeared be predominantly focused around two of Peggy Hodgson’s teenage daughters – with the girls seeming at times to apparently levitate off the ground. It should be noted however that the two daughters, Margaret and Janet Hodgson, later admitted to pranking investigators. This haunting also formed the plot for a Sky television series, screened in 2015; the three part miniseries, The Enfield Haunting.
&The house in question, located in Harrisville Rhode Island, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman alleged to be a witch. The commonly accepted story states that the woman killed her son and herself in order to haunt any future occupants of the house. The Warrens’ investigation took place in 1974 when they made repeated visits to the property in order to investigate reports of a malevolent entity capable of lifting beds, whilst also filling the air with the reek of rotting flesh.
This particular was of course the basis of the titular first film in the series, The Conjuring. While Ed Warren had already passed away during the production of the movie, Lorraine Warren served as a consultant on the project. Of that long ago investigation, she admitted: “The things that went on there were just so incredibly frightening. It still affects me to talk about it today.”
A case that needs absolutely no introduction, as it began a line of spin-offs set within The Conjuring universe. Not quite the creepy-looking doll depicted in the movies, the real life Annabel was a fairly regular looking Raggedy Ann doll. However, this doll was said to be haunted.
Initially given to a student nurse in 1970 as a gift, the doll apparently began behaving strangely. A psychic medium informed the student nurse that the doll was haunted by the spirit of a girl named Annabelle. Despite the best efforts of the student and her roommate to accept and even care for the allegedly haunted doll, Annabelle would repeatedly exhibit displays of malicious and frightening behavior.
The Warrens were called in to investigate the doll. After their investigation had concluded, the Warrens declared the doll to be demonically possessed – and moved it to secure place at their own museum in Monroe, Connecticut. A brief rumor surfaced in 2020, claiming that Annabelle had somehow escaped from its enclosure at the Warren museum, although it must be noted that the rumors were quickly quashed. Annabelle remains safely secured inside her enclosure.
“The Snedeker House”
A former funeral home, the Warrens arrived in 1986 to conduct an their investigation. The owners of the home had claimed that their son was suffering from violent personality changes as a result of a demonic presence in the house. The veracity of these claims must however be called into question, when taking into consideration the reported possibility that the son was suffering from schizophrenia.&
Furthermore, other investigators found the case to be a particularly taxing one. Horror writer Ray Garton wrote his own account of the alleged haunting, In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting (1992). In this non-fiction novel, co-written with Ed Warren, Lorraine Warren, Al Snedeker, and Carmen Snedeker, Garton spoke of his frustration in trying to piece the true story together. Said Garton: “The family involved, which was going through some serious problems like alcoholism and drug addiction, could not keep their story straight, and I became very frustrated; it’s hard writing a non-fiction book when all the people involved are telling you different stories”. Of Lorraine Warren, Garton was quoted as saying: “if she told me the sun would come up tomorrow morning, I’d get a second opinion”.
The phenomena at the house has been documented across a series of media, including the 2009 feature film, The Haunting in Connecticut.
&Another case that requires absolutely no introduction at all. T he Amityville Horror as it became known, became such a multi-million dollar franchise in its own right, you could be forgiven for thinking that the films were their own brand of fiction. However this is also probably the most high-profile of the cases investigated by the Warrens.
Paranormal events in the home of George and Kathy Lutz apparently culminated with their fleeing their Long Island home in 1975. A year prior to the arrival of George and Kath to the house, it had been reported that Ronald DeFeo Jr. had murdered all six of his family members with a firearm. The Warrens investigated the house at length and were confident enough with their findings to declare the house haunted. Further investigations have since however concluded that the alleged paranormal activity in the house was in all likelihood a hoax.
The case was widely publicized enough in 1977 to warrant a book, The Amityville Horror – adapted into film adaptations of the same name in both 1979 and 2005. Interestingly, lawyer William Weber stated that along with the occupants of the house and author of The Amityville Horror, Jay Anson, they invented the horror story surrounding the house “over many bottles of wine”. The Conjuring 2 would be a retelling of Ed and Lorraine’s account of goings on during the Amityville Horror.
“The Devil Made Me Do It”
It is perhaps fitting to close out our list with the most recent entry into The Conjuring series. The trial of one Arne Cheyenne Johnson in 1981 would become better know as the titular “The Devil Made Me Do It” case. For the American court system, this would mark the very first time that a defendant had claimed “demonic possession” as the central aspect of the defense.
Johnson had been accused of killing his landlord, Alan Bono. Prior to this, the Warrens had been called in to investigate a demonic entity apparently possessing the younger brother of Johnson’s fianc&ée. The Glatzel family had claimed that 11 year old David Glatzel was possessed by a demon. Lorraine claimed that David would levitate, cease breathing for inexplicable periods of time, speak in foreign tongues and even share precognitive visions – including the future manslaughter committed by Johnson. The demon, upon being exorcised from David’s body, allegedly took up residence inside Arne Johnson, directly contributing to the manslaughter of landlord Alan Bono. Judge Robert Callahan would go on to reject defense lawyer Martin Minnella’s plea of not guilty by virtue of possession defense, declaring it “irrelative and unscientific”.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It was released in the United Kingdom on May 26, 2021, and in the United States on June 4, 2021. As part of it’s plans for all 2021 releases in the United States, The Conjuring :The Devil Made Me Do It will also be available to stream on the HBO Max service for one month. Afterwards, the movie will be removed from HBO Max until the regular domestic release period.