Ed and Lorraine Warren were a husband-and-wife team who went on to become world-renowned paranormal investigators following probes into high-profile cases like The Amityville Horror, the Annabelle doll, and certain spooky events that inspired the Conjuring series.
In 1952, the Warrens founded the oldest ghost hunting group in New England, wrote numerous books on their paranormal investigations, and developed personal insights into thousands of paranormal cases throughout their career. On April 18, 2019, Lorraine Warren died peacefully in her sleep at age 92. Ed Warren had preceded her in death in 2006 at age 79.
These are their most chilling cases from a history based on discovering the true evil that lurks in people’s homes.
In 1970, the Perron family moved into an old farmhouse in Rhode Island. It wasn’t long before their dream home became their worst nightmare. Carolyn, Roger, and their five children witnessed a tall woman in a gray dress roaming the house. Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated the home and discovered that the woman was a 19th-century witch named Bathsheba who had sacrificed her baby to the Devil before hanging herself from a tree in the backyard.
Bathsheba was a constant penetrating force in the house and fought with Carolyn for dominance. Carolyn’s daughter Andrea recalls, “[Bathsheba] loathed my mother, and she lusted after my father. My mother was never allowed to resume her rightful position as mistress of the house.”
Andrea added, “It wanted to be the dominating force, and we fought it for a long time. I guess we know who won, as [we] left and [the ghost] is still there.”
Ed and Lorraine Warren’s Occult Museum is a permanent home to the Annabelle doll which is kept in a special protected case. In 1970, this Raggedy Ann doll was given to 28-year-old Donna, and it wasn’t long before she and her roommate noticed that Annabelle was moving around the apartment on its own. They also found random notes scrawled on parchment that read: “Help Us.”
At first, they thought this was all a prank. But when events worsened, they decided to call a medium. During the seance, they were able to contact a spirit named Annabelle who had died when she was seven years old.
Ed and Lorraine heard of this and warned the women that a demonic presence was manipulating the doll in a bid to find a human host. After the Warrens witnessed Annabelle levitating, they removed the doll permanently from the apartment and placed her in the sealed glass case at their museum where she remains today.
In 1986, the Snedeker family moved from New York to Connecticut so they could be closer to the hospital that was treating their eldest son for cancer. The family home on Meriden Avenue in Southington that they purchased was a former funeral home, although they had to make this chilling discovery on their own.
After renovations on the house were complete, Carmen Snedeker entered the basement for the first time. There, she found embalming equipment and body tags with the names of the deceased.
The family soon realized that the house was infested with demons. Carmen witnessed the water in her mop bucket turning a different color. She recalled, “The mop water was bloodred. I mean a deep, deep red. It made my skin crawl.” The middle son said, “The lights were coming on and off and on and off even though there was no bulbs in it.”
Ed and Lorraine Warren assisted in performing an exorcism on the house which has brought closure to the family. Since then, no further paranormal activity has occurred.
The Enfield Poltergeist terrorized a small London house in the Enfield suburb. Between 1977 and 1979, single parent Peggy Hodgson and her two daughters—Margaret, 13, and Janet, 11—experienced furniture being thrown around, small objects flying across rooms, and picture frames falling from the walls. The children would find themselves levitating out of their beds. These paranormal events were witnessed by their neighbors, journalists, and even police officers.
The younger daughter, Janet, had also begun speaking in a deep masculine voice which was believed to be the spirit of an old man. The family had received a lot of negative attention in the press as the young girls were accused of “attention-seeking behavior.”
When Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated, they found it was a case of “demonic possession.” Janet later admitted that she had played with a Ouija board before the disturbances had begun and that she was unaware that she fell into the trances until she was later shown the photographs.
In the early 1970s, Ed and Lorraine Warren met with the terrified Donovan family at their house. On arrival, the Warrens witnessed loud pounding coming from inside the walls, peeling wallpaper, water running bloodred, and beast-like noises echoing throughout the home.
The Warrens questioned the Donovan family. Had they purchased any unusual secondhand items, or had a family member passed away recently? Nothing was discovered until the youngest daughter, Patty, made her confession. She had used a Ouija board to communicate with a “teenage boy” who had died in the neighborhood 10 years earlier. The spirit never revealed his name to Patty, and the Warrens knew this was more than likely a demonic entity disguised as the boy.
The Warrens immediately called for a priest. Following an exorcism, life inside the Donovan home slowly returned to normal. Ted Donovan’s brother, who was a witness to the possession and the exorcism, wrote in a report: “I, nor anyone else in my family, have ever before witnessed anything so weird and terrifying.”
In 1974, the Smurl family went through their own personal hell after moving to West Pittson, Pennsylvania. Janet and Jack Smurl, their young daughters, and Jack’s parents all lived in the house together and suffered the worst 13 years of their lives.
The paranormal activity began when their home renovations were found to be destroyed. New wallpaper peeled from the walls, freshly painted windows cracked, strange odors filled every room, and disturbing voices were heard throughout the house. Janet even revealed that she was molested one night in her sleep by a malevolent force.
The Smurls were terrified and decided to contact Ed and Lorraine Warren for help. Lorraine discovered that the Smurl family home was infested with four spirits—an elderly woman who was harmless, an old man who had died at the house, a young and violent girl, and a demon that controlled the other spirits and had turned them against the family.
In 1987, the family decided to leave the house for good. Two years later, a church-sanctioned exorcism took place there, and the property has been cleared of all activity ever since.
In 1981, 19-year-old Arne Cheyenne Johnson fatally stabbed his landlord, 40-year-old Alan Bono, with a pocketknife more than 20 times. It was the first murder to have occurred in Brookline, Connecticut, in 193 years.
Shortly before the murder, Johnson had moved in with his girlfriend and her brother David who claimed he was being tormented by a demon. The family of Johnson’s girlfriend called in the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren.
They performed an exorcism on David which successfully expelled 42 demons in his body. During the exorcism, Johnson dared the demons to enter his body instead. One month later—with no history of violence—he killed Bono in cold blood.
In court, Johnson’s claimed that he was not guilty by reason of demonic possession. However, he was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and received a sentence of 20 years. He only served five years due to good behavior.
There are many eyewitness accounts of the “White Lady” who haunts the Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut. It is known as one of the most haunted cemeteries in the United States.
The White Lady has also been seen walking in front of people’s cars as they drive along Route 59 late at night. Concerned drivers believed that they had hit a person and exited their vehicles only to discover that nobody was there. The “White Lady” name came from witnesses saying she wore either a white gown or what appeared to be a wedding dress.
In 1990, Ed and Lorraine Warren set up their cameras in the cemetery to record the investigation. Shortly after 2:40 AM, they heard the sound of a woman weeping and a female form had begun to move several feet in their direction. As Ed approached the woman, she vanished from sight.
Nowadays, the cemetery is known to close after sunset.
Bill Ramsey was considered “living proof” that werewolves really do exist. Born in Southend-on-Sea, England, Ramsey recalled an event in childhood in which he felt “strange” before a powerful rage came over him and he was able to uproot an entire fence. As an adult, he would witness his face transforming into a wolf and his hands twisting into claws.
Ed and Lorraine Warren became involved when London police officers reported being attacked by a werewolf. Ed said:
This was the first case of lycanthropy that we had ever come across. I interviewed the police officers that were actually attacked by this man. Now he stands about [170 centimeters (5’7″)] and weighs about [68 kilograms (150 lb)]. But he would take some of these [police officers] who were well over [183 centimeters (6’0″)], and he would throw them around like they were kindling wood.
In 1989, the Warrens convinced Ramsey to come to their church in Connecticut and undergo an exorcism. During the event, Ramsey’s face contorted and he launched on the exorcist. Then all was calm, and the exorcism was a success. Since then, there have been no more incidents recorded.
On November 13, 1974, at 3:15 AM, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. killed his parents and siblings with a .35-caliber rifle while they slept peacefully in their beds. Butch later told the police, “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast.”
The following year, the Lutz family moved into the house on Ocean Drive in Amityville. A priest was called to bless the house, and he warned the family, “Do not use the upstairs room as a bedroom, and do not let anyone sleep in there.”
Within days, they knew something was wrong. Their young daughter made an imaginary friend with a red-eyed pig, foul odors filled each room, furniture levitated, and banging occurred throughout the night. They fled from the house.
When Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated, they discovered that the land had been used previously by a practicing black magician. He had requested to be buried on the land and remains there to this day.
Kathy Lutz said, “Things of this nature happen quite frequently, and when they happen to families, they usually close the door and they don’t talk about it; and unless these things are talked about, they’ll never be understood.”
Cheish Merryweather is a true crime fan and an oddities fanatic. She can either be found at house parties telling everyone Charles Manson was only 157 centimeters (5’2″) or at home reading true crime magazines. You can follow her on Twitter.