Beginning in 1974, the Smurl family went through one of the worst hauntings ever that lasted 15 years. For an intense two-year period, the family was subject to a series of physical assaults perpetrated, allegedly, by a mysterious demon and a horde of ghosts. The haunting affected everyone in the Smurl family — even the dog had a run in with one of the angry ghosts. Out of all the families that have claim to be haunted over the years, the Smurls claimed to deal with some of the most aggressive entities of the 20st century, these ghosts lasted for a great part of their lives.
The haunting became so bad that the Catholic Church got involved in an attempt to exorcise the demon. Even after the Smurls called in demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, they still weren’t able to rid themselves of the horrible creatures that seemed set on ripping their family apart, and they ultimately lived with remnants of the haunting for the next 15 years, even after the most vicious attacks seemed to simmer. In the 1990s, the Warrens' experiences trying to rid the Smurls of their hauntings were turned into a made-for-TV movie called, appropriately, The Haunted.
The Smurl family haunting facts include everything from ghosts attacking children to the demonologists who tried to stop them. The question remains as to whether there truly were evil forces at work, and whether the demonologists held any sway over the atrocities the Smurls experienced.
In 1974, Jack and Janet Smurl moved out of their flood-damaged home and into a West Pittson, Pennsylvania duplex that's been lovingly described by all sources as a "fixer-upper." Jack, Janet and their kids lived on one side of the duplex while Jack's parents, John and Mary, lived on the other. It didn't take long for the haunting to start.
The first instances of their ghostly visitors were benign. A tool would go missing, a stain on the wall would seep through the paint, nothing too scary. But then kitchen appliances started to go up in flames even when they weren't plugged in - and then there was the smell. The odor wafted through the house at random intervals and was absolutely stifling. During his investigation Ed Warren described the smell as something akin to "rotting flesh."
Shortly after the haunting began, Mary suffered a heart attack and the family began to struggle to pay bills. It seemed that the haunting was taking a toll on more than the family's living space.
One of the creepiest ways in which the haunting manifested was the sound of it: moans and blood-curdling screams ripped through the house at all hours of the day and night. Many of the chilling sounds reportedly took on the voices of the Smurl family, a particularly cruel way to haunt the family. It wasn't just the Smurls who heard the ghostly sounds; allegedly their neighbors claimed to hear screams coming from inside the house when no one was home.
As the weeks went on the haunting increased from sounds to floating black creatures and shadow people. Self-taught, self-proclaimed demonologist Ed Warren later claimed that he saw
"...a mucous-like, smoky-type substance" that began to whirl and materialize "on the mirror, spelling out filthy obscenities, telling me in no uncertain terms to get out of the house."
The creature (or creatures) haunting the Smurl family were hell-bent on ripping the family apart. The worst indignity suffered by both Jack and Janet were separate sexual assaults that happened numerous times. First, Janet claimed she was woken up in the middle of the night by an unknown figure sexually assaulting her. Then Jack claimed that while he was watching a baseball game in the living room he was also assaulted in the same way by a succubus. He later claimed that while he attempted to say the rosary the creature dragged him around his room.
During the 15-year haunting no one in the Smurl family made it out of the haunting without being harmed. One of the daughters was sliced open by a flying wall fixture, and the family's German Shepherd was thrown against the wall. Janet claims that she was grabbed by the creature before being hurled across her living room. On another occasion an invisible entity bit Jack in the face and threw another one of their daughters down a set of stairs.
A skeptic's view of this situation says that all of these attacks are similar to those of domestic violence. It's completely that the Smurls were in the middle of a turbulent marriage and that they covered their screaming matches and physical altercations with an interesting ghost story — but nothing like this has ever been verified.