If you look into the most notorious cases of hauntings, possessions, and paranormal phenomena in the last 50 years, you'll probably find out they were investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren. A WWII Navy veteran and police officer, Ed Warren believed in the supernatural from an early age, having grown up in a reportedly haunted house. Lorraine, who grew up just blocks from Ed, demonstrated psychic abilities in early childhood, being able to see auras around the nuns at her Catholic school.
Ed and Lorraine began dating when they were both 16, and they married two years later. Ed eventually began studying demonology and founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952. The Warrens would go on to investigate hundreds of cases related to hauntings and demonic possession. After Ed passed in 2006, Lorraine served as a consultant for The Conjuring movie franchise, which is based on the cases she and Ed investigated together.
With Lorraine's passing in April 2019, many are looking back on the legacy left by the couple and their contributions to ghost hunting and demonology. Below are some of the most famous, and terrifying, cases the Warrens investigated. And who better to comment on the details than the Warrens themselves?
Despite what Hollywood interpretations would have you believe, the real Annabelle was an antique rag doll that any child might own. Perhaps the innocent nature of the doll makes the case surrounding it all the more unsettling. The doll had been given to a young woman named Donna, who began to notice the doll moving throughout her apartment. Donna's roommate, Angie, also noticed Annabelle moving, and the two called in a medium, who said the spirit of a young girl was attached to the doll. Lou, a friend of Donna and Angie, thought there was something evil about the doll, but the medium insisted the young girl's spirit felt safe with Donna and Angie. Lou awakened from a deep sleep one night to find Annabelle crawling onto this bed and attempting to strangle him. As Annabelle became increasingly aggressive, Donna and Angie called in the Warrens to investigate the case.
The Warrens confirmed a demon was manipulating Annabelle, and that the demon would have taken a human as its host within two to three weeks based on the stages of demonic possession. An exorcism was performed on the doll, and the Warrens proceeded to take it back to their home in Connecticut. Once in the Warrens' care, Annabelle began moving about their house, even after being put in a locked room. The Warrens eventually had a special case made for Annabelle that featured three crosses, and had holy water in the wood stain. Annabelle became part of the Warrens' occult museum. During a tour of the museum, Lorraine pointed to Annabelle and said, "This is the worst thing in here," and refused to look directly at the doll.
Annabelle is sometimes said to move in her case. One man reportedly perished in a motorcycle accident shortly after visiting the Warrens' museum and mocking Annabelle.
Jack and Janet Smurl spent years dealing with an increasingly powerful supernatural force before the Warrens came to investigate in 1985. The Smurl case is unique because it spanned over a decade, and the hauntings affected the entire family - though Jack seemed to be the primary target. The haunting in the family's Pennsylvania duplex began with disembodied voices and rappings on the wall but soon turned into full-fledged attacks on the family. Jack and Janet both said they levitated off their beds one night, and Jack reported he was assaulted multiple times by an evil spirit known as a succubus. The family dog was also attacked, and a chandelier fell and nearly took the life of one of the Smurl children, despite the fixture being bolted into a support beam.
As the Warrens made their way through the home, Lorraine came to the conclusion there were four evil spirits, including a powerful demon. "There was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that what this family was experiencing was sheer terror being brought about through the ghost syndrome," Lorraine said after her first visit to the Smurl home.
It took four exorcisms to fully weaken and vanquish the evil spirits, and the Smurls reported no paranormal activity after the fourth exorcism.
The case of the Snedeker Family Haunting began in 1986, when Carmen and Al Snedeker rented a home in Southington, CT. They moved in order to be close to a hospital at which the family's oldest son was undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The house seemed perfect for the family until move-in day, when they discovered it had been a funeral home, and the basement bedroom reserved for their two sons had been part of the mortuary. The family began hearing voices, and the children saw apparitions throughout the house. The family even reported being physically attacked by demonic forces. Without the option to move due to financial constraints, the family contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren for support.
The Warrens spent many nights at the Snedeker home and confirmed the hauntings. Ed even watched as the lift mechanism that brought caskets from the basement to the main floor moved on its own. Lorraine vividly remembered the first time she entered the house stating: "As soon as I walked into the first room... it was just an overwhelming bad feeling... I had a feeling of fear."
The Catholic Church performed an exorcism on the house at the Warrens' request, and no other families have reported paranormal activity. Lorraine also noted the 2009 film, The Haunting in Connecticut, exaggerated some aspects of the case. Lorraine added two scientists stayed with her and Ed during a nighttime investigation because they were skeptical, only to flee the home in the middle of the night.
In 1975, George and Kathy Lutz fled their home in Amityville, NY, claiming there were demonic entities in the home. Only a year earlier, Ronald "Butch" DeFeo had been charged with slaying his parents and four siblings in the home while they slept, testifying that he had been possessed by a demon. After the Lutzes' traumatic experience, Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in to investigate the credibility of these demonic forces. With a full camera crew in tow, the Warrens investigated the large Dutch Colonial home, and said they experienced the evil firsthand.
Ed was reportedly pushed in the basement, the site of demonic activity, while saying prayers. Lorraine felt ill in the house and sensed a demonic presence. The image of a young boy was also captured on film, although no children were present at the time. Ed considered the photo as proof of a haunting, and he believed it to be the spirit of one of the DeFeo children. In an interview years later, Ed stated their experience in the house was "much more horrific" than the book or film.
There is evidence the site of the Amityville house had been a Native American burial ground, and a man who practiced dark arts also lived on the property, and he was subsequently buried there. When asked about the Amityville case decades later, Lorraine said: "It was absolutely horrible... I don't even like to talk about it. I will never go in the Amityville house ever again."