Trailblazing paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren have a case log that rivals that of Fox Mulder and surpasses any ghost hunting group operating today.  Before TAPS and Zak Bagins turned spirit seeking into a mainstream hobby, the Warrens were involved in what are arguably the most important instances of paranormal activity in history.  They brought media attention to the paranormal without appearing beside Anton LaVey dressed in devil suits and supporting Satanism.  They brought a scientific point of view to claims of the supernatural at a time when the subject of ghosts were nothing but laughable among scholars and the public at large.

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Ed and Lorraine Warren
Sometimes I think of my research as likened to string theory.  All these Medicine Show attractions are connected, possibly even vibrating on the same spooky frequency (my theory is if audible it would be close to the chord of E minor.).  Along the Lost Creek String, a butterfly effect has led us from one subject to the next for some time now.  Our journey has led us to delve into the Warren’s case files. 

There are plenty of skeptics quick to dismiss the Warrens as charlatans, frauds who exploit families and the public to make a buck.  When asked about such claims the Warrens say they have never charged for their services.  When they had to travel for investigations, they did ask that their accommodations be paid for.  Other than that, their income is only from book sales and movie deals.  While not charging for their services, this is another case where the stories are so sensational we are entertained.  Whether some details were fudged a tad, or every claim of paranormal activity the Warrens ever made were complete fabrications, I have no problem paying $8 for one of their books I’m waiting to arrive from Amazon.  I’ll pay that admission price to hear about the Smurl haunting from their perspective.

Ed and Lorraine Warren were high school sweethearts.  Ed lived in a haunted house as a child and wouldn’t go inside until one of his parents arrived home.  Lorraine saw auras around people from the age of nine and later developed her psychic abilities into something more.  The two met on a blind date. Lorraine wrote in her diary that night, “This is the man I’m going to spend my life with.”  She says as she thought of him she wasn’t seeing the lanky teenager she had went to the movies with, she saw him as an older man, the portly fellow she indeed spent her life with. 

While Lorraine cultivated her psychic abilities, Ed studied demonology and became well versed in the occult.  The Warrens were called in on some of the most famous paranormal cases of the late 20th century.  The Smurl haunting and the Amityville Horror have already been discussed at the Medicine Show, you can read about them in our archive.  Ed sadly passed away in 2006.  Lorraine continues to carry on their legacy.  She has appeared on several episodes of A&E’s Paranormal State, gives speaking engagements, operates the Warren’s Occult Museum, and heads up the New England Society for Psychic Research. Here’s a look at a few more of the cases the Warrens worked on.

The Real Haunting in Connecticut

Here’s that “based on true events” meme again.  “The Haunting in Connecticut” was released to theaters in 2009.  Not a bad movie in our opinion.  While a lot of artistic license was taken to make a scary movie, Loraine Warren says what really happened in Southington, Connecticut was much scarier than any movie could be.  In the 1980s Allen and Carmen Snedeker moved their family into a rental house on 208 Meridian Avenue in Southington.  She had been traveling 100 miles each way taking her son, Phillip, to the University hospital to receive treatments for his Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  There is some controversy as to whether the Snedekers were aware of it before they moved in or not, but the house they rented had formerly been the Hallahan Funeral Home.  Carmen says they found out after discovering mortuary equipment in the basement and inquiring to neighbors. 

Spooky phenomena that would continue for two years began soon after they moved in.  Phillip and his brother made the basement their bedroom and soon reported seeing apparitions.  His parents at first attributed this to the treatments he was receiving for his cancer.  Then Phillip began to change.  His personality became dark.  He wrote dark poetry and began wearing leather.  Things came to a head when Phillip attacked his cousin who was staying with the family.  With no other choice his parents had him committed to a mental hospital.  Before he left, he warned them that when he was taken away the evil would attack everyone else. 

Sure enough with Phillip gone the activity continued, and increased. Unseen hands touched them, more apparitions were seen, and strange noises were heard. One apparition was described as having high cheekbones, long black hair and pitch black eyes while another frequently seen had white hair and eyes and wore a pinstriped tuxedo.  Its feet seemed to constantly be in motion. While cleaning the kitchen, Carmen claimed the mop water turned blood red. While taking a shower the shower curtain mysteriously wrapped itself around Carmen and nearly suffocated her. The table would be set for dinner and when the family entered the room they would find that the dishes had put themselves away. Both Carmen and her niece claimed to have been fondled by the unseen hands.

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The Snedeker home
In desperation the Snedekers contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren.  The Warrens came to the house and stayed for nine weeks.  Research suggested that one or more former employees of the Funeral home had been involved in necrophilia (getting freaky with dead bodies) and possible necromancy (practicing dark magic involving dead bodies).  There was a trap door in the master bedroom that held a hoist that had been used to bring coffins up from the basement.  The family reported hearing the chains moving in the night.  Upon investigating Ed says he saw two women dancing in circles.  When he approached them they disappeared.  Ed gave a great piece of investigating advice about this incident, saying you shouldn’t approach an apparition because you could disrupt the molecular and magnetic fields being used to manifest.  Just let the apparition come to you.

Soon both Al and Carmen were claiming to be raped and sodomized by the entity on a regular basis.  They went on the Sally Jessy Raphael show to talk about their story.  The Warrens experienced the smells of decaying flesh, witnessing people being slapped by the demon, and hearing what sounded like hundreds of birds taking flight.  The Warrens decided it was necessary for a full-scale exorcism to be performed.  Once this was done, the family seemed to be freed of their oppression from the evil entity.


To see an interview with Carmen and learn more about the case watch the following video:
The Haunting of West Point

While attending a scheduled lecture on the paranormal and their findings, the Warrens were met with an unexpected request when they arrived at West Point in 1972.  Upon arrival they were escorted to the office of Major Donald Bolling who briefed them on occurrences happening in the home of West Point’s Superintendent.  After the scheduled lecture and dinner, the Warrens went to the Superintendent’s home.

The Superintendent’s quarters was officially known as the Sylvanus Thayer Mansion.  The Warrens met with the General and his wife who told them nothing macabre or tragic had ever happened in the house’s history.  Nevertheless they were experiencing strange occurrences.  Most notably a bed downstairs would constantly un-make itself and a mischievous pickpocket spirit would take wallets and other belongings from guests, later to be found upstairs in the master bedroom. Although they themselves had not seen any, apparitions had been reported  by staff over the years.

In the kitchen they were shown a cutting board with a wet spot.  The General told them that no matter how many times or how hard they tried to dry the spot, it would reappear wet.  Continuing through the house Lorraine felt a presence in one of the back bedrooms.  She saw John F. Kennedy standing next to her. The General confirmed that this was the room Kennedy used when he visited West Point. 

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Lorraine Warren
In one upstairs bedroom Lorraine picked up the spirit of an elderly woman.  She described her as a very wise woman who shared a burden with a man in her life, but the man wasn’t her husband.  They were then told this was the room where Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s mother had stayed while her son was the West Point Superintendent.

The room in which the bunk that un-made itself was stayed locked.  The General unlocked it for the Warrens and they found the bed, of course, unmade.  In a trance state Lorraine was contacted by the spirit a black man who seemed attached to the room.  Through communicating with him she ascertained that he had served as a soldier and had been accused, though later acquitted, of murder.  He told her his name was Greer.  She believed the room was where he was held during the murder investigation and couldn’t cross over because of his guilt and feelings of having lost his honor.   Lorraine says she assisted the man in successfully crossing over.

The Warrens admitted they couldn’t locate the presence responsible for the mischief, although it could be deliberately hiding from them.  The missing wallets and belongings were especially troubling as it was the job of the Superintendent to entertain top military brass in the home.  Apparently they weren’t too disappointed with the answers the Warrens provided.  Just over a week later they received a phone call asking if they could please do something about the ghost of a civil war soldier who was refusing to leave one of the dormitories and they were in need of the space.


The Brookfield Demon Murder Case

This case not only involves the expected paranormal activity and demonic possession, but also an actual murder.  It began in July of 1980.  David Glatzel accompanied his parents to visit friends.  He fell asleep there.  Awakening from his nap, he saw what he described as an old man who appeared charred and had hooves.  He was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. 

His mother thought it was only a nightmare he’d had, but he saw the man again at their home.  This time David claimed the old man turned into a beast and flew, and was inside the house.  He said the old man muttered, chanting, and said he was coming for his soul.  Later that night David appeared to be beaten by an unseen entity.  This began happening on a regular basis.  The family had a Catholic priest come bless the house but it didn’t have any effect on David. 

12 days after the first incident the family contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren.  David’s mother witnessed unseen hands choke her son.  Lorraine, being a clairvoyant, sensed a black, misty form next to David which she said suggested a malevolent presence.  David’s condition worsened.  He began to growl and hiss, spoke in unknown languages, and recited biblical scriptures and passages from Paradise Lost by John Milton.  Around this time Arne Johnson, the boyfriend of David’s older sister Debbie, came to stay with the family during their troubling time.  The Warrens arranged for three exorcisms to be performed on David.  Arne would assist the clergy in restraining David when he would thrash about with what was described as supernatural strength and even levitate off the bed.


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The Glatzel home
During one of these sessions David was asked to name the demon inside him.  He recited 43 names.  Ed later went into the study to attempt to confront what the family had come to call “the Beast.”  Ed says the 43 demons came at him “like a kaleidoscope” and called it the most frightening moment of his life. 

During the final exorcism Arne became so frustrated with sympathy for David he taunted the demons, demanding they enter him and leave the boy alone. It seems they did.  A few days later Arne went out to run some errands and says he was attacked by the demon.  He saw a demon he described as looking exactly like the devil, pointing at a tree.  The car mysteriously went out of control and hit the tree.  Another encounter with the Beast at his own home is when Arne believes he truly became possessed after looking directly into its black eyes.

David’s condition got better, but the activity never completely subsided.  He still asked to sleep with the light on years later.  Meanwhile Debbie and Arne moved back to their place and Debbie was hired by Alan Bono as a dog groomer at his dog kennel.  Arne’s behavior changed and Debbie feared that he too was possessed.  Debbie said Arne would go into a trance and growl, and then later have no memory of it.

The Warrens arranged for a series of exorcisms on Arne, one that involved three priests directly from the Vatican.  When multiple rites proved unsuccessful the priests knew the story would end in tragedy.  The Warrens even contacted the Brookfield police department to warn them that the situation was becoming dangerous.

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A scene from the film "The Demon Murder Case"
On Feb. 16, 1981 Arne called in sick to work.  He went to the kennel where Debbie worked.  Bono took the group out to lunch.  Everyone had some wine, Bono more than the others.  When they returned Arne fixed Bono’s stereo.  According to an account given by Debbie Glatzel, Bono then invited them upstairs to his apartment.  The television was turned on and the volume was very loud.  Bono became agitated and began punching his fist into the palm of his hand.  Debbie decided it was time to leave.  Bono grabbed Debbie’s niece Mary, also a kennel employee, by the arm and wouldn’t let go.

Arne demanded Bono release her.  Mary broke free and ran for the car.  The two men stood squared off.  A growling sound came from Arne, there was a flash through the air, and then Arne walked off into the woods.  Bono continued to punch his palm.  Then he fell.  He had suffered several stab wounds on his chest and stomach.  Bono died hours later.  Arne was found two miles from the scene and taken to jail.  It should be mentioned that this was the first murder that ever occurred in the town of Brookfield.

The day after the murder Loraine Warren called the Brookfield police telling them Arne was possessed.  A media frenzy ensued.  Arne Johnson’s trial began on Oct. 28, 1981 in Danbury, Connecticut Superior Court.  His lawyer entered an unprecedented plea of not guilty by reason of demonic possession but the judge quickly ruled that no such defense existed and instead accepted a plea that Johnson had acted in self-defense.  The Warrens and others involved in the case tried to offer testimony on Johnson's behalf but was not allowed to speak in court.  After three days of deliberation the jury returned a guilty verdict and Johnson served 5 years of his 20 year sentence.


A Demonic Werewolf in London

The story of Bill Ramsey first came to the attention of the Warrens when they caught a news story about him on television.  When they watched the segment of the man who had attacked people and claimed to be a werewolf, Ed became interested.  Lorraine, perhaps because of her clairvoyant abilities, felt a desire and need to help this man.

So Ed and Lorraine traveled to London where they met Bill Ramsey and learned his story.  Bill Ramsey told them how his trouble began when he was nine years old. While playing outside Bill felt a strange coldness come over him.  There was a very foul odor.  Bill said he felt a change within himself.  He no longer felt like a child.  There was a coldness inside him that would remain for years.  His parents called him inside. Images of himself as a wolf flashed through his mind.  He tripped on a fence post and fell.  He heard an animalistic growl then realized it was coming from him.  Bill seized the fence post which had been moored deep into the ground, and the nine year old tore it out of the earth.  By the time his father rushed to him he was tearing the metal fencing attached to the post apart with his bare hands.  Bill knew something had happened that couldn’t be undone.

Bill Ramsey grew to be a man and married.  He worked as a carpenter and started raising a family, and then the incidents began again.  One evening while driving home he suddenly felt a searing pain in his chest.  His breathing became irregular and a cold sweat covered his body.  The pain in his chest got worse and Ramsey headed for nearby Southend Hospital.  He made it into the emergency room, praying this wasn’t one of his wolf episodes.  A nurse on duty saw him arrive and rushed to his side.  Another, seeing the poor condition he was in, followed with a gurney.  They swiftly moved Ramsey into one of the emergency room examination stalls.  Ramsey felt a rumbling, like gas at first, start in his stomach.  The rumbling traveled up his chest and an awful roar erupted from his mouth.  Bill felt his hands curl into claws.

Ramsey said before he knew what he was doing he grabbed one of the nurse’s arms and sank teeth his into her. It just so happened that a rookie police officer was making his usual rounds and entered the hospital to hear the roaring coming from the exam room.   When the cop arrived Bill was crouched in a corner of the room with a wild look in his eyes and growling like a wild animal.  As the officer came near him he picked up a chair and threw it across the room.  With the help of an intern who also came running, they subdued Ramsey and a powerful sedative was administered to him. 

The next thing Bill knew he woke up in an ambulance, heavily restrained to a gurney.  He had no idea where he was or what had happened.  He was on his way to a mental hospital.  The incident earned him a short stay there.

Bill’s case gained wide attention when he drove himself to the Southend Police Station on July 22, 1987 and asked officers to lock him up because he was a danger to himself and others.  During the conversation with the police officer Bill became enraged a hurled the police officer, who was much larger than Ramsey, across the parking lot.  It took six other police officers to restrain Ramsey and get him into a cell inside.

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John Zaffis, Lorraine, Bill Ramsey, and Ed in Connecticut
From there Bill’s wolf-like behavior continued.  He growled and was somehow able to wedge his head and arm through a small hatch in the door.  He snarled and snapped at anyone who came near.  Another sedative was administered and members of the local fire department were able to free him from the hatch. 

Ed and Lorraine Warren surmised that Ramsey was possessed by a “werewolf demon” and insisted he needed an exorcism immediately.  Ramsey traveled back to Connecticut with the Warrens.  They took him to Bishop Robert McKenna at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Monroe.  In attendance were Ramsey, the Warrens, McKenna, and four off-duty police officers who had agreed to assist should McKenna become out of control during the rite.  Bill says he didn’t expect any results from the exorcism but McKenna said he recognized the demon in Ramsey immediately and knew the exorcism would be successful.

Half an hour into the rite McKenna touched a cross to Ramsey’s head.  Ramsey began to thrash about.  His lips pulled back from his teeth and his hands formed into claws.  The urge to attack the bishop overtook him.  As he lunged for McKenna two of the off-duty cops grabbed him.  Ramsey continued to snarl and growl.  As the bishop spoke in Latin Bill felt something happening inside him.  He suddenly felt weak.  The coldness in his body subsided.  Bill felt the wolf leaving his body as he lost consciousness.  Ramsey finally found peace and has since been free of any further possession.

 
 
Sometimes my research projects seek me out.  This is one of those instances.  A trail of butterfly effects led me to the fascinating story of the Smurl Haunting.  I first heard the name when reading a book that was a Christmas gift.  Curiosity led to serendipity, which led to West Pittston, PN during the 1970s and early 80s.  Jack and Janet Smurl were flooded out of their home in Wilkes-Barr after Hurricane Agnes in 1972.  They moved into a duplex owned by Jack’s parents who lived in the other side of the house.  They began experiencing paranormal phenomena and their story became more bizarre than the Amityville Horror which had become popular in the early 70s and involved some of the same players.

When I read about these cases I try to keep a level of skepticism.  Like I said, I wasn’t there and even if I were I can’t be sure that I wouldn’t still be wondering. The country had dug the Amityville Horror.  A few years had passed since then and an opportunity was there for the next big ghost story.  Something with that “based on actual events” tagline would be especially popular.  Enter "The Haunted," a book and subsequent film about the Smurl family’s ordeal following the media coverage of their situation.  Other than a few neighbors claiming two women had lived in the house and had practiced Satanism, the Smurl case lacked the sensational background story, but more than made up for it with it’s more bizarre claims and paranormal activity in higher frequency and intensity. I wasn’t there so I have no idea if their claims are true or not.  For my purpose that is beside the point.  It’s a really good story whether it actually happened or they made it all up.  If they did, they deserve the money they made off books and movies.  We make authors and screenwriters rich don’t we? I’m going to tell their story as if it really happened only because it’s easier and more entertaining to not insert “supposedly” and “alleged” into every sentence.

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The Smurl family
The Smurl’s ordeal began with a stain on their new carpet a year and a half after they moved in.  Despite several attempts, the stain couldn’t be removed.  Following that, an array of paranormal activity began, including but not limited to: toilets flushing on their own, footsteps heard, scratches appearing on a newly installed bathtub, drawers opening and closing on their own, radios that were unplugged suddenly blaring, rocking chairs creaking and rocking as if someone were sitting in them and Jack feeling the caress of an unseen hand.  These occurrences plagued the family for what seemed like an eternity.  One of their daughters told them about waking up and seeing many people floating around her room.  Neighbors even noticed strange things, like hearing screams and scratching noises and later learning no one was home at the time. 

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The Smurl House
The activity eventually moved to Jack’s parents’ side of the house too.  They would feel icy cold spots and hear Jack and Janet arguing loudly, to discover they hadn’t been home at the time.  One day in 1985 Janet was doing laundry in the basement and heard her name called.  She went to see who her unexpected caller was, but she was alone in the house.  Two days later in the kitchen she saw a black shadow figure with no facial features appear and go through the wall, appearing to Jack’s mom, Mary, on the other side.  It seemed that after the apparition was seen, activity intensified.

The night of their daughter Heather’s catholic confirmation a heavy chandelier mysteriously fell, just missing their daughter Shannon.  One night while making love the Smurl’s reported Janet being pulled off the bed while clutching onto the sheets, and Jack laying paralyzed and overtaken by a vile odor.  The Smurl’s german shepherd, Simon, wasn’t spared form the oppression, being picked up and thrown several times.

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Loraine and Ed Warren
In 1985 Janet Smurl had heard about Ed and Loraine Warren who had been involved in the Amityville investigation and other high profile paranormal cases.  In desperation she contacted them.  The Warrens came to the Smurl’s home, accompanied by Rosemary Frueh who was a registered nurse and psychic.  After collecting background information the Warrens concluded the culprit for the violent activity was a demon.  They posited that it had lain dormant for years and when the family moved in with two girls hitting puberty, it was fueled back to life.  Rosemary agreed that there were up to four spirits in the house, but one was a major demon. 

The Warrens’ first tactic was to try and provoke the demon.  They played religious music which resulted in a mirror violently shaking and a voice growling.  Ed invoked the name of Jesus Christ and was hit by a noxious smell and fell ill for days.  He saw a black wispy smoke appear and spell out, “You filthy bastard, get out of this house.”  For the time being the Warrens had Rev. Robert McKenna perform two exorcisms and the sprinkling of holy water and prayer seemed to abate the demon.  But it was only to be for a short while.



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Loraine Warren at work on the Smurl case
The occurrences returned and their intensity was magnified.  In the book The Haunted Jack tells how he was raped by a succubus who appeared as a woman with a young body but the head of an old woman with red eyes and green gums.  Janet was also sexually assaulted by a shadow figure.  Pig noises were heard throughout the house.  Demonologists insist pig noises are often associated with demonic activity, probably relating to the story in the book of Matthew wherein Jesus casts demons into a herd of swine and drown them. 

Medium Mary Alice Rinkman came to the house.  Her reading corroborated that of Frueh, saying she felt there were 4 spirits in the house; a woman named Abigail, a man named Patrick who had killed his wife and her lover and then been hanged by a mob, another earthbound spirit, and a powerful demon. 

The intensity of the activity continued to increase.  The demon followed Jack to work and followed the family on a camping trip.  After being turned down by the Catholic Church for a sanctioned exorcism they sought media attention in hopes of finding help.  They went on a local talk show and told their story, although their faces weren’t shown.  It seemed the demon didn’t like this.  Immediately upon returning home Janet was picked up and thrown into the wall.  Later that night Jack says saw a figure that resembled a pig standing up on two legs and was raped again.  Now I’ve been subjective in telling this story up to this point.  However, I must pause here.  Would the small possibility of making some money off the story entice a man to claim he had been repeatedly raped by a ghost?  Or was the activity in this house THAT severe.  Are these claims so outrageous that one couldn’t make them up?  As I said before, since I wasn’t there I will never know.  Now on with the tale.

The shadow figure appeared to Jack, beckoning him to join it.  Ed Warren feared the family had been in the second stage of possession, oppression, and the figure was trying to lure Jack into the third stage, actual possession.  The final stage is death.

The media attention seemed to help and eventually the Catholic Church sanctioned the participation of clergy.  Father McKenna returned and performed a third exorcism.    The activity would die down then pick back up.  Frustrated, the family moved to another town.  After they left a fourth exorcism was performed and no further activity has been reported by subsequent owners.  A film version of The Haunted was released in 1991.

While the scientific world is hesitant and often scoffs at claims of the paranormal, the entertainment industry loves them.  “The Conjuring,” a film about Ed and Loraine Warren comes out this July.  For any readers who are Walking Dead fans, the film version of the Smurl story stars, Jeffrey DeMunn as Jack Smurl.  DeMunn was also Dale Horvath for two seasons on A&E’s The Walking Dead.  Janet Smurl is played by Sally Kirkland who appeared on television as Dr. House's mom and as Senator Ruth Martin in The Silence of the Lambs.

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DeMunn and Kirkland in 1991's "The Haunted"
 
 
The best evidence a paranormal investigator can hope for is capturing a full bodied apparition.  This is a rare occurrence during an actual investigation.  Some of the best photos of ghosts ever captured were done by accident.  With the average five year old today being able to photoshop a picture that can fool experts, let’s take a look at some of the best ghost photos history has to offer us.

The Brown Lady

In 1936 Hubert C. Provand was a photographer working for Country Life magazine.  He and his assistant traveled to Norfolk, England to take photos of Raynham Hall for an upcoming issue when he inadvertently captured this shot:


The apparition is believed to be the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole, the sister of the first Prime Minister.  She was the second wife of Charles Townshend.  When Charles discovered she had been having an affair he locked her in her room where she remained until she died of smallpox.

Freddy Jackson

This pic shows a squadron of the Royal Air Force. Upon closer examination an extra face was discovered partially hidden behind the fourth man from the left in the top row.  The face bore an uncanny resemblance to Freddy Jackson, a squadron member who had died two days before the photo was taken.  He had been killed in a freak accident by an airplane propeller and his funeral was being held that day.  Perhaps unaware that he was dead, he decided to show up for the scheduled photograph.


Bachelor’s Grove

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetary in Illinois is considered by many to be one of the most haunted sites in the country.  Mari Huff, a member of the Ghost Research Society, snapped this photo in 1991.  According to Mari and others present there was no woman visible at the time the picture was taken. 


The Backseat Ghost

In 1959 Mabel Chinnery spent a day at the cemetery visiting the graves of her relatives.  To finish off a roll of film she snapped a picture of her husband who was waiting in the car.  When she had the film developed it appeared her husband hadn’t been waiting alone.  Mabel said the apparition in the backseat looked just like her deceased mother.


Tulip Staircase Ghost

Retired clergyman Rev. Ralph Hardy visited the National Museum in Greenwich, England in 1966.  In the Queen’s House section of the museum he snapped a shot of the Tulip Staircase.  Prior to the picture being taken footsteps, doors slamming, and disembodied children’s voices chanting could be heard.  Allegedly 300 years ago a maid was thrown from the top of the stairs, falling 50 feet to her death.

Moundsville Shadow Man

On May 7, 2004 Polly Gear was with a group of paranormal investigators at the abandoned West Virginia State Penitentiary
in Moundsville.  While walking down a hallway toward the cafeteria she heard a noise.  She turned on her flashlight and saw the form of a shadow person at the end of the hall.  The beam of the flashlight went through the apparition, which noticed the light and dashed through a nearby door.  Hoping to capture a photo of what she had seen Polly started walking backward and readied her camera.  As soon as the flash was ready she snapped this shot.

Polly goes on to describe being about 10 feet away when she first saw the shadow person.  It was very tall, and the black form appeared to be moving like static on a television, only black.  It seemed to be intelligent, recognizing the light on it and Polly’s presence.  After taking the photo she went to make sure that no one was in the area.  Experts who have analyzed the photo say there is no way it could be Polly’s own shadow casting against the end of the hall. 

Toys ‘R’ Us Ghost

The toy store chain is notorious for its locations being haunted.  Such seems to be the case with the Sunnyvale, CA Toys ‘R’ Us.  This photo was taken during the filming of a television show called “That’s Incredible.” 

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No one was standing where the figure is on the left
Several psychics, including Sylvia Brown, have visited the store and ascertained that the spirit's name is John.  The story goes that John was a preacher and ranch hand in the 1880s on the property where the store now sits.  Most believe he bled to death in an accident while chopping wood.  Store employees tell of John following people into the ladies’ room and turning the water faucets on, throwing dolls off the shelf, and whispering worker’s names in their ears. 

Grandpa’s Ghost

Denise Russell took this picture of her grandmother in 1997.  They had just moved her grandmother into an assisted living facility for the elderly.  One weekend the resident’s families were invited for a picnic.  Denise attended and took this picture.  No one noticed anything for three years.  On Christmas Day, 2000 Denise and her sister were looking through family photos at their parents’ home.  Their grandmother had since passed away, and while looking at the picture they noticed the man who appeared to be standing behind her.  They believe the man in the picture is their grandfather, who had passed away in 1984.

Ghost Baby

Mrs. Andrews was visiting the grave of her daughter, who had died at 17, in Queensland, Australia and took this picture.  At the time she didn’t notice anything unusual.  When she developed the film she was shocked to see the infant looking directly into the camera. 

There were no children in the cemetery that day.  Some thought the photo could be the result of a double exposure but Mrs. Andrews stated that she didn’t know anyone with a baby and hadn’t taken any pictures like that. She also said it didn’t look like her daughter had at that age.  When a paranormal researcher later visited the site he found the graves of two infant girls near that of Mrs. Andrews’ daughter’s.

Amityville Boy

As you can read about in the previous blog, the house at 112 Ocean Ave. in Amityville, New York has quite a history.  When Ed and Loraine Warren were investigating the house, photographer Gene Campbell took a series of infrared time-lapse photographs.  The camera was set up on the second floor and took photos at regular intervals throughout the night. 


No children were at the house at the time.  The boy in the picture has been described as demonic, with glowing eyes.  When George Lutz asked his children if they knew who the boy was one of his daughters said it was the little boy she used to play with.

San Antonio Railroad Crossing

Legend has it that this railroad crossing in south San Antonio was the site of an accident that involved a school bus and several children were killed.  Although the road goes uphill, the story goes that if you park on the tracks the ghosts of the children will sometimes push the car uphill, leaving tiny hand prints on the back of it.  This picture was taken by the daughter of Andy and Debi Chesney and shows a mysterious transparent figure.

Yorkshire Moors Apparition

Colin Foster, 34, took a backpacking trip through England and took along his new digital camera.  At the Yorkshire Moors he snapped this photo.  He didn’t notice it until he returned home and reviewed his pictures with his girlfriend.  She saw it and had him zoom in (shown below) on the transparent figure.  Foster recalled having a feeling of being watched when he took the picture, but just chalked it up to the remoteness of the location.


Here’s a few more modern ‘ghost photos’ that are circulating on the internet.  Couldn’t find a background story to them, but they were interesting enough to deserve inclusion here:

 
 
My dad always told me to never let the truth stand in the way of telling a good story.  Apparently Hollywood has the same storytelling philosophy that my dad does.  Every couple years a new horror movie is released with the “based on true events” tagline.  These days few moviegoers actually fall for it, but there’s still some who will swear on their family Bible that the events depicted in the film really happened.  Let’s not forget how many people fell for the Blair Witch Project in 1999. Even though the film's stars accepted an MTV movie award live on stage, many still believed they were missing somewhere in the Maryland.
AmityVillian

Every good paranormal enthusiast has seen the 1979 horror flick “The Amityville Horror,” or the uncalled for
2005 Ryan Reynolds remake.  Based on a book by Jay Anson, the films tell the story of the Lutz family who moved into a demonic hell house. 

In reality, there was an actual Amityville Horror, but it had nothing to do with bleeding walls or swarms of flies.  Prior to the Lutz’s, the house was owned by the DeFeo family. Ronald Defeo, Jr., known as “Butch,” was reported to be a heavy drug user who had financial problems as a result.  He had a turbulent relationship with his father, who he often argued with over money.  On Nov. 13, 1974 Butch ran into a local bar yelling that his parents had been shot.  A carload of bar patrons and friends went with him and entering the house they found the bodies of his parents in their bed, as well as the bodies of his two sisters and two brothers.  They called 911.

Butch was taken to the police station for his own protection after suggesting to the cops the crime was the result of a mob hit.  However, inconsistencies soon began appearing in his story, and the following day he confessed to the murders, saying “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop.  It went so fast.”


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Butch Defeo
In court Butch testified that he was possessed by Satan.  His lawyer tried for an insanity plea, but the jury didn’t buy it.  He was sentenced to six consecutive 25 year sentences.  DeFeo is serving his sentence at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York.

The story of Amityville murders is filled with holes and numerous conspiracy theories have been attached to it.  Probably related mostly to Butch’s ever changing story, no one will probably ever know exactly what happened that night.  Butch once said his sister Dawn had come up with the idea of killing their parents, and went on to kill the other children to eliminate witnesses on her own.  Upon discovering what she had done, Butch killed her in a rage.  Others point out that there likely had to be at least one accomplice because there was no silencer used on the gun and the shots would have woken others in the house, but everyone was found in their own bed.

Enter George and Kathy Lutz.  They bought the house the following year, and stayed for only a month, which they referred to as “a 28 days hellish siege.”  Anson’s book details their account of staying in the house which included green slime oozing from the ceiling, insect swarms of biblical proportions, doors ripped from their hinges, cabinets banged open and shut, and a demonic face with red eyes that would peer in at night and left cloven hoof prints in the snow.  A priest called in left with blisters on his hands after a demonic voice told him to “Get Out!”


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'ghost boy' photo taken while the Warrens were investigating
One day Kathy Lutz decided to move around some shelves in the basement, and claims she found a door that led to a red room that was not part of the house’s blueprints. Several psychics were called in, including groundbreaking ghost/demon hunters Ed and Loraine Warren. Some believed the red room was an actual portal to hell.  All agreed that there was a demonic entity in the house and a proper exorcism was needed.   

A long list of factual errors and inconsistencies rivaling those of Butch DeFeo make the case that Anson and the Lutz’s were just trying (and succeeding) in cashing in on the story of the home’s previous owners.  For example, weather records show no snowfall for the time when hoof prints were supposed to be found outside.  It is possible exact dates and other details could have gotten blurred in the terror, but the principle of Occam’s Razor would have it that they were simply trying to make a buck off the tragedy. 

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112 Ocean Ave Amityville, New York
Butch DeFeo’s lawyer has since stated that the story of possession was created over several bottles of wine in hopes of getting his client a new trial.  George Lutz still claims that all the events actually happened, although there is no evidence to back this up. 

The Amityville house has become a macabre pilgrimage for horror fans and paranormal enthusiasts.  Unfortunate for all owners since the Lutz’s, gawkers continue to show up, snapping photos and hoping to capture something that will make them a part of the story that is an admitted fake.

For crime scene photos of the DeFeo murders and a more detailed analysis, follow this link.  *probably not for the kiddies*


The Real Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Americanized Exorcism of Emily Rose was actually based on the case of a young German woman named Anneliese Michel.  Michel was born Sept. 21, 1952 in Leibfing, Germany to a devout Catholic family.  At age 16 Anneliese had a seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy.  She began having trouble speaking and walking, having to hold on to nearby object for balance.  Soon after she began hallucinating while she prayed.  Doctors prescribed her anticonvulsants. 


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Anneliese Michel
Anneliese went on a trip to Italy with a friend.  While there she refused to drink holy water or walk past religious iconography.  Her family became convinced that her condition was not a medical one, but a spiritual one.  They appealed to the church to perform an exorcism, but were told that permission would have to be granted by a bishop and to continue with medical treatment.

By 1973 Anneliese was suffering from regular auditory hallucinations, hearing voices telling her that she was “damned” and would “rot in hell.” She was sent to a psychiatric hospital and received treatment which she didn’t think was helping her.  She fell into a deep depression.



In September of 1975 the local bishop granted Rev. Arnold Renz permission to begin an exorcism on Anneliese.  Once spiritual treatment began, Anneliese and her family stopped all medical treatment.  She went through 67 sessions with priests over the next two years.  Although her condition only worsened, the family insisted they be continued.  She refused to eat or drink.  She would, however, eat insects and growled at religious symbols.  Once she sat under the dining room table barking for two days.

The following video contains actual audio taken from the exorcism sessions:

Anneliese herself proclaimed that Judas, Nero, Hitler, Cain, Lucifer and others were possessing her body.  Finally on July 1, 1976 Anneliese died.  The autopsy ruled dehydration and malnutrition as the cause of death.  She weighed only 68 pounds.  She was 23 years old.

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Anneliese during her exorcism
But the story was far from over.  The state prosecutor opened an investigation and concluded that her death could have been prevented up to a week before she died if medical treatment had not been withheld.  Her parents were charged with negligent homicide.  The priests who had attended to her were found guilty of manslaughter and received suspended sentences of six months and three years probation.

It has been speculated that the only thing that possessed Anneliese were mental disorders, ranging from depression to dissociative personality disorder and schizophrenia.  These problems, combined with her religious upbringing could account for her problems, but there’s no way of every finding the truth.


The Exorcist

In 1971 William Peter Blatty wrote a book called the Exorcist. In 1973 a movie of the same name was released starring Linda Blair as a child possessed by demons.  Both the book and the film claimed to have been based on a true story.  But it wasn’t a little girl who had become possessed.  The story was taken from the diary of a priest who had performed an exorcism on a 13 year old boy, who was referred to as “Robbie Doe.”

According to the diary in Cottage City, Maryland in 1949 Robbie’s family began to notice strange things happening with their son.  Initially scratching noises were heard that seemed to be coming from inside the walls of the house.  Phantom footsteps were heard in the hallway and objects would move without any explanation.  Later furniture would move across the floor and the boy’s bed would shake violently when he was in it.  Claw-like scratches appeared on his body.

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The possessed Regan in "The Exorcist"
Robbie’s Aunt Tillie was an important player in his story.  Although she had passed away by the time the episodes began, the two had played with a Ouija board and Tillie was said to have been well versed in the occult and adhered to the Spiritualism movement.  The family consulted a Catholic priest who suggested sprinkling holy water throughout the house.  The boy’s mother claimed the bottles of holy water would fly off the shelf and candles would extinguish themselves.  Robbie had to be taken out of school because his desk would move around on its own.

The family petitioned the church and the archdiocese granted permission for an exorcism to be performed.  Robbie was taken to Georgetown Hospital where priests witnessed him speaking in dead languages. During one session the boy ripped a bedspring from his mattress and slashed a priest from his shoulder to his wrist. Witnesses claim the priest’s hair turned white over night.

Eventually Robbie was taken to St. Louis to live with his aunt and uncle.  Here Jesuit priests led by Father William Bowdern resumed his exorcism.  During the rite, the boy would violently spit and urinated on the priests.  Once he punched a priest in the groin and growled “That’s a nutcracker for you isn’t it.”


The climax of the possession came when Robbie claimed to have a vision of St. Michael holding a flaming sword and exclaimed, “I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now!”  That seemed to do the trick and the strange occurences abruptly stopped.  The boy eventually returned to Maryland where he lived in anonymity.  The local fire department burned down the house where the phenomena began as part of a training exercise.

Some believe there was no possession to speak of and that the boy had been the victim of poltergeist activity.  Poltergeists usually attach themselves to teenagers, commonly those who are troubled.  Robbie’s family is said to have been dysfunctional.  Some assert that the occurrences could be explained by psychokenesis, wherein people can unknowingly manifest psychic energy that causes physical objects to move seemingly of their own accord in their presence.

Ed Gein – Inspiration for Horror

Real life killer Ed Gein, the “Butcher of Plainfield” has been the inspiration for at least three classic horror movies.  Norman Bates in the Hitchcock classic “Psycho,” Leatherface in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and Buffalo Bill in “The Silence of the Lambs” were all based on Gein.

Ed Gein was born in Wisconsin in 1906.  His father was an alcoholic who worked as a carpenter and his mother, Augusta, was a very religious woman who dominated the family and ran a grocery store in La Crosse.  Augusta instilled in her boys the sinfulness of sex. 

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Ed Gein
In 1940 Gein’s father died.  Then in 1944 his brother Henry died suspiciously.  He and Ed had been fighting a brush fire on their property.  Henry was found dead in an unburned area and had bruising on his head.  The official cause of death was ruled as smoke inhalation.  That left Ed alone with his mother.  Just a year after Augusta died of a stroke, following an argument with a neighbor.  Alone on the family farm now, Ed went of the rails. 

He became obsessively fascinated with the human anatomy and took up grave-robbing.  He would search local obituaries for recently buried female corpses, and dig them up, taking body parts as trophies.  Gein started making macabre decorations with his trophies. He soon grew frustrated with the corpses and decided he needed fresher bodies to work with.

In 1954 a 51 year old woman named Mary Hogan, who vaguely resembled Augusta Gein, disappeared from the bar she ran in a neighboring town.  Gein was among the suspects but there wasn’t enough evidence to connect him to the disappearance.  In November of 1957 another woman resembling Ed’s mother, Bernice Worden, went missing from the hardware store she ran in Plainfield.  This time Ed could be connected.  Locals told police Ed had told them he intended on asking Bernice on a date.  On the day she went missing he had told people he needed to go to the hardware store to buy antifreeze.  At the hardware store crime scene police found a receipt for antifreeze. 


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When police arrived at the Gein house they were met with a house of horrors.  Deputy Frank Worden, Bernice’s son, found her body hanging from the rafters, her head cut off, her genitalia removed, and her torso slit open and gutted.  Several more bodies were found in this fashion.  Besides the bodies, Gein’s decorations horrified the officers and made him famous.  As they searched the home they found Ed’s handiwork, which included bowls made of human skulls, lampshades, an armchair, and a wastebasket made from human skin, shoeboxes containing female genitalia, a belt made of nipples, a human head, four noses, a heart in a saucepan on the stove, and an entire bodysuit made of human skin.

Gein immediately confessed to the murders of Worden and Hogan as well as his grave-robbing activities.  A judge found him mentally incompetent to stand trial and he was committed to a secure mental hospital.  The house was demolished to keep curiosity seekers from coming to gawk.  Gein died of respiratory failure at Mendota Mental Health Institute on July 26, 1984, at age 77.


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Mask made by Ed Gein
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Head found in a box
 
 
You gotta admit there’s something creepy about old dolls.  You know, the ones that have been abandoned by their child owners long ago, their porcelain or plastic bodies cracking, eyes missing, hair in disarray.  The movie Child’s Play played on this fear and had the spirit of an executed killer possessing a Good Guy doll. 

Until eBay’s recent policy changes that prohibits the sale of haunted items, haunted dolls were common on the auction website.  The internet is full of stories of dolls sold on the website that were said to wreak havoc on the homes of the buyers who purchased them.  Many of these dolls were resold on the site, some gaining the cult popularity associated with the Dybbuk Box.

Are these dolls haunted?  Are the just being manipulated by regular ghosts?  Is there a spirit created for the dolls, like with the creation of a voodoo doll?  Magic practitioners may be creating golem-like creatures and bringing them to life with the dolls as their homes.  Or maybe actual ghosts decide residing in a doll is as close as they’re gonna get to being back in a body.  There are as many theories about haunted dolls as there are claimed-to-be haunted dolls themselves.


Here's a look at some of the most famous haunted doll stories:

Robert the Doll

Perhaps the most famous "haunted doll" is Robert the doll.  Robert was given to 5 year old Eugene Otto in 1906 by a Bahamian servant employed by his family, who was said to be well versed in voodoo.  The family hired her after moving to Key West, and fired her shortly after she gifted their son with the doll.  Eugene immediately fell in love with the doll and took it with him everywhere he went.  Soon after Eugene's parents grew concerned when they would hear him talking to the doll, and another voice talking back.
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Robert the Doll
Neighbors would claim to see Robert appear in different windows and move from room to room while the family was out.  Eugene's parents would hear screams at night and rush to thier son's room to find the furniture tossed about, their son terribly frightened, and Robert sitting at the foot of the bed. Eugene would always claim, "Robert did it."

Eventually Robert was locked away in the attic where he stated for 20 years.  Eugene's parents passed away and he inherited the house.  He and his wife were rummaging through the attic and came across Robert.  He was taken back downstairs and before long the strange occurances began again.  Following loud noises Robert would often be found sitting in a rocking chair, the chair rocking.


Eugene insisted on keeping the doll until his death in 1974.  It was then left in the attic until the house was sold. The new owners had a ten year old daughter who soon began to scream out in the night and claim the doll not only moved but was trying to kill her.

Robert is now on display at the Fort East Martello Museum According to legend, visitors to the museum wishing to take a picture of Robert must first ask him permission (which he apparently grants by tilting his head).  If they do not receive permission and take the photo anyway, they are cursed.   Staff claims that giggling is often heard and the doll sometimes inexplicably changes positions slightly.


Joilet the Cursed Doll

Joilet the doll has been passed down through four generations in the same family, from mother to daughter.  A curse attached to the doll caused each of the women to have a son who died at 3 days old.  The family believes the spirits of the boys are cursed to live within the doll until Judgement Day.
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Joilet the Cursed Doll
The sound of several babies crying at once can be heard coming from the doll at night.  The doll was originally given to the great grandmother of the family by a jealous friend when she was pregnant with her second child, a boy.  One would think that getting rid of the doll couldn't hurt in trying to break the curse, but the women refuse to do so because they feel the souls of their children live within the doll and care for it as if it were a real child.


Pupa

Pupa's original owner had the doll from the 1920s until her death in 2005. With her it had survived World War II, and came with her from Italy to the United States.  Over the years it traveled with her back to Italy and across Europe.
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Pupa in her original blue felt dress
The family who now owns Pupa says objects in the display case where she is kept are frequently moved around.  Since the passing of her original owner the doll has became more active, perhaps wanting to be released from her showcase.

They often find the doll positioned differently than where they left her.  On several occasions they have heard a tapping on the glass of the case.  Upon hearing the noise, they look to find Pupa's hands pressed against the glass.


Haunted Barbie

I'm not sure if this story quite fits the haunted category, but it definitely deserves a mention.  The town of Pulau Ubin in Singapore is the home to a shrine that holds a Barbie doll where a statue of a deity usually resides. Instead of the usual offerings worshippers leave her creams, makeup, small combs, and mirrors.
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A German couple and their daughter moved to Pulau Ubin to start a coffee plantation.  World War I broke out.  Being a British colony, any Germans were thought to be possible spies.  British soldiers came to take the family.  They captured the parents but the daughter managed to flee.  However, her fate was not to be a happy one.  Alone on the property she fell from a cliff and died.

Locals built the temple to pacify the girl's spirit.  According to the temple's keeper, the alter originally held a porcelain idol and a lock of the girl's hair.  Years later an Austrailian immigrant had a recurring dream in which a little girl would ask him to take her to a toy shop, then ask him to buy a Barbie doll and take it to the Lady Na Tuk Gong Shrine.  In an effort to stop the dreams the man went looking for the shop in his dream, and to his surprise found it along with the doll the girl had described to him.  He bought the doll and took it to the temple.  Today people come from all over to worship and say their prayers for safety and health are answered.

Annabell the Demon Doll

I've saved the best for last.  In 1970 a mother purchased a vintage Raggedy Ann doll for her daughter, Donna.  Donna was a nurse and lived with a roommate who was also a nurse.  She loved the gift and sat the doll on her bed.  The two soon noticed something wasn't quite right with the doll.  At first it would appear to move slightly while they were away, then they would come home to find it in a completely different part of the house.

After about a month they began to find notes in the house written on parchment paper with a pencil that would say "Help Us" and "Help Lou."  Lou was a mutual friend of the roommates.  After coming home to find the doll on her bed covered in a red blood-like substance the friends contacted a medium to hold a séance.  They were told the spirit of a 7 year old girl named Annabell Higgins lived in the doll.  She had once lived there and been found dead on the property.  Feeling sympathetic for the child spirit the roommates allowed her to stay there with them.
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Annabell as she currently resides
It soon became apparent that Annabell wasn't what she seemed.  Lou had recurring nightmares about the doll.  He awoke from one of these dreams to see the doll at the foot of his bed.  He couldn't move and watched helplessly as the doll climbed up on his bed and strangled him.  He blacked out, and woke the next morning sure the incident hadn't been a dream.  He urged the roommates to get rid of the doll.

Days later Lou was at Donna's planning a trip.  They heard a loud crash from Donna's room.  Fearful an intruder had broken into the house, Lou went to inspect.  He found Annabell tossed on the floor.  He felt a presence behind him.  When he turned to look, fearing a (human) intruder, he was met with a pain in his chest.  Looking down he saw blood coming from what appeared to be 7 claw marks.

Donna was now convinced Annabell wasn't the spirit of a little girl and consulted a priest who referred her to groundbreaking paranormal investigators Ed and Loraine Warren.  (If you're not familiar with paranormal history you may recognize Loraine from her appearances on A&E's Paranormal State.)  They concluded an evil spirit had attached itself to the doll.  It could not, however, possess an inanimate object and was looking for a human host to possess.  The demonic entity had moved the doll hoping to get a medium in to convince the girls it was the spirit of a little girl so they would sympathize with it, according to the Warrens, which it had accomplished. They concluded that if left to go on another week or two the demonic spirit would have accomplished its goal of possessing a human and possibly even killing everyone in the house.

The Warrens had an Episcopal priest come and bless the house and took the doll with them when they left.    Ed claimed to have seen the doll levitate from the chair it sat in several times and when they would go out and return home they would often find the doll in a different part of the house than it had been left.  Neither of them were ever physically attacked by the doll.  Annabelle currently resides in Loraine Warren’s Occult Museum in Moodus, Conneticut.

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Loraine Warren leaving with Annabell
This short video clip from YouTube shows a girl with a doll she was given as a present.  Real or fake? Definitely creepy: