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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.