‘Amityville Horror’ paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren dies at 92 – CTPost


MONROE — 1974 had been weird enough already.

Americans were reeling from the energy crisis, Watergate and the resignation of their president.

Then word leaked out of an exploding crucifix, flying furniture and a talking cat in a small home on Bridgeport’s Lindley Street. People wanted answers.

In stepped Ed and Lorraine Warren, of Monroe. And the paranormal world changed forever.

On Good Friday, it was announced that Lorraine Warren left this world Thursday night at age 92 — perhaps joining her husband, who died in 2006 — in a place more interesting to them.

After all Ed, was a self-taught demonologist and Lorraine a self-professed clairvoyant and spiritual medium.

On Thursday night, Nick Grossmann of Ghost Storm was leading a ghost hunting tour at the Twisted Vine restaurant in downtown Derby.

“I was with Lorraine’s niece, (Julie Zaffis-Marron) at about 9:30 p.m., when her phone completely died,” Grossman said. “That often happens when a spiritual presence is passing by. No one else’s phone died.”

But when Zaffis-Marron got home, her phone turned on with 50 percent power, Grossmann said.

“I really believe the two incidents are connected,” he said. “Lorraine was clairvoyant.”

In 1952, the Warrens found their calling and created the New England Society of Psychic Research.

Twenty-two years later, according to Ray Bendici in Damned Connecticut.com, “Lindley Street in Bridgeport became the epicenter for one of the most documented hauntings in Connecticut History.”

Scary times

The public already had an appetite for such things. “The Exorcist” released in 1973 was still terrifying movie audiences.

And Lindley Street? Thousands began making pilgrimages to the site. Some carried religious artifacts while others brought cameras and binoculars hoping to catch a glimpse of the supernatural.

“Lindley Street put paranormal investigations on the map,” said Rose Porto, lead investigator of Connecticut Spirit Investigations and Researchers, in Hamden. “If it wasn’t for the Warrens, I wouldn’t be doing what I am now.”

Porto is investigating possible hauntings at a house in Milford and another in Hamden. On Feb . 23 she said, she confirmed that a friendly spirit called Ben who had taken up space inside Ramen-Ya, a Japanese restaurant in Berlin.

While Porto said she never called Warren for advice “just knowing she was still around was sort of a comfort, especially because she was local,” Porto said. “And if there was a paranormal issue or problem, who better to ask? It’s a tremendous loss to the whole paranormal field.”

Grossmann said that because of the Warrens, paranormal and ghost-hunting shows now populate TV.

To the Warrens, Lindley Street reeked of demonic possession, or at least a poltergeist. Even police and firefighters who entered the home reported unbelievable happenings. The home’s address was 966 Lindley Street — turn the first number over and you have 666.

The Warrens called for an exorcism. Then police interviewed the 10-year-old native girl from Canada the family had adopted.

She admitted to everything, police officials said.

And by Christmas everything calmed down.

But the Warrens’ went on, branching into books and movies.

Screen legacy

In 1974 they were called to home in Harrisville, R.I., where they claimed the angry spirit of Bathsheba Thayer was targeting the family. This became the story line behind “The Conjuring ,” a currently popular movie series.

The next year the Warrens were in Amityville, on New York’s Long Island, investigating the home where Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family. That turned into the “Amityville Horror” movie franchise.

In 1986, there was the former funeral home in Southington rented by the Snedeker family, which the Warrens claimed was haunted by spirits of the dead allegedly abused by morticians. This made it to the screens as “A Haunting in Connecticut.”

And there was the White Lady of Easton, who supposedly haunts the town’s Union Cemetery and perhaps the Stepney Cemetery in Monroe, which is where Ed Warren is buried.

But Joe Nickell, a former private detective and senior research fellow for the Committee of Skeptical Inquiry, doesn’t buy any of the Warrens’ claims.

“I’m the only full-time professional paranormal investigator who has never met a ghost, demon or poltergeist, even when I’m supposedly just inches away,” he said Friday.

Things came to a head during a debate with the Warrens in 1992 over the Southington funeral home haunting, which was the subject of their being together on a taping of the Sally Jessy Raphael talk show. Harsh words were exchanged.

“I’ve investigated haunted houses for some 20 years and I’ve never met a house that I thought was haunted,” Nickell said afterwards. “I think the Warrens have not met a house that they didn’t think was haunted.”

With both Warrens gone, Tony Spera, their son-in-law, now heads the New England Society of Psychic Research.

“The family requests that you respect their privacy at this time,” the society’s website read on Friday. “Lorraine touched many lives and was loved by so many. She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul.”

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