7 Spooky Paranormal Cases Popularized by Ed and Lorraine Warren
Suffice to say, there's no spookier power couple than Ed and Lorraine Warren. You might have heard of the demonologist husband and wife team from James Wan's Conjuring universe, in which Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have infamously portrayed them over the past decade in films such as "The Conjuring" and "Annabelle Comes Home." Although they're best known for their paranormal cases from the '70s and '80s, the Warrens have forged a ghoulish legacy that remains strong in horror pop culture today.
What Do We Know About the Conjuring Universe's Future Projects?
It's no secret that the Conjuring franchise is a well-oiled machine at this point, and the Warrens' work has proven to be incredibly marketable and captivating to horror audiences. We last saw Wilson and Farmiga in "The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It," and it seems inevitable that there will be more Conjuring-related stories to come. There's no news of a fourth Conjuring movie (yet), but in September, Farmiga's sister — fellow scream queen Taissa Farmiga — returned to the Conjuring universe as Sister Irene in "The Nun 2" alongside Storm Reid.
A quick aside: while the films portray the Warrens as a pious, happy couple, it's important to note that the films are dramatizations. Most notably, there has been a serious postmortem allegation against Ed Warren for harboring a relationship with a minor, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Are Ed and Lorraine Warren Still Alive?
The Warrens are no longer alive. Seventy-nine at the time of his death, Ed passed away in 2006 after 61 years of marriage to his wife, according to ABC. Per The New York Times, Lorraine passed away in her sleep in 2019 at 92, dying just months before the release of "Annabelle Comes Home." The film is dedicated to her memory.
Famous Ed and Lorraine Warren Cases
If you're just getting familiar with the Warrens and their work in demonology, here are the cases that should be on your radar:
Ed and Lorraine Warren Movies
Over the past few decades, the Warrens and their cases have been portrayed in a handful of Hollywood films, most notably in the Conjuring movie franchise. Here are all the movies about the famous Ed and Lorraine Warren haunting cases:
- "The Amityville Horror" (1979) and "The Amityville Horror" (2005) — there are also dozens of other films that belong to the Amityville series.
- "The Demon Murder Case" (1983)
- "The Haunted" (1991)
- "The Haunting in Connecticut" (2009)
- "The Conjuring" (2013)
- "The Conjuring 2" (2016)
- "The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It" (2021)
- "Annabelle" (2014)
- "Annabelle: Creation" (2017)
- "Annabelle Comes Home" (2019)
- "The Nun" (2018)
- "The Nun 2" (2023)
And now, without further ado, let's get into the most iconic Ed and Lorraine Warren ghost cases. Get your holy water if you dare cross into the realm of spirits — ahead, we break down the stories made famous by the Warrens, from the haunted Amityville House to the creepy Annabelle doll.
The Annabelle Doll
Most horror enthusiasts know of the super creepy Annabelle doll in the Conjuring universe, which was so frighteningly lucrative that it landed three spinoff films: "Annabelle," "Annabelle: Creation," and "Annabelle Comes Home." The real Annabelle doll was an innocent-looking rag doll that, for years, sat in the Warrens' now-closed Occult Museum. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the story began in 1970 when a mother bought the doll at a hobby shop for her daughter, a nurse. Things got weird fast when the doll levitated and moved around. Here's the creepiest part: People were convinced it tried to strangle them to death within dreams.
According to USA Today, the Warrens came in and determined that the toy was possessed by an inhuman demonic spirit, locking it up in their museum with ritualistic prayers soon after. We'll be sticking with our mass-produced Barbies, thanks.
The Perron Family
The case of the Perron Family became the basis for the James Wan horror film that started it all: 2013's "The Conjuring." According to USA Today, Roger and Carolyn Perron had moved into an 18th-century Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971 with their five daughters. Per Entertainment Weekly, they claimed that spirits from eight generations of one family lived in the house, including a tall woman whose head was "like a sack of cobwebs with little tendrils of hair hanging out."
In 1973, the demonologists dropped by to help the Perrons investigate the house. According to Andrea Perron, one of the daughters, there was a scary séance in which her mother spoke in a strange language and started levitating in a chair. The Perrons lived in the house for seven more years.
The Amityville Horror House
The Warrens became a household name for the supernatural after their involvement in the infamous Amityville house case. The scary elements of this story really began in 1974. Per CBS New York, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr., one of the children of the DeFeo family, murdered his two parents and four siblings in their sleep. The house was empty for a year, but George and Kathy Lutz eventually bought the house for a very cheap price of $80,000.
Their residence was short-lived. The couple and the children only stayed for 28 days after seeing slime ooze from a wall and a red-eyed pig creature, among other disturbances. In addition to these occurrences, George saw his wife levitating and said that he woke up at 3:15 a.m. every day, the time when DeFeo killed his family, per Cosmopolitan. According to The Daily Beast, the Warrens came in and determined that there were psychic troubles even before the notorious murders.
The house became the stuff of horror pop culture, most notably portrayed in the 1979 film "The Amityville Horror," which was based on Jay Anson's 1977 book on the case. (Yes, the remake film in 2005 is the one with an especially hot Ryan Reynolds.) We also see it mentioned briefly in "The Conjuring 2." But did the Amityville haunting really happen? Back in 1979, lawyer William Weber (DeFeo's attorney) apparently claimed that he and the couple made the story up over lots of wine, per The Washington Post.
The Enfield Poltergeist
The basis for "The Conjuring 2," the Enfield haunting, started when single mother Peggy Hodgson moved her four daughters into a new home in Enfield, London in 1977, according to People. Strange occurrences took place in their new abode, including levitating objects, moving furniture, and strange noises. According to the BBC, Janet, one of the daughters, entered a trance where she spoke in a low, gruff voice, assuming the identity of a former resident who lived and died in the house. The Warrens were immediately interested in the case and paid the home a visit. While they weren't as involved as the film suggests, the demonologists publicly stated that they believed something supernatural was happening. Janet later admitted that she and her sisters faked about "two percent" of the events.
The Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson
"The Devil Made Me Do It" case is the popularized name for the truly strange trial of 19-year-old Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who, per the New York Times, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter for killing his landlord in 1981. The most bizarre part was the defense that he used in court: demonic possession. Apparently, a demon from 11-year-old David Glatzel's body took host in Johnson (the fiancé of David's sister Debbie), according to witnesses of Glatzel's exorcism. The Glatzel family had moved into a new rental home in Brookfield, CT, when David started saying that an old man would steal his soul. David had night terrors and unexplained cuts and bruises in addition to bizarre behavior. That's when the Warrens got involved and determined that there was a malevolent spirit afoot.
According to AP News, the demonic possession defense didn't stick in court, but Johnson only served five years of a sentence of up to 20. The incident inspired a TV movie on NBC called "The Demon Murder Case" and Gerald Brittle's book, "The Devil in Connecticut" (the latter was written with Lorraine Warren's help). Per The News-Times, The Glatzels later sued the publisher because of how its publication affected their family. Carl Glatzel, David's brother, said that the story was a hoax conjured by the Warrens to exploit the family. "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" explores this case further.
The Snedeker House
Again, the story here starts when a family moves into a new place, this time the Snedeker House, a former funeral home. When settling into their new residence in 1986, the Snedeker family (Allen, Carmen, and their children) discovered all sorts of disturbing funeral paraphernalia in the basement, including toe tags, coffin hoisters, and blood drains. According to People, the unsettling happenings started with sexual attacks (slaps and gropes), spirit appearances, and personality changes in the oldest child, who was afflicted with Hodgkin's disease and schizophrenia.
The Snedeker House became the basis for the film "The Haunting in Connecticut." As the story goes, the Warrens stopped by the home and said that it was possessed. Per Live Science, Ray Garton, the horror author hired by the Warrens to write about the house, noted conflicting reports between the family members. Still, he said that he was asked to hype up the story in the book "In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting," which he wrote with the Warrens.
The Smurl Haunting
"The Haunted" (1991) is one of the lesser-known films based on a case investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, but it was the first movie to include the couple onscreen. It follows Jack and Janet Smurl of West Pittston, PA, who claimed that a demon was haunting their home from 1974 to 1989. According to the couple, the demon attacked them, dragged them across rooms, and even threw their dog at a wall, per the Pocono Record. After investigating the home, Ed later claimed that he spotted a "dark mass" in the home and heard a voice telling him to "get out." Eventually, the Smurls turned to a series of priests and claimed that the demonic entity went away — for the most part — after a lot of prayers and exorcisms.