The Infamous Legacy of Paranormal Investigator Lorraine Warren


This past April, paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 92. Over the course of her career, Lorraine and husband Ed (who passed in 2006), made names for themselves investigating haunted houses and purifying objects thought to have been possessed by demons. They founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, and their paranormal cases inspired such popular horror films as “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror.”

Ed and Lorraine Warren: Partners in Life and Death

Lorraine met her husband Ed when she was 16 years old, as they quickly became a team, bonding over shared experiences with the occult. Ed became an expert on demonology because he was raised in a haunted house, and Lorraine declared herself a clairvoyant and medium, claiming she was able to see auras starting at the age of seven or eight. 

Eventually, Lorraine and Ed opened the New England Society for Psychic Research and became paranormal investigators. The pair went on to solve more than 10,000 cases of hauntings and happenings — a few of which have become famous to those interested in the occult.

Annabelle the Doll

Within the basement of the New England Society for Psychic Research, Ed and Lorraine established the Warren Occult Museum, which housed a collection of obscure and haunted artifacts — many of which they had come across in their own cases. 

Perhaps the most popular artifact in their collection was “The Annabelle Doll” — a Raggedy Ann Doll that was bought in the 1970s and is said to still be haunted to this day. The doll had been given to a nursing student who lived in an apartment with one roommate. The two claimed that the doll seemed to change positions and then actually moved to different locations around the apartment. 

Eventually, the women began to find mysterious messages written on parchment paper, asking for help. Then, red drops that resembled blood were said to appear on the doll.

They eventually called in a medium who said the doll was possessed by a young girl who was murdered on the land upon which the apartment complex was eventually built.

The spirit’s name was Annabelle…

As the story goes, the doll repeatedly attacked another friend of the nursing student, not only coming to him while he was asleep, but on another occasion as well, leaving seven claw marks on his chest. It was after the clawing that the women realized the Annabelle Doll was possessed by a demon, rather than the spirit of a young girl.

That was when they called in the Warrens. The investigators took the doll from the apartment and back to their research center, where they sprinkled holy water over it before locking it away in a glass case. It is said that over the years, a few people who declared that the doll did not possess any powers came to suffer near-fatal, or fatal, accidents. 

Was The Conjuring a True Story? The Perron Family Haunting

Another of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s cases has found its way to the public eye: the 1971 case which terrorized the Perron Family and inspired the Hollywood horror film, “The Conjuring.” Serving as a consultant on the film, Lorraine vouches that each event within “The Conjuring” actually happened. 

In the real version of the story, Carolyn and Roger Perron, along with their five daughters, moved into a 14-room Rhode Island farmhouse where they began witnessing inanimate objects moving from room to room or going missing. Then the children began to see spirits around the house, a few of which were angry. 

Upon her own investigation, Carolyn found that before the Perrons had settled in, the farmhouse had been occupied by the same family for eight generations — and many of its members had met violent deaths. The spirits reputedly pulled such antics as lifting beds off the floor, messing with the heat, and dumping piles of dirt in the middle of the floor. 

The angriest of the ghosts was named Bathsheba, and she was said to be the mistress of the house, who resented Carolyn as a mother. Bathsheba was said to be a Satanist, and her spirit seemed to be the biggest source of terror. At one time, she is said to have even possessed Carolyn, causing her to speak in tongues and levitate in her chair.

The Perron Family occupied the house for 10 years, battling with the spirits until they called in the Warrens. After Lorraine and Ed performed a seance, Roger called it quits with their services, fearing for his wife’s mental health. As soon as they were able to afford it, the Perrons moved out, never to return.

Criticism of Ed and Lorraine Warren

While many describe Lorraine Warren as generous, kind, and loving, she has at least as many critics. While the Warrens didn’t charge for investigations, they did prosper from publicity. They were paid for movie and television rights, books, lectures, and their occult museum. A harsh criticism appearing in the New York Times noted, “‘Warren, along with her late husband, Ed, are audacious and unabashed frauds, capitalizing on the completely meritless superstition which is all too common in modern society.’ The Viking News of Westchester Community College wrote in a 2012 editorial objecting to the use of student activity fees to pay Ms. Warren to lecture.”

Ed and Lorraine Warren

Ed and Lorraine Warren

There was also criticism stemming from the religious nature of the Warren’s work. Lorraine unabashedly claimed that paranormal attacks are directly related to a lack of belief in God.

In an interview with The Christian Post, she explained that her paranormal work is religiously motivated and that “the only way to protect yourself is through your faith… If I could only get over that hill for people to understand that if they had faith and they witness all of these [demonic encounters] that they could call on God and ask for his protection. That’s really my goal.”

Apparently, however, even priests were not safe if they weren’t careful

The Warren’s own website explained: “In one instance Father Jason Bradford a catholic exorcist came to the house. Upon seeing the doll seated in the chair he picked it up and said, “Your [sic] just a rag-doll Annabelle, you can’t hurt anyone,” and tossed the doll back in the chair at which point Ed exclaimed ‘That’s one thing you better not say.”

Upon leaving an hour later, Lorraine pleaded to the priest to please be careful driving and to call her when he arrived home. Lorraine discerned tragedy for this young priest but he had to go his way. A few hours later Father Jason called Lorraine and explained that his brakes had failed as he entered a busy intersection. He was a involved in a near fatal accident destroying his vehicle.”

Is Death the Final Frontier?

Over the course of their unusual career, Ed and Lorraine Warren delved deep into the kind of excitement few others would welcome. Their high-profile investigations included the Lindley Street poltergeist, the Smurl haunting, the West Point ghost, the Perron farmhouse haunting, and the Amityville murders. Now that they’ve left this world, their museum and research center will be run by their son-in-law, Tony Spera. And, at long last, they will truly know the answer to the age-old question: What happens when we die?

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