The Smurl Family Haunting

The Smurl Family Haunting

The well known paranormal investigations led by world renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren made it to the big screen including The Conjuring, Annabelle and now the Conjuring 2.  All three films are in fact based on documented cases that the Warren’s were called into, long before the reality paranormal TV shows like the Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures broke the barrier between believers and non believers.

The Warren’s have had many cases over the years and early on they faced ridicule from psychologists who believed most claims of these hauntings were actually a form of mental illness.  One case in particular was the Smurl Haunting in West Pittston, Pennsylvania.  Jack and Janet Smurl contacted the Warren’s with alleged claims that a demon was inhabiting their home from 1974 to 1989.  This case was widely known in the press but in the 70’s and 80’s people were more skeptical of the supernatural, especially if the self-proclaimed demonologists were involved.

During the interview with the Warrens Jack and Janet Smurl along with their four daughters claimed that they could hear voices when no one was there, items went missing, ghostly apparitions, toilets flushing on their own, a television burst into flames and one claim of sexual abuse by Jack Smurl.  The Smurls and surrounding neighbors had also made claims to the local official about a foul smell coming from their home.  The Smurls home was a duplex and with Jack’s elderly parents living in the attached apartment.  They too made the same claims of paranormal activity but not as aggressive as Jack and Janice.

The Smurl Family Haunting
The Smurl family pose for a photograph

During the walk through, Lorraine Warren claimed to have made contact with three spirits and one nasty demon that she claimed was responsible for the sexual attack on Jack.  Worried about the safety of the Smurl family the Warren’s requested an exorcism of the residence, but due to the lack of physical evidence the Catholic Church refused this request.  Finally they brought in Father F McKenna who was a member of an order Catholicism   (which was not recognized by the Vatican).  According to the Warrens Father McKenna performed 2 unsuccessful exorcisms’ and finally managed to rid the home of spirits and demons alike after the 3rd and final exorcism.

The clergy, psychologists and skeptics were quick to deny anything paranormal in the case, instead they accused Jack and Janet Smurl of fabricating evidence and then later calling for a mental health evaluation, especially for Jack Smurl.

According to the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Jack told a reporter that in 1983 that he suffered memory loss due to having Meningitis when he was a child.  This article only fueled speculation that this alleged haunting did not exist.  Although it is possible that Jack’s physical condition could have caused hallucinations that still did not explain the experiences that Janet had also experienced.

There is a phenomenon that can cause poltergeist activity when someone in the home is dealing with a trauma like Jack’s brain condition. This usually happens when the person who is suffering a traumatic event, but who is also in denial of his or her own supernatural abilities like precognition or telepathy. But this type of phenomenon is only possible if the dwelling already has spirits who may have been dormant.  The stress from the trauma can feed the dormant spirits with nasty consequences.

The claims of a haunting in the Smurl home may never be solved.  In 1989 the Warrens and the Smurls co-authored a book about their experiences called The Haunted.  Then in 1991 there was a made for TV movie based on the book.  After The Smurls moved out in 1989 there were no further claims of paranormal activity.

Was this mass hysteria turned into greed just to write a book? Or was this haunting brought on by an illness?  Fear and mass hysteria can spread like a wildfire and before you know it you are surrounded by chaos that can turn into confusion and half truths.  In a case with no physical evidence we need to step back and look at the facts. The fact is the Warrens have always handled their cases with honesty and integrity.  As paranormal investigators we must always have integrity.  Without it we lose our voice and our voice is how we change the world.

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