The Smurl Family Haunting – with Ed and Lorraine Warren
The events took place between 1972 (mixed years) through 1989 in West Pitton, Pennsylvania. Jack and Janet Smurl moved into a duplex on Chase Street after their home in Wilkes-Barre suffered flood damage from Hurricane Agnes. (Think northeast PA… so like, Scranton) They moved in on one side while Jack’s parents moved in on the second side. While the house needed a little HGTV style work, it was nothing the Smurls couldn’t handle.
The family consisted of Jack, Janet, their daughters (Dawn and Heather), Jack’s parents (Mary and John), and the family dog (a german shephard).
They set to work, and, in true spooky fashion, things started to happen. Tools would go missing and show up where they weren’t laid down. Wall stains would show up through fresh paint. Strange smells would randomly pop up then quickly dissipate like a ghostly crop dusting. Doors slamming. Ya know, typical pre-poltergeisty stuff.
While mislaying your hammer and not remembering where you put it is explainable (something I do all the time), things started turning extra weird in 1974 when unplugged kitchen appliances started catching fire, specifically with a toaster.
While this was happening, the family kept their lives going. Jack got a promotion in his job (he worked for Topps who manufactured baseball cards) and found time to coach his daughter’s softball team. Janet got pregnant (with twins! Karen and Shannon) and helped at the local highschool. The girls were doing well in school. Everyone was happy.
While the family was happy, they started having trouble making ends meet financially. On top of all this Mary, Jack’s mother, suffered a heart attack, causing her to start being homebound. (unclear if this was a necessity or a choice?)
So between renovations and family stress, the family was primed for any supernatural weirdness that was about to happen.
In 1985, after spending years just dealing with ghosty things, a tv set burst into flames. Additionally, scratches started showing up on walls (meaning… demons), toilets would flush by themselves, and rocking chairs would rock by themselves.
The family started hearing voices, mostly Janet. She would hear the voices of her family calling out. Janet reported hearing Mary call for her from the other room. Mary, on the other hand, claimed that she overheard Janet and Jack arguing with colorful language.
Obviously, Janet told her husband what was going on… but he dismissed her as he thought she wasn’t being honest.
Janet was the focus of these entities. One day, Janet saw a black shadow figure walk through the wall into the other duplex where the parents lived. She ran into Mary, who said she also saw a shadow figure come out of the wall and walk away. Their husbands didn’t believe them.
One night, while laying in bed, Jack overheard a young women’s voice whispering. When he turned to his wife, who was laying next to him in bed, reportedly saw a dark form run up his wife’s leg.
According to Janet, the shadow was an incubus that had been molesting her while she slept.
It was at this point things decided to go darker than before:
- A light fixture fell from the ceiling, cutting one of the daughters
- Janet was reportedly picked up, dangled six feet in the air, before being thrown
- The family dog was thrown against a wall
- The neighbors reported to hear screaming occasionally when the family was gone
- While watching a baseball game on tv one night, Jack claimed to have been molested by a succubus. He said she had the body of a young girl and the head of an old woman.
- Once, during a camping trip, a black shadow figure showed up. The family decided to go home.
TLDR; They were terrified. So they contacted Ed and Lorraine in 1986.
After inspecting the house, Lorraine concluded that there were four entities inhabiting the Smurl’s home:
- An elderly woman
- A young girl, potentially violent
- A man who had died in the home after suffering through life
- A demon that controlled the above three
The Warrens claimed the house was possessed. The steps of possession is as follows:
- Infestation: You may not notice or deny these things. E.g. cold spots, smells, etc
- Oppression: The entity focuses on the weakest in the household and puts pressure on them. That person is the target. This typically continues until the target is isolated and empty.
- Possession: The demon is in charge and is here to stay. Professionals will need to be called.
During the investigation, Ed said he experienced the smell of rotting flesh. The Warrens also experienced blood-curdling screams at all times of day. Additionally, a mucus like substance spelled out on a mirror “filthy obscenities”.
A black spot showed up the first night, telling the Warrens to leave the first night.
During a group prayer, Ed stated “You filthy bastard, get out of this house”. This caused the house to shape and two female ghosts, dressed in colonial clothes, walked through the house. This was the only time the female ghosts were seen and it’s believed one of them was the succubus.
Prayer sessions, blessings, blasting gregorian chants,and exorcisms were held… but didn’t really help. The Smurls decided to make their story public in hopes that it would attract the attention of someone who could help which, in hindsight, didn’t work out for them.
Basically, they got swamped by looky-loos with cameras
Church representatives had no idea what was happening. Priests visited the home to perform blessings and reported no activity during their time there. In 1986 a priest moved in to experience the events for himself. He left after two nights of inactivity.
In 1987 the Smurl family left. Reportedly, some spirits followed them, as an additional church sanctioned exorcism was performed in 1989.
Not to discount the experiences of the family, they have faced great scrutiny as to what actually happened.
One thing to remember is, in 1983, is that Jack underwent surgery to have water removed from his brain that was a result of having meningitis when he was younger. Could this have been a result of misfiring neurons? Possibly. However, it’s important to remember the women in the house were reporting activity before he experienced anything.
The movie “The Haunting” was released on Fox in 1991 and can be found here:
Weird Darkness Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/7sKlJT8u84bn218JA7G3cZ?si=tfRKUrmKSN28k9zMNBEz2A
FearScape Paranormal Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5qf7OfaqvGrp9J9Sjq8GcD?si=srvu5bPVTX-F0CI2QVrz4Q
Book, “The Haunted: One Family’s Nightmare” (NOTE many feel this book does not present an unbiased representation of the events of the Smurl house): https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-One-Familys-Nightmare/dp/1631680137/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3T0MPQ0DUJZYI&dchild=1&keywords=the+haunted+one+family%27s+nightmare&qid=1597761086&sprefix=the+haunted+one+%2Caps%2C147&sr=8-1
Hillbilly Horror Stories Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2GztJmdhbOCGXCTQahz41B?si=IOZeEMp3QAWkFvS6WJ3gYw
GraveYard Tales Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2vXLRetu7Bf2ZUPc3Oc6nh?si=PaeAvxbfQDW9Xy-OiV7fxg