The case helped raise their profile as paranormal investigators, but it also unsettled them, especially Ms Warren.
“The case itself has affected our personal lives more than any other case we’ve ever worked on in 54 years of research,” she told the website Movieweb in 2005, when a remake of the movie was being released. “And that’s a lot of places.”
In 1980 the professional ghosthunters flew to Australia to be guests on the Don Lane Show on Channel Nine and viewers were asked to call the Melbourne studio.
There were more than 1000 calls but the most notable was a plea for help from a young couple in Gladesville. The Warrens visited the house and were reported to have felt depressed when they entered the property.
The Sun newspaper reported the story as front-page news under the headline, «Family Flee ‘Ghost House’». Warren told the newspaper: «The house is full of negative feelings and witchcraft, there is no love of God in the house. If they stay in the house any longer there will be a psychic explosion.»
A journalist at the paper, Jacqui Thomson, wrote: «In a quiet bedroom, ghosthunter Lorraine Warren lay on the bed ‘feeling the atmosphere’. I was astonished to see Mrs Warren appear to ‘transfigure’. Her face appeared to be superimposed with that of an old lady, with a high forehead and multiple chins.
«As we moved from room to room, Mrs Warren closed her eyes and she became sensitive to the ‘vibrations’ in the rooms.»
The paper also reported a neighbour as describing the haunted house reports as «a lot of garbage». The family and their two young children soon after moved out of the property.
The Warrens didn’t charge for their investigations; they made their money from movie and television licensing rights, books, lectures and tours of a modest museum of supernatural artefacts adjacent to their home in Monroe, north of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They had, of course, many detractors.
“Warren, along with her late husband, Ed, are audacious and unabashed frauds, capitalising 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 Warren to lecture.
The Warrens were Roman Catholic and Warren said it was her belief that a lack of religion was often what opened the door for malevolent forces to enter a home or a life.
“When there’s no religion, it is absolutely terrifying,” she told The Irish Independent in 2013. “That is your protection. God is your protection. It doesn’t matter what your religion is.”
Lorraine Rita Moran was born in Bridgeport. She began having clairvoyant experiences as a child, she said.
She was 16 when she met Ed Warren. Some friends had taken her to a James Cagney movie and he was an usher at the theatre. Soon he was fighting in World War II. They married in 1945, when he was home on leave.
Mr Warren took art classes after the war and began selling his paintings on roadsides. He had grown up in a house that he believed was haunted, and he began to merge his interest in the paranormal with his artistic abilities: When the couple would hear of a house that might be haunted, he would set up outside it, paint it, then give the painting to the homeowner. He would often end up getting a tour.
The Warrens founded the psychic research society in 1952. Among their investigations was a 1971 case involving a house, said to be haunted, in Rhode Island. It became the basis for the 2013 box office hit The Conjuring, in which Vera Farmiga played Ms Warren and Patrick Wilson portrayed her husband.
Ms Warren had a small part (as she had in The Haunted, a 1991 television movie based on a book by the Warrens and three other authors) in the film.
The Warrens drew considerable publicity in 1981 for their involvement in a murder case in Connecticut in which the defendant, Arne Johnson, sought to argue that he had been possessed by the Devil. The judge in the case disallowed the argument and Mr Johnson was convicted of manslaughter.
Warren often said that, when investigating a house, she preferred to be allowed to roam freely and to concentrate on the bedrooms.
“That is the easiest way, to sit on the edge of the bed,” she told The Irish Independent. “You know when you go to bed at night, how all these things go through your mind? That’s all recorded. You think these things out. What you have experienced, you go to bed and it is played out for you again. The moment between waking and sleep.”
Ms Warren’s survivors include a daughter, Judy Spero.
Tim Barlass with The New York Times
Lorraine Warren: January 31, 1927 — April 18, 2019.