A legend in the world of ghosts, on this plane of existence and perhaps the next, has passed on.
Lorraine Warren, purported medium, ghost hunter, and author involved with cases popularized in paranormal pop culture films The Amityville Horror, The Conjuring, The Haunting in Connecticut, and Annabelle, has died at age 92. According to her son-in-law Tony Spera, Warren passed away in her sleep last night.
Lorraine — along with her husband Ed, who died in 2006 — founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, and claim to have investigated more than 10,000 paranormal cases. The duo became celebrities who appeared on talk shows, and gave lectures on the topics of ghosts, and demonology.
Born January 31, 1927, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and raised Roman Catholic, Lorraine stated she could see auras around people from the age of seven. Along with Ed, she said she relied on her faith as they worked with clergy on cases involving spirits of those who passed on, as well as demons who possessed people, homes, and objects. Though they did not charge for investigations that took them across the United States, and to Europe, Asia, and Australia, they gained notoriety through books, speaking engagements, film consulting, and at one point, tours of their Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut (which contains the actual Annabelle doll).
The Warrens were most famous for their involvement with the 1976 Amityville case, and the haunting allegedly experience by the Lutz family in Long Island, New York. The “spook sleuths,” as they were called in one newspaper cover story, did not appear as characters in the 1979 film The Amityville Horror,nor in 2009’s The Haunting in Connecticut — loosely based on their version of the Snedeker House case from 1986. They were, however, portrayed in the 1991 made-for-television movie The Haunted, based on the Smurl case in Pennsylvania.
Although she appeared on television discussing their cases (and both took part in series such as Road Rules: All Stars, Scariest Places on Earth, with Lorraine appearing on Discovery Channel’s A Haunting, and on A&E’s investigative series, Paranormal State), they became famous for 21st Century audiences as fictionalized characters in 2013’s The Conjuring.
Directed by James Wan, the film adapted the story of the Perron family, supposedly tormented by the ghost of a witch who had killed her infant, and pledged herself to the devil. Portrayed by Vera Farmiga (with Patrick Wilson playing Ed), Lorraine’s psychic abilities are used to stop the entity, and assist in an exorcism.
The massive success of the film (which earned $319 million on a reported $20 million budget) launched the The Conjuring Universe, which involved a sequel based on the Enfield Poltergeist in England, and the Annabelle doll spin-off franchise.
As far as their personal history, Lorraine and Ed met when they were 16, and he was working as an usher for The Colonial Theater in Bridgeport. After entering the Navy at 17, Ed’s ship sank in the North Atlantic in 1945 during World War II. He had saved the life of a fellow sailor, a moment Lorraine later told Patch.com was the proudest moment of her life. The couple was married on his 30-day survivor’s leave, and later had a daughter, Judy. Together they sold Ed’s paintings, which (literally and figuratively) opened the doors to haunted houses owned by those who bought his work.
Although Lorraine and Ed Warren were the subject of criticism, and accusations of fraud, their impact on the field of paranormal investigation is vast. From a paranormal pop culture perspective, Lorraine and Ed will be remembered alongside other famous ghost hunters such as Harry Price, Hans Holzer (and yes, even Zak Bagans). Their legacy within the field continues with nephew John Zaffis, who was a protégé of theirs and is now a paranormal celebrity in his own right, and demonologist David Considine.