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  • Writer's pictureIvy Boyd

The Dark Side of the Warrens

Ed and Lorraine Warren are two of the most famous names in the paranormal. Lorraine claimed to be clairvoyant and a trance-medium, while Ed was a self-taught and self-professed demonologist. With their wholesome public image as a kind but strong-willed couple helping those in need (free of charge) it is easy to see why they soared to such a level of fame. They were fighting for the side of good and ridding houses across the nation of demons and malevolent hauntings. But there is more to the story of the Warrens, and those that they worked with, that you won't see on TV...

The Devil Made Me Do It

One of the Warrens most infamous cases is a story known as The Devil in Connecticut, or The Devil Made Me Do It.

New York Times article, March 1981

This is the story of Arne "Cheyenne" Johnson who was convicted of the murder of his landlord, Alan Bono, in 1981. In this real-life murder story, Ed and Lorraine Warren intervened and argued in court that Cheyenne was under demonic possession when he committed the murder. This was the first time in the American court system that a defense of demonic possession was used, and it was quickly thrown out.

The alleged source of said demons raises another issue. The Warrens claimed that these demons had previously possessed an 11 year old David Glatzel, the little brother of Debbie Glatzel, Cheyenne's girlfriend at the time. It wasn't just one demon, or two...according to Ed and Lorraine, David had been possessed by over 40 demons and a couple of devils. An absolutely absurd claim, even for those who believe in such phenomena. Debbie and her mother, Judy, had been fans of the Warrens after watching their lectures, so when David began to see and hear things that weren't really there, violently act out, and was covered in mysterious bruises and cuts, they jumped to demonic conclusions and reached out to the Warrens for help.

It is important to note that David had previously been diagnosed with a minor learning disability. For the formal rite of exorcism to be performed, it is also required that the Church must give permission after psychological tests and evaluations have been given and mental illness (among other things) have been ruled out. This is a formality that the Warrens gave little-to-no mind to, with the family allegedly stating that they didn't want to pay to have David see a psychiatrist because they were so certain that something demonic was to blame. The Warrens did claim that the priests who they worked with had indeed asked the Church for permission, but the Church maintained that this did not happen. According to the Warrens, they had video proof of two priests asking for permission and threatened to expose this evidence against the Church, but they never followed through and the alleged video was never seen.

David was clearly in need of professional help, but things spiraled as the adults in his life reinforced the idea that he was possessed by demons. For a time, some of Davids family used "they/them" pronouns for David (in the plural sense) referring to the many demons they believed had control over him. This would further convince the young David that he was, indeed, possessed.

A handful of exorcisms were performed on David, with the entity supposedly leaving him for Cheyenne, who would then commit murder. But throughout all of this, there was still a member of the family who didn't believe David was possessed...

Carl Glatzel, Debbie and David's other brother, states that he saw the situation for what it was: a means of getting Cheyenne off the hook for murder, and exploiting David's learning disability and mental illness for a moment of money and fame with the Warrens. According to Carl, the Warrens told the Glatzel family that if they let them publish a book about their story, their family would receive millions. They agreed, but the Glatzel's only saw about $2,000 after the book The Devil in Connecticut was released, written by Gerald Brittle with the help of Lorraine.

Carl believed that this book painted him as the villain who denied the existence of demons and blamed him for some of the abusive and criminal acts against his family. Carl believes that his misrepresentation in the book was the reason he had to drop out of school, struggled to make friends, and found it difficult to find jobs in the area.

When the book was re-released in 2006, Carl and David Glatzel, who were now adults, decided to sue, stating that they never gave permission for their stories to be used in the book. The brothers also anticipated another spike in their stories popularity and how this might negatively impact them once more. They decided to come forward with the truth, with Carl claiming that “the Warrens concocted a phony story about demons in an attempt to get rich and famous at our expense.”

Debbie believed that Carl was only saying this and suing for the money. Carl responded "Debbie, my sister, said I'm doing it for the money. I'm doing this for punitive damages and everything they did to us as children. We are not going to go through this again. This is damages that they took away from my schooling and all the things they took away from me all those years.”

Their story would hit the headlines once more as it was also turned into the 2021 film The Devil Made Me Do It, as part of The Conjuring series, keeping the skewed versions of these stories alive among modern fans of the Warrens.

When confronted about statements made by individuals like Carl, Lorraine dodged any real acknowledgement of the harm they may have caused, stating that "This is such an emotional type of strain on me today - It's too upsetting a situation." Ed would also briefly acknowledge the negative impact their work could have, but made it clear that he did not care because this information (the supposed prevalence of demons) "needed to be known" and "shouted from the rooftops". In short, if people were left struggling due to the Warrens interference, it was still worth it.

The Haunting in Connecticut

Carl Glatzel wouldn't be the only person who worked with the Warren's who would speak out against them. In the case of the Snedeker family, famously known as the inspiration behind the 2009 movie The Haunting in Connecticut, supernatural evils were blamed for the terrifying and violent activity in the Snedeker family home. This included strange sounds, smells, and even instances of sexual assault.

Ed and Lorraine Warren with the Snedeker family.

The Warrens conducted their own research on the old home, which used to act as a funeral home. They claimed to have found evidence of necrophilia between the staff and corpses, and blamed the homes apparent demonic haunting on these sinful acts. There was no evidence of this, however, and locals began to defend the honor and memory of the once popular funeral home. The Warrens insisted that they would release the evidence of their necrophilia claims, but they never did, and the claims remain unsubstantiated to this day.

One of the sons in the family, Philip, also began to exhibit odd behavior and would see and hear things that no one else could. To the Warrens also believed he was demonically possessed, and maintained that stance as they rid the house of the evil entities. (I will note that another tenant of the home that lived on the upper level never experienced any paranormal activity.)

When the Warrens were done, they hired a horror author, Ray Garton, to write a book about the case of the Snedeker family titled In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting which made its debut in 1992. Garton alleges that details given to him about the Snedeker families experiences weren't adding up and actually contradicted each other, which made writing the book difficult. When Garton approached Ed with this issue, Ed's response was telling Garton that "Everybody who comes to us is crazy. Otherwise why would they come to us? You've got some of the story - just use what works and make the rest up. And make it scary. You write scary books, right? That's why we hired you." Garton was, confusingly, reassured that the demon was real, and that they had video evidence of it and that he would see it for himself, but Garton was never shown said evidence.

Garton talks about this encounter in an interview for the Horror Bound Magazine where he also claims that other authors who worked with the Warrens had experiences similar to his. (Many of which did not speak up due to how it could negatively affect their reputation and career.) In this interview, Garton also points out that the Warrens only began to spew demonic rhetoric coincidentally after the success of the novel-turned-movie The Exorcist, with their previous investigations always involving the classic ghost or spirit.

When asked why he continued to write the book, Garton explains that a contract had been signed and he had no choice, so he spoke up about the truth immediately after the books release. Garton also brings up another issue with the son Philip who had been undergoing treatment for Hodgkins disease, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and who later admitted to having a drug addiction and that he was responsible for some of the "vileness" in the home that the Warrens said was because of demons. During a brief phone call with Philip and his mother Carmen, Garton said "When the boy began to talk about drugs and told me that he didn’t hear and see strange things in the house once he began taking medication, Carmen ended the conversation." But rather than pursue this and seek other treatment at the time, the Warrens (and Philips own mother) maintained that demons were to blame.

The Amityville Horror

In the also infamous case of The Amityville Horror, Ronald DeFeo Jr. (who usually went by "Butch") killed his entire family in their home in 1974.

Ronal DeFeo Jr (Butch) being escorted by authorities.

It was initially said that an evil presence in the home made Butch commit these crimes, leading his attorney, William Weber, to using a plea of insanity as their defense. The Lutz family then moved into the home, and the alleged paranormal activity they also experienced led to a relationship with Weber. The Warrens would come in and investigate the home, with a summary of their investigation stating that “The Warrens believed that the suffering there had left the property with a very negative energy and dark history, and that such a negative history was a magnet for demonic spirits and the preternatural.”

Home of the DeFeo's the night of the murder.

Before Butch's death in March, 2021, he confessed that nothing supernatural was going on in the home and that he was not possessed when the killings happened. (A plea of insanity is often used to lighten a sentence or avoid the death penalty.)

Weber, alongside a filmmaker, and Daniel Schwarz (a psychiatrist that testified on Butches behalf) planned on releasing the real story of Amityville. Butch himself signed over the rights to his story to them with the stipulation that "... the motion picture or teleplay will be based upon my true story and the true facts, which occurred in November 1974 and will not deal in any manner with the theory of possession or demonism as contained in the book Murder in Amityville.” (Murder in Amityville was written by Hans Holzer as a prequel to The Amityville Horror.)

Not only has the killer himself denounced any paranormal, supernatural, or preternatural happenings, but his former defense attorney, Weber, would also go on to admit to the haunting in the home with the Lutz family being a hoax that they concocted over some bottles of wine. Weber also admitted that it was a legal battle over profits between himself and the Lutz's that led to his confession that it was all made up.

Most of the rumored paranormal activity written about in the book The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, released in 1977, was also quickly debunked by the next family to move into the home at the Lutz's, the Cromarty's. For example, in the book they would claim that some windows in the home had been blown out by unexplainable supernatural winds, but the Cromarty's found that those same windows were still the originals and had clearly not been broken or replaced. The same went for other damages to the home and technicalities that just weren't possible. Later residents of the home also experienced no paranormal activity.

As for evidence of the haunting gathered by Ed and Lorraine, one popular photo still circulated today which many believe to be the spirit of one of Butch's younger brothers, John. However, this has largely been debunked as being a photo of another man who attended the investigation with them, Paul Blartz.

Supposed spirit on the left, photo of Paul Blartz the night of that vary same investigation on the right.

The inverted colors of the plaid shirt match how it would look to our eyes vs. an infrared camera, alongside the slope of the nose and the hair being parted on the right, which all point to this simply being a photo of him, and not a spirit.

Their Legacy and Satanic Panic

Satanic Panic is a term used to describe a wave of fear over rampant Satanic rituals that many people believed were happening across the United States from the 1980's to the 1990's. (There was never any evidence to support this.) These satanic fears benefitted the Warrens and was something they actively catered towards; they pushed the idea that demons were responsible for the evil going on in peoples homes, with Lorraine in particular believing that a lack of religion or housing non-Christian imagery and deities in ones home makes them more susceptible to a demonic attachment. But dangerously strong demonic fears have real repercussions in society: If you Google "woman kills child who she believed was possessed" you will find article after article of such cases. During the 1980s, people were being falsely imprisoned because they were accused of Satanic worship. Families have abandoned their new homes and fallen into financial ruin after being convinced that it is infested with demons.

The power of the Warrens and their current legacy can also be seen in the case of Bathsheba Sherman. In the story that inspired the movie The Conjuring, we saw the Warrens push anti-witch statements as they accused a previous tenant of the home, Bathsheba, of being a witch who killed at least one infant in the name of Satan. (Witches killing babies as sacrifices to Satan stems from medieval writings at the hands of men who sought vengeance towards women.) Although Bathsheba has been dead for quite some time, the Warrens she was a baby killing witch has led to a likely innocent Bathsheba's grave being a constant victim of vandalism. Her headstone now sits broken, and a small fence had been put around her final resting place in an attempt to deter further destruction. This goes to show the lasting effect that the false or unsubstantiated claims told by the Warrens can have. But there is more victim who shouldn't be left out when discussing who the Warren's really were...

An alleged victim of Ed's, Judith Penney, came forward in recent years over a romantic relationship that she claims started in the 1960s between her and Ed while she was 15 years old, and Ed was in his mid-30s and married to Lorraine. In her statements, Penney detailed how they quickly began a sexual relationship after the Warrens let her move in to help take care of her. Penney asserted that Lorraine was aware of this relationship between the two, but that the couple maintained the appearance of a close and happy marriage as their career took off.

In Conclusion...

When analyzing famous cases involving the Warrens, it becomes clear that they had a method for their success: Find a family who says they have a haunting, blame it on demons, rid them of the demons, and turn a large profit with books, movie deals, and lectures which sometimes cost up to $1,000 per-person to attend. They would repeatedly claim to have video evidence of demons, or evidence to support the claims made in their research, but these never came to light. So although it is true that they did not charge families for their services, to say that they did not do it for profit is factually incorrect. There was a hefty financial motive behind their business as Americas heroic, demon-fighting duo.

For more information on these stories and topics, you can check out these sources below which I used for this blog post:

The Devil Made Me Do It:

Let's Go To Court Podcast - Episode 178

Ray Garton and The Haunting in Connecticut:

Lorraine Warren quote:

The Amityville Horror:  (This is a good source for anyone interested in more details and theories on the crime itself.)

Let's Go To Court Podcast - Episode 40

Bathsheba Sherman/The Conjuring:

Judith Penney:

If you would like to learn more about Satanic Panic and the impact it can have on innocent people, I highly recommend this video on the Esoterica YouTube Channel:

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