Ed And Lorraine Warren — The Paranormal Investigators Behind Your Favorite Horror Movies

Published May 22, 2018
Updated June 7, 2018

Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed to have investigated over 10,000 paranormal cases.

Ed And Lorraine Warren

Getty ImagesEd and Lorraine Warren

Before Hollywood turned their ghost stories into blockbuster films, Ed and Lorraine Warren made a name for themselves by investigating paranormal hauntings and happenings. In 1952, the married couple founded the New England Society for Psychic Research and in the basement of their research center, they created their very own Occult Museum which was horrifyingly adorned with satanic objects and demonic artifacts.

But the center’s primary purpose was to serve as the base of operations for Ed and Lorraine Warren. According to the two “demonologists,” they investigated over 10,000 cases over the course of their careers with doctors, nurses, researchers, and police at their assistance.

Lorraine said that ever since she was seven or eight-years-old she could see auras around people. She was scared if she told her parents they’d think she was crazy, so she kept her powers to herself. But when she met her husband Ed Warren when she was 16, he knew there was something different about her. Ed himself said he grew up in a haunted house and was a self-taught demonologist as a result.

Lorraine and Ed pooled their talents together, working their way to the famous paranormal investigators they eventually became.

The Annabelle Doll Case

Annabelle Doll

YouTubeThe Annabelle doll in her case at the Warrens’ Occult Museum.

In a locked glass box in the Occult Museum, there’s a Raggedy Ann doll named Annabelle with “do not touch” warning sign on it. The unsuspecting doll may not appear menacing, but of all the items in the Occult Museum, “that doll is what I’d be most frightened of,” said Tony Spera, the Warrens’ son-in-law.

According to the Warrens’ report, a 28-year-old nurse who received the doll as a gift noticed that it started to change positions. Then she and her roommate started finding parchment paper with written messages saying things like, “Help me, help us.”

As if that wasn’t strange enough, the girls claimed that they didn’t even have parchment paper in their house.

Next, the doll started showing up in different rooms and leaking blood. Unsure of what to do, the two women turned to a medium, who said the doll was being occupied by the spirit of a young girl named Annabelle Higgins.

That’s when the Ed and Lorraine took an interest in the case and contacted the women. After evaluating the doll, they “came to the immediate conclusion that the doll itself was not in fact possessed but manipulated by an inhuman presence.”

The Warrens’ evaluation was that the spirit in the doll was looking to possess a human host. So they took it, sprinkled holy water on it, and locked it in the box.

The Perron Family Case

The Perron Family

YouTubeThe Perron Family in 1971.

It didn’t take Ed and Lorraine Warren to land their next high-profile case. While the Perron Family served as the inspiration behind the the film The Conjuring, the Warrens saw it as a very real and terrifying situation.

In January 1971, the Perron Family – Carolyn and Roger, and their five daughters – moved to a large Farmhouse in Harrisville, R.I. The family noticed strange occurrences happening right away that only got worse over time. Starting with a missing broom, it escalated into full-fledged angry spirits.

In researching the home, Carolyn claimed to discover that the same family owned it for eight generations, during which time many died by drowning, murder, or hanging.

When the Warrens were brought in, they claimed the home was haunted by a witch. “The things that went on there were just so incredibly frightening,” Lorraine recalled. The Warrens made frequent trips to the house, but unlike the movie, they didn’t perform an exorcism. There was though, according to Carolyn Perron, a seance.

The family moved out of the house in 1980.

The Warrens And The Amityville Horror Case

Amityville Murder House

Getty ImagesThe Amityville House

In terms of paranormal investigations, the Amityville Horror case was Ed and Lorraine Warren’s claim to fame.

In November 1974, 23-year-old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr., the eldest child of the DeFeo family, murdered his entire family in their beds with a .35 caliber rifle. The grisly case became infamous and the Amityville murders became the catalyst for the claim that spirits haunted the Amityville house.

In 1976, George and Kathy Lutz moved into the Long Island house and quickly believed a demonic spirit was residing there with them. George said he witnessed his wife transforming into a 90-year-old woman and levitating above the bed. The family walked around with a crucifix reciting the Lord’s Prayer but to no avail.

One night, their final night there, they heard banging “as loud as a marching band emanated throughout the house.” After 28 days, they couldn’t take it anymore and fled the home.

Ed and Lorraine visited the home 20 days after the Lutz’s left. According to the Warrens, Ed was physically pushed to the floor and Lorraine felt an overwhelming sense of a demonic presence. Along with their research team, they claimed to capture a picture of a spirit in the form of a little boy on the stairway.

The story became so high-profile, it launched its own conspiracy theories, books, and films, including the 1979 classic The Amityville Horror.

The Enfield Haunting

The Enfield Haunting Little Girl Jumping

YouTubeOne of the Hodgson girls caught on camera being flung from her bed.

In August 1977, the Hodgson family reported strange things happening in their house, like dressers sliding across the floor and knocking coming from all over the house. They called the police to investigate and the officer who arrived is said to have witnessed a chair rising and moving on its own.

The Warrens, who visited Enfield in 1978, were convinced that it was a real “poltergeist” case. “Those who deal with the supernatural day in and day out know the phenomena are there — there’s no doubt about it,” Ed Warren is quoted as saying.

Then, two years after they started, the mysterious hauntings abruptly stopped. However, the family maintains that they didn’t do anything to stop it.

The Paranormal Investigative Duo Close Their Case Book

Ed Warren died in on Aug. 23, 2006, with Lorraine Warren retiring from active investigations shortly after. However, she remains as a consultant to the N.E.S.P.R.

According to the Warrens’ official website, “she will be passing on the ‘torch’ to her son-in-law, Tony Spera, who has worked with both Ed and Lorraine Warren for over thirty years.”

Many skeptics have criticized Ed and Lorraine over the years, saying they’re good at telling ghost stories, but lack any real evidence. Whether the stories are hoaxes or folklore, it’s clear that these two investigators made their mark on the paranormal world. Their legacy is solidified by the dozens of films and television series that have been created based on their many eerie cases.


Next read about Robert the Doll, another haunted doll the Warren’s might be interested in. Then read about, true story of the Amityville Murders.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.
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