The True Story Of The Terrifying Events Behind ‘The Haunting In Connecticut’

Published July 13, 2023
Updated July 17, 2023

In 1986, the Snedeker family moved into their new home in Southington, Connecticut — but two years later, the family would leave the house, telling stories of shocking paranormal activity.

True Story Of Haunting In Connecticut

Roadtrippers208 Meriden Avenue, the home in Southington, Connecticut, where the Snedeker family allegedly experienced paranormal activity.

The true story of the haunting in Connecticut begins in 1986, when the Snedeker family moved into the historic home at 208 Meriden Avenue.

The Snedekers were desperately searching for a home to rent in the area so their son, Philip, could receive treatment for his Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the nearby UConn hospital. The house on Meriden Avenue seemed like a perfect fit, and the Snedekers rushed to move in.

What seemed like a lucky find quickly turned into a nightmare once the family began experiencing paranormal activity. They reported seeing and hearing unknown forces, being attacked in their sleep, and even experiencing violent personality changes.

This is the true story that inspired a terrifying Hollywood horror film.

The Beginning Of The True Story Of The Haunting In Connecticut

Snedeker Family

Chasing the FrogThe Snedeker family in the 1980s alongside Ed and Lorraine Warren. (Back) Allen, Tammy, Ed and Lorraine Warren. (Front) Bradley, Carmen, Allen Jr., Jennifer.

The Snedeker family were like any other middle-class American family. They were comprised of Carmen Reed, her husband Allen Snedeker and their four children: Philip, Bradley, Allen Jr., and Jennifer. Carmen’s niece, Tammy, also lived with the family.

At a young age, Philip was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the body’s lymphatic system.

Because of Philip’s diagnosis, the Snedeker family often had to travel long distances from their home to the UConn hospital for treatment.

Eventually, the family felt that it would be better to move closer to the hospital so that Philip would not have to suffer through long and often painful car rides.

The search began for a home large enough to house the Snedeker family, and soon they found what they were looking for at 208 Meriden Avenue.

The five bedroom, two bathroom home provided plenty of space for the family, and so on June 30, 1986, the Snedekers signed a lease and moved into the home.

The Disturbing History Of The Southington Home

The move-in process seemed seamless for the Snedekers — the children picked their bedrooms with minimal arguments and the family loaded their belongings into the house smoothly.

Everything seemed normal until Carmen made a disturbing discovery in the home’s basement.

Laying among dusty boxes and old furniture were funerary items. The family claimed that the basement had embalming equipment and other materials necessary to run a mortuary.

According to the 2002 documentary about the case, A Haunting in Connecticut, Carmen stated that she had no idea the home had once been a funeral parlor. When she toured the home, Carmen said that she was unable to enter the basement because renovators had blocked the doorway with materials.

Carmen confirmed that the house was once a funeral home by contacting Darrell Kern, the home’s owner. Kern stated that the property was once the Hallahan Funeral Home and had been in operation for decades, though he claimed that he told the family about this before they moved in, as per a 1992 piece in the Hartford Courant.

This disturbing fact did not prevent Carmen’s sons, Philip and Bradley, from claiming the basement as their own bedroom. As the oldest Snedeker children, Philip and Bradley wanted a private space of their own, and the basement was spacious compared to the smaller rooms on the upper floors.

Philip and Bradley reportedly slept in the casket display room down the hall from the embalming room.

In addition to mortuary equipment, the Snedekers also found images of the deceased on the property. According to Chasing the Frog, Carmen Snedeker said “There were a couple of photos in the home, but there were many toe tags and a head tag. There were other personal items of the deceased.”

The Snedeker Family’s Terrifying Experience With Paranormal Activity

The most horrifying aspects of the true story of haunting of Connecticut dealt with intense and often violent interactions the Snedekers said they had with the paranormal.

The paranormal activity in the home started the night the family moved into the home —— and targeted Philip more than any other family member.

“My son started seeing this young man with long black hair down all the way to his hips,” Carmen stated to People. “He would talk to my son every day. Sometimes he would threaten him, other times he would stand there and just say his name, which was enough to scare him.”

However, the spooky happenings slowly spread to other family members and escalated in intensity. Carmen claimed that, while mopping the floor, the water turned into blood and gave off an acrid smell reminiscent of rotting flesh.

“The mop water was blood red. I mean a deep, deep red. It made my skin crawl. I started getting nervous that I was ruining the floor,” Carmen said in the 2002 documentary.

Most shocking was the claim from both Carmen and Allen that unknown forces had raped and sodomized them.

While unknown forces physically tormented the adults in the family, they seemed to take a deeper interest in Philip than ever before.

The Snedekers started to worry when Philip’s personality began to change. He became irritable and reckless, often inflicting cruel punishments on his younger siblings.

On one occasion, Philip placed Bradley on a gurney and spun him around until the younger boy begged him to stop. He also locked his brother in a chest and walked away.

The worst incident came after Philip attacked his cousin, Tammy, and was consequently forced to spend 45 days in a hospital. Doctors eventually diagnosed Philip with schizophrenia after he told them about the entities he saw regularly, but they noted that the medication he was on to treat his cancer could not have given him hallucinations or triggered any dormant schizophrenic illness.

The Snedeker family decided it was best to send Philip to live with relatives, and reportedly Philip stopped hearing voices and seeing spirits after this.

With such strong indications of paranormal activity, the Snedeker family contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators, as well as a priest to do an exorcism on the house.

On September 6, 1988, a priest performed an exorcism on the house, and the family reported that the paranormal activity suddenly disappeared. Later that year they moved out of the house and never returned, thus marking an end to the supposed true story of the haunting in Connecticut.

Casting Doubt On The True Story Of Haunting In Connecticut

Haunting In Connecticut Film

The Haunting in ConnecticutThe characters Sara, inspired by Carmen Snedeker, and Matt, inspired by Philip Snedeker, in the 2009 movie The Haunting in Connecticut.

With the Snedeker’s fantastical claims of violent paranormal experiences, some people doubted their validity.

The Snedeker family went public with their experiences prior to leaving the residence, and Darrell Kern noted in the 1992 from the Hartford Courant that the reported paranormal activity seemed to escalate when the family was behind on the rent.

“It’s a scheme to make money,” Kern said.

Even the family’s neighbor, Katherine Altemus, believed that the whole thing was a hoax.

“I think they had this planned right from when they moved in,” she said in the same newspaper piece.

Altemus noted that the family always appeared jovial whenever they were outside, not acting like a terrified family.

Friends of Philip even stated that they too didn’t believe the story given his personality.

“He was a storyteller. He always had to be the center of attention,” Jeffrey Pooler said to the Hartford Courant.

Two weeks prior to the Hollywood film’s release in 2009, more people spoke out against the family’s claims, including the new owner of the supposed haunted house.

“We’ve lived in the house for 10 years. Our house is wonderful,” Susan Trotta-Smith, the owner of the house in 2009, told NBC Connecticut. “This is all Hollywood foolishness. The stories are all ludicrous.”

While people debate whether the story behind one of Hollywood’s most spine-tingling horror films is true or not, the “true” story of the haunting in Connecticut and the Snedeker family has certainly solidified itself as one of the greatest ghost stories in American history.


After reading about the true story behindThe Haunting in Connecticut, discover the true story of The Conjuring films inspired by the experience of the Perron family. Then, read about the terrifying Enfield haunting that inspired The Conjuring 2.

Amber Breese
Amber Breese is a former Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
Matt Crabtree
Matt Crabtree is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. A writer and editor based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Matt has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Utah State University and a passion for idiosyncratic news and stories that offer unique perspectives on the world, film, politics, and more.