Ed and Lorraine Warren: The Couple Behind The Conjuring

Ed and Lorraine Warren-Amityville

Practically every horror fan knows of James Wan’s Conjuring universe. But do you know Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigators that inspired the filmmakers?

This famous couple spent their lives investigating strange occurrences: possessions, hauntings, and all manner of supernatural events. The pair said they investigated over 10,000 such events during their time together.

Ed and Lorraine Warren

Ed and Lorraine Warren: The Beginning of a Supernatural Power Couple

Before Ed and Lorraine Warren were the investigative occultist couple played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, they were just two kids in love. In 1944, Ed worked as an usher at The Colonial Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a place Lorraine frequented. They became friends and started dating.

On Ed’s 17th birthday, he enlisted in the Navy. After his deployment, it was only four short months before his ship was sunk in the North Atlantic.

He returned to the states for his 30-day leave. During his short time at home, Ed and Lorraine tied the knot.

In 1952, they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research together. Their location acted both as their home base for the psychic operations and as a museum. In the basement, they started what became the Warren Occult Museum which closed in 2018. Since Lorraine passed in 2019, there have been no plans to reopen.

This museum was filled with demonic items and satanic artifacts they collected over their time as investigators. One of the prominent pieces? The infamous Raggedy Ann that inspired the terrifying Annabelle doll.

On the current New England Society for Psychic Research site, the new owner explained, “They were not occultists. They were not strange. If you had the privilege of speaking to them, they would seem like normal folks with regular jobs. They were ordinary people who happen to do extraordinary work in a field that most people fear or don’t believe.”

Ed Warren

Both Ed and Lorraine Warren said events in their childhood prepared them for their positions as investigators. Ed was born on September 7, 1926 to a family in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He grew up in a house he believed was haunted. He described himself as a self-taught demonologist.

After his time in the Navy fighting in World War II, he pursued his love of painting by enrolling in Yale’s art subsidiary, Perry Art School. As one would expect, his favorite subject was painting haunted houses. 

Two years later, he withdrew from the school. Ed and Lorraine Warren started setting up roadside stands in tourist areas in Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut to sell his paintings.

After a while, they used his skills as a painter to pursue their fascination with the supernatural. 

When they found a site they considered haunted, Ed would stand outside to sketch the house. Once finished, he would approach the homeowners and offer them the sketch in exchange for a tour of the home.

According to his obituary, he was one of only seven religious demonologists in the US. When not pursuing the supernatural, he professed himself as a lover of animal advocacy and rescued many pets over the years. 

When asked if he feared death, Ed said, “No, I don’t fear it, not one iota, I know I’ll be going to a beautiful place, a place so spectacular it defies words.”

Lorraine Warren

Born on January 31, 1927, Lorraine Rita Morgan grew up with her family in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Lorraine also was closely entwined with the supernatural. At seven or eight years old, she began seeing auras around people. She kept this to herself, afraid that her parents would think she was crazy.

She confessed to her boyfriend, Ed Warren, of her powers and the rest is history.

Lorraine called herself a clairvoyant and light trance medium and used her gifts in the work she did with her husband. 

Both Warrens practice Roman Catholicism, and Ms. Warren said that her religious conviction drove their investigations. They thought that the evils of the world were caused by a lack of religion. “When there’s no religion, it is absolutely terrifying. That is your protection. God is your protection. It doesn’t matter what your religion is.”

During an investigation, Lorraine felt that the best place to feel the energies of the home was in the bedrooms.

When describing her process, she explained, “That is the easiest way, to sit on the edge of the bed. 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.”

Ed and Lorraine Warren

Ed and Lorraine Warren’s Most Famous Cases

Of the 10,000 cases Ed and Lorraine Warren covered, a few stand out among the rest. Here are some of their most infamous cases, some of which inspired the movie The Conjuring and its many sequels.

The Annabelle Doll Case 

In 1968, a 28-year-old nurse got a Raggedy Ann doll as a gift. She soon discovered that this was no ordinary doll. She and her roommate noticed that the doll would change positions and leave them notes written on parchment. They had messages like “help me, help me,” and the most unnerving part? The roommates didn’t have parchment in the house.

More concerning, the doll started leaking blood once she was transported to different rooms. When they contacted a medium, they said the doll was occupied by a young girl’s spirit by the name of Annabelle Higgins.

Once they heard the details, Ed and Lorraine Warren contacted the roommates. They determined that “the doll itself was not in fact possessed but manipulated by an inhuman presence.”

They took the doll away, but on their trip home, they said the doll caused their brakes to fail multiple times. When they pulled over to douse the doll in holy water, the car trouble stopped.

If the Occult Museum was still open, you could see the Annabelle doll for yourself. She’s locked in a glass case with the sign that says “Positively Do Not Open.” She was causing too many problems in the museum when she wasn’t contained. Tony Spera, the Warren’s son-in-law and new owner of the Psychic Research Society, said “that doll is what I’d be most frightened of” in the whole museum.

The Perron Family Case

The Perron house inspired the film The Conjuring. Lorraine Warren actually had a short cameo in the movie.

In January of 1971, Carolyn and Roger Perron and their five daughters moved into a big farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Before too long, the family discovered strange things occurring. The events increasingly got more worrisome. It began with a simple missing broom but intensified into the appearance of angry spirits.

Carolyn decided to research the home and discovered that one family had owned the home for 8 generations. During this time, the family was struck with unending disaster. Fatal drownings, murders, and hangings were not uncommon.

The Warrens came to assess the house and determined that the primary spirit haunting the house was Bathsheba Sherman. She lived on the property in the 1800s. By researching her, they discovered that Bathsheba was a Satanist allegedly involved in a murder of a neighborhood child.

She was not alone in her hauntings. Other spirits made the house stink of rotting flesh and caused beds to levitate.

Unlike the movie, the Warrens performed a seance, not an exorcism, in the house after visiting many times over the years. 

Carolyn Perron was flung across the room during the seance. Scared for his wife’s safety, Roger Perron asked the Warrens to leave and never return.

The Amityville Horror Case

The Amityville case put the Warren family on the map. 

In November of 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. murdered his whole family with a .35 caliber rifle while they lay in their beds. His spirit was what allegedly haunted the Amityville house.

Two years later, George and Kathy Lutz along with their two sons moved into the house in Long Island. They quickly realized that they were not alone in the house.

During their short stay of 28 days, George saw his wife turn into a 90-year-old woman and levitate above the bed. They saw slime seep from the walls and saw a pig-like creature terrify them in the home. Knives would fly off the counters at them. 

After their attempt at reciting the Lord’s Prayer with a crucifix failed, they fled. 

Ed and Lorraine Warren entered the home 20 days later. The Warrens said that Ed got pushed to the ground and Lorraine felt an all-consuming demonic presence while inside the home.

Whether or not you believe their accounts, the Lutz family passed a lie detector test when questioned on their stories.

Ed and Lorraine Warren

The Legacy of Ed and Lorraine Warren

Some people have difficulty believing in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s fantastical findings. Clairvoyants and demonologists don’t always find favor in the public eye. And the fact that they only made their money with movie deals and licensing rights for books, TV shows, lectures, and tours of their museum doesn’t make them seem more credible.

Whether or not you believe in their professions, their time as paranormal investigators profoundly influenced the horror genre. Ghost stories and psychic research make for amazing scary movies. 

Which of the “real life” movies Ed and Lorraine Warren influenced is your favorite?

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  1. I like all the depictions but The Conjuring is my favorite. I think Wan did a great job at creating the atmosphere of how that case was reported.