Ed and Lorraine Warren: The Smurl haunting real or a hoax?


The Smurl haunting is one of the many cases that Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated. While it isn’t their most famous one, it still garnered attention for a religious family in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. However, is it a real paranormal event or a well-crafted hoax?


The Smurls, (Jack and Janet and their children) were your typical family in the 70’s and 80’s. Nothing was out of the ordinary with them. They were frequent church goers and as Jack Smurl stated, “pillars of the community.”

All of that was about to change for them starting in 1974. According to List Verse, odd occurrences starting happening. Nothing threatening and perhaps explainable. Toilets started flushing themselves along with household electrical items just shutting down.

For students of the paranormal, one of the telltale signs of a haunting is abnormal issues with electricity. It is believed that demonic entities can affect electrical currents due to the presence of strong magnetic fields.

At first, the Smurls didn’t think anything of these unusual events. They thought maybe there was a plumbing or wiring issue with their house. Then even weirder and scarier things started happening.

As with some haunts, there can be knocking on doors or walls sometimes in a pattern of three. This is usually a demonic spirit attempting to mock the Holy Trinity. Also, as depicted in The Amityville Horror, terrible odors can suddenly arise out of nowhere literally making the occupants of the house ill.

Both of these things were occurring in the Smurl household. Now, it could be that the house was older and just “settling” and maybe there was a dead animal trapped somewhere that was the cause of the foul odors but those two explanations didn’t appear to be the causes of the strange phenomenon.

Then the level of activity increased and started to become even more horrific for the family to deal with since now there were definite sightings and the appearance of various manifestations.

Who You Going to Call?

Claw marks started to mysteriously adorn the walls of the Smurl house. Shadow apparitions would materialize from walls or the ceiling. The straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak was when the demonic entity started to sexually assault Jack and Janet.

The family knew they had to reach out, so they contacted the Catholic church to see if an exorcism would be granted. When they refused, desperate and believing their only alternative was to go public with their story, they turned to the press resulting in a non-stop media circus.

Their plight attracted the attention of demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Both had worked on high profile cases such as the Amityville and Enfield hauntings. Both were immortalized on film.

The Warrens conducted an extensive investigation and found that a demon was haunting the home. Ed had compiled audio and videotapes of the events which he stated that he had turned over to the Catholic church. They even commissioned Father Robert McKenna to perform three exorcisms.

The third time appeared to have been successful but according to the Smurls, the entity returned. Finally, in 1989, after 15 years of otherworldly abuse the family moved.

Possible Hoax?

At the time, the Warrens were also interviewed by various media outlets. A decade later, Decoded Past contacted the Catholic Diocese of Scranton who stated that they had no videotape or audiotape evidence from the Warrens in their possession.

Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal organization became involved and delved into the situation. Paul Kurtz who headed the team concluded that it was a mass hysteria event brought on by stress over the health of their son who had brain surgery.

The foul stench that was emanating from the house was possibly due to a cracked sewer pipe near the home. Unfortunately, there were just too many factors that didn’t add up.

In the end, the Scranton Catholic Diocese did investigate the house as well. Father Trabold was their representative. For a time, he stated that he worked with the Warrens until he discovered:

"“They weren’t sincere, were not what they purported to be, and were given to sensationalizing. He chuckled when explaining that when he went to one of their lectures, they saw him and toned down their act, so he wore disguises when he went to their future talks.”"

light. Related Story. The Conjuring lawsuit reveals disturbing elements with the Warrens

However, Trabold sides with the family and believes that something occurred in the house but he can’t say if it was demonic. In 1991, Fox made a movie about the terrifying events called The Haunted starring Jeffrey DeMunn and Sally Kirkland.

What do you think? Is this a real deal haunting or a bona fide hoax? Let us know in the comments section below. We want to hear from you.