The Conjuring Universe brings awareness of practicing the occult and shines light on the real lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who sought to bring good and vanquish evil.
Hollywood holds some of our favorite blockbuster film series, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe , which grossed $25.56 billion, and Star Wars, grossing $10.31 billion.
The highest grossing horror film series is The Conjuring at $2.21 billion.
Based on the true cases of Ed Warren and Lorraine Warren, the films are the creations of some of their most publicized cases.
Demonologist: an expert in demonology, the study of demons or evil spirits and the hierarchy of demons.
Trance medium: a medium that allows a spirit to take control of the body, mind and energy of the medium to a certain degree. Ultimately, the medium has some control. Their purpose is for the spirit to communicate while the medium’s consciousness steps aside.
This differs from a medium, who communicates with souls on the other side.
Clairvoyant: an individual with the natural ability to perceive the future or beyond normal sensory contact.
Human spirits: souls of those deceased, who were one human, that continue to walk the earth.
Inhuman spirits: souls that never once walked the earth and, therefore, not of this world.
The Conjuring Universe
The first film, The Conjuring, was released in 2013 and seven more films followed.
- The Conjuring (2013)
- Annabelle (2014)
- The Conjuring 2 (2016)
- Annabelle: Creation (2017)
- The Nun (2018)
- The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
- Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
The films also have a chronological order:
- The Nun (1952)
- Annabelle: Creation (1955)
- Annabelle (1967)
- The Conjuring (1971)
- Annabelle Comes Home (1972)
- The Curse of La Llorona (1973)
- The Conjuring 2 (1977)
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (1981)
The Warrens only appear in the three Conjuring-titled films. The remaining five films serve as prequels for or tied to their cases.
Who were Ed and Lorraine Warren?
“They were ordinary people who happen to do extraordinary work in a field that most people fear or don’t believe.”
Ed Warren Minney (September 7, 1926 – August 23, 2006) and Lorraine Rita Moran (January 31, 1927 – April 28, 2019) were both born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
They met in 1944, both 17 years old, at a local cinema, The Colonial Theatre. Ed worked as an usher and Lorraine and her mother frequently went to the cinema.
One night, Lorraine Moran and her friends walked from their houses to the cinema. Before going inside, one of her friends told the young Lorraine about the young usher and that Lorraine should meet him.
At the time, Lorraine never thought about boys. She found them too rough and, instead, concentrated on her schoolwork. Nevertheless, the girls introduced her to the athletic young usher, Ed Warren, whom, at first sight, she found handsome.
After the movie, they made their way to their respective homes.
Lorraine’s home was the last on the route. Being home alone for the night, she saw it would be inappropriate to have Ed walk her home alone. She told him that she would continue alone. He understood and ran across the street towards his own home.
As she saw him run, she didn’t see the young, athletic 17-year-old. Psychically, she saw Ed as an old man. When she returned home, she immediately wrote in her diary: “Today, I met the man I am going to marry.”
Their Pasts Predicted their Future
It seemed that Ed and Lorraine’s lives were meant to come together, their pasts leading to each other and their careers in the occult.
Ed grew up in a haunted house. When he was five years old, he saw a dot of light that grew into the family’s landlady, who had died a year before. He had dreams of deceased relatives he never met. A deceased aunt told him that, in the future, he would help many priests but would never become one himself.
As for Lorraine, she started seeing people’s auras when she was about seven or eight years old. She never told her parents, scared that they might think she was crazy. During their first meeting, Ed knew Lorraine was different and that grew into something neither of them could predict.
World War II and Marriage
Ed enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 17th birthday in 1943 and served from 1943 to 1946.
Of his experiences, there is one that horrified him in 1945.
An oil tanker collided with the ship he was on, the Spring Hill. The men, ordered to abandon ship, jumped overboard into the cold, shark-infested waters. Ed, having worked as a lifeguard during the summer months, was an exceptional swimmer.
He managed to save another sailor but knew they would soon either face the flames or the sharks. He prayed for their safety and, as he did, he saw the flames around them part and two sailors navigating a lifeboat.
With his prayers answered, the lifeboat approached and he handed the two sailors the injured.
However, before he was brought up, the second sailor yelled to the first to leave Ed and go before the tanker blows again. Horrified, Ed prayed not to let his life end this way. Then, the first sailor said he would not leave a fellow sailor in the water.
Ed was one of 69 survivors.
For his bravery in saving a fellow shipmate, he was granted ‘Survivors Leave’.
On his 30-day leave in 1945, he and Lorraine married and became Mr and Mrs Warren. After Ed concluded his service in the Navy in 1946, the couple welcomed their only child, a daughter, Judy.
From Art to the Paranormal
After the Navy, Ed studied at Yale’s subsidiary art school, Perry Art School. He withdrew after two years. With Lorraine, they traveled New England and set up pop-up stands throughout its tourist areas to sell Ed’s artwork.
Along the way, they made stops at haunted locations, which were often Ed’s inspiration. This is said to be the start of their exploration into the paranormal.
Initally, Lorraine was a sceptic. She thought people either had overactive imaginations or sought attention. When she noticed similarities between experiences, from people who never met one another and lived on opposite sides of the country, she became a believer.
The New England Society for Psychic Research
In 1952, the Warrens established the New England Society for Psychic Research (N.E.S.P.R.), the oldest paranormal research organization in the country.
Using their talents together, they conducted over 100 individual paranormal investigations.
They never charged for their investigations. They made their living giving lectures at colleges and licensing their rights to their stories for film, television and book projects.
Their lectures began in the 1960s when there was a growing interest in the occult. Many of the people affected by the dark phenomena were college students. The Warrens hoped their lectures would discourage people from exploring the occult.
Their most publicized cases inspired their hit horror franchise. However, there have always been skeptics in their cases.
For example, the Enfield Poltergeist case, which set the premise of The Conjuring 2, received the most denouncing remarks. Some said the family only sought attention and others that Ed and Lorraine exaggerated the occurrences for publicity.
Nevertheless, these cases are still a lesson to be aware of the occult.
The Warrens and Annabelle
In 1970, a mother purchased an antique Raggedy Ann doll from a hobby store for her daughter, Donna, who was about to graduate with a nursing degree.
Donna lived in an apartment with her friend, Angie, who was also a nurse. Without a second though, Donna placed the doll on her bed in their apartment.
At first, the doll made small movements, changing its position from where it sat. Then, the movements became more noticeable. It would be found in another room when Donna returned.
In certain instances, Donna found the doll with either its legs crossed, arms folded, sitting upright or standing on its feet.
She found messages written on parchment paper that said: ‘Help Us’ and ‘Help Lou’. The handwriting was small and childlike, but what really disturbed Donna was that they did not keep parchment paper in the apartment.
Donna and Angie contacted a medium and held a seance. The medium opened herself to the spirit of Annabell Higgins.
Annabelle told her story through the medium. She was a seven-year-old girl who lived on the property before the apartment complex’s construction. Her lifeless body was found in the field around the property.
The spirit wanted to stay with Angie and Donna, to be loved by them. Donna, feeling compassionate about Annabelle’s tragedy, allowed the spirit to inhabit the doll and stay with them.
They would soon find that it was a grave and deadly mistake.
A close friend to Angie and Donna, Lou warned them of the doll’s evil nature and that they needed to remove it from the apartment on several occasions. Donna did not take his warnings seriously.
Lou often had nightmares about the doll, one that involved it strangling him. When he woke from that nightmare, he promised himself to be rid of the doll.
The next day, the three friends prepared for a road trip.
Angie and Lou, alone in the apartment, looked over road maps and heard noises from Donna’s bedroom, where the doll was.
Lou made his way to the bedroom, thinking it to be a burglar. He waited outside the bedroom until the noises stopped. When they did, he entered and saw nothing was out of place except for the doll thrown in the corner on the floor.
As he got closer to the doll, he felt a presence behind him. He turned around and saw no one. When he turned back to the doll, he grabbed his chest, fell over and saw seven claw marks on his chest that felt burnt into his skin.
The scratches faded away the next day and were fully gone the following day.
The Warrens Investigate
After Lou’s experience, Donna believed the spirit in the doll had malicious intent. She contacted a priest, Father Hagan, who saw this matter as needing higher authority. He called Father Cooke, who then contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The Warrens spoke with Donna, Angie and Lou and listened about the occurrences. They concluded that a human spirit did not possess the doll, but that an inhuman spirit manipulated and created the illusion of it being alive to be recognized.
According to the Warrens, the spirit was in the infestation stage.
It moved the doll around the apartment to peak the occupants’ curiosity. Their mistake was bringing a medium. The spirit communicated with the girls and preyed on their emotions by presenting itself as a harmless Annabelle Higgins.
As a result of their sympathy, Donna gave it permission to remain in the doll and haunt the apartment, which caused the negative phenomena.
The Warrens explained the next stage was the ultimate goal of the spirit: human possession. If the doll continued to haunt the apartment for two or three more weeks, it would have completely possessed one of all three of them.
Father Cooke performed an exorcism to cleanse the apartment.
Upon Donna’s request, who wanted to prevent further phenomena in their home, the Warrens took the doll with them.
Inside their Occult Museum, the Warrans built a special case for the doll, where she resides till this day.
The story of the manipulated Raggedy Anne doll inspired the events of Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation and Annabelle Comes Home, as well as sets the tone for The Conjuring.
The Warrens and the Perron Family
In January 1971, Carolyn and Roger Perron and their five daughters moved into a 14-room farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island.
As they moved in, they noticed strange occurrences. Carolyn noticed the broom went missing or moved from one place to another on its own. They heard sounds of something scraping against the kettle in the kitchen when no one was there and found small pieces of dirt on a newly cleaned floor.
The daughters noticed the spirits around the house. Most of them were harmless, but there were a few that were angry.
The eldest daughter said the family experienced other spirits that smelled like rotting flesh and caused beds to rise off the floor.
Carolyn allegedly researched the history of the home.
The same family owned the property for eight generations. Many died under mysterious or horrifying circumstances: several children drowned in a nearby creek, one was murdered and a few hung themselves in the attic.
Bathsheba Sherman was a real woman who lived on the property in the mid-1800s. Along with rumors of being a Satanist, there was evidence that she was involved in the death of the neighbor’s child. However, there was no trial.
Bathsheba was buried in a nearby Baptist cemetery. The family believed the spirit of Bathsheba tormented them.
Enter the Warrens
Ed and Lorraine Warren made many investigative trips to the house in the ten years the Perron family lived in it.
Lorraine conducted a seance to contact the spirits that possess the family home. During one of them, a spirit possessed Carolyn. She spoke in tongues and rose from the ground in her chair.
After the seance and the spirit cast of Carolyn, Roger kicked the Warrens out of the house out of worry for his wife’s mental stability.
The family continued to live in the house due to financial instability. They moved in 1980, at which point the spirits were silenced and the haunting ceased.
The haunting of the Perron family inspired the story of The Conjuring.
The Warrens and Amityville
Ronald DeFeo Jr.
On November 13, 1974, at 18:30, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. ran into Harry’s Bar in Amityville, Long Island, New York and screamed that his parents had been shot and killed.
Police arrived at the DeFeo home and discovered the parents, Ronald DeFeo Sr. (43) and Louise DeFeo (43), were shot twice and killed. They also discovered the four younger children, Dawn (18), Allison (13), Marc (12) and John Matthew (9), were shot once and killed.
An examination of the bodies suggested they were killed around 03:00 in the morning.
DeFeo Jr. claimed he was not home during the murders and discovered his parents’ bodies moments before arriving at Harry’s Bar.
However, the interview at the station showed inconsistencies in his story.
DeFeo Jr. later confessed to the killings and told the police where to find the gun and his blood-stained clothes. He also admitted he bathed, redressed and went off to work.
During his trial, he claimed he killed his family in self-defence. He heard voices plotting against him.
On November 21, 1975, he was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder and given six sentences of 25 years on each count to life.
There is no explanation for how DeFeo Jr. acted alone in taking six lives in the early morning. There was even evidence of Louise and Dawn getting out of their beds and attempting to run before being shot.
Moreover, none of the neighbors heard any shots being fired.
The Lutz Family
On December 18, 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz and their three children moved into the DeFeo home, 13 months after the murders.
While they unpacked, a Catholic priest blessed the home. On the second floor, he entered the room that belonged to the younger DeFeo brothers. As he sprinkled holy water, he heard an unseen voice: ‘GET OUT!’
The priest hastily returned downstairs and warned the family not to use that bedroom and not to let anyone sleep in there. He did not tell them about the voice.
During their first night in the house, the family already felt strange sensations. Days later, their personalities drastically changed and arguments followed.
George constantly felt a chill and spent most of his time tending to the fireplace. He also noticed a change in his grooming habits and he and Kathleen’s health declined.
Their only daughter spent all her time in her bedroom with her new imaginary friend, Jodie, who changed in shape and size. She said that Jodie could not be seen unless she wanted to be seen.
The Torment Strengthens
The strange occurrences continued, such as mysterious odors from different parts of the house and the hundreds of flies in the DeFeo brothers’ former bedroom in the dead of winter.
George would abruptly wake up at 03:15 in the morning, the estimated time the police felt the DeFeo’s were murdered.
The family tried to call Catholic priests numerously, but the phones would cut. The family decided to take matters into their own hands.
With a crucifix, they walked through the house and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Voices erupted from the walls asking, ‘Will you stop?’.
On their final night, the Lutz family heard extremely loud banging throughout the house, furniture moved on their own and the children were terrorized.
After only 28 days living in the house, the family could not take it anymore.
With only a few belongings, the Lutz family fled.
Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren
20 days after the Lutz family left, Marvin Scott, a Channel 5 New York news reporter covering the Amityville story, contacted the Warrens, whom he previously worked with on a previous investigation.
Ed assembled a team of reporters, investigators and parapsychologists to meet at the home. The Lutz family refused to re-enter the home.
During the investigation, an unseen force physically pushed Ed to the floor when he used religious provocations in the basement.
Lorraine felt overwhelmed by the sense of a demonic presence and had psychic impressions of the DeFeo family’s bodies laid on the floor, covered in white sheets. Additionally, she felt a sense of being physically pushed back.
The research team managed to capture an image of a little boy’s spirit looking down from the second floor.
John Ketchum and the Shinnecock Indians
Further research by the Warrens found that the land once belonged to John Ketchum, a pioneer who lived on the land in a cottage in 1924. He was a practicing black magician and requested his remains be buried on the property.
The Shinnecock Indians had an enclosure on the property for the sick and the mad. Those in the enclosure were left to die and buried on the land.
The Warrens believe the land’s history left the property with very negative and dark energy. This energy acted as a magnet for demonic spirits and preternatural (what is beyond normal or natural).
Additionally, Ed and Lorraine believed that the negative energy changed the lives of the two families. They retrieved a handful of the Lutz’s earthly possessions and the deed for the property.
The Lutz family sold the rest of their belongings and relocated to California.
There have been no further reports of any activity from recent residents of the house.
Although there is no film showing Ed and Lorraine Warren in Amityville, there are films based on the incidents of the DeFeo and Lutz’s families.
The Devil Made Me Do It
The Glatzel family sought the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren in exorcising 11-year-old David Glatzel.
David’s mother said her son saw ‘a man with big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns and hoofs’.
She and her daughter, Debbie, asked Arne Cheyenne Johnson, Debbie’s boyfriend, to stay with the family to help.
David’s visions worsened, which is when the family called the Warrens for help. Lorraine said David made numerous references to murders and stabbings, showing the power the demon had over the 11-year-old.
The Warrens performed a series of exorcisms. During one, Arne taunted the demon to leave David and enter him instead. At the time, this attempt seemed to have failed.
The demon did, however, manage to leave David.
Brookfield’s First Unlawful Killing
After the exorcism, Debbie noticed Arne would go into a trance. He growled and said he saw the beast, but had no memory of it, just like David.
Debbie was hired by Alan Bono to work as a dog groomer at a pet motel. She and Arne lived in the apartment above the motel.
On February 16, 1918, after a day of drinking and partying, 19-year-old Arne stabbed Bono with a pocket knight repeatedly. Bono died hours later from ‘four or five tremendous wounds’ and a large one across his abdomen.
Arne was found two miles from the scene and arrested.
This was the first unlawful killing in Brookfield, Connecticut.
The Warrens Support
The Warrens believed what happened to Arne to be true, that the demon left young David’s body and entered Arne’s.
Arne’s lawyer, Martin Minella, entered a defence of not guilty by reason of demonic possession.
Supported by Warren’s evidence, Minella was prepared to prove that demons exist and they physically manipulated his client into committing murder.
The judge, however, threw out the defence and argued that no such defence could ever exist in a court of law. There is a lack of evidence and it would not make sense to allow such testimony.
The defence, instead, chose to imply that Arne acted out of self-defence. The jury, legally, could not consider demonic possession as a viable explanation and deliberated for 15 hours.
Arne was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter on November 24, 1981, and sentenced to ten to 20 years, but only served five.
The events before and during the The Devil Made Me Do It case created the premise for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.
Ed Warren passed away in 2006 and Lorraine in 2019. Up until her death, Lorraine continued to help people and spread awareness about the occult.
There are skeptics about whether the occult is real or not. There are those who believe it and want the dark energy it brings vanquished.
Regardless, Ed and Lorraine, despite being called ‘demonologists’ and ‘kooks’, were two individuals who sought to help people simply as Ed and Lorraine Warren. They left a grand legacy in exploring the unknown so that we would not have to.
I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.