If you hang around long enough in this business, you chronicle fascination, intrigue and the supernatural.
A growing body of research shows that roughly two-thirds of Americans believe in the supernatural, connecting with the dead, ghostly encounters, psychic revelations–all the things you can experience at a City Council meeting.
The most famous of all paranormal investigators were raised in Bridgeport, Ed and Lorraine Warren whose globe-trotting lives studying and researching spooky happenings have been brought to life via the big screen studying the Amityville Horror and The Conjuring films.
I knew them both. Lorraine had this ethereal quality that was both inviting and disquieting by the nature of her profession and persona. She passed away in 2019 at age 92. But something tells me she may be lurking here and there. Don’t let Lorraine in your head. The lights may flicker.
Ed, who left us–but not permanently–in 2006, was the go-to person to explain the nuances of their work. Lorraine provided the color, Ed the explanation.
In 1994, I wrote Chased: Alone, Black And Uncover that details the tragic life of Bridgeport undercover cop Billy Chase, the first black man in the all-white Monroe police department. Billy ended up becoming a law enforcement test tube for white privilege.
During his time in Monroe, however, he was assigned to respond to the home of the Warrens. An excerpt from the book.
Monroe, Connecticut, population 18,000, is a suburban community roughly ten miles north of Bridgeport that is home to young professionals and thousands of white former city residents who fled Bridgeport for the comforts of suburban life, better schools, spacious property, lower taxes, and less crime.
It’s a picturesque town of white picket fences, carved stone walls, and old country homes featuring Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian architecture. New housing developments and retail expansion have turned the community from a sleepy New England village into a rapidly developing suburb with modern conveniences.
Though most of Monroe’s residents are second- and third-generation children of European immigrants who originally settled in Bridgeport, the town has a distinctive Old Yankee tradition.
But beneath the Beaver Cleaver outward image lies a rattling skeleton, an intrigue for the supernatural for the tales residents tell about sorcery, witchcraft, and hocus-pocus. Vivid imaginations or not, at the top of every resident’s list is the legendary town witch, Hannah Cranna, a wry mid-Nineteenth Century woman who would sit on her favorite rock and hurl curses at townspeople who dared cross her path. Lonely Hannah, so the legend goes, placed a curse on the
town while on her death bed.
To this day, on moonlight evenings, travelers swear they’ve heard blood-curdling screams from the vicinity of the cemetery plot that is her resting place.
If Hannah Cranna makes townspeople nervous, the legendary Melon Heads terrify even the most cynical disbelievers. Monroe’s Melon Heads are mysterious cantaloupe-shaped mongoloids that kids swear they’ve encountered on the dark side of the town’s voluminous woods and whose parents hope they never meet. The Melon Heads never really do anything terrible, they just scare the skivvies off of you, or so the kids say.
“If you move to Monroe, watch out for the Melon Heads,” is the typical rejoinder to a new townie. “We’ve never seen any ourselves, but they’re supposed to have this cross-eyed, inbred kind of look with huge, round, white heads. They live in the woods and only come out at night.”
In the months to follow, Billy developed a special place in his heart for bringing home stray cows, chasing runaway dogs, writing up mailbox vandalism, and sending home sleepy doctors. In fact, such quaint adventures were commonplace when compared to his bizarre encounter with ghostchasers Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The Warrens are considered among the country’s leading authorities on the subject of spirits and supernatural phenomena. The Monroe residents have travelled the world investigating thousands of paranormal and ghostly disturbances, including the infamous Amityville Horror case.
One chilly autumn day, Billy was dispatched to the Warrens’ house after the ghostbusters received a weird death threat. From the street someone had fired a hunting arrow through the Warrens’ picture window. The arrow had a note attached: “You won’t be among the living much longer.”
Billy hesitated as he rang the doorbell. He didn’t believe in ghosts, but he didn’t really want to go into the house everyone referred to as haunted.
Ed Warren invited Billy through the front door. Billy looked around creepily. He noticed a dog at the top of the steps leading to the second floor. The dog wouldn’t come down the stairs.
“What’s wrong with your dog?” Billy asked curiously, if not sheepishly.
“The dog won’t come even if I call to him,” Warren responded. “He stays there because of a spiritual encounter that scared him.”
As they walked through the house, Ed pointed out the artifacts from the Warrens most prized investigations: a self-playing organ from the Amityville Horror, a demonically possessed Raggedy Ann doll from another case, a supernaturally shattered crucifix displayed in a see-through box.
Then he took Billy down to the basement. “Do not touch” signs had been placed throughout the house. Billy reached out to touch some artifacts.
“Don’t touch that!” Warren screamed. “You’ll unleash something here that even I can’t deal with.”
“Okay, okay,” Billy said, feeling the hairs on his neck stand up.
Billy fingered the holster holding his .357 magnum. “Mr. Warren, I can’t stay down here in your basement, because I’ll air-condition your entire basement if something down here moves.” He had six rounds in the gun and two speed loaders. He would have blown out the entire place if something had moved.
They went upstairs. Billy went outside to make sure the arrow-happy perpetrators were not lurking about.
It was a calm night. No wind. Billy walked around looking and listening for something unusual. He saw nothing. He heard nothing. Then he walked over to his police car. Suddenly, a swift circle of leaves kicked up around Billy. With a quick-paced twister-like movement they surrounded him in mid air, going round and round. Except there was no one visibly there and there wasn’t any wind.
“Damn, what the fuck is this!” Billy shouted. He jumped in his car, turned on the ignition, and squealed off.
Later, confirming Billy’s details of the evening, Ed and Lorraine Warren explained that they had been victims of forces into black magic and Satanism.
Ed Warren says, “Billy experienced a psychic cone of wind. People who are into black magic and Satanism, they can project that kind of phenomenon. What Billy is talking about, Lorraine actually was picked up and thrown by an invisible force twenty-five feet and was hospitalized for almost a month. This is the kind of phenomenon that we, of course, encounter in our work that he would not, but he was about to encounter it. He could have been in danger had he stayed there.
“Someone was trying to harm us, so he was going to become what we call a soul victim. The strange thing is, when we go to Great Britain or when we’re out of town, we ask the police to take a ride down the back of our property. They all laugh and say, ‘Yeah, right, sure.’ They never go down the back of the property. They don’t feel much differently than Billy did.”
For Billy the experience was like being a participant in a horror film. “A soul victim? That’s what I was going to be? I’ll take on drug dealers and killers and all kinds of crazy people, but I’m not into that ghost shit. The color of my skin is brown, but I turned off-color that night. Bullets can’t stop that shit. I’m glad I ran.”
Boo! You’re a real Fun Ghoul!
Lennie, you believed everything Billy Chase told you. It sound like he sniffed some good cocaine. Imagine running into the ghost of Pablo Escobar.