Remembering Lorraine Warren

Monroe is a small town in the southern part of Connecticut, about an hour and a half from the most famous city in the world: New York, New York.  Unlike the cosmopolitan confines of NYC, Monroe looks like many New England towns, with plenty of woods and pastures and a number of strip malls that contain pizza shops, antique stores, and barber shops.

I moved to Monroe in 1978 as a seven year old, and today I live about a mile from the border.  One constant in my life over all of these years is the one thing that put the small bucolic town of Monroe on the map: the presence of our very own world-famous ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren.

My first exposure to Ed and Lorraine was through stories my parents told me about a lecture they attended at the local library.  My father wasn’t as convinced as my mother was after the lecture (which consisted of a number of slides and spirit photos, as well the tales that went along with them), but the idea that a couple that actually hunted ghosts was living in my new town was enough to frighten me, but also imbue me with my first taste of civic pride.  For a town whose only chain restaurant was a Subway (we got our very own McDonald’s in 1993), having the preeminent “Seekers of the Supernatural” around the block made Monroe just a little more interesting.

I first heard the Warren’s speak at Monroe’s only high school (Masuk High School) in the mid-80s at the school’s annual celebration of student art and craftsmanship entitled Expo.  I’m not sure why Lorraine was there, but I do remember that it was free, and I also remember sleeping with the lights on after seeing some of the slides and hearing the disembodied voice recordings from the Enfield Poltergeist Case (which would later be used as the basis for The Conjuring 2).

After the presentation, Lorraine came down off the stage and she was quickly surrounded by many of the middle and high school students in attendance, taking time to answer every question we asked, from the serious to the far-fetched.  I remember my younger brother relaying a story to Lorraine about feeling a large slap on his back in the middle of the night, and I don’t remember how the topic got around to the fact that he played Dungeons and Dragons on a regular basis, but Lorraine told him that he might want to stop playing the game (for context, this was the era of the “Satanic Panic”, so her warning wasn’t too far off-base).  Neither of us stopped playing D&D of course, but even at a young age, I was impressed that she took the time to answer all of our questions (especially from the young ones obsessed and terrified by the folklore concerning our town witch, Hannah Cranna, who died in 1859).

From that point, I was hooked on the paranormal and thus began the complicated relationship between interest and fear that many other ghost and horror fans can relate to.  All throughout high school and college, I made sure to see Ed and Lorraine’s lectures at least once a year, many taking place at other local high schools, universities, or hotels in the area.  The slides and presentations were usually the same, but the question and answer sessions were always filled with information about new cases, along with the sarcastic humor of Ed and warm, caring demeanor of Lorraine.   

Many a skeptical friend brought to see the Warrens left with a plethora of questions and some stories to make even the biggest non-believer pause before entering their dark apartments and houses long after the presentation was over.  I also looked forward to their many appearances on “true haunting” specials every October that predated both the proliferation of cable ghost hunting series and The Conjuring films (and multiple spin-offs).

In 2011, fellow Conskipper writer John Evans and I (along with our wives, Jen and Julie) had the unique opportunity to tour the Warren’s Paranormal Museum (which was once located at their residence and is now being moved to another location).  We arrived early and Lorraine greeted us at the door and brought us into the house, even taking me into her bedroom to show off her domesticated rooster (who was being kept out of the way for the night’s activities).  I had met Lorraine before, but we were certainly not on a first name basis, and yet she didn’t hesitate to allow me into her home. 

To be honest, I was a little more than nervous to tour the infamous museum and I refused to take a picture next to the glass-encased Annabelle doll (unlike my colleagues), but Lorraine’s demeanor and hospitality helped take the edge off and I remember my interactions with her as much as my time spent in the museum.

All of us will miss Lorraine.  Fans will miss the stories, lectures, and the personable way that she treated everyone.  Paranormal researchers will miss her expertise and depth of knowledge.  Friends, family, and neighbors will miss her compassion and loving nature.  We thank you for the memories and interactions which made our lives (and my home town) a lot more special.

Parts of this article were originally written by Nick Banks as a freelancer on April 20, 2019.

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