Pioneer ghost hunter visits Student Union

By Katelyn Freil, News Editor

Students packed the Student Union Theater Tuesday night for the chance to hear a pioneer in paranormal investigation give a glimpse into her past experiences. Psychic Lorraine Warren spoke along with her son-in-law Tony Spera about various past paranormal cases she has experienced with her late husband and demonologist, Ed. They have been involved in many cases, some of which have inspired movies such as “The Haunting in Connecticut,” “The Amityville Horror,” and most recently, “The Conjuring.” Spera said that the couple had more than 50 years of experience in ghost hunting and demonology before Ed became ill and passed in 2006. Before introducing Lorraine, Spera asked the audience who has seen a ghost or has lived in a haunted house, and many in the audience raised their hands. He then asked who in the audience believed in spirits, and again many raised their hands. When asking who believed they themselves were spirits, only a few raised their hands. He said that those few were right.Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.44.42 PM “We are all spirits,” Lorraine said. Lorraine is described as a trance medium and can see auras of spirits, or lights surrounding people, that describe their emotional state, spirituality, health and more. Ed was a demonologist, or someone who studied demons. Warren said that she first noticed she was different when she was young and attending a private, Catholic all-girl school in the 1930s. She said she began to notice lights around people, and eventually told one nun that her light was brighter than another’s. “That did not fly at all,” she said. “I really did not truly understand what was happening to me. I did not know what it was.” Lorraine said she took notes about the auras of the people she encountered, and began discerning and trying to understand them. When she was older, Lorraine said she had an out-of-body experience. When she was able to look down from where she was, she saw herself leaning against a chair Ed was sitting in. “From that time on, I really wanted to learn more about who Lorraine Warren was, for myself,” she said. Throughout the years following and long after, Ed and Lorraine became well known, working with police, religious officials and others to solve mysteries behind criminal and paranormal activity. Spera, who has worked with the Warrens for more than 30 years, said that if it were not for Ed and Lorraine’s work, shows like “Ghost Hunters” would not be on today, as their work paved the way for others interested in the supernatural. But audiences were not as interested in the paranormal when Ed and Lorraine began in the ’50s and ’60s. Spera said they faced many hecklers in the audience. He said that the cause of this is that they did not fully understand what the Warrens were trying to do. “They had audiences of people stand up and walk out when Ed would say he was a religious demonologist because they didn’t know what the term meant,” he said. “They thought it meant he worshipped the devil, but he didn’t. He studied the devil.” During the presentation, Lorraine and Spera showed photographic evidence of the paranormal activity the Warrens encountered. They also showed exclusive photos from the investigation of the haunted house inspiring “The Amityville Horror.” They also shared multiple video segments from news and TV programs the Warrens have appeared on. In one segment from Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum,” they shared the story behind the Annabelle doll featured in “The Conjuring,” and how the entity inside of it might have caused the death of a young man. The Annabelle doll is an old Raggedy Ann doll owned by a woman in the 1970s. She received the doll from her mother as a birthday present. The doll sat on the woman’s bed as a reminder of her mother’s love. After coming home from work, the woman and her roommate began noticing the doll’s legs and arms in a different position than before and notes left on the floor with the words “help me” written on them. After consulting with a medium, the women were told a spirit named Annabelle who had died in the apartment was attached to the doll. The women invited the spirit into the doll and began treating it as a human in the apartment. This continued until the behavior became more severe, to the point where a friend of the women had a nightmare while sleeping on their couch about Annabelle strangling him. The man woke up with claw marks on his chest. It was at this point that Ed and Lorraine were called in. After determining there was something much more sinister consuming the doll, they took it with them. Lorraine said it caused a very disturbing ride home, as the car continued to jerk and swerve the entire way. “I didn’t want to take the doll, and I didn’t want to go near it,” she said in the segment. The doll now resides in The Warren’s Occult Museum in Monroe, Conn., which houses a collection of artifacts taken from various cases the Warrens have taken on. “It’s nothing like the one in the movie,” Spera said, “but it’s far more dangerous.” Spera said there are many dangerous items in the museum, but the doll is so dangerous, it has to be kept in a glass case. While all of the items get blessed by a priest on a regular basis, the Annabelle doll must be blessed daily. People are welcome to visit the museum, but they are warned not to touch anything. They are also cautioned to be careful of what they say. During a visit, one young man began questioning the doll and challenged it to do something if the story was real. The young man died in a motorcycle accident three hours after leaving the museum. While it can’t be proven that this was the work of the demon possessing Annabelle, Spera said it should still be a warning. “The lesson learned from this story is that you do not challenge evil. You do not challenge the demonic,” Spera said in the segment. Ashley Rastetter, the president of Zips Programming Network (ZPN), the organization that sponsored the event, said that while she has received many phone calls and emails about this event over the past couple of weeks, she never expected so many students to attend. They even had to turn away students from the more than 300-seat theater. “From the programming stand point, I was very excited to have a packed theater of students and their guests,” she said. “But I know people were probably disappointed being turned away.” Rastetter, who was able to speak with Lorraine personally, said she has been following the Warrens’ cases since seeing “The Haunting in Connecticut.” She added that speaking with her was like speaking with her grandmother. Warren even touched her arm and told Rastetter that everything would be OK, after being able to tell that Rastetter was nervous. “It was an experience of a lifetime,” she said. For more information about the Warrens’ experiences or the museum, visit For more about ZPN and events like this, visit