The Smurl Haunting – True Case of the Smurl Family

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The Smurls claimed that beginning in 1974, their double-block home located at 328 Chase Street in the city of West Pittson, Pennsylvania was disturbed by a demon that caused loud noises and bad odors, threw their dog into a wall, shook their mattress, pushed one of their daughters down a flight of stairs, and physically and sexually assaulted Jack on several occasions.

In 1986, the family brought in a controversial pair of demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren. According to Ed Warren, the demon that inhabited the Smurls home was “very powerful” and that it shook mirrors and furniture after they tried to persuade it to leave by playing religious music and praying. Warren claimed he felt a drop in temperature and saw a “dark mass” form in the home, and the demon once left a message on a mirror telling him to “get out”. After months of investigation, Warren alleged that he had a number of audiotapes containing knocking and rapping caused by the demon

The Briefing: The home of Jack and Janet Smurl in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, was the scene of a horrific and terrifying haunting from 1985 to 1987. The case received wide attention in the media. Although the house went through three exorcisms and investigations by demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, the demon refused to leave. The hauntings were chronicled in a book and portrayed in a movie both named “The Haunted”.

From 1974 to 1987 in the town of West Pittston, Pennsylvania one of America’s most terrifying haunting’s took place. It was at the home of Jack and Janet Smurl; the case received wide attention in the media. Although the house went through three exorcisms and investigations by demonologists the entity refused to leave. The haunting’s were turned in to a book and later a movie both named “The Haunted”. Jack and Janet Smurl had moved to West Pittston from Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania to escape the flooding damage left behind from hurricane Agnes in 1972. They moved into a duplex Jack’s parents had purchased, sharing the house with them. Jack and Janet and their two daughters, Dawn and Heather lived in one half, and Jack’s parents lived in the other. The house had been built in 1896, and was on a quiet street in a middle class neighborhood.

Smurl haunting

The Story: The house involved is a duplex, built in 1896 on a quiet street in a middle class neighborhood. After hurricane Agnes flooded much of north-eastern Pennsylvania in 1972, the Smurl family was forced to leave their home in Wilkes-Barre. Jacks parents, John and Mary Smurl, bought the house in West Pittston in 1973 for $18,000. They lived in the right half and Jack, Janet and their first two daughters, Dawn and Heather, moved into the left half. The Smurls spent much time and money redecorating and remodeling, doing much of the work themselves.

The Smurls say they are a close, loving family. Both Jack and Janet grew up in the area, meeting in 1967 and marrying in 1968. Jack served in the Navy, becoming a neuropsychiatric technician. Both Smurls were raised in Catholic homes and had strong religious beliefs. They enjoyed living with Jacks’ parents and had no trouble sharing the duplex with them. The first 18 months on Chase St. were happy ones…

But strange things began to occur after that. In January 1974, a strange stain appeared on a new carpet, Jack’s television set burst into flames, water pipes leaked even after repeated re-soldering. The new sink and bathtub in the remodeled bathroom were found severely scratched, as if a wild animal had clawed at them. Freshly painted woodwork in the bathroom also showed similar scratches. In 1975, their oldest daughter Dawn repeatedly saw people “floating” around her bedroom.

By 1977, the Smurls realized their house was in some way… spooked. The toilets flushed without anyone using them, footsteps would be continuously heard on the stairs, drawers would open and close on their own accord, radios would blare although they were unplugged and empty rocking chairs would mysteriously rock and creak as if someone were actually sitting in them. As time went on, they began to smell sour and vile smells throughout the house and on several occasions, Jack felt the touch of an unseen hand caress him. By now there were 2 more Smurls, twins Shannon and Carin, and the family was growing frustrated and fatigued by the increasing phenomena.

In 1985, what had started as annoying disturbances became frightening experiences. The house now often became ice cold. John and Mary heard loud, abusive, and obscene language coming from Jack and Janet’s side of the house although Jack and Janet were not even arguing. In February 1985 Janet heard her name being called while in the basement doing laundry, after searching for the unseen caller, she realized she had been alone the entire time.

Two days later, icy cold again was felt in the house but this time a black, human shaped form with no facial features appeared to Janet in the kitchen. It de-materialized through the wall and appeared to Mary on the opposite side of the house. From that point on, the haunting activity increased in both frequency and magnitude. A large ceiling fan crashed down inches from Shannon, nearly killing her, on the night her now 13 year old sister Heather was to be confirmed into the Catholic religion. As activity increased Jack and Janet had, on occasion, levitated. Janet was violently pulled off her bed after making love to her husband while he lay paralyzed, gagging from a foul odor. The family’s German shepherd, Simon, was repeatedly picked up and thrown. Terrible rapping and scratching noises were continuously heard in the walls. One night while sleeping, Shannon was tossed out of bed and down the stairs. Even neighbors were not spared; several heard screams and strange noises coming from the house when the Smurls were not even home. Most of the neighbors were sympathetic as the Smurls vowed to fight.

In January 1986, Janet heard about Ed and Lorraine Warren, psychical researchers and demonologists from Monroe, Connecticut. Although skeptical but having no where else to turn, she called the Warrens. The Warrens arrived shortly thereafter, accompanied by Rosemary Frueh, a registered nurse and psychic. They began the investigation by quizzing the Smurls carefully about their religious beliefs, the happiness of their family life, whether they had ever practiced satanism, occultism, used a ouija board or in any way invited the supernatural into their home. Then the Warrens and Frueh walked through the house, identifying the bedroom closet as the crossover point between the two sides of the duplex. The team said they detected the presence of 4 evil spirits. 3 were minor but the fourth was a demon.


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