The Untold Truth Of Paranormal Investigator Ed Warren

Congratulations! If you ever wanted to be the proud owner of a trove of profane artifacts, now's your chance: cursed music box, cursed pearl necklace that chokes you, cursed doll (named "Annabelle," in case that rings a film-going bell), cursed toy monkey (yes, the creepy wind-up ones with the cymbals), cursed "Satanic idol" found in the woods, cursed children's tombstones, and because why not, actual human skulls (likely cursed). Tag sale enthusiasts: line up!

Ok, not quite. But such devilish bounty does exist, as Screenrant depicts. Where? Connecticut, of course. Specifically, the Warren's Occult Museum in Monroe, which used to be owned by famed paranormal investigators and real-life Mulder and Scullyesque demon fighting duo Ed and Lorraine Warren, who came to international acclaim after Hollywood made some of their more renowned cases into horror films such as 2013's The Conjuring and 2014's Annabelle. The museum is basically a warehouse for their case evidence, which lines shelves like antique store kitsch. It's also a monument to their careers. 

The year before Lorraine passed away in 2019, the museum was closed down for "non-permitted commercial use," as the Monroe Sun says. Out-of-towners were bothering the neighbors with things like "noise" and "cigarette butts." As one Facebook user says, "I'd purchase it if it was for sale. Then get it blessed every now and then." Meanwhile, the unblessed paraphernalia gathers unsanctified dust, and the legend and the controversy surrounding Ed and Lorraine Warren — were they legit or were they frauds? — remains. 

The world's only church-endorsed 'lay expert on demonology'

"There are two types of spirits that are encountered in true haunting situations. One is human; the other, however, is inhuman. An inhuman spirit is something that has never walked the earth in human form."

These words, spoken by Ed Warren in the Warrens' book The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren, describe the core of the Warren's paranormal investigations. From the time of their early career in 1952 when they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research and bought the aforementioned museum, as Atlas Obscura describes, Ed and Lorraine didn't merely investigate spooky phantasmagorical ghoulies like an old school, Mulder-and-Scully version of Ghost Hunters from A&E. They attempted to "document and effect closure through the clergy," as Occult World states. 

Over the course of 50 years and 8,000 investigations, Ed and Lorraine advocated a very Judeo-Christian truth on the level of Satan vs. God holy combat occurring on the material plane. "Diabolical forces are formidable," Ed was quoted on the Criminal Element. "These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true." The Catholic Church, as the Travel Channel says, even recognized Ed as the only "lay expert on demonology" in the world. However, whether from Hollywood dramatizations or plain old healthy skepticism, lots of Catholics, as this Reddit thread shows, don't agree on the Warrens' validity.

A would-be artist who painted haunted houses

So who were the Warrens, exactly? It's easier in some ways to talk about Lorraine Warren, who was alive until 2019 and even appeared in The Conjuring in a cameo, as this Reddit thread points out. Vera Farmiga read The Demonologist to help prepare for her role as the self-described clairvoyant, saying about the book in its preface that it, "... Scared the daylights out of me. Profoundly." Lorraine claimed to communicate with entities via trances, see spirits (clairvoyance), feel spiritual activity (clairsentience), hear the dead (clairaudience), all powers she claims to have developed since Catholic school at age 9 when she noticed auras and said to a classmate, "Look, Sister Joseph's lights are brighter than Mother Superior's," as quoted on Patch. She was even tested by UCLA parapsychologists, who dubbed her a "light trance medium," as the Travel Channel describes.

Ed, who passed away in 2006, was more the technician of the two, self-taught in "demonology," and a would-be fine arts painter. In fact, when Ed and Lorraine met as teenagers, they assumed they would make a living from the arts. Ed's painting abilities got them their initial start in the paranormal business, as Ed chose haunted houses as the subject of his paintings, per Mental Floss. From this early start, the two of them grew to create an empire of speaking engagements, tours, books, and of course, now an extended universe of movies worth nearly $2 billion, as The Numbers shows.

Raised in a haunted house and nearly killed in World War II

Ed's exposure to the paranormal, much like Lorraine's, started early. While Lorraine was having visions and seeing auras, Ed was coming to believe that his house was haunted. Doors reportedly flew open and lights coalesced into once-living people such as his family's landlady who looked "semi-transparent, wearing what looked like some sort of shroud... then she vanished." Ed also claimed to dream about relatives he'd never met, "including an aunt who would send him messages about his future, telling him that he would help many priests but never become a priest himself." 

As Mental Floss goes on to explain, Ed enlisted in the Navy at only age 17. He was out in the war for about four months before his ship collided with an oil tanker and caught fire. Ed and everyone else jumped overboard into frigid water, and Ed recalls praying to be rescued. He was pulled out of the water and sent on "Survivor's Leave," which is what allowed him to return home and ask Lorraine to marry him.

It wasn't until 1974, as Den of Geek tells us, after nearly two decades of trying to build their business, that Ed and Lorraine Warren made their break with the Amityville case. The story of the Lutz family Long Island house, and its haunting by Ronald de Feo Jr.'s murder of his parents and siblings, has produced no less than 28 movies.

Sanctioned pedophilia in the Warren house

Ed and Lorraine may have gotten married when they were teenagers, but Ed's taste for teenagers allegedly didn't stop there. When he was in his 30s, he met 15-year-old Judith Penney and purportedly began a sexual relationship with her, apparently not only with Lorraine's knowledge, but her blessings. Penney, now in her 70s, lived with the Warrens for years, who claimed she was a niece or "poor girl" they took in, as The Hollywood Reporter says. She slept across the hall from them before eventually moving into a second-floor apartment built just for her. Sometimes Ed would sleep there, possibly sometimes with Lorraine. Ed even picked her up from school. 

Everything was apparently kosher until Ed allegedly got Penney pregnant in her 30s in 1978. "They wanted me to tell everyone that someone had come into my apartment and raped me, and I wouldn't do that. I was so scared. I didn't know what to do, but I had an abortion. The night they picked me up from the hospital after having it, they went out and lectured and left me alone," Penney said, per The Hollywood Reporter.

In fact, when making her movie deal with New Line cinema, Lorraine required that the Conjuring movies do nothing to sully her husband's reputation, stating that they mustn't show him "engaging in crimes, including sex with minors, child pornography, prostitution or sexual assault. Neither the husband nor wife could be depicted as participating in an extramarital sexual relationship."

Charlatan, lay holy man, or both?

So what exactly is Ed Warren's legacy beyond being fetchingly cast as Patrick Wilson in The Conjuring franchise? Maybe we can, like the Warrens professed to do, look at the material evidence of the case, starting with the Warren's Occult Museum.

The sign out front of the house says, "New England Paranormalology (not a typo) Research Center," as seen on the Mirror. The house itself is shrouded in untrimmed greenery and encircled by "Keep Out" and "No Trespassing" signs. These signs don't exist to protect passersby from hellish spirits, but to protect the grounds themselves from lawbreaking interlopers. Inside the house, between all the cursed dolls, puppets, trinkets, what-have-yous, the walls are spackled in Halloween store "plastic props," "assumedly for mood," per Atlas Obscura.

In his work, as Occult World says, Ed refers to the "permissions" people afford demonic presences to enter their lives, such as feeling depressed or becoming preoccupied with the supernatural. These are referred to as the Law of Invitation and the Law of Attraction, and "once allowed to enter, the demonic takes control in three stages: infestation, oppression, and possession. In severe circumstances, the final outcome can be death."

As quoted in his obituary on the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home website, Ed said of death, "No, I don't fear it, not one iota, I know I'll be going to a beautiful place, a place so spectacular it defies words." Ed was interred with "full military honors" on Saturday, August 26, 2006.