The Enfield Poltergeist
These events, beginning in August of 1977 in Enfield, a suburb of London, and petering out sometime in 1979, are the basis for the 2016 film The Conjuring 2, depicting the further adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Much of their work investigating the Hodgson home appeared in The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle, the same man who wrote The Devil in Connecticut for the Warrens a few years later. This case centered mostly around Janet Hodgson, at the time 11 years old, who was alternately tormented and possibly even possessed by a poltergeist. The evil spirit was responsible for throwing random items across the room, knocking sounds, strange voices, and growling noises, and even causing young Janet to levitate in midair. The story became a media sensation, and led to numerous investigations of Janet, her 13-year-old sister Peggy (who also seemed to be affected by the poltergeist’s presence), and the entire house.
What most of the investigators took away was that the girls were playing pranks. Joe Nickell wrote a detailed piece for Skeptical Inquirer in July/August 2012, referencing numerous sources that reveal how most of the paranormal happenings in the Hodgson house occurred when no one was actually looking at either Janet or Peggy, such as instances of objects being flung across the room. An audio recording of a dresser falling to the floor seemingly of its own accord reveals what could very likely be footsteps creeping up to the dresser just prior to its collapse. Instances in which the poltergeist seemed to converse with Janet happened mostly when Janet and/or Peggy were behind a closed door, and when the voice would manifest in the presence of others, it was painfully obvious Janet had learned to throw her voice – i.e., she was practicing ventriloquism.
There are a series of photographs that staunch believers of the paranormal insist show Janet levitating. Click here to see a collection of gifs of these photos, but just be aware that if you’re hoping to see an exorcist or Dana-possessed-by-Zuul-style levitation, you’ll be sadly disappointed. The photos depict nothing more than a girl jumping off her bed. And yet, Ed Warren swears up and down in The Demonoligst that he witnessed the girl “sound asleep, levitating in midair.” Did he?
But perhaps most damning of all is the admission by Janet in 2011, then 45 years old, “that she and her sister faked some of the phenomena,” Nickell wrote. “‘I’d say 2 percent,’ she admitted.” Though Nickell insists the evidence suggests one hundred percent fakery, perhaps this is again a case of the truth lying somewhere in between. Perhaps Janet and Peggy did encounter a supernatural being, but began to fabricate much of their interactions with “The Thing” once they realized how much attention it garnered them. Perhaps the affair was, as Nickell states, a total fabrication, through and through. One thing is certain: Ed Warren likely didn’t see Janet levitating.