The Smurl Haunting
The details of this case feel more like something out of a William Peter Blatty novel (or a Jay Anson “True Story” horror tale) than actual events, but like many families on this list, the Smurls of West Pittston, PA swear their story is true, despite numerous investigations and accounts that seem to indicate otherwise. The events in question took place during the 1980s, roughly speaking, and feature all the trademarks of a classic, Amityville-style demonic haunting, in which the supernatural baddie made “loud noises and bad odors” and “pig grunts”; it also “threw [the Smurls’] dog into a wall, shook their mattresses, pushed one of their daughters down a flight of stairs, and physically and sexually assaulted Jack on several occasions,” as stated in a 2012 Times-Leader article by Sheena Delazio. Ed Warren – who came to the Smurls’ aid along with his wife Lorraine in 1986 – even claimed that he saw “a dripping message on a mirror that told him to ‘Get out.'”
Paul Kurtz, a philosophy professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo, drew connections between the Smurls and the Lutzes around the same time the story (with full backing from the Warrens, of course) was exploding in the media. He said of the demonologists, “They have no credentials in the scientific or parapsychological communities,” and further added, “There is no explanation for the Smurl house, but I wouldn’t simply assume it is a haunting… It seems to us that a great-to-do has been made about it, and we wonder if it s like the Amityville horror hoax, which was based on imagination rather than an actual haunting.”
Even members of the clergy, brought in for the usual blessings and exorcisms, reported “nothing unusual” happening there. Despite the quick skepticism, the Smurls tale was turned in to a paperback “true story” titled The Haunted, with Ed and Lorraine’s name emblazoned on the cover right next to journalist turned author Robert Curran’s credit. A TV movie of the same name followed in 1991.