WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Lorraine Warren, who with her husband, Ed, gained fame investigating haunted houses and other manifestations of the paranormal - cases that were dramatised on television and in The Conjuring movie series - died on Thursday (April 18) in Monroe, Connecticut. She was 92.
A posting on the Facebook page of the New England Society for Psychic Research, which she and her husband founded, announced her death.
Warren claimed to be clairvoyant; her husband, who died in 2006, called himself a demonologist. They said they had investigated countless paranormal occurrences over the years, including the supposedly possessed house in Amityville, New York, made famous by the 1979 movie The Amityville Horror, which spawned remakes, sequels and prequels.
A multiple murder had taken place in the Amityville house in 1974, and the family that moved in the next year, the Lutzes, reported a variety of disturbing sensations and incidents.
The Warrens were two of several investigators who examined the house. They were said to have found evidence of troublesome occurrences on the grounds long before the murders.
"The Warrens believed that the suffering there had left the property with a very negative energy and dark history," the psychic research society's summary of the case says, "and that such a negative history was a magnet for demonic spirits and the preternatural". The case helped raise their profile as paranormal investigators, but it also unsettled them, especially Lorraine Warren.
"The case itself has affected our personal lives more than any other case we've ever worked on in 54 years of research," she told the website Movieweb in 2005, when a remake of the movie was being released. "And that's a lot of places."
The Warrens didn't charge for their investigations; they made their money from movie and television licensing rights, books, lectures and tours of a modest museum of supernatural artifacts adjacent to their home in Monroe, north of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They had, of course, many detractors.
"Warren, along with her late husband, Ed, are audacious and unabashed frauds, capitalising on the completely meritless superstition which is all too common in modern society," The Viking News of Westchester Community College wrote in a 2012 editorial objecting to the use of student activity fees to pay Warren to lecture.
The Warrens were Roman Catholic, and Warren said it was her belief that a lack of religion was what often opened the door for malevolent forces to enter a home or a life.
"When there's no religion, it is absolutely terrifying," she told The Irish Independent in 2013. "That is your protection. God is your protection. It doesn't matter what your religion is."
Lorraine Rita Moran was born in Bridgeport on Jan 31, 1927. She began having clairvoyant experiences as a child, she said.
She was 16 when she met Ed Warren. Some friends had taken her to a James Cagney movie, and he was an usher at the theatre. Soon he was fighting in World War II. They married in 1945, when he was home on leave.
Ed Warren took art classes after the war and began selling his paintings on roadsides. He had grown up in a house that he believed was haunted, and he began to merge his interest in the paranormal with his artistic abilities: When the couple would hear of a house that might be haunted, he would set up outside it, paint it, then give the painting to the home owner. He would often end up getting a tour.
The Warrens founded the psychic research society in 1952. Among their investigations was a 1971 case involving a house, said to be haunted, in Rhode Island. It became the basis for the 2013 box office hit The Conjuring, in which Vera Farmiga played Lorraine Warren and Patrick Wilson portrayed her husband.
Warren herself had a small part (as she had in The Haunted, a 1991 television movie based on a book by the Warrens and three other authors). Farmiga and Wilson also played the couple in The Conjuring 2 in 2016 and The Nun last year.
The Warrens drew considerable publicity in 1981 for their involvement in a murder case in Connecticut in which the defendant, Arne Johnson, sought to argue that he had been possessed by the devil. The judge in the case disallowed the argument, and Johnson was convicted of manslaughter.
Warren's survivors include a daughter, Judy Spero.
Warren often said that, when investigating a house, she preferred to be allowed to roam freely and to concentrate on the bedrooms.
"That is the easiest way, to sit on the edge of the bed," she told The Irish Independent. "You know when you go to bed at night, how all these things go through your mind? That's all recorded. You think these things out. What you have experienced, you go to bed and it is played out for you again. The moment between waking and sleep."