The Unsolved and Terrifying Warren Case That Could Inspire “The Conjuring 4”

The Smurl family case was left unfinished by investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and could become the inspiration for The Conjuring 4.

Isabel Cara

Ed y Lorraine Warren de las películas "El Conjuro" y foto de la familia Smurl

The next installment of the Warren Files, The Conjuring 4, could already have its plot based on a terrifying case that the paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine, could not complete. They considered it one of the most difficult in their career.

The Smurl Family Case

This case occurred in the 1970s in a town in Pennsylvania and follows two families: the Smurl Seniors, and the one that their son, Jack, formed with his wife, Janet. John and Mary Smurl moved into a house that was next to their son’s. The latter had four daughters: Down, Kim, and twins Shannon and Carin. At first, everything seemed to be quiet and calm between the two families; however, things began to change when Down assured his parents that when he went to sleep he almost always began to see disturbing black figures levitating and moving in circles surrounding his bed.

These figures were seen by Jack sometime later, after which everything began to get worse for him and his family: some objects, such as his television, burned out of nowhere before their eyes; scratches appeared on the ceilings, in parts that none of them could reach even with a ladder; and the house was filled with a horrendous and penetrating odor.

One afternoon, too, Janet suffered a traumatic event: while she was ironing in the basement, alone, she began to hear voices whispering her name, and the more frightened she became, the more she felt the air in the room become unbearably cold. Suddenly, she saw a faceless figure, wearing a cloak and a strange hat, levitating up to her and then passing through the wall behind her. And it turns out that Janet’s mother-in-law, Mary, also saw the same entity entering her house through the same wall that adjoined her son’s home.

Smurl case unsolved warren case the conjuring 4 - the unsolved and terrifying warren case that could inspire "the conjuring 4"

The Smurls Call the Warrens for Help

The situation went on the same way for a few years, until these entities, already considered ghosts by the inhabitants of the house, threw a lamp at their daughters and shook Janet back and forth in front of Jack. The Smurl patriarch couldn’t take it anymore: he ended up calling Ed and Lorraine Warren for help to find out what was going on and how to stop it.

The specialists confirmed that there were indeed four entities attached to the house and that these were the ghosts of a kindly old woman, a psychopath, a man identified as Patrick (who, in fact, murdered his wife and her lover in the same house), and a demon. This demon, with a suit, hat, and long fingernails and who always walked hunched over, was just the entity that Janet and Mary saw some time ago, and which was in charge of controlling the rest of the spirits, whom it forced to mistreat the Smurl family.

When it was discovered, the demon attacked the Warrens, the Smurl’s dog, whom it killed by throwing it down the stairs, and Jack and Janet themselves. The Smurls sought to escape the situation by taking shelter in a bungalow away from the house, but the evil spirit pursued them to attack the twins, Shannon and Carin, whom it threw against a wall. What did the Warrens do in the meantime? They called in an exorcist, Bishop Robert McKenna, to help them get rid of the demon, since Ed himself couldn’t get rid of it, but to no avail.


What Was the End of the Smurl Case?

Years passed, and the Warrens and McKenna performed four exorcisms in an attempt to defeat the hatted demon but failed to get it off the Smurl’s back. In fact, although the family moved house several times, the evil spirit managed to find them each time to attack them, causing the members to seek support from other religious institutions.

Towards the end of the 80s, the Smurls shared their terrifying experiences in a pocket book called The Haunted, which counted with the collaboration of the Warrens and the writer Robert Curran, and was published by St. Martin’s Press. It was criticized by many people as a work of quackery and fiction. As early as 1986, a pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, reported that the Smurls allegedly told him they felt they had been freed from spirits and the devil after intense prayer, but a year later, Janet told reporters that she could still hear knocking and see shadows.

Will The Conjuring 4 Be Based on this Case?

The Warrens told in some later files and interviews that this case was one of the most disturbing they had to face in their whole life as paranormal investigators, and they felt bad because they couldn’t put an end to it no matter how hard they tried. However, they gladly collaborated with the Smurls with their version of events published in The Haunted, a book that in the 1990s was adapted into a television movie of the same name, and whose script was worked on by the authors of the text.

Perhaps for this reason the fourth installment of The Conjuring saga could be slightly inspired by the story, although not completely due to copyright issues, unless the producer of the films, Warner Bros. Pictures, has obtained the rights to adapt it and use it in the saga.

Story written in Spanish by Alex Vizzuet in Cultura Colectiva