The Smurl Family Was Tormented By Supernatural Forces That Withstood Intervention By Demonologists

March 13, 2023 People's Tonight 1322 views

Jacob Shelton

Updated Beginning in 1974, the Smurl family went through one of the worst hauntings ever that lasted 15 years. For an intense two-year period, the family was subject to a series of physical assaults perpetrated, allegedly, by a mysterious demon and a horde of ghosts. The haunting affected everyone in the Smurl family — even the dog had a run in with one of the angry ghosts. Out of all the families that have claim to be haunted over the years, the Smurls claimed to deal with some of the most aggressive entities of the 20st century, these ghosts lasted for a great part of their lives.

The haunting became so bad that the Catholic Church got involved in an attempt to exorcise the demon. Even after the Smurls called in demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, they still weren’t able to rid themselves of the horrible creatures that seemed set on ripping their family apart, and they ultimately lived with remnants of the haunting for the next 15 years, even after the most vicious attacks seemed to simmer. In the 1990s, the Warrens’ experiences trying to rid the Smurls of their hauntings were turned into a made-for-TV movie called, appropriately, The Haunted.

The Smurl family haunting facts include everything from ghosts attacking children to the demonologists who tried to stop them. The question remains as to whether there truly were evil forces at work, and whether the demonologists held any sway over the atrocities the Smurls experienced.


• Photo: zilverbat. / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

Smurl1The Smurl Family Moved Into a Haunted House That Smelled Like Rotting Flesh

In 1974, Jack and Janet Smurl moved out of their flood-damaged home and into a West Pittson, Pennsylvania duplex that’s been lovingly described by all sources as a “fixer-upper.” Jack, Janet and their kids lived on one side of the duplex while Jack’s parents, John and Mary, lived on the other. It didn’t take long for the haunting to start.

The first instances of their ghostly visitors were benign. A tool would go missing, a stain on the wall would seep through the paint, nothing too scary. But then kitchen appliances started to go up in flames even when they weren’t plugged in – and then there was the smell. The odor wafted through the house at random intervals and was absolutely stifling. During his investigation Ed Warren described the smell as something akin to “rotting flesh.”

Shortly after the haunting began, Mary suffered a heart attack and the family began to struggle to pay bills. It seemed that the haunting was taking a toll on more than the family’s living space.

• • Photo: 210015allan / YouTube

Smurl2The Smurls Were Haunted By The Voices Of Their Deceased Loved Ones

One of the creepiest ways in which the haunting manifested was the sound of it: moans and blood-curdling screams ripped through the house at all hours of the day and night. Many of the chilling sounds reportedly took on the voices of the Smurl family, a particularly cruel way to haunt the family. It wasn’t just the Smurls who heard the ghostly sounds; allegedly their neighbors claimed to hear screams coming from inside the house when no one was home.

As the weeks went on the haunting increased from sounds to floating black creatures and shadow people. Self-taught, self-proclaimed demonologist Ed Warren later claimed that he saw
“…a mucous-like, smoky-type substance” that began to whirl and materialize “on the mirror, spelling out filthy obscenities, telling me in no uncertain terms to get out of the house.”

• • Photo: Joanna Bourne / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

JackJack And Janet Claimed They Were Assaulted By A Ghost

The creature (or creatures) haunting the Smurl family were hell-bent on ripping the family apart. The worst indignity suffered by both Jack and Janet were separate sexual assaults that happened numerous times. First, Janet claimed she was woken up in the middle of the night by an unknown figure sexually assaulting her. Then Jack claimed that while he was watching a baseball game in the living room he was also assaulted in the same way by a succubus. He later claimed that while he attempted to say the rosary the creature dragged him around his room.

• • Photo: Freaktography / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

HauntingThe Haunting Grew Violent

During the 15-year haunting no one in the Smurl family made it out of the haunting without being harmed. One of the daughters was sliced open by a flying wall fixture, and the family’s German Shepherd was thrown against the wall. Janet claims that she was grabbed by the creature before being hurled across her living room. On another occasion an invisible entity bit Jack in the face and threw another one of their daughters down a set of stairs.

A skeptic’s view of this situation says that all of these attacks are similar to those of domestic violence. It’s completely that the Smurls were in the middle of a turbulent marriage and that they covered their screaming matches and physical altercations with an interesting ghost story — but nothing like this has ever been verified.

• • Photo: Dark Matter / YouTube

DemonologistDemonologists Ed And Lorraine Warren Investigated The Smurls

As with all hauntings in the ’70s and ’80s, the Warrens — yes, they of the Amityville Horror — finally worked their way into the story. Supposedly, the Smurls were reluctant about calling the Warrens because they were worried about drawing unwanted attention on themselves. After the investigation, Warren said, “The Smurls are truly a family coming under a visual attack. The ghost, devil, demon – or whatever you call it – is in that home.”

Ed Warren claimed that on his very first night in the home he experienced a major cold spot and saw a shadow person. He explained:

“I did not have to wait moments when the very thing I felt was a drop in temperature of at least 30-some degrees. Then, a dark mass formed about three feet in front of me.”

After the appearance of the shadow person Ed Warren claimed that that something in the home began throwing things around the house, including the mattress in the master bedroom.

• • Photo: jetsandzeppelins / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

ShadowA Shadow Person Floated Between Both Sides Of The Duplex

Judging from the amount of stories that came out of the Smurl haunting it seems like there wasn’t a day that went by without something creepy happening. Janet Smurl claimed that while she was in the kitchen one evening the house grew cold and she felt a hideous presence. That’s when a black, human shaped form appeared in her kitchen. It had no face, but it was more tangible than a shadow. The shape passed through her wall and appeared to Mary on the other side of the duplex.

• • Photo: fusion-of-horizons / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

EntityThe Entity Hated Anything Religious

Whatever was haunting the Smurls, it absolutely hated religious iconography. One night the Warrens tried to draw out one of the entities with a group prayer they got more than they bargained. In the middle of th prayer something began screeching, “you filthy bastard, get out of this house!” Then the house started shaking and two female ghosts that looked to be from colonial America era slunk through the house.

This was the only time that the appearances of the colonial ghosts were recorded but it’s possible that one of these two was the succubus that had assaulted Jack while he watched a baseball game.

• • Photo: Tata Burgonde / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

GhostsThe Smurls Where Followed By The Ghosts Everywhere They Went

Try as they might, the Smurls couldn’t shake the ghosts that made their every waking moment total hell. Even though priests from the Scranton branch of the Roman Catholic Church blessed the home and formed multiple exorcisms on the house the family continued to experience pure terror. Despite priests saying that they saw “no harmful activity while on the property,” Janet claims that the demons were able to avoid their Catholic banishment by moving back and forth between the two sides of the duplex.

After 15 years of being harassed by invisible entities the Smurls finally moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. There are no reports as to whether or not they ever experienced another haunting.

Video: YouTube

Ghosts1There Were Four Ghosts In The Smurl Home

After an in depth investigation of the Smurl home the Warrens were able to pin down exactly what was assaulting the family, more or less. Lorraine Warren, a clairvoyant, claimed that there were definitely four entities roaming the duplex. The first was an elderly woman who mostly kept to herself. There was also an older man who died in the home, which is oddly similar to the Enfield haunting – a case that the Warrens also investigated. Lorraine said that the violence that the family experienced came from the ghost of a young woman and a demon who was able to control the other entities.

• • Photo: santimolina / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

MassThe Haunting Could Have Been A Mass Hallucination

Even though the Warrens claim that the Smurl family was haunted by a gang of ghosts lead by a demon, there’s another explanation for the nearly two decades of terror — a mass hallucination.

Apparently in 1983, Jack Smurl went under the knife for complications stemming from a case of meningitis he’d had as a child. Smurl said that the doctors were trying to “remove water” from his brain. It’s possible that Jack had a brain tumor and that’s why he was experiencing such violent attacks, but the Warrens’ stories don’t really corroborate this.

Professor Paul Kurtz of State University of New York at Buffalo believes that the haunting started with Smurl’s brain impairment and that the rest of the family followed suit. It’s possible that the family fell under the delusion through which Jack Smurl was living, but that doesn’t explain why they would follow along with his bonkers behavior for more than a decade.