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Ed Warren, 79; Probed Suspected Hauntings, Lectured on Paranormal

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Ed Warren, who along with his wife pursued the unusual career of ghost hunter and whose cases included what would become the basis for “The Amityville Horror,” died Wednesday at his home in Monroe, Conn.

He was 79.

In the last five years, poor health had kept him housebound. In March 2001, he got up during the night to let the cat in and collapsed on the floor.

Paramedics restarted his heart, but he was in a coma for 11 weeks and never regained his speech.

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Warren grew up in Bridgeport, Conn., in a house he thought was haunted. He firmly believed in ghosts, demons and other unworldly creatures -- and in helping people deal with unwanted visitations.

He would answer the phone at all hours to counsel panicked homeowners from across the country who couldn’t find anyone else to advise them when they said their furniture started flying.

“Most people snicker,” Tony Spera, the Warrens’ son-in-law, told the Hartford Courant this week. “But if it happens to you and you know it is real, it is frightening.”

Warren, who called himself a religious demonologist, is also survived by his wife, Lorraine; a daughter, Judy Spera; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

During their 61-year marriage and partnership, the Warrens investigated more than 10,000 suspected hauntings in the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe.

Although the Warrens didn’t ask for compensation for their ghost busting, they made a living on the college lecture circuit talking about the supernatural and paranormal activity.

The subject of their most famous investigation -- and most requested lecture -- was the reported psychic disturbances at a house in Amityville, N.Y., where a family was brutally murdered in 1974.

The story became the basis for Jay Anson’s 1977 book “The Amityville Horror” as well as the 1979 film of the same name. The Warrens were consultants for the 1982 film “Amityville II: The Possession.”

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Steven Novella, a Yale neurologist involved with the New England Skeptical Society, disputed the Warrens’ claims about haunted events that followed the real murders at the Long Island house.

“The people who lived in the house, and their lawyer, all admitted that it was an elaborate hoax, but to this day Ed Warren believes it was a legitimate haunting,” Novella said in 1999.

That same year Warren said, “If anyone can prove it was a hoax, I will give them $3,000. No one has been able to disprove the story.”


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