Life After Paranormals - Season 4, Episode 10
Andrea Perron talks about the infamous events of "The Real Conjuring."
When this was all happening — as the eldest sister, taking care of all of your sisters, did you feel a responsibility to investigate further?
As the eldest sibling I had many responsibilities, some of which I assumed naturally. My role was established well before we ever moved to the farm. With that many kids in the family, I fulfilled the assumed role of the third parent from a very young age. However, once we moved to the farm my obligation was expanded and increased ten-fold. It never occurred to me to "investigate" what was happening in the house. I was too busy living it, wondering what we were seeing and concerned about what was happening to our mother. I was my mother's little helper, her right-hand girl and she was the one curious enough to invest countless hours trying to determine who was "visiting" so frequently -- and why?
Mom began researching the history of the area and specifically the farm. Once she realized we were sharing space with spirits she wanted to know who they were, insisting that they were not merely passing through but had retained some emotional attachment to the farm as former residents. I did the dishes. I made the beds when it got done. I learned to cook. When I got my driver's license I became the chauffeur. Mom did the investigating then foolishly handed over all of her hard work to Lorraine Warren upon request [to be copied] and never saw that precious notebook again. A shame. All her sketches of the apparitions were inside it. All her descriptions of the events, birth and death records, everything she compiled over the course of two years, all of our recorded experience was gone but the memories will never fade.
The game of hide and seek with your sisters where the box wouldn’t let Cindy out - what was your recollection of that? Because it was so early during your time in the house, did you try to come up with a logical explanation?
There was only one logical explanation: we had ghosts in our home. Something very powerful held the lid closed on that wood box and Cindy could not escape. There is no other logical explanation for it other than to accept that a supernatural presence caused it to occur. I have never seen my sister so frightened, so overwrought with emotion, so close to death. Imagine being in a circumstance where something like this could actually happen. Imagine feeling helpless in your own home, trapped by something unseen. We stopped playing hide-and-seek in the house. It was safer to go sledding down the hill of our yard into a solid granite wall. Nancy had a similar incident behind the chimney in the morning room. We learned quickly to go play outside. No matter the temperature or conditions, it was a safer way to play.
Before things became really bad, what was your parent’s explanation for the stuff that was going on? Did you all discuss it?
We barely discussed it, at first. My sisters came to me with questions and I did not tell my mother what they were telling me until about six months after we moved in. She seemed troubled and anxious in her own right, yet the time came when I had no choice but to discuss these events with her. My father couldn't believe it. He didn't want to believe it. He was afraid to admit something was amiss, afraid for his family, so it was easier to chalk it up as a figment of our imaginations ... optical illusions, etc. Mom believed every word we told her and, in fact, had some stories of her own which she did not divulge to her children as it would have undoubtedly made matters worse.
She called us all together one night (except for April, who was already asleep) and we talked together in the kitchen for about two hours. Everyone shared their experiences with her that night. The blood drained from her face. Tears welled in her eyes. It was very difficult for her to absorb what she was hearing from her girls. Alarming, to say the least. Mom wanted to sell the house and became adamant about it. We protested, asking her to reconsider, assuring her it would be all right. Of course, I was aware of some of what was happening to her but my sisters knew nothing of it other than the coat hanger incident. We loved the farm in spite of the fact that it was a crowded place to live but my mother felt a threatening presence she could not ignore. It was a time of trial and tribulation for our family.
Your family all seem to have had an encounter with a presence in the cellar. How did you all talk about it at the time?
We had access to it from three separate points in the house though we rarely went down there for any reason. It was not a point of interest or fascination. It was creepy. It smelled funny and it was incredibly dark. Truly spooky! Our garden vegetables and apples were stored in the root cellar at the far end and we would have to occasionally go down there more as a chore, a disquieting trip and one navigated with some speed. Cindy was the bravest (or most foolish) and went exploring more than once until she learned not to tempt fate below ground at the farm. She had her hair severely pulled and got swept up in a vortex of activity, literally pulled to the floor by something that grabbed her from behind in the well room. She'd been told not to go down there but disobeyed our parents and went anyway. My father had stored a slab of dry ice in the well room and for some inexplicable reason she was inordinately curious about. Live and learn!
Dad had to go down into the cellar relatively frequently, as the boiler or some other mechanical device would occasionally break down, but only when he was home -- otherwise, everything ran smoothly. He blamed the spirit who was so enamored with him for causing the issues and glitches, and rightfully so. There is no other plausible explanation for why the antiquated machinery broke down ONLY when he was home and available to go down and fix it. During these trips into the depths of that supremely spooky place he would often be touched by a female spirit intent on making her presence known to him. She would stroke his back and neck. He found the smell nauseating but he had to replace a belt or tighten a screw so battled through the cold, the stench and the fear to get the job done. More than once I saw him emerge from the cellar door as pale as the ghost he'd just encountered with an expression on his face that spoke volumes ... no need to utter a word.
Your nightmare about your mother being injured by a woman with wood for hands — and then finding your mother drawing the nightmare you'd had - can you describe the feeling when you saw it?
Absolutely. I will never forget it, as if it had been seared into my brain with a branding iron. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt dizzy. Shocked. The instant I saw the rendering I realized it wasn't a dream at all. She told me not to tell my sisters and helped me clean up the coffee cup I dropped the second I laid eyes on it. She closed the notebook and secured it but I will never forget what I saw that morning not will I forget the entity standing inside her dresser leaning over her as if to give her a kiss ... the kiss of death. It wasn't a nightmare. It was a mind meld, or as close as mere mortals can achieve. I saw what she saw. I heard her screaming my name and I could not go to her. I was paralyzed in my bed and could not move. I well remember tears trickling out of the corners of my eyes before I closed them and prayed.
When the event comes up now, how is it talked about within your family?
We rarely discuss it or any other events that happened at the farm. Of course, while I was writing the books, it was a necessary evil for everyone in the family to be as forthcoming as possible for the sake of accuracy but it wasn't until I began drafting the actual manuscript that talk of the farm resurfaced in our family. Now and then it would come up as a topic of discussion but the conversation was usually limited to a specific incident. For the most part it was something we processed predominately on an individual level. That's the truth. At one point during the writing, my mother said: "We spent thirty years trying to bury our dead and yet, when it came time to tell their story along with our own, it is amazing how close to the surface they were buried." We did exhume the dead ... memories we thought we had buried long ago. Christine suffered the most through the process. She struggled to reveal her personal experiences and once she did, she said she would never talk about it again.
When your mother was stabbed in the leg, and then began to really age quickly and seemed in a bad way - what were you all saying to each other? What was it attributed to?
We were frightened into silence, as if holding our collective breath for years. This was a gradual process, not an overnight occurrence. I think we were all more afraid of what was happening to our mother than we were of the spirits. A once vital, vibrant, beautiful woman seemed to be shrinking away, wasting away before our eyes. She began dressing in vintage clothing and her voice changed. It was smaller, a higher pitch, as she was not herself. She wasn't sleeping but would instead stand guard, keeping constant vigil on the hearthstone of the fireplace, always seeking some source of warmth, claiming to be chilled to the bone no matter what time of year.
She was not only stabbed in the leg with what was apparently some sort of needle, she was also impaled by a tomato stake in the garden. The wound was gruesome, beyond grotesque. She healed it sitting in hot baths and it took a week for the piece of wood left inside her to protrude, shooting like a rocket from her hip. She suffered terribly but there was no money to go to a hospital and no working car at the time. Dad was away and she was left to her own devices to treat the grievous injury. The skin healed but I often wonder if the wound it left was much deeper.
When you mother discovered that so many things had gone so terribly wrong and the news that Bathsheba Sherman had lived in the house and who she was — can you describe your feelings when you heard the story for the first time?
Bathsheba Sherman never actually lived in the house to our knowledge but she was somehow connected to it. Mrs. Warren said she was the malevolent spirit present in the house and that she had killed a baby in her care there. From that point on, Bathsheba got blamed for everything that happened but I do not believe she was the responsible party for the threats made against my mother. The local historian, Mr. McKeachern, told my mother the story of Bathsheba and would drop his eyes when he spoke her name. He claimed to have known her as a neighbor when he was a boy and described her as a brutal woman with an exceedingly mean disposition, treating those who worked on her property with disregard. He accused her of many things and he is the one who first told my mother about her life and subsequent death by paralysis due to a stroke when she was an old woman. She lived from 1812-1885 and he was in in 80s when we met him so his description of her was apparently firsthand from his own memory and things he'd been told by adults.
When I first heard the story of Bathsheba I was about 14 years old and I distinctly remember feeling sad, almost overwhelmed. It made my skin crawl. It made me uncomfortable in the extreme. A sensitive child, I didn't want to know about it and couldn't get away from it, as my mother was transfixed by the story and the history of the farm, in general. I remember the night she told my father what she'd learned from Mr. McKeachern during an earlier visit that day. He just shook his head. Cindy asked her to stop talking about it then dad took us all out for ice cream because ice cream solves everything, ar at least that's what he believed at the time!
When Ed and Loraine Warren showed up, you talk about how you didn’t know they were these famous researchers. What's your take on them now?
Though I am not alone in my opinion in the family, it is a differing opinion of my mother. I don't think the Warrens meant to do us any harm. I think they were trying to help but were in over their heads right from the start.
Have outsiders ever expressed skepticism in your story? What are their explanations?
There are skeptics and then there are character assassins and I do not give them any credence. The skeptics drive the field forward with honest inquiry. The latter are trolls looking to disparage our family without knowing anything about our true story, often basing their assessments on a fictionalized film rather than taking the time to read the books. I have no use for them and when they come up against my righteousness they general leave running in the opposite direction with their tails tucked between their legs, licking their wounds as they go. I do not tolerate anyone calling my mother a liar. She's been to hell and back in this life and deserves respect and the benefit of the doubt, as do we all.
When you said that the house is "still hers," what do you mean? Do you know the state of the house now?
The spirit who perceived herself to be Mistress of the House (likely Mrs. John Arnold) has subsequently made her presence known since our departure from the farm in 1980. When we went back to visit several years ago, my father and I both had an encounter with her. His occurred in the cellar, mine in the hallway at the top of the cellar stairs. We will never know for certain who the spirits are that still dwell in the farmhouse. None of them ever formally introduced themselves. It doesn't even matter who they are -- they ARE. That's all that matters. That their existence be properly acknowledged is most important aspect of writing the books and it has certainly been significant to them.
Have you had paranormal encounters since?
Too numerous to recount. Once someone is touched by spirit it becomes an open doorway that can never be closed, as if it has been ripped from its hinges. Millions of people have had this experience and each will tell you that it is something that never leaves you, a sensation and an awareness that never subsides. Being touched by spirit is not a curse but a blessing, giving us a rare glimpse into the realm from which we come and will inevitably return. I am never alone ... never. None of us are and all of us have accepted the truth of our attachments formed long ago.
What advice would you give to someone who suspects they have a presence like this in their house?
First of all, if they are an adult living with innocent children and those children report supernatural activity in the home, PLEASE believe them! Chances are really good they aren't making it up! Do not dismiss them. Do not suppress them but instead, allow them to speak about the incident and process it with someone who isn't reassuring them it was just a dream (or nightmare) or their active imagination. This is the biggest disservice a parent can do to a child who may be frightened or unsure of what they've experienced. Give it proper credence and hear them out. If your four-year-old comes out of her room in the morning and says something akin to "Grandma read me a bedtime story last night," please don't remind them that Grandma died before they were born. Ask them what story! Give them credit for innate intelligence and if you raised them to be honest, believe what they tell you.
Trust shattered is hard to regain and if you don't listen you'll never know what is happening. Children are extremely receptive and likewise vulnerable to spirit activity. They see the world without a filter. Don't impose it upon them. There really is no "veil." It is a self-imposed falsehood designed by adults to help them live in what they perceive to be a three-dimensional, five-sensory realm but that is not the truth of our existence. We live in a multidimensional, multi-sensory realm, a complicated and convoluted universe. Allow them to consider the possibilities.
For adults moving into what they believe to be a haunted house, I suggest they first observe before drawing any conclusions. The manifestations could well be attachments they brought with them, more likely benevolent spirits from their own ancestral connections. Once this is ruled out as a possibility, examine the manifestations for intent. MOST ghosts are not mean-spirited and do not harbor ill intentions toward any mortal soul. They are simply hovering between realms for whatever reason, often to watch over those they left behind, sometimes because they are fearful to cross or confused, especially if they died quickly or traumatically and don't yet realize they are dead.
If you think you do have a real problem, contact someone legitimate to offer advice. Far too many "paranormal investigators" put themselves out in the world, representing their groups as "experts" in the field before the ink has dried on their new black T-shirts. There are NO experts in this field of study. We are all finding our way in the dark. If my family cannot be considered "experts," no one can.
In the New England area I would recommend Keith Johnson, a demonologist and founder of NEAR Paranormal and also Ken DeCosta, founder of RiseUp Paranormal. Both of these groups know what they're doing and have done it for decades.