The Smurl Haunting was an alleged demonic possession in the United States, on which the film The Haunted was based.
The claimed incidents began in 1974 and lasted until 1989 in the home of Jack and Janet Smurl in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. Whether the haunting was genuine or an elaborate hoax is debated.
The Smurl house was split. Jack and Janet lived in one half of the abode while Jack’s parents, John and Mary, lived in the other half of the double-block house on Chase Street.
According to the Smurls, the first signs of paranormal activity began in 1974. They reported that a television set burst into flames, and a stain appeared on a carpet overnight. Water pipes began to leak even though they were repeatedly re-soldered by a plumber, and scratches resembling those from a large cat appeared on paintwork and bathroom fittings.
By 1977, the reported events were escalating. Toilets flushed without human intervention, footsteps were heard on the stairs, chest drawers opened and closed unaided, radios worked when they were not plugged in, rocking chairs rocked while empty, and a sour smell filled the house.
In 1985, John and Mary claimed to hear loud, obscene language, and Jack and Janet’s house often became extremely cold.
Two days after this, an icy cold swept the house and a strange black human shape allegedly materialised in the kitchen in front of Janet. It was about five feet nine inches tall, and with no facial features. It later appeared to Mary Smurl in her kitchen.
The violence and frequency of the events continued to escalate.
In 1986, the family brought in a controversial pair of demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who announced the house was haunted by three minor spirits and a powerful, evil demon. They tried to persuade the demon to leave by playing holy music and praying. The alleged demon reacted by shaking mirrors, dressers and drawers.
Jack alleges he was raped one night by a scale-covered succubus with a young girl’s body and an old woman’s head. Janet also claimed she was sexually assaulted by a shadowy humanoid figure (described as an incubus), and that pig noises were heard from the wall cavities. The attack on Janet and the shadowy apparition are similar to the description of the attacks on Carla Moran that were portrayed in the movie, “The Entity”.
The Smurls brought in Father Robert McKenna. He conducted two exorcisms in Latin and more than fifty Catholic Masses, which allegedly infuriated the demon further. The demon was said to follow them on a vacation to the Poconos and harass Jack at work.
It was at this point the Smurls appeared on television on a Philadelphia talk show called The People are Talking hosted by Richard Bey. The demon allegedly reacted by raping Jack again, and appearing to him as a half-man, half-pig. Janet was throttled and thrown about by invisible forces.
One obvious question that skeptics always ask is why the couple did not move out of their house if the attacks were so violent and distressing. The Smurl’s response being that the demon could apparently follow them anywhere; having shown this to them when they abandoned the house for a week only to be intensly harassed at the campground where they were staying.
According to the TV Movie, The Haunted, the Smurl family moved some years later, only to have the spirit follow them. They were haunted until, in 1989, a church-sanctioned exorcism finally ended their horror.
In the early 2000’s, tenant Richard Lloyd was found dead from an apparent drug overdose.