New England Society for Psychic Research: Connecticut Paranormal Investigators Leave Legacy of the Occult
Gravestones at a cemetery

Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut where Ed Warren allegedly photographed the White Lady - Wikimedia Commons, Karl Thomas Moore

By Emily Clark

For more than half a century, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren of Monroe dedicated their lives to researching supernatural phenomena throughout the country. A fascination with haunted houses, spirits, and demonology led the couple to establish the New England Society for Psychic Research (NESPR) in 1952.

The Warrens’ Early Years

Newspaper clipping of a man talking to a woman

Ed Warren discusses supernatural phenomena with Glastonbury’s Julia Kamis during a program about ghosts in 1993 – Hartford Courant, Connecticut State Library

Noted by some to be the oldest continually operating paranormal group in the country, NESPR remains an authority in investigations Ed Warren initiated even before the society was established. Growing up, Ed lived in a house in Bridgeport that was believed to be haunted, leading to his interest in this field. Lorraine, a trance medium and clairvoyant, also lived in Bridgeport as a child, and from a young age claimed the ability to communicate with paranormal entities.

As a demonologist and artist, Ed studied at Perry Art School and combined his interests in art and the paranormal. Early in his career, when Ed learned of a haunted dwelling somewhere in New England, he traveled to the site and sketched the home. When he offered his drawing to the homeowners, they welcomed him inside and shared stories of the home’s alleged supernatural activity.

NESPR and Occult Museum Take Shape

The success from such excursions led to the founding of the New England Society for Psychic Research. Cynthia Wicks, who edited the NESPR’s journal, said the Warrens wanted to give a name to their work and “encourage the safe and professional research and documentation of the paranormal.” The Warrens (and, later, their children) invited medical personnel, researchers, law enforcement, students, and members of the clergy to assist in their investigations. As devout Roman Catholics, the Warrens often received requests from clergy members to scrutinize reported “demonic situations” in New England and throughout the country. In 1981, the Warrens were even involved in a murder case in which the defendant argued he committed the crime while possessed by the devil. (The judge was unconvinced.)

Around the time of NESPR’s founding came the establishment of the Warrens’ Occult Museum, which still stands on the property of the couple’s former home (now owned by their daughter and son-in-law). The museum still houses a huge collection of artifacts from around the world that the Warrens amassed during their 50 years of investigations, prompting the building to be labeled as “one of the most haunted places in the world.” Though the Occult Museum in Monroe is no longer open to the public, NESRP still sponsors events and maintains an active social media presence.

Historical Hauntings

While many of the Warrens’ investigations became well known through movies, their paranormal investigations involved historical entities throughout Connecticut and all of New England. Only minutes from the Occult Museum sits Union Cemetery, a four-hundred-year-old graveyard in Easton that is arguably the most well-known paranormal site in the state and home to the “White Lady.” Supposedly having died a tragic death, this ghost of a woman has allegedly been seen gliding through the cemetery wearing a long white dress. Ed Warren claimed to have once captured her on video.

One of the Warrens’ most recognizable investigations was the infamous “Annabelle.” Still housed in the shuttered Occult Museum, Annabelle was originally a Raggedy Ann doll belonging to a nurse in Hartford in the early 1970s. According to the New England Society for Psychic Research, the young nurse often came home from work and found the doll in different rooms, in various positions, or with its arms and legs crossed. A medium said that the spirit of a girl named Annabelle, who died tragically near the nurse’s apartment, resided inside the doll. After several paranormal experiences involving the Raggedy Ann, the NESPR was contacted, the Warrens conducted an exorcism, and then took the doll. The following year, they investigated a supposedly haunted house in Rhode Island which became the basis for “The Conjuring” film in 2013.

As an occult research group, the society investigated more than ten thousand cases of reported paranormal activity with the Warrens at the helm. After Ed died in 2006, Lorraine continued the couple’s work until her death in 2019. Their daughter Judy and her husband Tony Spera now lead NESPR, carrying on with investigations and other work exploring the supernatural that Judy’s parents began decades ago.

Emily Clark is a freelance writer and an English and Journalism teacher at Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge.

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