A haunted doll and killers possessed by the devil: The true story behind The Conjuring movies.

Lorraine Warren lived a life unlike any other.

One that took her travelling across the world encountering the bizarre and the unexplainable. Years which inspired some of the world’s most iconic – and disturbing – horror films.

Lorraine – a celebrated paranormal investigator – lived a life dedicated to rescuing people from evil spirits.

Ed and Lorraine Warren were the "original ghost busters". Image: Facebook.

Her husband Ed was a demonologist, author and lecturer, with whom Lorraine, a psychic/clairvoyant and medium, worked closely to rid family homes of demons.


These demons would go on to star in the nightmares of people all over the world who watched the films in which they featured - including The Amityville Horror, The Conjuring, The Nun and one of the most disturbing figures of the modern scream screen; Annabelle - the demonic stuffed doll that cannot be unseen.

Yes, the supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring are based on the real-life couple. 

Lorraine was a major consultant on the first film and a number of its sequels and prequels, and maintained that almost every detail of The Conjuring was accurate. 

In that film, the family living in a haunted house contact the Warrens, who have recently investigated a possessed doll called Annabelle.

The story of Lorraine and Ed's encounter with Annabelle is one that sends spines tingling.

It begins with an innocent children's toy - a Raggedy Ann doll purchased in an antique store. One that was once the possession of nursing student, but now resides in a secure glass cabinet emblazoned with a sinister warning sign in Connecticut - part of The Warren's Occult Museum collection.

Lorraine Warren.
Lorraine Warren and "Annabelle". Image: Facebook.

Before the doll was locked away, it had been the source of terror in the nursing student's home.

She and her roommate first noticed the doll changing positions or rooms without explanation, which eventually escalated to messages on paper and blood on the doll's dress, and at one point, violence.

Annabelle was particularly aggrieved with the fiancé of one roommate, who claims he woke up startled one night to the feeling of something crawling up his body. It was Annabelle, attempting to strangle him in his sleep.

He later claimed that upon entering a darkened room where the doll rested, he felt something attack him. When he switched the light on, his stomach was covered in bloody scratches and the doll was on the floor.

The behaviour terrified the roommates, so they called on the Warrens to intervene.

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Lorraine explained she believed the doll was possessed by the spirit of a deceased seven-year-old girl named Annabelle Higgins. Higgins had supposedly died on the land where the apartment stood. They performed a blessing in the residence before taking Annabelle off the young woman’s hands.

Their experience behind the 1979 original The Amityville Horror was similarly chilling, taking them to a haunted manor in the New York suburb of the same name.

It was this job, Lorraine once said, that stuck with her for years.

"Amityville was horrible, honey. It was absolutely horrible," she said at a press event for The Conjuring in 2013, reports Yahoo Entertainment. 

"It was a very bad place," Lorraine later recalled of the experience to Entertainment Weekly. "I remember when I was there and Ed said he was pushed to the floor as if a heavy blanket was pushed over him."

In March 1976, with a news crew and a photographer by their side, infrared images of a demonic boy were captured inside the grand suburban home which still stands today.

It came two years after the horrific story of an entire family murdered by their 23-year-old son.


The son had claimed he heard "voices" telling him to travel from room to room, shoot dead both of his parents and his four siblings. He was given six life sentences. Today, he is still serving his time in a New York prison.

Before The Warrens' visit, another family had moved in to the home; The Lutz family. But they only lasted 28 days.

The young family claimed to have seen slime coming out of the walls, knives being thrown off kitchen counters, and a red-eyed creature resembling a pig. They recounted figures wandering inside the home when it was supposed to be empty.

James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz in The Amityville Horror, 1979. Image: Facebook.

George, the husband, said he once saw his wife levitating above their bed, and was woken up every morning at 3:15 a.m., the exact time that DeFeo killed his family.

The Lutz family eventually brought in a priest to bless the home, who was driven out in horror after a voice told him to “Get out!"

Lorraine - who was no stranger to evil spirits at the time - said her visit to the home following the priest's attempted blessing was even too much for her and her husband.

Image: Facebook.

"It followed us right straight across the country. I don't even like to talk about it. I will never go in the Amityville house ever again. You don't know how long my career is; that's the only one."

Lorraine died in 2019 at 92, 13 years after her husband passed away.

"It is with deep sadness that I must announce that Lorraine Warren has passed away," Lorraine's son-in-law, Tony Spera, confirmed to The Patch.

"She died peacefully in her sleep at home last night," his statement read.

Lorraine was remembered for her contribution to the horror genre by Vera Farmiga, the actress who plays her in The Conjuring films. 

Farmiga tweeted Lorraine had "touched [her] life".

"From a deep feeling of sorrow, a deep feeling of gratitude emerges," Farmiga said. "I was so blessed to have known her and am honoured to portray her. She lived her life in grace and cheerfulness."


The latest film in the franchise, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, revolves around the real-life "Devil Made Me Do It" case, a legal trial where the defendant claimed to have been possessed during the crimes of which he is accused.

In 1981, Arne Cheyenne Johnson was accused of killing his landlord, Alan Bono. 

Ed and Lorraine had been called prior to the killing, to deal with the alleged demonic possession of the younger brother of Johnson's fiancé, and the Warrens subsequently claimed that Johnson was also possessed when the demon fled the child's body during an exorcism.

At trial, Johnson attempted to plead Not Guilty by Reason of Demonic Possession, but the judge dismissed this because possession can never be proved, and is thus inadmissible in court. 

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is in cinemas now.

This article was originally published on April 21, 2019 and has been updated.