Controversial, Chilling, And Disturbingly Real – The True-Life Connecticut Haunting

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
October 21, 2019
Last Updated
October 3, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
9 min read
Posted in
Supernatural, Ghosts & Hauntings

Perhaps one of the most famous real-life, true accounts of paranormal activity comes from Connecticut, where the apparently haunted house of the Snedeker family made national headlines in the mid-eighties following disturbances and supernatural occurrences that had seemingly leaped straight from a Hollywood movie script.

Needless to say, the claims would soon be met by many who were skeptical of both the family and the paranormal investigators who would take hold of the case shortly after it came to their attention. Whether the incident was an outright hoax or a case of a genuine supernatural experience that was hijacked for financial gain remains open to debate over three decades later.

The Connecticut house with a screaming entity superimposed over the top

The Connecticut Haunting was one of the most famous in history

Indeed, so far-reaching are the events that they were eventually made into a film in 2009, although we should note that many who were involved with the actual investigations, perhaps most notably, Ray Garton, who would write the 1992 book In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting, would go as far as to officially and very publicly distance himself from the movie altogether.

While many claim the incident to be a discreetly planned hoax, as we will examine shortly, there could very well be an aspect of nuance to the case that might suggest a combination of timing, luck, opportunism, and a degree of mystery that is seemingly just beyond the mental reach of those who have researched and indeed investigated the incident more directly. Whatever the truth of the matter might be, the case remains one of the most intriguing “haunted house” encounters of the late twentieth century.

While the film version of the Connecticut haunting, as we mentioned above does indeed take a very artistic license in interpreting the events, you can check out the trailer of it below.

A Perfect Home Too Good To Be True!

Carmen and Al Snedeker would move to the small town of Southington in Connecticut in 1986, [1] mainly so they were nearer to the hospital where their son, Philip, was undergoing regular treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The spacious urban house appeared perfect for the family, who also had another son, a daughter, and a niece who lived with them.

However, not long after moving into the apparently perfect property they would make the startling discovery that the seemingly perfect family house used to be the Hallahan Funeral Home. Furthermore, when they ventured into the basement during the move, they would discover embalming tables and mortician’s tools. What made this discovery even more unnerving was that this particular room was the only room realistically large enough for the two boys to use as a bedroom.

A little while later strange occurrences and disturbing goings-on began to take place. And what’s more, these incidents and encounters were witnessed by all members of the family. General household items would disappear, for example, and strange sounds and even voices were often heard.

A shot of the exterior of the Connecticut house

Just what went on within the walls of the Connecticut building?

Perhaps even more chilling was the sightings of “strange people” by the children, as well as the truly bizarre sound of “hundreds of birds” all flying overhead at once.

Strangest of all, however, and certainly of most concern to his parents, was the sudden change in the demeanor of their eldest son. As well as becoming increasingly withdrawn and exhibiting bouts of anger and rage, he would begin writing dark “necrophiliac poetry”. During one particularly intense encounter, he would physically attack his niece.

Ultimately, Philip would go into custody. He would undergo medical examinations and testing before receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia. He would eventually return to the home after his sudden and violent symptoms appeared to disappear.

A Steady Descent From Strange Encounters To Physical Attacks

The strange entities and paranormal encounters apparently experienced by Philip – perhaps most disturbing a strange man with untidy white hair dressed in a black and white pinstriped suit – had continued to appear during his absence. Only now, the rest of the family began to see and experience them with the same intensity as their eldest son had.

For example, the disappearing or moved items continued to occur only increasingly more often. Furthermore, a strange and pungent smell, similar to “rotting meat” would suddenly appear out of nowhere. And then fade away once again just as quickly. Perhaps even more bizarre and disturbing was an apparent purposeful targeting of any religious ornaments or objects, which were often found broken or bent out of shape. On one occasion, the family would find a cross on the wall upside down.

Carman would witness one of the strangest sightings during this time. She would see a strange, “very thin” entity with “high cheekbones, long dark hair, and black eyes”.

A dark misty background with a pair of ghostly hands over the top

The haunting was subject to an intense investigation

Even more bone-chilling was an incident that occurred while Carman was moping her kitchen floor. Right in front of her eyes, the water from her mop and bucket turned blood red as she spread it out over the floor. The same “rotting meat” smell immediately filling the room as it did so.

The sightings would soon turn into physical attacks, including several that would leave scratch marks on various family members’ bodies. Two particularly bizarre encounters would see Carman attacked by a seemingly invisible entity while in the shower, as well as, on another occasion, she and her niece were suddenly surrounded by a strange and paralyzing mist while in the kitchen.

Shortly after, and with their next eldest son, Matt, beginning to exhibit similar behavior to Philip, the Snedekers would seek help.

The Investigation Of Ed And Lorraine Warren

With Matt undergoing a similar medical evaluation to Philip, the Snedekers would turn to Ed and Lorraine Warren, themselves extremely well-known in paranormal circles, in order that they might be able to help them in combating whatever strange force, or forces, were taking over their home.

The Warrens, along with fellow paranormal investigator, John Zaffis and several other crew members, would move into the Snedekers’ home shortly after. They would stay on-site for just over two months, during which time they would experience many paranormal events and encounters.

The Snedeker family

The Snedeker family

For example, one evening, Zaffis was making notes on the day’s events while everyone else in the house was asleep. He would recall how it would suddenly grow “bitterly cold”. More unnerving, though, was the “strange presence” he could feel near to him. When he looked toward the stairway, he could see an “apparition starting to form”. Furthermore, there was a “disgusting odor” that was permeating the entire room.

Then, similar to the accounts of the Snedekers, he heard the sound of “thousands of flapping wings”. And what’s more, this bizarre and ominous sound came from the direction of the equally bizarre and rapidly forming apparition. By the time this apparition began moving toward Zaffis, he was beyond terrified. The apparition would then speak to him saying:

Do you know what they did to us? Do you know?

The terror already surging through him began traveling through his body that bit faster. He would later recall how it was “the ugliest thing he had ever seen”. In fact, he would leave the house and “not return for three days”.

He would state that the house and the paranormal incidents that he witnessed there in Southington, Connecticut, were by far the most terrifying he has even had involvement with.

A Grim And Sadistic Past At The Root Of The Intense Hauntings?

The Warrens would ultimately claim, following their investigation and uncovering of records to support their assertions, that “acts of necrophilia” had likely been carried out by at least one but possibly more of the morticians during the building’s time as a funeral home. The grim tools and discarded nature of the deceased’s belongings suggested as much. As did, they would claim, arrest warrants for just such acts.

This, they would further claim, was the root cause of the problem. And as well as the tortured souls of the victims of such abuse, the house was “infested with demons”. They were attracted most likely by the negative and evil energy expelled within the confines of the building.

A blurred picture of a shadowy figure

The house was said to have a long history of paranormal incidents

They would ultimately perform an exorcism of the property. This would last several hours and take several priests to finish completely. Whether successful or not, they Snedekers would remain at the home for two more years before they would move out.

Despite the apparent exorcism, the cause of the hauntings remains fiercely debated. As does the explanation offered by investigators at the time. In fact, scrutiny on the family, and perhaps more so on the paranormal investigators, Ed and Liz Warren would continue. And furthermore, this would only intensify in the years following the encounter. Perhaps not least due to the allegations made by the author, Ray Garton.

The Potentially Damning Claims Of Ray Garton

Several other families who lived in the property prior to the Snedekers would publicly state they had no paranormal experiences whatsoever in the house. As would several who would take up residence there afterward. And while these statements were not outright attacks at the credibility of the claims, they certainly cast a shadow of a doubt as to the authenticity of such paranormal events.

However, perhaps more than anything else were the claims of the previously mentioned researcher and author, Ray Garton. He was, ironically enough, asked to write of the encounters by the Warrens themselves. Garton would not only distance himself from the movie of the encounter. He would ultimately claim the research and the encounters themselves were suspect at best. And potentially, outrageously false.

He would claim after spending several weeks with the family, interviewing them in order to put the book he had been asked to write together, that their versions of events didn’t quite match. In fact, in some cases, they were out considerably. When he brought these concerns to the Warrens, at least according to Garton, he was told to “just use what works and make up the rest”. He would further add that Ed Warren had claimed the Snedekers “were crazy” just like “all the people who come to us”.

What is perhaps interesting here is that even with Garton’s claims, it still doesn’t prove or even insinuate a hoax. If anything, it would appear the claims, at least in part are true. However, exploitation and manipulation by the investigative team may be at hand.

The video below looks at the case a little further.

A Strange Combination Of Individual Frequency And Location?

It is perhaps an interesting notion if we accept just for a moment that the account of the Connecticut haunting is true, that no other families or individuals have witnessed any paranormal or unusual activity. While there are locations that are, by the definition of the word, haunted, there are also cases where the haunting is not so much of a place but of a person.

What we might have with the Snedekers is a case of a particular family, or most likely an individual family member, acting as a catalyst between them and their family, and something that had perhaps lain dormant at this otherwise picturesque family home in Southington, Connecticut.

It is admittedly as speculative an idea as the next one, but certainly one worth considering.

Exterior shot of the Connecticut house

The haunting remains a mystery today

Unless, of course, we accept that the incident is an outright hoax or scheme for monetary gain? But then where does the fault lie? Did the Snedekers simply make the whole thing up in the hopes, and ultimately the realization of a financial return? Or did they genuinely experience something strange? Which paranormal investigators would use to their advantage? And who themselves would see an opportunity for exploitation?

It is hard to completely ignore the words of Ray Garton. He would, it seems, have little at all to gain from his apparent admission. With that said, though, perhaps it is worth considering the former point once more. That the combination of a certain individual and certain location might unleash such an onslaught of paranormal activity. Maybe we should consider one of the most famous apparent true-life haunted houses in (relatively) recent history.

Similar Details To The Amityville House Hauntings?

The Amityville House in upper state New York [2] – which, incidentally, is not a million miles away from the state of Connecticut – is perhaps the most well-known of real-life hauntings. Not least due to the popular movie based on the true accounts of the Lutz family. They would move into the house in rural New York, around 30 miles outside New York City in 1975. Only a year after the real-life murders of the DeFoe family at the hands of their eldest son, Ronnie.

Unlike the Snedekers, the Lutz’ were completely aware of the violent past of the house. And although happy to proceed with the sale, would bring a priest in to perform a blessing on the property. However, within 28 days and following a barrage of intense paranormal activity, the married couple would leave the property. They would sell from afar and would never return.

Although they would freely admit that author Jay Anson, who they had sold their story to, had “enhanced” parts of the incidents for excitement purposes, the basics of their claims were very real. As was the hauntings and activity.

There have been several independent investigations into the property and its claims of being haunted. However, no further claims have surfaced by the four families who owned the property following the Lutz family. At least none that are in the public record.

Might the incident be similar to the Connecticut haunting in that one of the Lutz’ was perhaps the spiritual catalyst that made such paranormal activity possible? And like the Snedekers, when they vacated the property, all paranormal activity, both at the location and for the individuals, ceased?

A Case To Answer? Or Unseen “Mitigating” Background Circumstances?

Like most cases of hauntings and such bizarre activity, it is not without controversy. Or detractors. However, in this instance, might such detractors have highlighted a case to answer by both the Warrens and the Snedekers?

We should note and make perfectly clear, both the Snedekers and the Warrens stay by their claims. And their version of events. And, aside from the claims of Garton, no other accusations of any substance have surfaced.

Might it even be the case that there is some unseen mitigating circumstances? Perhaps from behind-the-scenes that might explain such stances. And help shed further clarifying light on this already mysterious and slightly murky affair?

Perhaps the real horror, at least for the current owners, is not from demonic entities with necrophilia-type tendencies. But rather the adventure seekers, paranormal enthusiasts, and teenagers who descend on the property regularly.

Indeed, this very much appears to be the case with many apparent properties with mysterious pasts or strange stories within their walls. It would appear it would be in the respective owners’ interests to embrace such interest rather than fight against it. However, from a legitimate paranormal investigation point of view, such embracement could weaken the credibility of their respective claims.

Check out the video below. It looks at this apparent real-life if controversial haunting a little further.


1 A Haunting in Connecticut: What Really Happened?, Scott A. Johnson, Dread Central
2 The Real ‘Amityville Horror’: Chilling Facts About the Crime and Haunted House, Biography, June 29th, 2017

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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