We've all seen them: movies like The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist, in which restless, often malevolent spirits terrorize families who have unwittingly chosen to share their living space with the dead. Most of us can't begin to imagine just how traumatic that experience would be. For Carmen Snedeker, the unimaginable became frighteningly real when she and her family moved into what appeared to be, at first glance, a lovely house in Southington, Connecticut.
Carmen's family had been going through some tough times when she happened upon the "for rent" sign outside the house. Her oldest son was undergoing treatment for cancer, the family was in dire straits financially, and they needed an affordable place to live. Carmen felt her prayers had been answered when she discovered that the monthly rent was well within the price range that her family could manage to pay for a decent and comfortable place to call home.
Shortly after moving into the house, Carmen made a shocking discovery. In the basement, partially hidden under building and construction materials, she found tools and equipment that are typically used by morticians. Carmen quickly came to the horrifying realization that she and her family were now residing in a former funeral home!
It didn't take long for darkness to descend upon the family. One day, as Carmen was mopping the kitchen floor, the water suddenly turned blood red and had a putrid odor. Crucifixes that hung in various places throughout the house began to simply disappear.
Carmen's niece was living with the family at the time. One night, while sleeping, she was physically assaulted by unseen hands that groped and grabbed at her body. A rosary that she had placed around her neck was violently yanked by the abusive entity and the beads scattered all across the floor.
Several demonic entities made their evil presence known during the ensuing weeks.
"They were incredibly powerful," Carmen remembers. "One of the demons was very thin, with high cheekbones, long black hair and pitch black eyes. Another had white hair and eyes, wore a pinstriped tuxedo, and his feet were constantly in motion."
Carmen's formerly "preppy" oldest son soon began wearing only dark clothing and suffered dramatic personality changes. He became increasingly angry and violent and he started writing dark, disturbing poetry. One of the poems that he wrote contained graphic descriptions of sexual activity with dead bodies.
The family frequently smelled foul odors in the house, including the scents of rotting flesh and excrement. At one point, a dark mist enveloped Carmen and her niece while they were together in the kitchen, disorienting and paralyzing both of them. Terrified, Carmen began to recite The Lord's Prayer and the demon released the women from its hellish clutches.
Carmen was at her wit's end. Her family was clearly in danger, as the demonic infestation grew worse with each passing day. Desperate for relief, she telephoned renowned paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren, and begged them for help.
The Warrens, perhaps best known for their involvement in the much-publicized Amityville Horror case, agreed to investigate. Ed, Lorraine and their team of investigators literally moved into the Snedeker's home for an astounding nine weeks in order to witness for themselves all the supernatural events that were allegedly occurring.
John Zaffis, nephew of Ed Warren, was part of the investigative team. John recalls that, shortly after arriving, members of the team began to be "touched" by the entities. He also remembers the vile odors that frequently permeated the house.
"The situation was pretty chaotic by the time we arrived," John recounts. "One night, I was sitting at the dining room table, reviewing some notes that I'd made. Suddenly, the room grew bitterly cold and I could sense a presence around me. I called out to the others, who were sleeping in the living room, but I couldn't get anyone to wake up. I looked up the stairs and saw an apparition starting to form. The air was filled with a disgusting odor, so foul that I could hardly breathe. As the apparition took shape, I could hear a noise that sounded like thousands of flapping wings coming from behind it. I'd never been more terrified in my life!"
A Catholic priest was enlisted to bless the house and even perform the sacred rites of mass therein, but the negative activity continued. Finally, the decision was made to conduct an exorcism on the house. The demonic forces railed against the exorcism, but following the ritual, "the house definitely felt lighter and we all felt a sense of calm and relief," John Zaffis remembers.
The Snedeker family resided in the haunted house for two-and-a-half years before finally moving. To the best of her knowledge, Carmen states, "no one who has lived there since [her family left the premises] has experienced any paranormal activity."
It has been almost two decades since these events took place. Since that time, Carmen has been "approached" by negative forces, but her unwavering faith and unflinching courage have kept the evil energies at bay.
"No one will ever really know why the house was haunted while we were there," Carmen said. "We did discover, however, that one of the men who worked in the funeral home was guilty of necrophilia, so perhaps his heinous actions stirred up the demonic forces."
"This was one of the most significant cases I've ever worked on," John Zaffis says, without hesitation. "It proved to me, beyond any doubt, that demonic forces are very real."
A television documentary, called A Haunting in Connecticut, and a book, entitled In a Dark Place, have both chronicled the events that took place in the old funeral home. In 2006, Gold Circle Films, in collaboration with Integrated Films and Management, will produce a feature film about the demonic haunting. Universal Studios will distribute the film.
In conjunction with the release of the movie, a new book about these incidents, written by Snedeker, Zaffis and paranormal investigator/writer, Chip Coffey, will be published.
By Chip Coffey