The true story of the Perron family, the Harrisville Haunting
History of the Perron family and the Harrisville Haunting (true story behind the movie The Conjuring)
Oldest surviving photograph of the Harrisville Haunted home
Ed and Lorraine Warren had been investigating paranormal activity since the early 1950’s. During their decades-long careers, they investigated over 4,000 hauntings, including the well-known Amityville Haunting where they were recognized as the first psychic investigators to step onto the scene. The 2013 film, The Conjuring, was based on their terrifying investigation of the Perron family and their haunted farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Known variously as the “Harrisville Haunting” or the “Perron Family Haunting”, the Warrens would say that their investigation of the Perron family’s haunting was their “most intense, compelling, disturbing and significant investigation” of their careers. Roger Perron, his wife Carolyn, and their five children Andrea (Annie), Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April endured a decade of torture from the spirits that occupied their country home.
The Harrisville Haunting – the hauntings begin
The Harrisville Haunted houseSeeking to move the children to a quieter home life in the country, Roger and Carolyn Perron purchased their dream home in the winter of 1970. The Old Arnold Estate was 200 acres in size and one of the original plantations in the area surveyed by colonist John Smith in 1680 and deeded to Roger Williams for the formation of the state of Rhode Island. Located on Round Top Road in Harrisville, Rhode Island, the 10-room “lovely, charming” country home was built in 1736 on a beautiful plot of land with plenty of room for their five children, all girls, to roam about and play. Nancy and Christine Perron shared one room, Cindy and April another, and Andrea had a room all to herself – except on nights when, as Andrea put it, the sisters “came crawling into bed with her, trembling and crying in terror”.
The Perron family began to notice something was amiss from the first day they stepped into their lovely new home. Later it would be learned that eight generations of families had lived, and died, in the Old Arnold Estate including Mrs. John Arnold who at the age of 93, hung herself from the rafters of the barn. Other unfortunate losses of life on the estate included several suicides (hangings, poisonings), the rape and unsolved murder of eleven-year-old girl Prudence Arnold (later presumed to have been murdered by a farm hand), two sudden drownings in the creek located near the house, and four men who mysteriously froze to death on the land. It did not take long before the Perrons’ understood why the previous seller advised them on the day that they moved into the house, “leave the lights on at night.”
At first the ghosts, or demon spirits as the Warren investigators thought of them, were harmless. Described variously as opaque or somewhat solid in appearance, there were many spirits present in the old homestead. One ghost smelled of flowers while another would gently kiss the girls goodnight in their beds every night. Another appeared to be a small, young male that the girls would watch, mesmerized, push toy cars about the room propelled by an invisible hand.
One apparition, presumably a female ghost, was a welcome presence in the home. The Perron’s would often hear sweeping noises coming from the kitchen. When they entered the room, they would find the broom had been moved to a different spot in the room with a neat pile of newly swept dirt sitting in the middle of the floor, waiting to be deposited in the trashcan.
“Manny” was another spirit that the young Perron children loved. Manny was believed to be the spirit of Johnny Arnold, who had committed suicide by hanging himself in the attic of the house in the 1700’s. Manny would appear before the children, often standing nearby quietly watching the children going about their daily activities, a crooked smile on his face, amused at the children’s’ play. If eye contact was made with Manny, he would withdraw from sight just as suddenly as he had appeared.
In addition to ghostly entities, the Perrons’ witnessed many other odd and unexplained phenomena. Beds would levitate several inches off of the floor, telephone handsets would hover in the air and slam down onto the phone base when someone entered the room, and various household objects would glide about the house on their own. Often chairs would be pulled suddenly from beneath an unsuspecting guest and pictures would tumble from the walls. The Perrons’ once reported seeing an orange ooze blood and a wall dissolve into nothingness.
The Arnold Family cemetery where Bathsheba is buriedNot all the ghosts at Harrisville were welcome visitors. Some would yank the girls’ legs and hair during the middle of the night. Others would loudly bang the front door of the home with such force that the entire house would shake. Doors would slam shut on their own while others would stay frozen in place, unable to be shut no matter how much force was applied to them. One entity in the home routinely kept the family awake as it continually cried out in the night, “Mama! Maaaama!” while another apparition tortured 8-year-old Cindy telling her over and over, “there are seven dead soldiers buried in the wall”. One of the Perron’s recalled a small, delicate spirit, appearing to be about 4 years old, roaming the house crying, calling for her mother.
One of the spirits was so evil, the Perron family to this day will not disclose what it did to them. Andrea Perron, who authored a book about their experiences in the home (House of Darkness House of Light), hinted that the unmentionable spirit may have molested some of the young girls. When asked about this spirit during an interview, she avoided the question, telling the reporter:
“Let’s just say there was a very bad male spirit in the home – with five little girls.”