The late Vatican exorcist, Fr. Gabriele Amorth was fond of reminding both the faithful and the skeptical, that one of Satan’s primary goals is to the destroy the family. It’s an old strategy to divide and conquer loving souls in hopes of thwarting them of their heavenly reward. Some would say that Amityville operated under a similar strategy of division with paranormal delusions of terror. However, there is one haunting that is considered just as devastatingly terrifying as Amityville, and that is the Smurl Haunting House of West Pittston, Pennsylvania.
In 1974, the Smurl family purchased a double block duplex style home for their large family. Parents Jack and Janet needed lots of room for their four young daughters, as well as Jack’s parents who were going to live with them as well. Being a staunch Roman Catholic family, the Smurls joined the local parish and were quick to make friends in the small neighborhood community.
The first sign of paranormal activity occurred when the family was awakened by bizarre banging noises on the walls and ceilings. Given that the home was older, not much was considered in terms of something sinister being the origin. As the months went by, foul smells began to emerge with no reasonable explanation as all the plumbing was deemed functional. Terror fully manifested one evening in the family living room when the Smurl’s dog, a German Shepherd mix, was picked up by an unseen force and thrown violently against the wall in full view of the entire family.
Months and months went by as the terror grew. The Smurls were rebuffed by the Catholic Church as their claims were not taken seriously by clergy who demanded more proof than they could provide. Things still worsened as Jack’s mother suffered a devastating heart attack at home while the appearance of what only could be described as “black masses” floated throughout the home accompanying with them sudden room freezing temperatures.
The months turned into years as the Smurls met everyday firm with resolve and perseverance. One late afternoon the youngest daughter was doing her homework at the kitchen table when the overhead ceiling light began to furiously sway. With a sudden snap, it broke loose and fell with the child dodging herself out of the way by mere inches. A heavy lighting fixture that both Jack and his father installed with secure, thick 14mm bolts had ripped themselves straight out of the drilled hardwood.
Convinced that whatever demonic entity was in the home wanted to do them bodily harm, the Smurls were committed to being extra vigilant. Then one evening with the family out and the home to himself, Jack Smurl was sexually assaulted by a succubus in the family living room. The shame and violation he felt only turned into anger when Janet had revealed to him that she too had been sexually assaulted. Her assaulter was completely unseen as it was in the middle of the night in bed while Jack was kept asleep.
Later Janet said that she was completely paralyzed by something and unable to struggle against her unseen attacker. The Smurls had finally had enough of the torment and reached out for help, only this time it didn’t yet come in the form of the Catholic Church, but instead came from a pair of paranormal investigators.
Ed did his best at using religious provocation to bring out whatever was in the home as known medium Lorraine had taken to extensively touring the home looking to connect with whatever was there. Sitting down with the Smurls, the Warrens concluded that there were four presences in the home. There were two women, with the younger being past the age of a teenager, who she felt had a malevolent tendency. Another was the spirit of a man who Lorraine felt had died in the home decades earlier or on the physical property itself. Finally, there was a powerful demon who reigned over the home and supernaturally forced the home’s three spirits to torment the Smurls.
Against such powerful odds, the Warrens put the family in touch with an Episcopal priest who came and performed an exorcism on the home. As the activity dwindled to a degree, word spread throughout the neighborhood and into the local media. Soon news vans and reporters were staked out on the neighborhood block, looking to break any new information. As a result, the Catholic Church sent a priest to live in the home briefly with the Smurls so as to not appear cold to the situation. After half a week, the priest left due to no activity surfacing. However, the Smurls underwent a second and third exorcism shortly thereafter.
Finally, in 1987 the family had enough of the activity in the home and moved. Weeks into their new home, the solitary black mass manifested and the terror slowly began again. Reaching out with one final plea, the family was able to procure a fourth and final exorcism, this time from the Catholic Church. Details about what went on during it were kept secret, but it was believed to be the longest, and most powerful of the four exorcisms the family endured.
Today, the family remains out of the paranormal spotlight. Both of Jack’s parents are now deceased, as is Jack himself who died in 2017. Janet and her now adult daughters still reside near the West Pittston area and have reported no paranormal activity since that final exorcism. In the demonic battle for the souls of the Smurl family, the Smurls surely won.
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