Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Conjuring 3 And The Evidence Against The Warrens

The third installment in the Conjuring series is coming out in late May in England and in early June in the United States. The first two installments were among the most popular horror movies ever made. Like other popular movies, their influence overflows into other contexts. One of those other contexts is the predictable discussions of Ed and Lorraine Warren that come up whenever a Conjuring movie is released.

There's a large amount of material on the web discussing the case The Conjuring 3 is based on. The best articles I've come across are this one in the Washington Post that was published in 1981, shortly before the trial of Arne Johnson began, and this one published in 2014 in the Hartford Courant. And here's a more recent article that summarizes how various aspects of the case have developed over the last few decades.

I want to quote and comment on some portions of the first two stories linked above, since I found those portions especially pertinent to evaluating the genuineness of the case. First, from the Washington Post story:

One of the reasons a formal exorcism had not been authorized for the Glatzel boy, Grieco [a local Roman Catholic spokesman] says, is that the family has not consented to the psychological tests the church considers necessary….

Judy Glatzel bridles at Grieco's explanation of why there has been no exorcism. She took her son to a Bridgeport psychiatrist, she says, who charged her $75 an hour and then announced that the next time he wanted to see the whole family. It is up to the church officials to arrange the psychological testing that will satisfy their requirements. "They just want to stick needles into my kid," she says. "There's no way in hell they're going to do that."

Glatzel's excuse about wanting to avoid having people "sticking needles into my kid" is highly unconvincing. If she's going to claim that she wants an exorcism, and the local Catholic authorities say the family first needs to consent to some psychological testing for the boy in question, then why not agree to it? Why expect there to be "sticking needles" involved, and why think any use of needles would be so objectionable that it overrides everything else?

Maybe she wanted to avoid a church-directed exorcism because, as the boy's brother, Carl, would later say, the problem with David Glatzel was mental illness rather than demon possession. According to a 2019 Newsweek article (and other sources I've seen), David was part of Carl's lawsuit against Lorraine Warren (Ed was deceased by that point), meaning that the boy who allegedly had been possessed was distancing himself from the Warrens' claims. It's also been reported that David's father has denied that his son was ever possessed by a demon. You can go to archive.org and bring up an archived version of Carl's web site on the case (www.geocities.com/devilbustedinct), such as here. You'll get different versions of the site depending on where you bring it up in the timeline. But, judging by the version of it I just linked, it seems that Carl's brother, David, was coauthoring Carl's book on the case, so it looks like they were at least largely in agreement on the subject. The links page at that site includes a link to a press release about the lawsuit against Lorraine Warren, and that press release refers to David Glatzel as part of the lawsuit.

The Post's story goes on to report:

There are those who describe him [Arne Johnson] as a young man quick to anger, extremely possessive of the woman he calls his wife, a man who once ripped a small stuffed animal to shreds with his knife after an argument at a tree service where he once worked.

From the Hartford Courant story:

The state argued that Johnson and Bono had been drinking heavily before Bono was killed. A waitress testified that she had served three carafes of red wine to the two men, who were with Deborah Glatzel and other family members at the Mug 'N' Munch Café on the afternoon of the stabbing, The Courant reported….

The ambulance driver testified that Glatzel and her father were standing near the body. Glatzel, who appeared distraught, said repeatedly, "Oh Daddy, he didn't mean to do it. You know how he gets when he's been drinking."…

Ed Warren was relegated to being a character witness who took the stand for only a few minutes, saying Johnson was "quiet and considerate and that it was 'very hard to believe' he could have murdered anyone," before he "reluctantly" stepped down, The Courant reported.

So, Johnson apparently had been drinking heavily, and his girlfriend and future wife, Deborah Glatzel, referred repeatedly to how his violent behavior was typical of how he behaved after drinking. That doesn't sound like a man who was acting out of character while possessed by a demon. And it doesn't line up with Ed Warren's assessment of Johnson's character.

I don't know enough about this case to offer much of a judgment about whether there's any paranormality to it. Maybe it's a mixture of true and false reports of paranormal activity, a case that's been largely misrepresented over the years by its advocates, but has an element of genuineness to it. That happens sometimes. In one of the articles I read about The Conjuring 3, it was said that a tape of the exorcism of David Glatzel (or something like an exorcism, depending on how you define the term) will be played during the movie's closing credits. Maybe that and other forthcoming evidence will shed some significant light on the paranormality of the case. But I suspect that at a minimum, the case's authenticity has been highly exaggerated by its advocates, including the Warrens.

I know a lot more about the case underlying The Conjuring 2, Enfield, and I know a little about the Warrens in contexts other than the ones covered by these two Conjuring movies. As I've explained elsewhere, the last visit I'm aware of that the Warrens made to the house the Enfield case was centered around was in the first quarter of 1981. And that's when the murder behind the case The Conjuring 3 is based on occurred. So, the Warrens' involvement in the two cases overlapped in that manner. That chronological connection between the two cases doesn't have much significance, though, and I don't know whether the upcoming movie will make any reference to Enfield.

You can read a few posts I've written about the Warrens here, here, and here. The second of those is the most significant.

It's important to note that so many people involved in the Enfield case who are highly credible reacted negatively to Ed Warren: Peggy Hodgson, John Burcombe, Sylvie Burcombe, Maurice Grosse, and Guy Playfair. At least three of them, the Burcombes and Playfair, had firsthand experience with Warren's inordinate interest in money. Playfair's comments on the subject are the most significant, and you can play the video below to hear them. Apparently, he had encountered the Warrens before, in Brazil.

My posts linked above include some positive comments about the Warrens. They did some good things, and their critics are sometimes overly negative. But the Warrens will be getting a lot of positive attention from the upcoming Conjuring movie, and the negative side of their story needs to be told.

"Now, one of the biggest problems this dear Mr. Warren caused was he started, as once again, talking about money….all the time Mr. Warren was on about money….He's trying to capitalize on this case." (John Burcombe, Grosse's tape 95B, 3:01, 7:05, 8:07)

"Well, why didn't somebody say they [Ed Warren and his team] weren't welcome?" (Maurice Grosse, 10:03)

"Mr. Grosse, the attitude I got [from Ed Warren] after a while was, he's trying to cause, what I call, get them, get Peggy on their side and get her against you." (Sylvie Burcombe, 10:55)


  1. When skeptics bring up the Warrens, usually their target is The Warrens' involvement in the Amityville case - which they consider to be highly fraudulent. It's hard to tell. Do you think it's possible that Elaine Warren is really psychic?

    1. I don't know much about Lorraine's alleged psychic abilities. But I've seen no evidence of anything paranormal in her involvement in the cases I know the most about.