Inside the Warrens' Occult Museum


Tony Spera, the real-life Occult Museum curator and son-in-law of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren opens the case that houses the Annabelle doll a the Museum at the Center for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022.
Tony Spera, the real-life Occult Museum curator and son-in-law of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren opens the case that houses the Annabelle doll a the Museum at the Center for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022.

Inside the Warrens' Occult Museum in CT where Anabelle ‘lives’


When entering the Warrens' Occult Museum in Monroe, guests are required to bless themselves with holy water. Tony Spera, the son-in-law of famous Connecticut paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren and curator of the museum, isn’t afraid to dole the holy water out either.


“We’re not stingy with it,” Spera said as he distributed handfuls of holy water to a group of Hearst Connecticut journalists on the gloomy morning of Sept. 6. Devout Catholics, the Warrens believed holy water, crosses, Catholic prayers and exorcisms were the means with which to ward off “evil.” Spera continues in that belief, encouraging all who enter to accept the holy water as “protection,” regardless of personal religious belief.


The museum, which resembles a large shed, sits across the yard from the former home of the late Ed and Lorraine, which now belongs to Spera. A small walk from the back porch leads guests to the entrance of the museum, which during this visit was waterlogged from the heavy rain. After a summer of drought, torrential rain came down that day.


Inside, it takes a minute for a visitor’s eyes to adjust to the low light within the museum, which is mostly low lit in colors like red and purple to keep people from accidentally tripping over the “haunted” artifacts that fill almost every square-inch of the museum.


The museum was established in 1952 at around the same time that the Warrens established the New England Society of Paranormal Research (NESPR), which is currently run by Tony and his wife (Ed and Lorraine's daughter), Judy Spera. Over time, the museum has amassed a collection of “haunted” artifacts from all corners of the globe that range from satanic ritual items to the famous Annabelle doll, which has inspired the ongoing “Annabelle” series of movies. The “Annabelle” movies are part of the larger “Conjuring” universe of films, which spans eight movies and is among the highest grossing horror movie series of all times, and is based on the investigations of the Warrens.


Though the museum lays dormant due to ongoing zoning issues, a select few are able to enter the museum and see the items that have earned the museum a reputation as one of the most “haunted” places in the world.


Tony Spera, the real-life Occult Museum curator and son-in-law of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren pictured in the Museum at the New England Society for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022.  Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media
Tony Spera, the real-life Occult Museum curator and son-in-law of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren pictured in the Museum at the New England Society for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022. Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media

Touring the museum

Walking into the world-famous museum, which initially served as Ed’s art studio, visitors are greeted by Halloween masks and mannequins resembling some of Connecticut’s most famous paranormal entities. Supposedly sinister tales lie behind these common items, Spera explained. For example, the masks act as a representation of the practice of tulpamancy — a form of mysticism that involves creating sentient and autonomous beings separate from oneself. Tulpamancers have been cited as wearing masks similar to Halloween ones in order to take on the appearance of whatever the mask looks like, Spera explained. As for the mannequins, they are dressed in a style consistent with some of the most notable supernatural sightings in the area. One is dressed as Hannah Cranna, known as the “Witch of Monroe.” According to the New England Historical Society, Cranna’s ghost is said to appear in the Gregory’s Four Corners Burial Ground in Trumbull, where she is buried, and will cause cars to crash in the vicinity. Another mannequin standing in a white dress is the “White Lady of Union Cemetery” in Easton, a famous entity in the region that was investigated by the Warrens and is discussed in their book, “Graveyard: True Hauntings from an Old New England Cemetery.”

The mannequin that represents the Legend of the White Woman at the Museum at the New England Society for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022.  Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media
The mannequin that represents the Legend of the White Woman at the Museum at the New England Society for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022. Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media

The museum contains a mix of items that are either based on “haunts” and objects that have a reputation as being “cursed,” “demonic” or “haunted,” with an emphasis on the latter. The back of the museum contains most of the paranormal-related items including a conjuring mirror (not to be confused with “The Conjuring” movie), an organ from the Phelps Mansion in Stratford that Ed claimed played on its own, and fragments from Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, which Spera explained crashed in 1972 on its way from New York to Miami. Spera added that there is a rumor (which has never been confirmed) that plane parts from flight 401 were said to have been reused on others in the fleet and those planes were “haunted” by Don Repo, the second officer on the plane. To this day, Spera said the museum is still taking items in, with its most recent acquisition being a sword that was given to the museum last year. It is inscribed with a demonic looking creature on the hilt. The museum believes that the sword was involved in satanic rituals.

The original Annabelle doll (left) as compared to the movie version. (Lisa Nichols / For Hearst Connecticut Media Group)
The original Annabelle doll (left) as compared to the movie version. (Lisa Nichols / For Hearst Connecticut Media Group)

Annabelle Sitting in a glass case in the far corner of the museum is Annabelle, the Raggedy Ann doll whose story has quickly become one of the most famous paranormal cases due to the popularity of the eponymous movies. Though not quite as menacing-looking as its movie counterpart, which sits with a sinister grin in a glass case across from the original doll, Annabelle has a commanding presence over the museum. She is much larger in person than most Raggedy Anne dolls, with Spera saying that Annabelle stands at roughly three feet tall when standing upright. The doll was given as a gift to a Hartford nurse in 1970. Once she brought it home, she and her roommates reported unexplained behavior coming from the toy, according to the NESPR. It was said to have moved on its own, and in one instance, reportedly attacked one of the owner’s fiancè. The Warrens were called in to investigate and they claimed that the doll was being manipulated by the spirit of an outside entity. After an exorcism at the apartment, the couple agreed to take the doll.

The Annabelle doll on display at Warren’s Occult Museum.  Martin O'Sullivan/Journal Register Co.
The Annabelle doll on display at Warren’s Occult Museum. Martin O'Sullivan/Journal Register Co.

The doll remains in the care of the museum, where it is behind a locked case with a sign made by Ed Warren that reads “positively do not open.” During a visit to the museum, that door was, in fact, opened. Daniel Rivera, the Senior Lead Investigator for NESPR, said that he built a new box for Annabelle that is better suited for moving the doll around. “So the reason why I built the case was because the museum was closed and we wanted to keep educating the public about these items that Ed and Lorraine collected. I built this case to represent Ed’s original case,” Rivera said. He has added extra protective measures to the new box including cutting out crosses on three sides, representing the Catholic Holy Trinity, using a stain infused with holy water and holy oil and inscribing the Lord’s Prayer and Saint Michael’s prayer behind the felt inside the case behind the doll. All of this is done in order to “contain the evil of Annabelle in this case.” Though they’re not entirely sure if Annabelle is still “possessed,” Rivera is the only person who handles Annabelle. He wears gloves that have crosses on them as well as saint medals in the fingertips when touching Annabelle.

Items in the Museum at the New England Society for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022.  Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media
Items in the Museum at the New England Society for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022. Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media

The ‘Devil Made Me Do It’ Dinosaur Toy In 1980, 11-year-old David Glatzel found himself in the middle of supposed demonic possession. Glatzel’s older sister was dating Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who challenged the demonic identity to leave David, and instead possess him. In 1981, Johnson stabbed and killed Alan Bono, claiming that he was possessed by said demon when he committed the murder. This was the first time in the American court system when a defendant claimed "demonic possession." The Warrens spent time with Johnson and his family and claimed rationale in the "demonic possession" theory. However, a judge ultimately disregarded this theory and sentenced Johnson to prison, where he served five years before being released. This Brookfield paranormal trial is the basis behind the latest "Conjuring" movie — "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It." During the initial “possession,” a dinosaur toy belonging to Glatzel was claimed to have levitated on its own, and in one instance, to have told the family that “you’re all going to die.” That dinosaur toy resides in an open container in the museum where it is surrounded by rosary beads and other “protective” measures.

Arne C. Johnson, 19, of Brookfield, CT, arrives at Danbury Superior Court where a grand jury was asked to indict him in the stabbing death of Alano Bono, 40, on February 16th in which his attorney says was work for the devil. (Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)  Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
Arne C. Johnson, 19, of Brookfield, CT, arrives at Danbury Superior Court where a grand jury was asked to indict him in the stabbing death of Alano Bono, 40, on February 16th in which his attorney says was work for the devil. (Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images) Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Satanic idol and human skull A human skull used during a satanic ritual and a satanic idol sit nearby. The skull was given to the Warrens and features adornments that are indicative of some form of satanic ritual. The satanic idol offers more of a sinister history as Spera said that the idol was taken from the woods in Sandy Hook around 1991. It was initially found by a hunter who was claimed to have been guided away from the idol by a mysterious man in black clothing, according to Spera. The hunter brought the idol to the attention of Ed, who went with the hunter to retrieve the idol. After doing so, Lorraine fell ill and doctors could not explain what was happening to her. Ed believed that it was a curse placed on his family by a nearby satanic cult high priest who the idol initially belonged to, Spera said. Rivera added that the public doesn’t often hear about satanism in Connecticut, but he believes that it is much more prevalent than people realize.

Tony Spera, the real-life Occult Museum curator and son-in-law of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren is reflected in the glass of a virtine that houses a spirit doll as he shines the light from his phone at the Museum at the Center for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022.  Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media
Tony Spera, the real-life Occult Museum curator and son-in-law of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren is reflected in the glass of a virtine that houses a spirit doll as he shines the light from his phone at the Museum at the Center for Paranormal Research in Monroe, Conn. on Sept. 6, 2022. Lisa Nichols For Hearst CT Media

The Shadow Doll Among one of the first “haunted” items visible in the museum is a shadow doll, which boasts bird feathers and a genuine human tooth. A shadow doll, Spera explained, is “made specifically for harm” and is used as an object at the center of curses. Spera said that a person would first need to take a picture of the doll, write a curse on the back of the photo and then send it to whomever the curse is aimed for. The person who receives the picture with the curse invites that curse into their lives, he said. It is additionally said that the doll could appear in that person’s dreams. While not too much is known about the doll, Spera said that it was initially purchased in an antique store under the assumption that it was simply an antique. ARTICLE FROM: https://www.ctinsider.com/living/article/Ed-Lorraine-Warren-Occult-Museum-Annabelle-CT-17430532.php

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