Jack and Janet Smurl moved to West Pittston, Pennsylvania in 1973. After Hurricane Agnes in 1972 they fled to escape the flood damage. They bought a home called a “Double Block” (a duplex) home on Chase street, that they shared with Jack’s parents John and Mary. They also had two small daughters Dawn and Heather, and a dog named Simon.
They added two daughters-twins Carin and Shannon in 1978. The entire family were faithful Catholics. Jack and Janet were involved in the Lions fraternal organization; they were active in their community. Their community embraced the Smurls from the start. I found it interesting that the neighbors saw evidence of the paranormal activity in the house also.
In the beginning the issues were small and over looked. Jack and John would miss tools and blame it on the kids, then the tools would magically reappear. Janet would misplace scissors, only to find them later. Janet tended to blame herself when she thought things were lost or things were moved around. She tried to tell her family something was wrong in the house and they could not hear her. They believed it was stress, suggested she go out with friends and basically dismissed what she said.
By 1980 the house was in full blown paranormal activity, everyone experienced something. the Smurls were plagued by everything from exploding televisions to something that levitated and threw the family’s German shepherd to an incubus that repeatedly raped various members of the family (said incubus variously taking the form of a scaly half-girl/half-woman and a half-man/half-pig. (1) At one point when the family went camping, the house came alive with sounds of fighting, lights went on and off. It was so dramatic the police were called by a neighbor. The neighbor was keeping an eye on the house while the Smurls were gone, and had a key. When the police arrived, they were let in the house to investigate. They were witness to the activity and could find no one in that house.
Years later when Carin was doing Coast to Coast radio show, she said eventually she was contacted by the granddaughter of one of the officers. He told the story to his family, he said he always remembered that house and he would never go in there again. (2) Also, she related the energy much of the time was subtle, not in your face. It used the weaknesses it could find in the people living in the house and target one of them at a time.
Famous demon hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren also investigated this house, and told them the demon wanted to destroy their family. To counter that, their family stuck together and made that their focus. Lorraine said she sensed 4 spirits in the house, 2 humans, one a trouble maker (poltergeist), and one demonic. It was explained to the family that as the family realized them, the energy got stronger, and manifested even more, especially the demon behind the ghosts. She said the demon used the human spirits as puppets to cause trouble.
Group prayer sessions and exorcisms were conducted, yet the attacks continued. The Smurls told their story to the press, hoping that someone would hear their plight and know how to help. But the family got more than they bargained for; the press latched on and, like a malicious spirit, refused to leave. (3)
The church got involved and in 1986 a priest moved in for 2 days. There was no activity and he left with no evidence of any kind. The church was not sure how to help the family. Over the years besides the twins being born, Jack’s mother Mary had a heart attack and had difficulty getting around.
In 1989 the Smurls moved away from the house. Though there was no real activity before they moved to Chase street, but it continued to follow them after they moved away from house. They eventually had a church sanctioned exorcism which seem to lessen the activity in the new house. To this day, there is still paranormal activity around the Smurl family, both independently and collectively. The haunting seemed to be around the people, not just the house.
This was a good religious family, that went through trauma for over 13 years. They were haunted and criticized by the press. There were never definitive answers as to why this happened to them. The next person who moved into the house died of a drug overdose in the house. So, did the house carry residual energy from the Smurls or was that just the fate of a rental house?
- Markovich, Tony, The 50 Scariest Haunted Houses in America, Complex, http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2011/10/50-scariest-haunted-houses-america/44
- Coast to Coast Am Radio Show, Oct 28, 2016, http://www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/smurl-carin/82613/
- Janes, DeAnna, Nightmare on Chase Street: Smurl Family Haunting, The Line Up, http://www.the-line-up.com/smurl-family-haunting/
- The Haunted, 1991, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BaF-YgmBNk