Episode 483: The Alleged Smurl Family Haunting pt 1
On August 19, 1986, a curious news item appeared in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader regarding the home of West Pittston, PA family Jack and Janet Smurl. The couple claimed, for more than eighteen months their home had been a battleground of spiritual warfare that included everything from ghosts wandering the halls and tormenting the family dog to demons attacking the children and even sexually assaulting the adults in the house.The article in the Times Leader began a weeks-long fascination with the family and their ordeal, drawing reporters from all over Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, and eventually attracting the attention of self-proclaimed demonologist and psychic medium Ed and Lorraine Warren. At first, the Smurls' claims of demonic infestation were taken seriously by the church, many members of the press, and countless of the Smurls neighbors. As time wore on, however, the inability of both the Smurls and the Warren’s to produce any evidence of their supposed haunting led many to believe the claims were just a hoax perpetrated by the family for attention and fame.
Thank you to David White for research assistance
Citizen's Voice. 2017. John James Smurl obituary. June 23. Accessed July 5, 2023. https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/citizensvoice/name/john-smurl-obituary?id=15953106.
—. 1986. "Ghosdt briefing turns into shouting match." The Citizen's Voice, August 26: 5.
—. 1986. "Haunted family nregotiating movie deal." The Citizen's Voice, September 6: 2.
Collins, Jim. 1986. "West Pittston Mystery: Is basis murder or mishmash." Scranton Times, August 22: 3.
—. 1986. "If you like sideshows, there's one close to home." Times-Tribune, August 31: 23.
—. 1986. "Screen exorcist Jason Miller visits site of demonic doings." Times-Tribune, August 22: 3.
Corbett, Steve. 1986. "Family: Home is under siege by evil spirits." Times Leader, August 19: 1.
Curran, Robert. 1988. The Haunted: One Family's Nightmare. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.
—. 1986. "Brain surgery revelation casts demon dwelling doubts." The Scrantonia, August 24: 15.
—. 1986. "Smurls credit prayers of many with cleansing house of demons." The Tribune, October 27: 3.
DeAndrea, Francis. 1986. "Different kind of scare job." Times-Tribune, August 30: 3.
Kurtz, Paul. 1987. "A case study of the West Pittston 'haunted' house." The Skeptical Inquirer 11 (Winter): 137-146.
Lancaster New Era. 1986. "Scientists, priest skeptical about 'demons' in house." Lancaster New Era, August 23: 1.
Morning Call. 1986. "Demons: Exorcisms fail to end family's nightmare." The Morning Call, August 22: 3.
Porter, Jill. 1986. "A demon by any other name." Philadelphia Daily News, August 29: 2.
Rotstein, Gary. 1986. "Bedeviled: Town is divided over 'haunted' family." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 25: 1.
Shurmaitis, Dawn. 1986. "Demonologist says family is 'under attack'." Times Leader, August 19: 12.
Singleton, David. 1986. "Publicity has cost haunted family." Danville News, August 23: 1.
Trosky, Pat. 1986. "Are ghosts haunting West Pittston family?" Citizen's Voice, August 20: 3.