By now, we’ve all seen the trailers of creepy shadow people, a boy with strange writing all over his body, and women screaming when the shower curtain attacks them. All this, and more, is the movie “>The Haunting in Connecticut, and to top it off, there’s that ubiquitous tag: “Based on a true story.” But just how much of what is depicted in the movie is true? Who was the family, and what really happened in that house? The answers to those questions are complicated and, much like other “true” stories, mired in controversy.
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In 1986 Carmen and Al Snedeker moved to the small town of Southington, Connecticut, with the purpose of being closer to the hospital at which their oldest son was being treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Having fallen on hard financial times, the family jumped at the chance to rent what appeared to be the perfect house. It was large enough for their family, which included three children and a cousin, and the rent was in their affordable price range. It was while they were moving in that Al made a startling discovery: In the basement was a peculiar room that was complete with embalming tables and tools. The house, it turned out, used to be a funeral home. Moreover, the basement, which was sectioned into several rooms, was the only room deemed large enough to serve as the two boys’ bedroom.
Not long after, Carmen says she began experiencing strange phenomena, like items disappearing and her children reporting seeing strange people in the house, as well as hearing voices and the sounds of hundreds of birds taking flight. Her oldest, who was at the time in the middle of radiation treatment, began to exhibit radical personality shifts, becoming withdrawn and angry. He brooded and began writing poetry with necrophiliac themes. During one intense episode he attacked his cousin with the intent to rape her. His family had him arrested and taken for an evaluation, where he was pronounced schizophrenic. He was removed from the house and seemed to get better until returning.
Other phenomena that were reported by the Snedekers included the repeated and brutal rape of both Carmen and her niece, as well as acts of sodomy being performed on her husband, by unseen entities. Mop water was reported to turn blood red, and the scents of rotting flesh and decay were reported throughout the house. She was also frightened of apparitions that she saw, one with long black hair and black eyes, the other with white hair and eyes and wearing a pinstriped tuxedo. It was then that Carmen decided to contact controversial paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Along with John Zaffis and a few investigators, the Warrens moved into the house for several weeks until they’d experienced everything the Snedekers claimed. During their time in the house, they claim to have seen first-hand the damage the “demons” in the home could inflict, with many members being slapped and beaten, pushed, and slammed to the floor. Investigation into the history of the house supposedly revealed that one of the undertakers at the funeral home was found guilty of necrophilia, which fed fuel to the fire. It got to the point that the Warrens deemed it necessary for a full-scale exorcism of the property, after which the house was judged “cleared” by the Warrens. With the evil banished from the house, that should have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t.
Like another Warren investigation, the infamous Lutz house in Amityville, there have been numerous claims by people who lived in the house, both before and after the Snedeker family, that there have never been any “evil entities” in the house. In fact, the family’s claim to have no knowledge that the home was once a funeral parlor was refuted by the house’s owner. Perhaps the most damning evidence that the whole event was a hoax came from horror novelist Ray Garton, who was contracted to write the book In a Dark Place with the Warrens and the Snedekers. According to Garton it was difficult to write the “true” story because none of the involved parties could keep their stories straight. It seemed everyone was contradicting everyone else. When he went to Ed Warren with the problem, Garton wrote in a post dated April 27, 1999:
“He told me not to worry, that the family was ‘crazy.’ I was shocked. He said, ‘All the people who come to us are crazy. You think *sane* people would come to us?’ He knew I’d written a lot of horror novels prior to that, so he told me to just make the story up using whatever details I could incorporate into the book, and make it scary.”
Furthermore, others who lived in the house during, and prior to, the same time have similar stories to tell. Sure, they say, there were a few odd occurrences, but nothing near the scale the Snedekers claimed. Many point to the Warrens as instigators and others as enablers.
Whether true or not, it sure makes for one helluva story. The house surely seems like one that would be ripe for a haunting, and whatever did go on in the house, the effects of it are being felt now by the current owners, but not in the form of supernatural boogeymen. Today hoards of photographers, curious gawkers, and paranormal enthusiasts flock to the home with hopes of getting a glimpse of the famous house from hell. Much like the Lutz house in Amityville, the current owners report no paranormal activity and would really just like to be left in peace. In an Associated Press article dated March 22, 2009, current owner Susan Trotta-Smith had this to say:
“Most people are respectful. They stay on the road. They might take a picture,” Trotta-Smith said. “But we have had a few problems with people kind of rudely coming up to the door and scaring our kids, telling them the house is haunted.”
The Snedeker family lived in the house for two years after it was exorcised, then moved to Tennessee. The children are grown now with children of their own, and Carmen Reed (nee Snedeker) is now a “spiritual advisor.” She also has plans of writing another book based on the experience with John Zaffis. Psychic Chip Coffey was once slated to co-author the book but has since distanced himself from the project.
While the statements of Carmen and her family are refuted by numerous people, no one knows for certain what, if anything, happened in the house in Connecticut. The events have spawned a book, a Discovery Channel special, and now another book and major Hollywood film. Doubtless this story will become as famous as The Amityville Horror, and for much the same reason. Did the family make it up, or did the walls bleed? Was the boy hallucinating from his chemotherapy, or did the dead really torment the owners of the house? Did it really happen, or was it a hoax? We may never know the truth.
To find out more about Carmen Reed (Snedeker), visit her website.
Watch the Discovery Channel “A Haunting” episode about the Snedeker haunting on YouTube, or order it below.
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