From the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren
This is a true story that occurred in Bridgeport, Connecticut about poltergeist activity. This is one of the Warrens most asked about cases, THE LINDLEY STREET HAUNTING. This story is as told by John Zaffis, Ed Warren’s nephew, demonologist, paranormal investigator and author. Below is John’s story.
I remember as a young man all of the crowds that gathered outside of the police line that day. I was one of them pushing my through the crowds to get to Ed and Lorraine. At that point Lorraine spotted me in the crowd and came right over and said what are you doing here John. I had said to Lorraine, I’d like to go into the haunted house to see the furniture move and to see the cat speak, Ed saw Lorraine and I speaking and came over to see what was going on at that point. They decided that I was too young to be involved with a case of that magnitude, little did I know that I would be involved with so many of their cases in the future. I can tell you this, I saw enough witnesses and people coming in and out of that home with amazing stories of the Lindley Street haunting.
The Goodin family had moved to the one story, four room house about 1960. It had been built 60 years before, supposedly for the child of a Bridgeport shirt manufacturer. Gerald Goodin was described in the seminary student’s report as a factory worker at Harvey Hubbell. Laura Goodin was described as a high strung, devout Roman Catholic. Both were said to be protective of young Marcia, whom they adopted after the death of their only son. They walked her to school in the morning and rarely let her leave the house alone. Marcia was said to be an unhappy child, ostracized in school. She was also described as a deceitful youngster with an unhealthy interest in the occult, according to reports. Her only friend, reportedly, was her orange and white cat, Sam. In the fall of 1974 Sam went to a veterinary hospital for an operation. When he returned home, he supposedly began acting strangely, as if he were trying to talk. Later, Gerald Goodin claimed, the cat would kick at the basement door, yelling, “Let me out, you dirty Frenchman, you dirty Greek!”
The banging noises in the house had started about two years after Marcia was adopted in the late 1960’s but it was around December 1973, the Goodins claimed, that the unexplained activities began in earnest. The Warrens, who have a reputation for investigating the unexplained and have published books on everything from ghosts to werewolves, claim to have witnessed the moving furniture and destruction of religious objects. They said it was Marcia’s unhappiness that caused the disturbances. It may have been a combination, they said, of a psychic disturbance caused by her angry “aura,” and by evil spirits attracted by that aura. “It was something inhuman,” Ed Warren said. “As far as we’re concerned, those were evil spirits in that house.”
It is November 1974, the Warrens are called in to by the Goodin family to investigate a malevolent force that had been terrorizing the family and home. Furniture was being thrown, family members injured, even the family cat was speaking ethnic slurs. “Things were flying around in the front room when we went in there.” Gerald Goodin told a radio station, describing events of Sunday, November 24, 1974. “Whatever it was, it was acting like a demented person and I felt I had to get my family out of the house.” By November 26th, the police superintendent said the supposed haunting was a hoax by the troubled Marcia, and fed by the parents, eager to cash in on their newfound fame. Whatever it was, it made national headlines, drew crowds of onlookers and went on to become a legend that causes goose-bumps still today.
A Bridgeport patrolman responded to “trouble unknown” called to the Goodin house that November Sunday. “When I went to the door, the lady came to the door, I asked ‘What’s the problem?’” recalled the patrolman now a sergeant. “She was crying and pointed.” The lady was Laura Goodin, she pointed to a living room so disheveled it looked as if someone had thrown the furnishings about. ” I asked if she had been burglarized?” She replied “No this is always going on,” Thinking the dreadful pounding noises that echoed through the home for years and the moving objects might be caused by a “settling” of the house, the police called in the fire department. But fire officials and the city engineer found no structural problems, and ruled out the possibility of renovation work at the nearby St. Vincent’s Medical Center was causing the problem.
The Rev. Edward Doyle of St. Patrick’s Church, then the fire department’s chaplain, blessed the house. He later stated at the time of the blessing, he saw nothing that led him to believe evil spirits were present. But others on the scene saw things they couldn’t believe. The then fire chief John Gleason said his men witnessed “dinner plates rattling, pictures jumping off the wall, a television set falling over and a heavy leather chair jumping at least 6 inches off the floor.” A 22 page report prepared a year later by a seminary student quotes the Bridgeport police records as saying officers saw the refrigerator rise about six inches off the floor. A 21 inch portable television rose off a table and rotated and objects on shelves vibrate and fall to the floor. They also allegedly saw a lounge chair that Marcia was sitting in move rapidly backwards and overturn, but when officers tried to move the chair, it wouldn’t budge. Also in front of onlookers, a plastic crucifix “exploded” from the wall. Ed and Lorraine Warren of Monroe, famed paranormal researchers, still have the pieces in a small box in their home. “Never in my life did I ever see so many police officers get down on their knees and ask for a priest’s blessing as in the Goodin home.” Lorraine Warrens recalled. “They were really at God’s mercy in that house and they knew it.”
Tim Quinn had worked as a reporter for just a few years when he was sent to cover the haunting on Lindley Street. First, he saw the crowds, then police told him a religious rite was going on inside the house, and then the Warrens came out. Then he went in. The one thing he remembers seeing is a leather chair sitting on the kind of thin rug that leaves a light mark when you brush across it or step on it. “Suddenly, the back went down and the chair moved a few feet,” he said “but there was no mark on the carpet from the runners underneath the chair.” He called it a strange, eerie experience, underscored by something a firefighter said to him. “People shouldn’t be afraid of this,” Quinn said the firefighter told him, “because if there is a devil, then that means there must be a God, and there must be an afterlife.”
When word leaked that strange occurrences were going on in the house, the public, their interest peaked by the devil possession movie “The Exorcist,” began crowding around. Soon, traffic was tied up for blocks, police had to cordon off the street, and even arrested some gawkers who refused to leave. Media around the world wanted to know about Bridgeport’s “demons.” The Goodins, according to witnesses, ate up the publicity like popcorn. They invited reporters into the house, and were even guests on Tiny Markle’s radio show. “I think the little girl was clearly very happy with the attention and I get the feeling so were her parents,” Quinn said. “I don’t think they wanted this to end.” But end it did, quite abruptly, with an Announcement on November 26 by then police Supt. Walsh that the haunting was a hoax perpetrated by the young girl. Walsh said Marcia confessed to making the furniture move when people’s attention was diverted and making the cat talk through ventriloquism.
After Walsh’s announcement, the crowd dispersed and the frenzy died down. Those who believe in ghosts complain Walsh was less interested in finding the truth than killing the publicity. “I know the things that I saw and the things the police saw in my presence, and it was real,” said the Rev. Bill Charbonneau, who taught a course on the occult at St. Joseph’s College in West Hartford, Conn. “It certainly was not explicable in normal terms.” Charbonneau said he studied the paranormal at a university in Rome, and was called upon many times as an exorcist. While at the Goodin house, he said he was sitting with young Marcia when she screamed at him to turn around. Just then, the bureau slid rapidly from one side of the room to another with no one having touched it. Later while alone in the basement of the house, he heard an ugly voice singing Christmas carols. He found the voice coming from Sam the cat. Whatever was happening, Charbonneau said, it was centered around Marcia, because she could “sense” the occurrences as they were about to happen. But she definitely did not create them, he said. “It wasn’t a hoax, it definitely wasn’t a hoax,” he said. “In terms of whether it was poltergeist activity or whatever it was causing it, I was thrown out of the city before I could do anything about it.” He said Walsh threatened him with arrest if he ever came back to Bridgeport.
The last time I saw the Lindley Street house it sat next to a condominium complex. It was weathered brown and yellow paint is peeling and the lawn unkempt. Laura and Gerald Goodin both have died and Marcia Goodin location is unknown. Most of those contacted that were involved with the case said the bizarre experience has never really left their minds. The Warrens call it “one of the most famous, well documented poltergeist cases in history,” and rated it a 10 on a one-to-10 scale of supernatural things they’ve seen in their 50 years of experience.
This story from old news reports, John Zaffis and Ed and Lorraine Warren various recitals of the story in interviews and speaking engagements.