16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie

Trista - October 2, 2018

Fears of the unknown, including demonic forces, monstrous creatures, and spirits that no one can control, have long been a mainstay of human history. Modern horror movies play on those fears by bringing occult-like, Satanic practices and instances of demonic possession to the big screen. Often, the flicks claim to be based on real events, as in The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Amityville Horror. More recently, The Conjuring claims to be based on the true story of the hauntings that the Perron family experienced in their Rhode Island farmhouse in the 1970s.

The Perron family claims that the events of the haunting were authentic. More than that, they continue to be haunted by the ghost of Bathsheba Thayer, a witch whose spirit still inhabits the house. So is the claim of true events just there for extra scare factor, or is there something to it? Regardless of what moviegoers and readers may believe, the Perron family remains convinced that something really happened to them.

The film The Conjuring is actually less about the events that transpired among members of the Perron family than it is about the demonologist Ed Warren and his clairvoyant wife, Lorraine. It is based more on their case files than on the autobiographical information put forth by Andrea Perron, one of the girls who grew up in the house that Bathsheba haunted. As such, there are some discrepancies between the movie and the historical events. There were also forensic flaws in the way that the Warrens went about their work with the Perrons.

Read on to see where fact can be even scarier than fiction, and how the creators of the film took some artistic liberties.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The Perron children from the film. Warner Bros. Pictures

1. Neighbors Advised the Perrons to Leave Their Lights On At Night

The old farmhouse in Rhode Island that the Perrons moved into apparently was notorious in the area for some reason or other, whether or not the extent of the paranormal activity was realized. Allegedly the neighbors advised the Perrons that they had best leave their lights on at night, though the reason behind that advice was probably not given.

In the beginning, the activity was just small occurrences that could easily be explained away as part of living in an old house: noises, objects shifting. Nothing that could be immediately labeled as “paranormal.” Cindy Perron, one of the children who grew up in the house, said in an interview, “[Things] would either be moved all-around in a different position than how I left them or they would all be shoved up underneath the bed. And I would go to my sisters – of course, you’d go to your sisters – and ask, ‘Hey, what’d you do to my toys?’ And they’d say, ‘Nothing. Why would I mess with your toys, Cindy?” No one discussed any of these events until much later.

It turns out, the house was the site of many violent acts, including suicides, rapes, murders, and drownings. There were plenty of reasons for the neighbors to tell the Perrons to leave their lights on after the sun went down.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The Perron family moving into their new house in the film. Warner Bros. Pictures

2. In the Beginning, the Ghosts Were Kind and Benevolent

Before moving into the farmhouse, the Perron girls were five close sisters who were kind to each other. However, with their toys shifting around to different rooms when they weren’t looking, suspicions and accusations began to creep into their minds. The sisters started fighting vehemently with each other, and their mother had to intervene and tell them to stop. That’s when Cindy, the second-youngest sister, decided that she would share her toys with the kids who were visiting her in her bedroom and playing with her toys.

At first, the children believed that the ghosts that were obviously walking around their house were kind and benevolent, or at least harmless. The spirits served as playmates and even babysitters, and the children enjoyed their company. The girls even claimed that the ghosts tucked them in at night and kissed them on their foreheads. Cynthia said, “When we first moved into the house, for the first two months, there was a woman that came and kissed me every night on the forehead that I thought was my mother.” Andrea, her older sister, said, “Mom smelled like Ivory soap and this spirit smelled like flowers and fruit.”

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The children started noticing strange things in their bedrooms. Warner Bros. Pictures

3. According to the Children, Malevolent Spirits Began to Fill the House

The Perron children didn’t think much of living in a home with good spirits. They would go out and enjoy a family day and not think anything of their inter-dimensional life back home, where they lived in between the physical world and the spirit world. When they began to speak out about their experiences 30 years later, they even had a fondness for their benevolent yet ghostly roommates.

However, their parents were aware that something was profoundly amiss and were experiencing something more sinister. Their father would open the front door and be overwhelmed by a putrefying smell. They didn’t know how to talk to their mother about what was going on, but something was apparently beginning to trouble, if not torment, her.

Soon, the benevolent ghosts that the children had become accustomed to were replaced with evil spirits. One day, Cindy said to Andrea that a disembodied voice was telling her about seven bodies that were buried in the wall. They later came to find out about the number of people who had died either in the house or on the property, both people who lived there and people who were just passing through.

Before too long, the family would be awakened every morning at 5:15 by an overwhelming smell of rotting flesh. Andrea claimed that a malevolent male spirit tortured the five little girls, but she refused to provide any details of the horror.

4. The Ghost of Bathsheba Thayer Threatened the Family With Doom and Gloom

Carolyn, the family’s matriarch, was the one who seemed to experience the worst aspects of the haunting at the Rhode Island farmhouse. Shortly after the family moved there, she claimed that she was visited at night by a woman in gray whose head was hanging at her side. The woman told her to leave, or she would be driven out with doom and gloom. After consulting with the demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, she became convinced that the woman haunting her was the ghost of Bathsheba Thayer.

Bathsheba Thayer lived in the farmhouse in the 19th century and had four children, three of whom died. She was accused of sacrificing an infant to Satan by stabbing it in the back of the neck with a knitting needle, though the evidence could not be held up in court. When Carolyn received a mysterious stab wound in her leg that seemed to be similar to the one that killed the infant, Lorraine Warren suggested that Bathsheba had taken her knitting needles to the grave and was using them in hauntings.

Andrea Perron said in an interview, “Whoever the spirit was, she perceived herself to be mistress of the house and she resented the competition my mother posed for that position.”

5. Carolyn Believed That Bathsheba Thayer’s Spirit Inhabited Her Body

Bathsheba Thayer’s haunting at the house allegedly began as harmless poltergeist activity. The family members might find themselves prodded, poked, or pinched; objects would be mysteriously moved from one place to another. Much was attributed to the friendly ghouls, until things got much, much worse.

The local lore says that Bathsheba Thayer, a witch, made a pact with the devil in which she was granted youthful beauty, but at a high cost: she was turned into stone upon her death. As a ghost, she was condemned to torture people, possibly out of jealousy for beauty that could never again be hers. Enter Carolyn Perron, a beautiful woman and the wife of Roger Perron. Andrea believed that Bathsheba wanted Roger and was prepared to do anything to get him.

Carolyn claimed that Bathsheba tormented her, both emotionally and physically, as if the ghost was actually possessing her. She claimed that Bathsheba stabbed her in the leg with a knitting needle and was continually hiding things, making her feel as if she was going insane. At the least, she always felt drained. Roger, on the other hand, only saw Bathsheba’s sweeter side, with loving caresses and innuendoes.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
In the film, the Perron’s consulted with Ed and Lorraine Warren. Warner Bros. Pictures

6. A Family Friend Contacted the Warrens

In the movie, Carolyn contacts Ed and Lorraine Warren to see if anything could be done about the hauntings occurring at their house. The woman was desperate to relieve the family of the horror that was unfolding. However, in real life, it was a family friend, not Carolyn, that brought them into the story. They were in nearby Connecticut, where they were working on other cases of paranormal activity. Andrea said, “We never actually contacted the Warrens. Our friend Barbara went to see them in Putnam because they did things all around the area. They were informed about us.” The Warrens immediately decided that they were going to investigate.

Perhaps the reason why Carolyn herself didn’t contact the Warrens is that she was afraid that no one would listen to her. Reportedly when they came to visit, she was ecstatic that somebody believed her and might try to help. Why didn’t the father, Roger, try to contact the Warrens or anybody else? Because for a long time into the family’s nightmare, he simply didn’t believe it was real.

In fact, the girls claimed that at first, Roger was actually unhappy about somebody else being brought into the situation.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The Warren’s conducted a séance in the Perron’s basement. Warner Bros. Pictures

7. The Family Claimed That Ed and Lorraine Warren Made Things Worse

In the movie, the Warrens successfully exorcised the house and cleaned it of all of its evil spirits. However, the Perrons claim that the Warrens didn’t do anything to make the ghosts leave. In fact, they made everything worse.

The Warrens began by talking to each of the family members about what happened. They later conducted a séance with the parents in the basement of the home. Lorraine never talked publicly about what happened during the ritual, but she was clearly disturbed by some of the things that she saw. Andrea claimed to sneak down into the basement during it. She said, “My mother began to speak a language not of this world in a voice not her own. Her chair levitated and she was thrown across the room.”

The Warrens continued to visit the family over the next decade. However, their best-intentioned efforts did not alleviate the paranormal activity at the house.

Though the family claims that the movie The Conjuring is based on real events that happened to their family, its plot was mainly drawn from consultations with Ed and Lorraine Warren. Whatever the explanation may be, there are aspects of the stories told by the Perrons and the Warrens that just don’t match up with each other.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The children enjoyed playing a game similar to hide and seek. Warner Bros. Pictures

8. Hide and Clap Was Worse in Real Life Than in the Movie

In the movie, “hide and clap” is a variation of the classic game hide and seek, except it is way, way creepier. In hide and clap, the person who is “it” is blindfolded while everyone else hides. She then claps, and anyone around has to clap in response until someone has been found. In the movie, the blindfolded mother is tormented by Bathsheba Thayer, who repeatedly claps her hands to taunt her.

In real life, the girls enjoyed playing hide and seek, especially in the warmer weather. During one of their first games of hide and seek, about six months after moving into the house, Cindy decided to hide in the woodshed. To make things a little more fun, she climbed into a wood box that had nothing more than a wooden panel covering it. No latch, key, or anything. Once she realized that her sisters weren’t going to come after her, she decided to let herself out by pushing the panel up. However, it wouldn’t budge.

There were no air holes, nothing. Cindy pushed and screamed, hoping that someone would hear her and let her out, but 20 minutes later, she realized that no one was coming. She lay there in a pool of sweat and tears when her sister, Nancy, came and simply opened up the lid. Cindy was hysterical and unable to breathe.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The house used in the film. Warner Bros. Pictures

9. The Perrons Couldn’t Afford to Move Anywhere Else

Anyone watching The Conjuring would probably ask why, if the family was being so horribly tormented, didn’t they just move? They would have if they had been able, but these events occurred in the 1970s. The economy had tanked due to failed policies and crises in the Middle East. Carolyn and Roger had poured all of their money into the house, and during the 1970s, no one had the money to buy a 200-acre farm. It was losing value by the day. Moreover, no one, no matter how good friends they may have been, would have taken in five teenage girls for an uncertain amount of time. The family was forced to remain in the haunted house for nearly a decade.

The girls would leave the house whenever they could. When Andrea left for college, Cindy took over her bedroom right away, eager for a respite from the ghosts that were haunting her bedroom. When Cindy finished high school and was finally able to leave, she claims that she cussed out the spirits and told them to do their worst to her because she was leaving the next day. She practically ran away from the house, relieved to be gone finally.

Roger and Carolyn finally sold the house in 1980. They went down to Georgia to rebuild their lives and never looked back.

10. The Perrons Believe That Bathsheba’s Ghost Still Haunts Them

The Perron family was invited onto the set for the filming and production of The Conjuring. At first, all of them were willing to go, but just beforehand, Carolyn changed her mind and decided not to attend. Perhaps she was unwilling to dig up that part of her past, but other people in her family needed the opportunity to begin to find closure and lay it to rest.

While the family was visiting the set, Andrea Perron claims that a rogue came out of nowhere and swept through the facility. It knocked down anything in its path, including cameras, lights, and people. The family immediately assumed that the wind was part of what they called “Bathsheba’s curse.” At the same time that the wind blew through, Carolyn fell and broke her hip. Carolyn claimed from her hospital bed that Bathsheba did not want to be exposed.

One theory for why the family continued to be haunted by the ghost that tormented them in their farmhouse, was that the spirit was connected to the people rather than to the territory. It was willing to leave the farmhouse but unwilling to let go of the family.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
In the film, Bathsheba Thayer hung herself. Warner Bros. Pictures

11. The House’s Occupants Allegedly Have a Long History of Paranormal Disturbances

It may be the case that the spirits from the farmhouse featured in The Conjuring were more attached to the family than to the territory. In fact, Andrea and Cindy Perron described their transition to the house as a calling that began eight months before their parents even found the property. They loved the house; Cindy described it as a piece of heaven inside hell.

However, there had been strange events going on there for centuries. The property had been the site of many violent acts, from suicides to rapes to murders. The sisters described an overwhelming feeling of sadness that would come over a person within just a few minutes of being there, no matter how happy that person had been before. Andrea Perron said, “Everyone who has lived in the house that we know of has experienced this. Some have left screaming and running for their lives. The man who moved in to begin the restoration on the house when we sold it left screaming without his car, without his tools, without his clothing. He never went back to the house and consequently, the people who owned it, the adjacent landowners, never moved in and it sat vacant for years.”

12. The House’s Current Owner Disagrees

Nancy Sutcliffe, who now owns the property that the Perrons used to occupy, is adamant in claiming that the house is absolutely not haunted. She insists that ever since purchasing the property in 1987, there have been no paranormal disturbances or supernatural events, not even from the “benevolent spirits” that visited the Perron family shortly after they moved in, which has led her to make attempts to discredit the entire story.

There could be several explanations for this current state of affairs; one is that the ghosts that terrorized the Perrons left. They probably didn’t go immediately when the Perrons moved, as there are reports that subsequent homeowners were also tormented while they were in the house. They may have, in some way or another, followed the Perrons throughout their lives because the degree of haunting that they experienced after they left the house was incredibly diminished.

Another explanation is that the story that the Perrons told was false. After all, the movie The Conjuring is based more on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren than on autobiographical evidence presented by the family. However, Andrea Perron wrote a trilogy, House of Darkness, about their experiences.

Another possibility is that the ghosts are still present and waiting for the right person to begin haunting again.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The Perron sisters and the actresses who played them in the film. Historyvshollywood.com

13. Bathsheba Thayer Probably Wasn’t the Ghost Haunting the Family

The idea that the most malevolent of the spirits at the house, the one torturing and even possessing Carolyn Perron, was the ghost of Bathsheba Thayer came from Lorraine Warren. Carolyn had a perfectly concentric wound on her leg that mysteriously appeared about the time that the Warrens began to investigate the haunting. Lorraine saw it and immediately presumed that it was made by Bathsheba Thayer, who was accused of stabbing an infant in the back of the neck as a means of sacrificing the child to Satan. Lorraine claimed that Bathsheba took the knitting needles to her grave and used them in hauntings.

Lorraine’s story is based almost entirely on assumption and circumstantial evidence. The people were unable to prove that Bathsheba actually did stab a child with a knitting needle, so it is entirely possible that that crime never even transpired. In fact, there is no historical evidence that such a trial even took place. Additionally, the ghost never claimed to be the spirit of Bathsheba Thayer. If there indeed was an evil spirit haunting the family – and the family insists that there was – it may have been an unknown entity that was not associated with another person’s ghost.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
Bathsheba’s grave. Google

14. Bathsheba Thayer Probably Died of a Stroke

Poor Bathsheba Thayer. She’s getting worse press centuries after her death than she acquired during her lifetime. She was accused of witchcraft and of making pacts with the devil, claims that were all too common in New England during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and into the nineteenth century. Don’t like someone? Accuse the person of witchcraft. No evidence? Doesn’t matter. Your accusation will ensure that even if the person is not hung for it, he or she will at least live out the rest of his or her days in shame.

Also, she probably didn’t kill any children, least of all her own. She had four children, three of whom died in early childhood. While today that many deaths of children would undoubtedly raise the alarm with child services, Bathsheba lived during the nineteenth century, a time when infant mortality was particularly high. As far as historical records show, there were no accusations that she was murdering anybody.

Claims that Bathsheba hung herself outside of the house are also dubious. A physician claimed that she died following a strange bout of paralysis, which was probably due to a stroke. She was buried next to her husband and three children.

So where did the story come to originate? Possibly local lore. After all, the house has seen quite a bit of violence.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The real Perron sisters and their mother when they first moved in the house. theoccultmuseum.com

15. Something Definitely Did Happen to the Perron Family

The house’s present owner, Norma Sutcliffe, claims that the house is not haunted. In 2005, a film crew from the SyFy channel’s television show Ghost Hunters was filmed at the home for one of the episodes. They did find some evidence of paranormal activity, such as a door opening on its own and “cold spots.” All of these things surprised Sutcliffe, who is adamant that the house does not experience the paranormal disturbances that people associate with it.

Nevertheless, both the Perrons and the Warrens attest to the paranormal activity, much of it malevolent, that occurred within the house’s walls. The children, who are now adults, are still traumatized and are only able to speak about the disturbances with great hesitation. There are still details that they refuse to discuss. One mark of the events’ veracity is that, when questioned separately, the stories that are told line up with each other. Another score is how quickly the girls left as soon as they were able to move. Clearly, something did happen to the Perron family while they were living at the Rhode Island farmhouse. Nevertheless, without forensic evidence, there is no way to know for sure what actually happened there.

16 Reasons Why The True Story Behind The Conjuring Is Even Creepier Than The Movie
The actual house the Perron’s once inhabited they believed to be haunted. csicop.org

16. The House’s Present Owner Sued Warner Brothers

Whether or not she is living in a haunted house, Norma Sutcliffe wants to be able to live her life in privacy. Unfortunately, plenty of fans of The Conjuring disagree. It is quite common for occupants of homes that became famous through movies to see a disproportionately high number of visitors (read: trespassers) who believe that their homes are tourist spots. This scenario happened with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Goonies, and the Long Island home featured in The Amityville Horror. When The Conjuring was released, unsolicited trespassers poured onto Sutcliffe’s private property as if they had every right to be there.

Virtually overnight, the secluded farmhouse in rural Rhode Island became a hotspot for thrill-seekers and paranormal enthusiasts. Norma Sutcliffe said in an interview that she would go for days without sleeping because people would show up in her yard in the middle of the night, looking for ghosts with a flashlight. She also received harassing phone calls from people who wanted to know if hers was the house from The Conjuring. She went on to sue Warner Brothers for damages and the cost of a new state-of-the-art security system to keep trespassers away. The studio refused to comment.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Biography – The Real ‘Amityville Horror’: Chilling Facts About the Crime and Haunted House

History Vs Hollywood – The Conjuring (2013)

Travel Channel – 7 of the Most Famous Cases Investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren

“The Haunting of the Perron Family: The True Story Behind The Conjuring Movie.” Paranormal Scholar. June 2, 2017.

“The Haunting of the Perron Family Inspired The Conjuring” by Hezra Martinez. The Lineup. April 10, 2019.

“Q&A: Andrea and Cynthia Perron, subjects of The Conjuring.” Trespass Magazine. July 11, 2013.

“The Conjuring (2013).” History vs Hollywood.

“The Conjuring house owner to sue Warner Bros.” CBS News. October 28, 2015.

Courant – The True Story Of Connecticut Paranormal Investigators Ed And Lorraine Warren

Andrea Perron – House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story Volume Two · Volume 2

Andrea Perron – House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story Volume Three

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