An interview with Carmen Reed
Whenever a film makes a point of calling itself “a true story” or claims it is “based on true events,” I start to wonder how “true” and which “true events”. This is a marketing scheme that can affect a film negatively or favorably. In the case of the underrated haunted house movie The Haunting in Connecticut (now available on DVD), the former is true. I rang up Carmen Reed, the woman whose story is the basis for the film, and got the details straight from the source. You’d be surprised how closely the film captures the haunting as it actually happened.
ShockTillYouDrop.com: Tell us how this all started. How did you end up in the house in Connecticut?
Carmen Reed: Well, my son developed cancer when we were living in upstate New York and the treatments were taking place in Connecticut. We would travel 306 miles every day and it was making him sicker. So I needed to find someplace closer to his treatment and a lot of people wouldn’t rent to me with [six] children. I happened upon this beautiful old colonial with a “for rent” sign out front. I told them the whole story of my son having cancer and they agreed to rent to me. We moved in and immediately my son knew that the house was haunted. He sensed that the house was evil.
Shock: When did you finally realized something paranormal was going on in the house?
Reed: There were little things that you kind of worry about. You’re downstairs and you hear footsteps upstairs but no one is home. Or you hear someone yell “mom” and no one’s there. But that could be explained away as your imagination, so that’s what I did for a long time. For about two years. Then one night my niece had just come home from a date and she knocked on my door. She said “Aunt Carmen it’s happening again”. So I went into the bedroom with her and started reading the bible, trying to put her mind at ease and prove to her that there were no such things as ghosts. While I was doing that she said, “Aunt Carmen, can you feel it coming?” I told her I couldn’t feel anything and she wrapped her arms around me. She did that three times and on the third time I saw a hand up under her nightshirt. I could see the knuckles of the hands and the outlines of the fingers. Then it flew toward the back wall and out the window and it laughed this hideous laugh. That’s when I knew the house was haunted.
Shock: That’s frightening. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep in that room ever again. Altogether though, what was the scariest thing you saw in the house?
Reed: The scariest thing was the entity itself. He had really long black hair, down to his waist, and wore dark clothing. He was tall, had very pale skin, very narrow features, and no lips.
Shock: Now, in the movie they make a point of saying that your son was being tormented by these ghosts because he was sick. Do you think this was true in real life?
Reed: Yes, I do. I believe it because he was so close to death and experienced so much, especially at such a young age. I think it had to do with his age and his illness and that’s what caused everything to start happening to him.
Shock: I’m personally fascinated by the paranormal and it’s a pleasure to talk to you and get the story first hand. I was familiar with your case before, but a lot of people coming to it for the first time will wonder why the heck you stayed in that house if it was so incredibly haunted.
Reed: There were a lot of reasons. For one, if you left, things happened to others around you and it would continue to happen. If I went to work, the phone system would go down or the computer system would go down. I had a friend that stuff would happen to and it got so bad that she would stop talking to me and I was telling her all about what was going on in the house. Also, we were financially strapped because of my son’s illness. We had a large number of children that needed a home and a lot of people would not rent to families of more than two children and we had six. It was a variety of different reasons. The biggest thing is that financially you have to be able to afford a move.
Shock: At what point then did you decide to call for help? I’m speaking about Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famous ghost busting demonologists.
Reed: The night I saw the hand go up underneath my niece’s shirt. I was very afraid, I didn’t know what was going on. So I called up our parish church and the associate pastor answered the phone. I told him what was going on as briefly as I could and he told me to say the rosary and call him in the morning. So we started doing the rosary and it was up around my niece’s neck. It began to levitate up off of her neck and shattered. That was the point I called the Warrens. There weren’t a lot of ghost hunters back then, I think they were the only ones. I always told the people at work what my kids had said was going on, and they gave me a magazine article on them and said that I needed to tell the Warrens what I had been telling them. The Warrens came and brought researchers in just to verify what was going on in the house. Then we got the catholic church involved and the church performed the exorcism about 9 and half weeks in.
Shock: The Warrens were instrumental in getting your family to come out publicly about the haunting. Do you think this helped spur the church to grant you the exorcism?
Reed: No, we actually started the process of the exorcism the next day, after the phone call. I went in to talk to the minister of our local parish and he told me “I believe you, now forget that it happened.” I went over his head and contacted the archdiocese and they sent somebody out. I dealt with the church, and the Warrens were just there for documentation.
Shock: In the documentary on the DVD you mentioned that the exorcism ceremony was kept private. How intense was that whole ritual?
Reed: Oh, it was pretty intense. It was a mixture of emotions. The prayers that they said to release any human spirits that were there brought tears to your eyes. It was so touching and so beautiful. The whole experience was. I can’t divulge all the ritual, but it lasted four hours.
Shock: And afterwards the house felt empty?
Reed: It felt clean. It’s hard to imagine. It’s as if somebody had opened the windows and let the sun in.
Shock: How long did you stay in the house afterwards?
Reed: I can’t remember, but I think it was about a week or two. We had to make sure that everything was gone and we also had to let the other house get ready for us to move in to.
Shock: So after all this, your son got better, yes?
Reed: Yeah, my son is doing very, very well. He’s 35 now, he’s never had a reoccurrence of cancer and he’s got four children of his own.
Shock: That’s really great to hear. I’m glad there was a happy ending to all of this.
Reed: Yeah, me too.
Shock: This was obviously an overwhelmingly traumatic event that will probably never leave your son, and he wasn’t featured on the documentary, so am I right to guess that he is trying to distance himself from all of this?
Reed: I think he does want to distance himself. He’s been slaughtered on the internet. People calling him drug addict at 13 and everything else. He’s afraid of painting a bigger target on himself and his children. Like I said, he’s got four sons and one of them is 13. He at first said he was going to come and do it, and we tried to get it arranged, but then he finally said he didn’t want to do it and agreed with him.
Shock: There is an interesting moment in the documentary when you are talking about how the crucifixes would fly off of your walls and during the interview a crucifix actually flies off the wall behind you. Even after the exorcism and so much time has passed, is there still paranormal activity around you or your family?
Reed: Generally, when I’m talking about it, but as a rule, no. We don’t have crucifixes flying off the wall everyday. But when I start telling the story, a lot of the time things start occurring. Especially if its more detailed. They [the documentary crew] were pressing for more details and as they were doing that the energy began to build and the room turned very cold. It felt like something was going to happen.
Shock: In the end, looking back on this mind-boggling experience, how has your life changed?
Reed: It changed my life more than I could have imagined . Whenever I try to distance myself from the story, it always comes back to life. Kind of like it has a life of its own.
Shock: It probably doesn’t help having the movie out, opening old wounds. But what did you think of the movie?
Reed: I liked the movie. I think it’s a good, scary movie. I cried through the whole thing, because it made me relive it, but it was very well done. Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, and Elias Koteas were amazing. I thought everyone did a wonderful job, I was very pleased.
Shock: Yeah, I agree. The fact that you care about these characters and its set in a real-life situation and they follow the true story closely, makes it incredibly unique and actually very creepy. Unfortunately, it was a little slighted on the big screen and I hope people give it a chance on DVD.
Reed: I think they did an excellent job.
Carmen Reed is now a spiritual advisor and can be contacted at Carmenreed.com. She is currently co-writing a book titled “Demons in the Dark” with the chief researcher on her case John Zaffis and tv psychic Chip Coffey, all about her experiences in the house. She no longer lives in Connecticut, and the current owners of the house have reported nothing out of the ordinary.
Source: Jose Prendes