In the mid-1970s, a series of purported supernatural events took place in a small, yellow, wooden slatted house in a suburb of Bridgeport, Connecticut. At a time when demonic forces were very much in vogue, the Goodin family were plagued by all manner of phenomena that quickly drew the attention of the national press, along with thousands of curious onlookers. The case of the Lindley Street haunting, officially struck off as a hoax before a swift U-turn by the authorities, remains as one of the most dramatic and well documented cases in the history of the American Supernatural to this day.
“The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist” Dir. Nick Freand Jones. BBC, 1998.
Documentary. “Family Haunted No Longer; Cops Say Girl Tells of Hoax” (1974) The Bridgeport Post, 26 Nov, 1974, p.1
“Poltergeist?” (1974) The Kokomo Tribune, 26 Nov, 1974, p.1
“Haunted House or Hoax at 966 Lindley Street” (1974) The Bridgeport Post, 2 Mar, 1974. p.65
“Lindley Street Happenings For Real and Still going On, psychic Asserts” (1975) The Bridgeport Telegram, 9 Jan, 1975, p.11
“None Buy House of Happenings On Lindley Street” (1975) The Bridgeport Post, 30th Jan 1975, p.3
“Exorcist: Repulsive, Not for the Feint of Heart” (1974) The Capital Times, 07 Feb, 1974, p.41
“Occult Fascination Growing” (1974) Northwest Arkansas Times, 02 Feb, 1974. p.5
Hall, William J. (2014) “World’s Most Haunted House: The True Story of the Bridgeport Poltergeist on Lindsey Street” New Page Books, USA
Teller, Herbert F. (1975) “Haunted House or Hoax at 966 Lindley Street?”. The Bridgeport Post, 02 March, 1975. P.65
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In the mid-1970s, a series of purported supernatural events took place in a small, yellow, wooden slatted house in a suburb of Bridgeport, Connecticut. At a time when demonic forces were very much in vogue, the Goodin family were plagued by all manner of phenomena that quickly drew the attention of the national press, along with thousands of curious onlookers. Despite the contemporary fervour that it sparked and the similarities to several other, far more well traversed, supernatural tales such as Amityville in America, or Enfield in the UK, the events that took place in Bridgeport in the mid-70s have, remarkably, managed to slip largely under the radar, cloaked from wider public attention. Less glamorous but no less fantastic, the case of the Lindley Street haunting, officially struck off as a hoax before a swift U-turn by the authorities, remains as one of the most dramatic and well documented cases in the history of the American Supernatural to this day. This is Dark HIstories, where the facts are worse than fiction.
Satanism, The Occult & America in the 1970s
The American 70s was a period of fairly abrupt and chaotic cultural and political turmoil. Whilst the 60’s is often seen as the decade of change, the 70s was a continuation of everything that kicked off in the ten years prior. The rise of the anti-war movement continued, as more and more Americans protested against US involvement in Vietnam, a war that got no less palatable to the public, despite Nixons attempts to shift perceptions away from the creeping truth that it had been a bloody and futile conflict, with no real end in sight, even after a decade of fighting. Alongside the surge in protest against the war, social and political disgruntlement reached a tipping point as civil rights, feminist and queer movements launched into the spotlight, continuing the fight for recognition and equality. With so much turbulence rocking society, a new right evolved as a counter-balance, embracing conservative populism, with strong ties to what many middle class Americans considered “traditional” social values and roles. Politics aside, this new right trumpeted family, stability, patriotism and importantly, religion, which many felt had been under attack from a rise in occult fascination since the formation of the Satanic Church in the mid-60s when its progenitor, Anton LaVey published the Satanic Bible to overwhelming media sensation. Hand in hand with the sensation of the occult, a swathe of high-profile killings bolstered the fear that many felt, as the Manson Family, the Zodiac Killer, the Alhambra Killer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and the Hillside Stranglers found a terrified but hungry audience devour their headlines. With so much tumultuous transition taking place on the streets, popular culture was quickly put under the kosh, as music, art and film reflected popular themes, rock music was already an instigator and villain to many in the new right movement, but in reality, its occult imagery was fairly low-key and often imagined, especially in comparison to themes being broached in exploitation cinema cross the country, as the emergence of the New Hollywood gripped America, breeding innovation and subverting cinematic norms in movie theatres that were catering to a new, more socially demanding audience. Films like Rosemarys Baby, released in 1968 paved the way for the demonically themed boom of 1970s gore and exploitation cinema, embracing a satanic renaissance and pushing the occult into the mainstream. In December of 1973, one of the most famous and long enduring movies released to an enraptured audience, when William Peter Beatty’s book, The Exorcist, published two years prior, was adapted for screen. In paper form, The Exorcist had already enjoyed 17 weeks at the top of the New York Times best-seller list, after Blatty, an out of work comic-writer, lucked out and scored a last-minute, replacement guest spot on television to promote his struggling new work. A tearaway success, Warner Brothers picked up the rights to adapt it for the screen and unleashed it upon audiences on 26th December, 1973, though not before stoking the fears of the ready and willing public by hyping the films cursed status, citing a series of nine deaths within the cast and crew that had taken place during, or shortly after filming, chief amongst them, the actor Jack Macgowran, who played the alcoholic Director in the film, who passed away shortly after wrapping. Despite its lack of all-star cast and production flying painfully over-budget, the exorcist went on to cause such an uproar with its release that people clamoured to be part of the spectacle. Reviews called it “repulsive, objectionable, lewd (and probably dangerous)”, “Destined to stain the lives of millions” with its “Attack upon conventional Christianity.” Despite such reviews, larger Cathocilism embraced the movie and actually pushed it as a pro-religious film, crediting it for a spike in applications to the priesthood. The Exorcist went on to become the 9th highest grossing film of all time in the US and the top grossing horror film, holding the belt until 2017, until the release of the Stephen King remake, IT, took the throne. The film brought demonology, exorcism, possessions and the occult to a new, even wider audience than ever before. The Catholic practice of exorcism, which had until the films release, been largely a rare and covert practice, was pushed upon the mainstream who, fuelled by the new right, were primed to accept such a distasteful affront to traditional values. Alongside objections, came a spate of demonic cases, as phrases that would have been deemed archaic just a decade prior, re-entered popular vernacular. Alongside the sensation, which the press were naturally inclined to exploit, however, was the reality of the fears the film stoked. The director, William Friedkin said of it years later,
“It’s not a film about Dracula. It’s not a film about the Alien. It’s a film about the people who live up the street. It’s about a real street in a real town, with real people living in it…”
To so many, The exorcist and the popular culture that surrounded it was the embodiment of the crumbling traditional social norms. Occult influence was taking over American minds and religion was suffering. The film may have invoked a temporary scare or two in the cinema, but in the popular imagination, long after the end credits rolled, it was another nail, scratching away at accepted structure and instilling fear in the mind. The seeds of the Satanic Panic were sown by the media and new right religious groups, political scandal, growing fear of a sensationalised occult and fear of a conspiratorial authority all played their role in the spike of supernatural and demonic cases that spilled over into real life throughout the decade.
“The attention is a bit frenetic, a kind of hysterical reaction,” says the Rev. Edward B. Brueggeman, a Roman Catholic theologian of Xavier University in Cincinnati and a specialist on the subject. “Much of it is hokum, about 95% of it.” However, as a result of the current movie, The Exorcist, and the general fascination with the occult, many churches and their institutions have experienced a wave of claimed cases of demonic possession.”
“The danger is that their problem usually is psychological, such as unleashed guilt feelings, or mental illusions, needing treatment. Typical of cases in which his advice has been enlisted, he said, was that of a young woman who was “simply hungry for attention. It was a case of a disturbed mind more than anything else. Nevertheless, a rash of such complaints and inquiries have descended upon church officials and pastors, usually as a result of the movie.”
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, months after the Exorcist hit general release across the nation, one such case tore into the headlines, when a small, unimposing, yellow wooden slatted house, situated on Lindley Street, became the centre of a demonic haunting that would bring the terrors of the cinema into the real world. “It was a real street, in a real town, with real people living in it” and the audience was primed.
The Goodin Family
The Goodin family lived in a small, yellow painted wooden house at 966 Lindley Street, the northern end of a long road cutting through the centre of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Gerard “Gerry” Goodin had been born in 1919 in Aroostook County, Maine. He grew up as a devout Catholic and alter boy, with designs to become a priest, however, the stranglehold of the Great Depression pressed him into work as soon as he was able. After graduating high school, he joined the Air Force, serving during the Second World War and then in peace time began his 23 year stint as a maintenance man at Harvey-Hubble Inc. The Connecticut based electrical manufacturing giant. Though he had given up on his boyhood dreams of becoming a priest, he remained deeply religious throughout his adult life and was connected with the local community via his activities as a Boy Scout leader, where he maintained a steady reputation as someone keen on positive community, practical and down to earth.
Gerry met and married Laura Roberts, a native Connecticution, five years his junior, in 1960 and the pair moved into the small bungalow shortly after. Laura had had a somewhat more difficult upbringing, in no small part due to her Native American Heritage in an area dominated by white Irish and Italian American population during a period of difficult race relations. Laura, perhaps frustrated with the situation, was known to have had a rather high strung personality, which eventually led to difficulty making friends and an isolated existence throughout her school years.
A year after they moved into Lindley Street, Laura gave birth to their first child, Gerard Goodin Jr. on 31st October, 1961. The apple of their eye, it wasn’t until Gerry Jr. was 6 months old and the neighbours questioned his propensity to tilt his head downwards that Gerry and Laura took him to hospital in New Jersey where he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Dedicated parents, Gerry took him to weekly physical therapy and the couple paid out heavily for specially made braces that would help him to hold himself up, strapping him from chest to legs, as well as a special mobility chair. When it was suggested they should put him into long term hospice care, both Gerry and Laura categorically shut down the idea, restating their own responsibility to raise him at home. For six years the Goodins doted on Gerry Jr. Wrapping him in cotton wool and taking care of his every need. In September of 1967, however, after catching a cold and riding a high fever, he was taken to hospital where his care was entrusted to specialists. On Wednesday 27th September, Gerry Jr. Passed away aged only six years old and was buried in a small plot next to his Grandparents in St Michael’s Cemetery. It had been a tough period for the Goodins and immediately following the death of their son, Laura found herself in hospital undergoing a Hysterectomy to remove a tumour that had been discovered in the months earlier. Once recovered, Gerry and Laura visited the grave of their son every day for 6 months after his death and built a small shrine in their house where they could prey for his soul. Eventually time began to heal their wounds and the couple looked towards adoption, speaking with Father Grimes and arranging the process through the local church after securing 25 letters of recommendation for adoptive parenting from friends, neighbours and local authorities. It didn’t take long for the church to recommend a young girl for adoption, a four year old, Five Nations Iroquois girl named Marcia, the youngest of 9 children in a family of children who had suffered at the hands of abusive parents. The 18 hour trip to Ontario to meet Marcia was nothing to Gerry and Laura, who fell over themselves to bring her into their home and shower her with the same love they had shown Gerry Jr. As parents, there was certainly no doubting the care they put into their children, however, after the intensive care necessary to raise Gerry Jr. And his loss at such a young age, it soon became apparent that Laura was more than a little overbearing towards Marcia. Though she went to school and was known as a “nice girl”, she had no friends and lived more or less in isolation from friends her own age, as Laura held her back from most every situation, keen to watch her at every turn and sweep to the rescue at the smallest incident.
Shortly after adopting Marcia, Gerry and Laura noticed small things going awry at home. Small household items would go missing and a repetitive, knocking sound thumped on the walls from time to time. At the time, construction work was underway, building an extension to the nearby St Vincent’s hospital, but Gerry was sure the knocks he heard in the home had nothing to do with that, it was far too rhythmical and intelligent, he thought and strangely, it seemed at times to be coming from inside the walls, or as if someone was throwing stones at the house.
“The noises would begin as a tapping and then go into an awful bang”
Assuming the culprit was one of the neighbours, Gerry contacted his friend and neighbour, John Holsworth, who suggested he record the sounds as evidence and the local Gas supplier and Fire department sent engineers round on several occasions by Gerrys request to check the integrity of the pipes and foundations of the house, which came up blank time and time again until they eventually began to stop responding to his calls. More annoyed than frightened, Gerry and his friends tossed around several theories, from pranks by the neighbours, to underground streams and even a fleeting conspiracy theory that a property developer who had been scouting the area trying to get people to sell up was undertaking some nefarious plan to push out stubborn residents. Eventually, Gerry felt his suspicions of one of the neighbours had been justified, when in the weeks following the departure of the suspected neighbour who moved house, the banging came to an abrupt stop. As time passed, the noises slipped into the back of his memory and family life obscured the throwaway concerns of an obscure knocking in the walls. Little were the Goodins to know that this series of disturbances were nothing compared to what would follow in the coming years.
The Lindley Street Haunting
In the summer of 1974, strange events once again gripped the Goodin household when, as Gerry presumed, another prankster began knocking on the door of the house, only to run away before anyone could answer. Every time they heard the same, thumping triplet of wraps on the screen of the front door, but when they swung it open, the steps leading up to the front door were deserted and whoever had done it had scarpered. Perhaps one of the more alarming incidents occured one night when Gerry and Laura lay in bed. The knocking on the door had quickly gotten old and had fallen into the realm of frustrating prank, but less easy to dismiss, was the appearance of a disembodied hand on one of the windows, shining in through the pane of glass silhouetted by the street lamp outside. Shortly after, the door knocking escalated when Gerry answered the door to no one with a familiar and frustrated sigh one night, only to notice a set of wet footprints moving down the front steps and away from the house, despite the weather being warm and dry. Strange events had begun happening inside the house by now too. On more than one occasion, Gerry and Laura had noticed doors opening that they were sure had been closed and items of furniture shifting slightly from their usual positions. Gerry confided in one of his scoutmaster friends, but for the most part, tried to dismiss the events as just one of those weird things that happen. Besides, the Goodins had had far more difficult and pressing matters to deal with than a phantom door opener. Marcia, who had always struggled to make friends at school and had often suffered bullying due to her Iriqois heritage, was kicked in the back by a young boy from her class and immediately, Laura panicked at the situation and pulled her out of school, electing instead to home school the already isolated child.
Summer turned to Autumn and as the nights drew in and Thanksgiving approached, the bizarre events at Lindley Street were gearing up to break out from being a hand-waving sideshow to a national headline. On the evening of Thursday 21st November, 1974, The Goodins were hosting their neighbours and friends the Holsworth’s for dinner, along with their 14 year old daughter. Whilst they ate, a loud, shattering crunch came from the master bedroom, the sound barrelling around the small house. When they got up to check hat had made the sound, Gerry found the window in the bedroom smashed across the floor. Strangely, it had been a double glazed pane and the outside pane of glass had been left completely unscathed in the incident, whilst the inside pane had shattered completely. The next night, the banging returned, only this time, it was not going to be ignored or forgotten about quickly and was louder than any time in the past. The family spent a disturbed night waiting for the knocking to stop, which it finally did as the sun threatened to rise on the horizon. The next day, Gerry went to work as normal, as he clocked off and headed home for dinner, he left in a more upbeat mood. The family had planned the weekend away to visit their relations in New York, a common outing that got everyone a little change of scenery from time to time. Gerry had always been close with his family, especially his two brothers and so it was a time to look forward to. When he got home, he was greeted by Laura and Marcia sitting in the lounge, Marcia playing with a puzzle on the floor, whilst Laura watched TV. The family had dinner and returned to the lounge to settle down for the evening, sitting in the easy chairs and flipping on the TV. Domestic bliss was soon broken, however, when sounds once again erupted from the bedroom. Gerry reluctantly got up and went to see what had made the commotion this time, to find the shade on the window had pulled up, knocking the curtain onto the floor. After double checking that all the windows in the room were closed, Gerry put the shade and curtain back as they should be and left the room, however as soon as he stood one foot out of the door, he heard the same banging as before as the shade flipped open and by the time he’d sprang around, the curtain was back on the floor once again. This time, he elected to leave it be. Thirty minutes later, the exact same scene took place in the kitchen, as the shade flipped up and the curtain hit the ground. Leaving the curtains as they were, the Goodins sat together in the lounge as a series of knocks and bands on the walls of the house grew to a violent crescendo over the next hour, eventually ceasing, allowing the family to retire to bed, shaken and bemused at what they were hearing.
SAturday came and the family ventured out to New York, enjoying the family day, stopping off to do a spot of grocery shopping on the way home. The previous nights events had shaken Gerry and Laura somewhat, but Gerry in particular was still keen to attribute it to pranks or something as yet unexplainable. It was not, however, something so out of the ordinary as to make him jump to any supernatural explanations. At least, that’s what he thought up until that evening. When they got home, they found the house much as they had left it in the morning, however, the TV in the bedroom had fallen over and was lying face down on the bed. Righting the set and going out to the car to bring in the groceries, Laura headed to the kitchen where to her great shock, she saw the table flip over and land upside down. Screaming for Gerry, he returned with grocery bags under his arms in time to see dishes flying into the walls of the kitchen, smashing on the ground and a knife block expel its collection of kitchen knives, forcing him to duck out of the way of the dangerous projectiles, that slammed into the wall, behind him. Gerry collected the block itself from the floor, only to once again have to duck out the way as knives pulled from the wall behind, flew across the room for a second time. Gerry and Laura rushed into the living room to take cover, only to arrive in time to see the TV set fall face first, the edge of which crashed onto the top of Lauras foot, fracturing her toe. It was an intense outburst and a severe escalation from the days past, but as Laura bandaged her foot and readied dinner, the events quickly relaxed and eased away, leaving the silence fo the night to creep around the small house on Lindley street. Back in the lounge, Gerry and Laura sat up with Marcia until late at night, waiting to go to bed, but not entirely sure if the commotion would begin again. Eventually everyone retired to the bedroom, but as Gerry went through the house to turn the lights off, he said he felt a strange presence in the kitchen and heard a small thud from the kitchen table, which thankfully, remained upright. As the house fell into silence and sleep crept in upon the residents, Laura and Gerry were pulled sharply awake when they heard their daughters cereal from the bathroom. She had gotten up to use the toilet, only to find the bathroom trashed, the caps from all of the various bottles laying across the floor and the shower curtain rail lying on the floor. As Gerry cleaned up the room, Laura and Marcia waited his return in the living room, where all three sat awake until 3am, this time making sure that any strange events had truly stopped before trying to sleep again.
It had been another taxing night in the Goodin household and Gerry spent a difficult night, tossing and turning. Waking at 8:30am, he headed to to the kitchen to make coffee, only to find the table flipped over once more and as he busied himself with the hot water, the fridge shifted behind him, turning on its axis. Gerry, now more alarmed than ever that the events were clearly not looking to let up even in daylight, rushed to the bedroom to wake Laura and as he stepped into the room, the crucifix fell from the wall just as Marcia screamed from her own room. Laura, instantly primed at the sound of her beloved daughter screams, leapt out of bed and went to the room with Gerry, this time to find Marcia bureau lying on the floor and the crucifix in her own room lying face down on the floor. That morning, as they sat in the lounge with the TV on, wondering what they should, or could do, interference played havoc with the signal, repeatedly planting the sound of a ringing doorbell, crackling in broken tones over every channel. With little other idea as to where they should go or what they should do, Gerry phones his friends Harold and Mary Hoffman, asking them for help, “Strange things are happening here” he told them. When the call ended, Harold jumped in his car and headed over the Goodins to see what he could do, and the Goodin family went out to the porch of their house, to try and wait it out. As they sat in the porch, hearing the chairs inside slam up and down on the wooden floors, Laura spotted Janet, the 14 year old daughter of the Holsworths out walking her dog. Gerry and Laura called out to her to get her father and send him over to the house as quickly as she could, and when he arrived, Gerry found it difficult to explain precisely what had been happening to them,
“We need help, something evil is wrecking the house”
He blurted out, much to the off-duty officers surprise. When John Holsworth stepped inside the house, however, all became clear. It looked as though they had been burgled. Furniture lay tipped and turned on the floor, whilst ornaments and other possessions scattered about in each room. Pictures from the walls lay upside down on the floor, their frames smashed. Lost for words, he turned to Gerry and asked simply, “What the hell happened here?”
With little else to do, John moved the TV back into its usual position, only for it to slide back, turning 35 degrees as soon as his back was turned. Moving through the house, John found the kitchen just as much of a shambles, the table and chairs were flipped and fallen and dishes were smashed, with porcelain shards scattered right across the room. As he took in the scene, the fridge behind him teetered back and forth, knocking into his elbow, causing him to start and turn to see that the fridge was clearly moving by its own volition. It was enough for John, who immediately put a call into the police station, asking for backup and stating that there was an “unknown situation” at the house on 966 Lindley Street. Meanwhile, Harold Hoffman arrived and Gerry filled him in on what had been happening and he joined the ranks of the confused as the family and two friends stood in the lounge utterly perplexed at the state of the place.
Officers Carl Leonsi and Joe Tomek were out on patrol that morning in the local area and got the call from the station to head over to the Goodins. They were told that there had been a call from Holsworth, an off duty officer who had left a vague report and they were asked to check out the situation a nod call back to let them know what was going on. When they arrived, they found the family in the living room, with Marcia sitting in one of the reclining easy chairs watching cartoons on the TV. Their initial reactions were to assume that there had been a burglary, until Gerry explained everything from the start, from the knocking and the gradual progression to the carnage that they now saw before them. At first, officer Leonsi and Tomek were unsure of what to make of the Goodins story, but it wasn’t long until they were witnessing the events for themselves. Officer Tomek saw a shelf vibrate and shake, and both witnessed the TV in the living room levitate up into the air and turn on its axis, placing itself back down at an odd angle.
“When we got the call to go to 966 Lindley Street, in no way did they tell us we were going to a haunted house, when we got there, we thought we were investigating a burglary, the way it was all messed up. Only later did they tell us what happened… I was told I would see a lot of things in the Police Force but I never expected to see what I saw in that house.”
“When we got here, the house was array. We observed things lift off the shelf and fall to the ground.”
As the events were shaking the first two police officers, a second patrol car arrived and officers Leroy Lawson and George WEilson stepped into the house just in time to see the large, 450lbs fridge fall forwards, moving by itself, floating, turning and eventually falling on its front. The fridge was checked over and the two new officers went down to the houses basement to check the integrity of the floor beneath the heavy appliance to see if it had rotted or collapsed, causing the fridge to move and fall, but found nothing out of the ordinary. At 11am, Officer Tomek called back to the station attempting to explain the situation and to call for an ambulance to come out and take care of Laura’s foot, which had swelled badly after the TV set had fallen onto it the night before. At the same time, he requested that the fire department send out some engineers to check out the house. All the while, loud noises continued in Marcias room as the Bureau once more fell whilst everyone was in the living room or kitchen and a gold cross that hung on the living room wall had swung like a pendulum, back and forth, until it violently flew across the room, hitting officer Leroy Lawson in the chest. It was enough for Lawson, who bolted from the house and locked himself in his patrol car.
Backup came in the form of Assistant Chief Paul McKenna and 9 firemen, including Deputy Fire Chief Frederick Zwerlein. The patrol officers filled them in on what had been happening and they set abolition checking the house over for natural anomalies or structural issues. McKenna offered the Goodins to stay at the local Red Cross Centre, but Gerry and Laura thanked him for the suggestion, but said they had family they could stay with if they were forced from their home. With so many people on the property, reports of events continued at an ever gathering rate. The plastic roses on top of the TV in the living room were witnessed to move by the self, turning in their vase by one firemen, whilst the TV console in the kitchen fell over and Deputy Fire Chief Zwerlain saw a chair jump up and fall backwards in the kitchen by itself. A new phenomena arose when the entire group collectively began to smell a sulphurous air pervading through the rooms. Zwerlain called into the station, requesting the services of the Firehouse Chaplain, Father Edward Doyle, explaining,
“I’m not drunk, but this is what’s happening father.”
By the time Father Doyle arrived, events seemed to have started to relax at the house, as he witnessed nothing out of the ordinary, aside from the evidence of a commotion, for himself. Still he paced through the upturned furniture with rosary beads and bible in hand, reciting a blessing to appease both the terrified residents and the equally frightened police and firemen, some of who were now standing outside, refusing to enter. They were not the only ones outside either, as the emergency services had turned up one by one that morning, they had drawn the attention of the locals and slowly but surely a crowd was gathering outside, as rumours of what was going on inside murmured through the street. One of the Goodins neighbours, Mary Pascorela, a local librarian at the Reed School and member of the Psychic Research Centre in Newhaven found herself in the crowd that morning and excited by what she was hearing, went into the house to see if she could offer any assistance. Scoring some time alone with Marcia, she took her into the master bedroom and in an effort to test her psychic powers, asked Marcia to attempt to levitate a small glass vial of rubbing alcohol. Marcia quickly found the situation frustrating as he bottle sat ont he bedside cabinet, staring back at her, completely unmoving, until she eventually picked it up and threw it to the floor. Mary pascorela left the house unperturbed, however, and contacted two of her friends, self proclaimed Demonologists and paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The warrens endless self-promotion would eventually see them rocket to fame after the release of the film the conjuring in 2013, but back in 1974, Ed and Lorraine still had much work to do on crafting their image and when they arrived later that day, Ed wasted no time in contacting the press to fill them in on the details of the events in Lindley Street. From the very start, Gerry had not been that keen to invite the Warrens in to their home, but after he had confided with the Hoffman’s on Marys suggestion to invite them and been reassured that they had heard of the Warrens, who had apparently a good reputation, he had agreed. After Ed had finished calling up every paper in the local area and many national papers too, he called the police station, speaking to Superintendent Walsh to explain that the commotion at the house had been caused by a Poltergeist. Walsh listened on, naturally sceptical of Ed’s claims but at the same time, aware of the reports he had been hearing from his officers throughout the morning. Ed then set about interviewing the Goodins and many of the officers at the scene, recording the interviews on cassette for future posterity. Ed and Lorraine also called in the aid of Father William Charbonneau, assistant pastor of St. John of the Cross Roman Catholic Church in Middlebury and teacher at St. Josephs college on a course concerning the Occult and parapsychology. According to Ed, the house looked like it had been “went through” by someone with a baseball bat.
By 2pm, Laura had arrived home from the hospital, foot newly strapped and bandaged, she arrived to her house full of police and firemen, along with Ed and Lorraine and still the events were continuing. Whilst Ed and Lorraine attempted to take straight accounts from the witnesses of the mornings events, a reclining chair in the living room that Marcia was sitting on slammed open and closed, several times, jerking Marcia back and forth with it, light bulbs smashed throughout the home, an ashtray and cross both exploded, shattering across the floor and all the while, the never ending smell of sulphur filled the rooms. As the afternoon drew on, however, things did start to slowly quiet down and one by one, the warrens and police slowly drifted from the house, the last of which advised the Goodins to call if they need any further assistance or they were subjected to any further disturbances. That evening, however, the disturbances came not from within the house, but from the crowds who were now gathering outside in much greater numbers, some choosing to throw cloves of garlic at the house after hearing that the events of that morning had been invoked by something unnatural. It wasn’t long before th police were called back, this time to help with the entirely earthly task of controlling a crowd who were gathering increasingly in size and excitement.
The next morning, Sunday 24th November, saw the return of Ed and Lorraine Warren, along with Father Charbonneau and Paul Eno, a young seminarian with an interest in the paranormal who had assisted Ed and Lorraine in the past. As they arrived, the crowds outside were already gathering for the day and the presence of the investigators further fuelled excitement in the street, as many claimed to witness seeing furniture thrown about through the house’s windows. Ed’s phone calls to the press on the day before had worked just the magic he’d hoped and several journalists joined the throng, eagerly writing up the stories that drifted through the crowd. By now, the crowds had reached such a size, that 8 officers in 4 squad cars were necessary, just to control the excitement.
Inside the house, things weer not much improved from the day before. Events had continued throughout the night and the morning, with furniture continuing to tip, topple and turn by itself, as well as several items of religious paraphernalia reportedly falling to the ground in various rooms. Lorraine Warren, an alleged “sensitive” to psychic matters had not been in the house long that morning, when she began to feel waves of nausea cascade over her, surprisingly, not from being married to Ed, but from an unknown presence, which later that morning manifested in a burn forming on her right hand whilst she sat at the kitchen table. This alarming escalation caused Ed to exclaim that she must wait outside, fearing that whatever presence was in the house was picking up on Lorraines clairvoyance and reacting negatively. And still things continued to get stranger. Later that morning, Ed was convinced he heard the Goodins cat hum the tune to “Jingle Bells” whilst others in the house thought they had heard voices coming from the animal. Cold spots were noted to have been found in a corner in Marcias bedroom, along with the sulphurous smell, which they also believed to originate from the young girls room. This led to Paul Eno and the Warrens concluding that the energy was focusing around Marcia, who appeared to be the centre of the events. Father Charbonneau spoke with Marcia, who told him all about how she had been bullied at school and how she had been home tutored for the past six weeks owing to being pulled from school. She also spoke of her frustration with her mother for being so overbearing and of the isolation she had been feeling, of how the teachers and other kids at school had all hated her and how the family cat had been her only friend.
The next morning, Laura Goodin called Ed and Lorraine Warren early to ask fo their help. The strange events had continued throughout the night and in to Monday morning. Convinced that what was happening in the house was of demonic origin, Ed and Lorraine Warren began their attempts to arrange for an exorcism of the house, whilst Paul Eno made his way over to see if he could help. That afternoon, Laura called Gerry at work, asking him to come home early as events were still continuing, an invitation he had been all too keen to accept, as he had been suffering himself that morning from jeers and mocking conversations with his colleagues who had heard of the stories that had come from the house that weekend and picked on him relentlessly for being gullible or for making up stories for attention. That Sunday the story had hit the local papers, making front page news in several, including the Bridgeport Telegram, that ran the headline “Things Move Mysteriously in House Here, It’s Said.”
“Police and Fire Authorities are stunned today and unable to determine the reasons for what have been termed “Unusual Occurrences” all day Sunday in a small four-room house at 966 Lindley Street occupied by Mr and Mrs Gerald Goodin and their 10-year old daughter.”
“Newsmen were refused admittance inside the house by relatives of the Goodin family who had been on guard duty near the front steps leading in to the entrance. Police Sergeant Bernard Manglinale also described the house as “in shambles.” “I can’t say too much, but what I saw amazed me,” he said, “I can’t believe it,” he added.”
“Fire Chief John F. Gleason, who also responded, said he was unable to give an immediate answer as to what could be causing this. “We at the fire department are not very good at chasing Devils,” he added.”
The article also included several quotes from Ed Warren, who whilst playing his cards close to his chest, was keen to point out that he had personally witnessed 36 exorcisms in his past and displayed to the press a shattered crucifix that he had apparently removed from the Goodins house. With the reports sensational as they were, the crowds only gathered more and more rapidly, estimated by many newspapers to be around 2,000 strong, though some went all out and claim it to be almost 10,000, though those numbers were later downplayed. Either way, it was enough people to spill over onto the Goodins lawn and to require the aid of round the clock police protection, complete with Paddy Wagon, waiting to take in those that got out of hand.
That Monday afternoon, things continued to escalate, whilst the Goodins played monopoly in the living room, Paul Eno said they witnessed a “gauze-like mist” manifest in front of them, that separated into four distinct identities. Gerry began chanting in a voice that both OPaula nd Laura said were not his own, as he paced about the living room, tossing Holy Water about, in something of a rage. One of the manifestations reportedly pushed Paul, who said he felt a “Bird like bone structure” to the mist and the entire event culminated in Marcia being pushed across the room. The family quickly upped and left the house, leaving it to the mercy of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who Paul phoned for assistance. That evening, whilst they blessed the house with the help of Father Charbonneau, the priest said he saw a shadowy “mist-like” silhouette against the wall in the basement with no face, this, they decided was an event they thought best to keep to themselves for now and not share with the Goodins, who by now, were feeling rightly fairly confused and terrified. That nightm, the family bundled together in the kitchen and living room, waiting until 2am for everyone to leave before finally attempting to turn in for bed.
Tuesday came with more commotion, as the crowds outside the house continued to swell. Gerry, who was now finding his nerves at breaking point, called to a police officer outside, asking him to come into the house for the family’s protection. Officer Michael Costello stepped into the Goodins house and called the station for backup. Whilst he waited for help to arrive, he sat down in one of the, by now, infamous recliners. Several people had seen them levitate, open and close and move back and forwards on their own, at times whilst Marcia had been sitting in them. Costello had been sceptical of the events that had been purported to have happened in the house the past few days and chose to spend his time in the house watching Marcia closely, whom he suspected had been potentially responsible for much of the “unknown occurrences.” Sure enough, much to his satisfaction, he watched the young girl push her leg out and press her foot against the base of the TV, shifting it in place, startling Gerry, who span around and proclaimed that it had moved by itself. Marcia caught the eye of Costello, who took her to one side and asked her why she had pushed the TV in secret. “I wanted to see if the Demon would do anything.” She replied, but for Costello, he had seen all he had needed to see. He pressed Marcia until officers Del Torro and Zawaki arrived, when he quietly explained what he had seen. The trio questioned Marcia, who reluctantly admitted to having pushed both the TV and the fridge the night before and of pretending to talk as the cat. The satisfied officer asked if anyone had put her up to it, to which she replied no, they had not and at 5pm, Costello, Del Torro and Zawaki left the house, calling in to the station to report that everything had been a hoax. Rumours quickly spread through the crowds outside and it wasn’t long before the mob turned from excited, to angry, with murders that the Warrens had paid off the Goodins to invent the entire affair. Inspector Phillip J. Clark arrived at the scene to explain to the crowds that the case had been officially closed as a hoax and the press was duly notified, running a front page story the very next day.
“Family “Haunted” No Longer; Cops Say Girl Tell of Hoax – Bridgeport Police said today the reported unexplained “happenings” in a North End home the past three days were a hoax created by the family’s 10 year old adopted Canadian-Indian girl.”
“The girl admitted early today during questioning that she had been the one who had done the banging on walls and floors, knocked a crucifix to the floor, threw pictures down and caused all the other unusual happenings,” inspector Clark said.”
“The police said today that after lengthy interrogation of the parents and the girl, Marcia also admitted that the family cat, “Sam” did not talk, as reported.”
“Edward Warren, of Monroe, a psychic researcher, differed with the police statement, and said “if it is a hoax, it’s one of the biggest hoaxes I’ve ever seen. I have seen the Bureau smash to the floor at least four times and no one was near it at the time.” He asserted numerous police officers saw the same thing happen. “I think that some shrewd detective has talked the family into saying it was a hoax to get rid of the crowds away from the house,” Mr Warren told newsmen. But Superintendent Walsh commented on Mr Warren, “He makes his money chasing ghosts. I would suggest that he stay in his own environs and keep out of Bridgeport – we have no ghosts here.”
Doctor Santiago Escobar, of the city mobile medical services was called to the house on behalf of the police to speak with Marcia and the Goodins, who concluded that Marcia should be booked into a course of psychiatric care at the Baptist Memorial Mental Health Clinic, where she might get Psychiatric help and the Goodins agreed, booking her an appointment later that day. Ed and Lorraine Warren arrived at the house later that day, furious with the police, but Gerry and Laura turned them away, they had sided with he police and decided that if the whole thing was a hoax, then Lorraines burn from the kitchen must have been self inflicted, concluding them to be dangerous. Gerry also found Eds initial fervour to get the press involved, and his involvement ever since to be off-putting and the couple were forced to leave with their tails between their legs. The strange thing was, despite the case closing as a hoax and the events seemingly reaching a cataclysmic finale, the events in the house showed no signs of ceasing. Furthermore, it wasn’t only Ed and Lorraine Warren who felt affronted by the claims by Superintendent Walsh. Many of the officers who had been in the house over the past days, along with some of the firemen categorically denied that Marcia had had anything to do with any of the events that they had witnessed. If, like Ed had suggested to the press, the police had publicly called it out as a hoax in an attempt to thin the crowds outside, they had mis-stepped there too, as many appeared to go nowhere, despite it being thanksgiving. That evening, three men were arrested by police after they had been caught attempting to set a fire ablaze in the backyard of the Goodins house and when questioned why they had done so, they told police they were “trying to rid the home of the evil brought into the neighbourhood.”
As November faded into December, the police still found themselves patrolling outside the Goodins home throughout the day. The events inside the residence were reportedly beginning to calm down and finally the crowds dwindled to just a few, die-hard ghost enthusiasts who staked out the small residence day and night. Gerry and Laura, who had bore the brunt of the backlash against the case were still suffering, though now from the human element, as Gerry found his workplace difficult to deal with and the family had found themselves unable to go to church as they normally would, afraid to bring the unwanted crowds who followed them about with them. Gerry, who had towed the line that the thing had been a hoax, now found himself daily defending his daughter from strangers, convinced that she had not been the sole perpetrator of the commotion and both he and Laura were growing increasingly concerned of how it might affect her after she returned to school. The first week of December passed by quietly at home, however, until the night of the 7th, when Gerry once again was found to clatter from the front floor of the house and call out to the stationed officer in alarm, crying for help. Officer Seamans, rushed inside following Gerry to find the house once again turned upside down, he helped Gerry and Laura replace the furniture and called for backup, which arrived just in time to see both the desk and recliner move in the living room, only this time, Marcia had been in full view of all the expectant officers, who were naturally keeping a close eye on the young girl. Gerry and Laura took Marcia to New York to visit family, it was, perhaps, best to just remove the self from the premises for a while, however, when they returned, it was once again to a house that looked like the scene of a home invasion. All the pictures on the walls were found crooked in their frames, the wall clock had fallen onto the floor in the kitchen whilst various pieces of furniture were tipped and toppled over. A week earlier, the Goodins had rescued a German Shepherd dog, which they named Silver, who they found, cowering beneath the bed in the master bedroom. The following Sunday, Gerry and Laura went to see Father Edward Doyle to ask if there was any hope for the Catholic Church to pass an application for an exorcism.
The next day, Boyce Batey, a member of the American Society for Psychical Research called up Gerry and offered his assistance in the ongoing issues at their home. Gerry, who by now was happy to have any help at all, made assurances with Batey that the press would not be called in and any investigation he wished to carry out at the home would not be made public and carried out in as much secrecy as he was able. Batey agreed and met at Lindley Street on the 18th December along with Blue Harary and Jerry Sulphin, two members of the local Psychical Research Foundation. They interviewed all three of the Goodins and found that in particular, Marcia had suffered greatly throughout the incident. The next morning, Batey visited the local police in an effort to get hold of the official police records. Expecting to find an element of resistance, when he explained who he was and the situation he had agreed with the Goodins to keep things quiet, he instead found Inspector Clark to be more than accommodating. In fact, Clark explained to him that he had never thought the case to ba hoax at all, but that he had been handed the case late in the day and told to shut it down as a hoax, in order to restore normalcy to the area. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the inspector carried out the wishes of his superiors, but now, with Batey once more promising to keep things hush-hush, he gave the investigator full access to the police departments records, as well as to his officers that too felt that the events of 966 Lindley Street had not been a hoax.
Bateys investigation continued quietly in the background, through to January, as events in the Goodin home slowly began to reduce one more. Marcia was admitted back to school in the new year and Gerry and Laura hired a lawyer, Victor Ferrante, in order to shut down any publicity against them that was making life difficult in the area for all three Goodins, chiefly, sending a letter to the Warrens, demanding that they not use the Goodins names in any of their lectures. In a last ditch effort to put an end to the relentless snide remarks and mockery, at his work, in the streets and, as both he and Laura feared, going on at Marcias school, Gerry went on radio WNAB to conduct one single interview, where he defended his daughter and categorically stated that the events of the house had been true.
For Gerry and Laura, the events that happened over the winter of 1974 and 1975 had been more than trying. They had suffered over $5000 of property damage and countless sleepless nights, whilst their nerves were truly shred to pieces. They put their house on sale in mid-January in an attempt to break free from the area and start fresh somewhere new, where Marcia could grow up without the shadow of the previous events hanging over her. Though the house was up for market value, no one ever bought it and the Goodins lived there, in relative peace and quiet, until their deaths, though periodically, small reports would leak out of random events, like the time when the sewing machine ripped out of the wall socket and flew across the room, or the furniture once more found itself tipped and turned over. When she turned 18, Marcia left the Goodin family home, she had decided to return to Canada to seek out her birth parents and for a long time, she disappeared into complete obscurity. In 1993, Laura Goodin was involved in a fatal car crash, that ended her life at the age of 68, whilst Gerry died four years later of natural causes aged 78. In 2015, William J. Hall, author of a book on the Lindley Street case received a letter from a reader, who stated they had seen a notice in the Mansfield News Journal, looking for information on a deceased person named Marsha Godin, aged 51. William contacted the coroner and uncovered what little is known about Marcia after she returned to America from her trip North to seek her parents. She had apparently suffered from both epilepsy and MS in later life, taken up with a man in Ohio who was much her senior and been a heavy user of narcotics for pain management. William provided the coroner with the details of her life with the Goodins, and Marcia was finally laid to rest, afforded a proper burial, in the summer of 2015.
So what had happened at 966 Lindley Street during the cold winter months of 1974? Had it all been a hoax, perpetrated by a 70lbs, 11 year old girl in full view of over a dozen police officers? Or had it been a genuine case of haunting, as suggested by a pair of shady psychic investigators and a host of officials? Or had it been something in between, something less obvious, real to some but a clear hoax to others?
“If you look into their statements, what they saw mostly was end-results after things happened. In most cases they didn’t really see the things happen, they saw the results of what had happened. They also saw things when their attention was diverted to something else.” – Michael A. Costello, policeman who spent some time on 24th and 25th at house with family. Goes on,
“Being human and not perfect I made the mistake of becoming a believer before I witnessed anything, thus having my mind seeing what I expected to see.”
During his investigation, Boyce Batey found that Marcia had been a pretty intense victim of her mothers overbearing parenting.
“I sensed considerable tension in the family, especially between the mother and the girl and the mother and the father. I expect the girl had been building up feelings of anger, hostility, resentment, fear and anxiety during this period. In addition, I sense the girl is overly protected by both parents, especially the mother and that she is very frustrated and annoyed at this although she does not express these feelings and tends to resolve them by withdrawing or crying.”
“The mother strikes me as being very unhappy, emotionally unstable, fearful, anxious and extremely defensive.”
“Overall, I evaluated the inter-personal relationships in the home as being pathological. It is this environment that set the stage for the poltergeist disturbances.”
There are some that suggest that this frustration and anger was expressed by Marcia as the tipping and smashing of furniture and the perpetration of the hoax, whilst others suggest the idea to be a complete farce, that a young girl of 11 years of age could even begin to tip a 450lbs refrigerator to be nothing but a convenient fiction. It is clear that Marcia did involve herself with some of the events, as witnessed by Costello on the night of the confession, but had she simply added to what was already going on in the house, keen to impress the new officer on the scene? In earlier interviews, it was stated by several officers that Marcia was enjoying the attention and coming and going of so many officers to the house. Had she simply sought to impress Costello when the occurrences were quiet on their own?
Loath as I am to write these words, was Ed Warren right in his assessment of the hoax announcement? The police were outside night and day, attempting to keep the peace in crowds that grew by the day and as it turned out, their worst fears were realised on thanksgiving, when the three men attempted to burn the house down. Perhaps they had decided that enough was enough and the best course of action was to shut it down. Inspector Walsh’s later involvement with Boyce Batey investigation suggests that there might well have been more than just empty words there.
Bateys investigation acknowledged the fraudulent events perpetrated by Marcia, but still suggested that the vast majority had little more to do with the girl other than the fact that she was the Center elf the focus for the energy in the house. This viewpoint was echoed throughout by several police officers, who all repeated that they believed Marcia may well have had a hand in some of the events, but there was just no way she had been involved in everything that they had seen during their time in the house.
If the entire affair had been a desperate call for attention by the Goodins, it had backfired dramatically, costing them a considerable amount in damages and never paying them back, as they acted to not only avoid public attention, but employed a lawyer to actively shut the case down.
So what can it have been? There have been various theories put forward concerning natural conclusions, from earthquakes, to construction work, but none make any sense when you view the case over an extended period of time. But what if it was some psychological phenomena? The audience had been primed with the recent release of the exorcist and the atmosphere of the day was one of a fairly accepting outlook towards the occult and the paranormal. If the officers had been aware of the case as they walked into the house, how much did they see because it was precisely what they expected to see? How much of it was a collective hysteria? Some of the police who were active at the time have denied this, Tomek went on record to state that he had no idea what he was walking into before he got into the house, but it is still a theory that probably answers the most questions. Much fo the more outlandish events that took place were witnessed by the Warrens, a pair of investigators who have made their entire careers out of fraudulently taking advantage of similar situations, so much of their nonsense can be readily discarded, including the cat that sung Jingle Bells to Ed. These explanations still don’t account for a fridge falling flat onto its face in a room crowded with police officers, firemen and priests.
Whether or not you believe the story that Goodins were hoaxing, that some deep psychological phenomena had taken place or that the Goodins story was entirely true to its every detail, the truth will remain buried with the Goodin family, likely forever. Perhaps the truest words left by the entire case were those of a contemporary witness, speaking to a local newspaper, when he said, tongue firmly in cheek, that,
“If there was a Poltergeist or Demon who came in to cause trouble, then it had succeeded beyond it’s wildest imagination.”