Parapsychologists and Demonologists
Although Ed and Lorraine Warren were parapsychologists and demonologists by trade, you would never have guessed to look at them that they would become involved in such high-profile cases as the Amityville Horror.
It is estimated that from the time they began their work in the 1950s until Ed passed away in 2006, the Warrens investigated more than 4,000 cases. They are considered true pioneers in the field of parapsychology.
In their early married life, Ed and Lorraine would stop to check out any haunted areas they heard about when they traveled. Lorraine didn't believe in ghosts, but Ed remembered some experiences in his childhood home, and Lorraine went along with him.
Getting in the Door
At the time, the Warrens looked so young they weren't taken seriously. Ed would make a sketch of the allegedly haunted house, even putting ghosts coming out of the windows in the drawing. Lorraine would then knock on the door and give the sketch to the owners, who more often than not would invite the Warrens in.
When the Warrens first began their paranormal investigations, they were merely trying to help people who needed somewhere to turn when something they could not understand began to disrupt their everyday lives. As demonologists, the Warrens specialized in the phenomenon that surrounds inhuman spirits — demons and devils.
Demonics — nonhuman, malevolent entities that never walked the earth in human form — are always dangerous. Their intent is never ambiguous; they are out to injure and cause pain by whatever means they find at their disposal.
Ed and Lorraine Warren were staunch Catholics who saw their faith as protection from demonic elements, as do many ghost hunters in the twenty-first century. Even non-Catholics will sometimes carry holy water. If it works, it works.
Demonologist John Zaffis, the nephew of Ed and Lorraine Warren, has been studying and investigating the paranormal for more than three decades. Under his Uncle Ed's tutelage, John learned to detect the signs of the demonic in cases that were far more intense than normal hauntings. He also learned how to successfully confront and deal with these situations.
John became involved in cases of possession and exorcism and worked with other leading exorcists of many different faiths — Catholic priests, Buddhist monks, rabbis, and ministers. He assisted and worked with well-known exorcists Bishop Robert McKenna, Father Malachi Martin, and Reverend Jun. His work and research have taken him throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Because of his many years of working with other investigators and clergy, John Zaffis has earned a reputation as a very knowledgeable authority on all things paranormal.
In his early investigative years, his association with the Warrens gave him access to some amazing paranormal experiences, including numerous encounters with ghosts, poltergeists, and frequently even the demonic and diabolical. He is also a founder of the Paranormal Research Society of New England (PRSNE), a group that exists to help people who are having unpleasant or alarming paranormal experiences.
The Bangs sisters of Chicago were two of the most notorious fraudulent mediums in the history of the field. They used a variety of techniques to fleece the gullible, from spirit trumpets floating on wires to spirit typewriting and spirit slate writing. They were most famous for their ghost-rendered paintings.
Dr. Ciaran O'Keefe
In October 2005, the British newspaper the Daily Mirror printed a piece about the enormously successful United Kingdom show, Most Haunted. They alleged that the show's resident skeptic and parapsychologist, Dr. Ciaran O'Keefe, had blown the whistle on the ghost hunters, claiming that the public was being deceived by “showmanship and dramatics.” In his words, “I was put in the show to give a professional slant to it, to give it an element of credibility, but the skeptical argument is just swept away. In my opinion, we're not dealing with genuine mediumship.”
The Demon Hunter
Nathan Schoonover has been interested in the paranormal since he was a kid. After experiencing two full-body apparitions as a young man, he studied with demonologist John Zaffis to learn the trade. Schoonover acts as a consultant to paranormal groups in the New York and New England area. Sometimes the calls come in from all over the world and he helps find another demonologist to take the case.
The East Coast S.C.A.R.E. Society uses his services when they suspect the case may involve a malevolent. He screens clients before making the drive and says the job is “all about talking to people; you have to help them deal with the situation while you are trying to get rid of it. You act as a counselor half the time. You really have to look for signals.” Formerly, Schoonover worked as a counselor for emotionally disturbed teenagers, so he understands what is required to handle people in distress.
Many ghost hunters would not dream of heading out without holy water, rosaries, and scapulars. These symbols of faith work best for those who believe in them. Every professional paranormal investigative team should have a specialist within their group or on call who can deal with demonic attacks that are extreme enough to require the use of these holy symbols.
In the preliminary investigation of a malevolent haunt, Schoonover conducts interviews with the client, preferably while being videotaped. He wants an audio recorder running elsewhere in the house to gather EVPs, too. “If something is going to happen, it is likely to happen while we are talking about getting rid of it. We might expect EVPs, a disembodied voice, or a picture falling off a wall.”
Schoonover believes that demonologists are dealing with entities that are truly malevolent, beings that rebelled and are separated from the grace of God. Schoonover and his friend and partner Shaun Burris host a podcast every week, Ghostman and Demon Hunter, where they have some laughs and interview paranormal investigators and demonologists. Episodes can be downloaded online.