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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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