By Diana Vilibert.
From the outside, the Victorian house at 3406 Brownsville Road in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania looks like any other in the neighborhood. Inside, though, it was once a living hell.
This according to Bob Cranmer, who lived in the home with his wife, Lesa, and four children for 18 years. He recounts the horrifying events his family experienced in The Demon of Brownsville Road. Cranmer writes:
“From the first, Lesa and I always had the feeling that we were not alone in that house, that we were being watched by someone, or something. I can remember the sensation so clearly. We felt surrounded by the past, as if we were almost living in it, that we were only temporary ‘visitors,’ tolerated for the time being—who would eventually be expelled.”
Strangely, Bob Cranmer felt drawn to the house ever since he was a little boy. When he learned it was up for sale in 1988, he moved in to purchase it.
Cranmer was right when he said he felt surrounded by the past; the property is steeped in history. The house dates back to 1792, and legend has it that a mother and her three children were killed by Native Americans on the ground upon which the house stands—and that their bodies were buried in the front yard.
Strange encounters began to happen before the family even moved in. While conducting a walk-through of the house soon after their offer had been accepted, Bob found his young son Bobby Jr. crying and hyperventilating by a staircase, terrified by an unseen force. Lesa also expressed that the house gave her the creeps. Nevertheless, the Cranmer family moved into the home.
Within weeks of settling in, it became clear to the Cranmer family that there was something off about their new home. At first, there were small nuisances. Lights came on by themselves. A pull-chain on a light wrapped itself around the light instead of hanging down.
Soon, however, things took a turn for the sinister. Bobby Jr. refused to sleep in his bedroom, sleeping instead in a closet with the light on. Also around this time, a ghost began to make its presence felt: sometimes as a black, foggy cloud and sometimes as a stench. The family heard footsteps and unsettling sounds. Then they found bent crucifixes and destroyed rosaries.
The Cranmers finally got the Catholic Church involved. They began to look at their situation not as a ghost haunting, but as a demonic possession.
“A ghost, if you believe in them, is generally the soul of a person who passed on in some tragic event or something. A demon is actually the opposite of an angel,” Bob told Hollywood on the Potomac. “The existence of this thing manifested itself in a much different way than a ghost would. A ghost is generally reliving some type of event that took place during a life. Sometimes they can interact with people that are alive. In our case, this was a demonic, evil, malicious, malevolent spirit that interacted with us on a regular basis and it wanted to hurt us. It wanted to drive us out of the house. There was no pretense of it being some kind of a lost soul.”
When the family brought in Catholic priests to bless the house with holy water, the sinister force allegedly responded by covering the walls with blood. Bob Cranmer writes in his book:
“Some of the areas where the blood was dripping from were so far up (over nine feet) that a person would have had to use a ladder to get there. Another interesting aspect was that it was only on the walls and not on the ceilings so that if it were thrown up there it would have been impossible to miss hitting the ceilings. It looked as if the walls were bleeding.”
The family worked with three priests for two years to expel the demon from their home–Lesa and two of their children were hospitalized for psychiatric reasons during this traumatic time. In 2006, they were finally successful. Today, at least according to Bob Cranmer, the house on Brownsville Road is quiet.
Further reading: The Demon of Brownsville Road: A Pittsburgh Family’s Battle with Evil in their Home, by Bob Cranmer.
This article was first published on The Line Up.
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