The Conjuring: The True Story of the Perron Family Haunting
Carolyn Perron and her children standing on the steps of their new house in Harrisville.

By Chelsey Baggot.

When Roger and Carolyn Perron, together with their five daughters moved into the Arnold Estate in Harrisville, Rhode Island, they were given just one piece of advice by the previous owners, “For the sake of your family, leave the lights on at night!” While they found the statement puzzling at first, it wouldn’t take long for them to follow the advice.

The Perron’s spent ten years in the house, gradually unraveling the history and the various previous inhabitants that had drawn their last breath there. Whilst their findings were grim, Roger and Carolyn might have accepted the house’s darker days had it not been for the spirits that continued to linger in the house long after their deaths.

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In the winter of 1970, the Perron Family had decided that a quiet life in the country was in order. Roger and Carolyn, along with their five daughters, moved into the large, ten bedroom house in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The house, deemed The Old Arnold Estate, had been built in 1736 and sat on two hundred acres of land.

The Conjuring: The True Story of the Perron Family Haunting
The Perron Family: Carolyn and Roger and their five daughter pose in front of their new home, circa 1971.

Paranormal activity began almost immediately. The girls began to notice a young boy wandering about the house. He often moved their toys around, unseen. Carolyn, too, began to notice that someone, or something, would move the broom around. Sometimes she would hear the disembodied sound of the broom’s bristles scraping against the kitchen tile. If she left and came back again, she would often find a small pile of dirt in the center of the floor.

Another spirit gradually made itself known to the Perron girls. A man with a crooked smile would appear in the corners of their room, watching as the girls played. They began to refer to this spirit as Manny. Roger and Carolyn would have likely been hard pressed to believe the wild stories the girls told them to be true, had they not experienced these ghosts first hand.

Soon other strange things began to occur. Beds would sometimes levitate a few inches off the ground. Furniture seemed to have minds of their own, gliding across the floors of their own accord. Doors would also open and slam shut as picture frames frequently fell from the walls. Over time, Roger and Carolyn began to learn about the house’s past, and it was much darker than they could have possibly imagined.

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Eight generations had lived in the Arnold Estate prior to the Perron family, and many of them had met with macabre fates. In the late 18th century Mrs. John Arnold, the ninety-three-year-old matriarch of the family, hung herself in the barn on the property. She was just one of the many suicides to take place on the property. Eleven-year-old Prudence Arnold was raped and murdered by a farmhand in the house, while her relative, Johnny, took his own life by hanging himself in the attic. Over the years there were also two drownings in a creek that ran through the estate and the deaths of four men, who mysteriously froze on the land several years before.

Despite this grim history, the Perron family sought comfort in the fact that all of the various spirits they had encountered in the house had been kind to them.  That was until the day came when the other ghosts of Arnold Estate made themselves known.

Late at night, the girls began to experience an unwelcome visitor in their bedrooms. An unseen force would yank on their legs and hair while they slept. One spirit began to torment eight-year-old Cindy, whispering to her over and over again that there were dead soldiers buried in the walls.

Of all the families otherworldly encounters there is one ghost that the Perron family refuses to speak about in great detail. Andrea Perron, who wrote a book about her family’s experiences at the house, hinted that the spirit may have molested her and her sisters. But that entity wasn’t the only evil spirit that lingered in the house. A ghost, known as Bathsheba, was the real plague of the Arnold Estate.

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According to local legend, Bathsheba Thayer married Judson Sherman in the mid-1800s, and sometime after came to live at the Old Arnold Estate. The first child of the union died and Bathsheba was charged murder. The infant had been found with its head impaled by a sharp object and the townsfolk whispered that the murder had been a sacrifice to Satan and that Bathsheba was a practicing Satanist who had summoned the Devil to grant her the gift of beauty. She was arrested but was freed shortly after due to lack of evidence. Remaining in the house, she lived the rest of her life as an outcast from the community until she died in the early 20th century by hanging herself from a tree behind the house. It’s said, in death her body had mysteriously turned to stone.

The Conjuring: The True Story of the Perron Family Haunting
The real Bathsheba Sherman’s gravestone site in downtown Harrisville, Rhode Island.

Factually, from what can be gathered from the public records, Bathsheba and her husband had indeed lived in the house. She had also been involved in the death of her neighbor’s infant child which had been left in her care, though there is no record of a trial ever taking place. Bathsheba and Judson Sherman lived out their days at the old Arnold Estate, both dying in the 1880s. She was buried in the nearby Baptist cemetery where her tombstone can still be found.

For the Perron family, however, Bathsheba’s specter loomed large. They were convinced her dark spirit remained, bent on torturing anyone who stepped foot on the property. She appeared to every member of the Perron family, her face gray and her head bent to one side, as if her neck was permanently broken. Still, it became clear that the entity paid special attention to Carolyn, her least favorite person in the house.

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At first, these attacks were small. Carolyn felt tiny pinches on her skin, or was slapped by an unseen hand. Bathsheba began to throw various objects at her whenever Carolyn was caught unaware. But things grew steadily worse. One day, Carolyn was lounging on the couch when a sharp pain shot up her leg. She examined herself and found a puncture wound on her calf that had already begun to bleed. The wound looked as though it had been made by a sewing needle. When these attacks failed to make Carolyn leave the house, Bathsheba instead sought to possess her.

The Conjuring: The True Story of the Perron Family Haunting
The infamous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Desperate for help, Roger Perron and his daughters contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren. The famous paranormal investigators had already established a reputation for their work on cases, including the notorious Amityville house haunting. The Warrens and the Perrons watched in horror as Carolyn spoke to them in a foreign voice, and was thrown about the room like a ragdoll. The Warrens agreed to help and set out to cleanse the house of all evil.

The Conjuring movie, which is based on the Perron family’s experiences in the house, has a happy ending where Ed and Lorraine successfully banish Bathsheba and send her back to hell. Unfortunately, that was not how things went down in real life. Ed and Lorraine’s attempts to cleanse the house only seemed to make the spirits within more active. Fearing for his family’s safety, Roger demanded they leave the house.

The Perron’s wanted nothing more than to move out of Arnold Estate, but they could not due to financial strife. For ten long years they endured the multitude of spirits in the house, until they were financially able to move in 1980. Today, paranormal enthusiasts and fans of The Conjuring movie are politely asked to respect the current owners’ privacy and keep away from the property; perhaps they are worried they’ll awaken the spirits once more.

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