Friday, September 21, 2012

"Paranormal Witness: A Haunting In Connecticut" EP 207 Recap

A family learn that their new Connecticut home was once a funeral parlor, and strange incidents occur in the walls 

The year was 1987. Carmen Snedeker was living the American Dream in a small town in Upstate New York: she had a husband named Allen and together, they had four children Brad, Jennifer, AJ, and Phillip, the oldest of the four. “Phillip was idolized, he was their big brother,” Carmen said. “They all played baseball, rode bikes…it was a nice slow paced life. There was nothing that I thought could destroy our lives.” But that was all about to change dramatically. After Carmen discovered a lump on Phillip’s neck, she took him to the doctors for test. The lump tested positive for Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer. Even worse, no childhood treatment centers were nearby. The closest one was in Hartford, Connecticut which offered “very radical, intense” new treatment so for five times a week, Carmen would make a round trip to the treatment center. The treatment left Phillip’s skin scarred and black and the trips were becoming too much as Phillip would constantly suffered from nausea and headaches. Worried that the trips would literally kill him, Carmen and her husband decide to move to Connecticut to be closer to Phillip’s treatment center. 

The actual home in Connecticut (picture credit: NY Daily)
Buying a place with four children in Connecticut was a very difficult process and the only option the family had was an old townhouse. The family knew it was their last resort so they too it with Carmen promising herself she would make it as much of a home as possible.  When the family arrived at the home, Carmen was hesitant to go in right away. “I begged Allen to please go in and check it,” Carmen recalls. “I’m chewing my nails waiting on him to come back out. He was gone about 15 minutes. (He comes back) We then go into the house and everything looks pretty normal”. However, one unique feature of the home was that in every entrance way, there was a crucifix. It was then that Allen informed Carmen that this townhouse used to be a funeral home. A stunned Carmen and Allen go to basement and they see a counter that went around the 3 walls. There was also another room to the right that was used to prepare the bodies that included an embalming table, an embalming machine, and a lever that would lift the coffins up to floor level. Needless to say, Carmen wasn’t exactly thrilled; “We have a son that has cancer! I don’t want him thinking of his own mortality, we can’t live here!” Allen said they had no choice so they decided the best they could to turn the house into a home and try to keep it from the kids that it was once a funeral home 

Meanwhile, the kids were excited because of the size of the house and thought it was like a palace. Phillip, who was still very ill from treatments, stayed in a room connected to the basement.  On the first night at the house, Philip went downstairs to bed. Carmen was on the phone with Allen explaining about the day and talking about Phillip. Meanwhile, Phillip is sleeping and wakes up to someone calling his name and so he tells his mom. Carmen explains she probably heard her say his name over the phone and the sound travelled through the house. He warned “no, we have to leave this place and never come back, its evil”…..

Brad and Phillip explored the home as Phillip showed Brad the “funeral basement”. Phillip puts Brad on the embalming table as a prank and spun him around. Brad told Phillip to stop; “He was really trying to creep me out!” The next day, Phillip tells Brad and AJ about the counters that go all around the room. Phillip opened a hole under the counter and AJ explained how they all proceeded; “ Phil was in front, then it was me, naturally me being the youngest one, I was in the rear…it was like a long dark cave…” AJ then noticed a stain on the ground. AJ touched it and described it as a “dark, sticky substance”. Phil took his flashlight, pointed it to the wall, and it showed deep, dark red stains on the wall, like the color of blood. All the boys frantically crawled out, scared out of their mind. Meanwhile, Carmen is wondering what all the fuss is about.  “They’re white as ghosts and said there was blood coming out of my wall,” she described. “I thought it was paint running down the wall that was dried. I started laughing at them and said, ‘scared yourselves, didn’t ya? You had no business of being down there anyways!’” When a crucifix on the entranceway went missing, she once again assumed it was boys just being boys and they were trying to scare her. Despite the shenanigans she thought her boys were up to, Phillip’s health was her main priority; “He was so ill and…he was going through probably more than I can imagine,” she recalled. 

Phillip went to sleep one night and heard his name called again. He was hearing it every night now and began seeing things. Carmen assumed it was maybe the side effects of treatment and medication. Carmen was afraid that he was telling the kids these stories and they were going to believe it. They had been living in the house for about six months when Phillip wakes up and sees four cloaked men in the corner of the room. Brad, who was sharing the room with Phillip, wakes up and both boys look over at the men.  “My (toy) robot was going crazy and there were four guys standing around it. All I saw were dark cloaks,” Brad explains “All the sudden, all four of them turned over... My heart’s in my throat, scared, about to pee my pants!” Brad and Phillip ran to Carmen to tell them about the four men in the basement “I was more angry then frightened!” Carmen said. “If somebody is in my house with my babies, I get angry! I was going down to rip them a new one!” Carmen went downstairs, the boys next to her, scared to death. Carmen explores the basement with a flashlight. The next way of going into the basement was going through the back half of the rooms. Carmen went from room to room looking. She looked in every possible room and every possible place and there was nobody there. Carmen calls the police to report a possible burglary. But in conclusion, once again, she thought it was the boys story-telling and taking the crucifixes.  “I told Phillip that he needed to act his age!” Carmen said. She then held a family meeting for the boys and explained that they needed to stop with the ghost stories. 

It had been a year since the family moved in the house when Brad came home from school and saw that Phillip had moved his bed from his bedroom to the next room over, the embalming room, which Carmen felt was very strange.  “Puberty was kicking in, he moved to a strange city, he had cancer,” Carmen explained “He was hearing voices and he was seeing things. His doctors were telling him it wasn’t the medication”. Meanwhile, Phillip became more withdrawn. That summer, the family cousins, Kim and Tammy came over to visit. Tammy was especially excited to see Phillip. “Me and Phillip had a deep connection, we were like brother and sister,” Tammy said. “Everyone greeted me at the door except Phillip. I was kind of hurt. I wanted to hug him and have him be excited with me…he just wasn’t…”

The Snedeker family's case went onto the big screen (pic credit: People)
One day, Brad went downstairs to the bedroom and he discovered Phillip writing in a book. Brad poked fun at him and playfully asked him what he was writing. He’d just sit there and look at Brad. It’d send chills up Brad’s spine. In another scenario, Tammy was cleaning up around the house and noticed in Phillip’s room, there was the book. She opened the book and was stunned at what she saw in it. In it included gruesome pictures with “dark words” like “kill” and “death” in them. Worried about Phillip and his odd recent behavior, she showed the book to Carmen. Carmen became very disturbed by the book. “I began to wonder if these were his writings at all because Phillip was dyslexic and I had spent years teaching him how to write the alphabet let alone these complex words,” Carmen said.  When Carmen asked Phil how he wrote them, he said “the man helped me write him”. At dinner time one night, Phillip reached around Carmen at the dinner table and his sleeve went up; Carmen noticed scratches in his arms and grabs his arm, demanding where the scratches came from when Phillip explained “something it telling me to do this”. 

Meanwhile, cousin Tammy became more spooked at Phillip’s behavior. “This was not his nature at all,” Tammy said. “Now he was different. Tammy explained how Phillip would just lean around, looking out at you. As time went on, Phillip became more aggressive and began throwing punches at his brothers where playful wrestling turned into UFC brawls. On one occasion, Phillip was being very physical with Brad when Tammy jumped in to defend Brad. Phillip retaliated by going into Tammy’s room and destroying it. On a second occasion whenTammy and Philip were fighting , out of nowhere, Phillip used an unusual amount of enormous strength and threw her across the room.  “It put the fear of God in me!” Tammy explained. Carmen herself was stunned: “He was a sick boy! There was no way he could throw me across the room like that. He just couldn’t”. 

Tammy woke up one night and felt hands were grabbing the covers. She felt like something was coming after her. Her shirt is being lifted up. She was very frightened because she didn’t see what it was. Tammy felt very violated and confided in her Aunt Carmen about it. Carmen didn’t believe it was ghosts and that it was her son. “I didn’t know what to feel or what to think. I felt more like a robot running on battery power,” Carmen explained.  Allen was in New York at the time and Carmen was left alone deciding what to do. She called Phillip’s doctor and said what was going on. The doctor said that she was describing symptoms of schizophrenia and Phillip needed to be committed. Carmen felt completely numb as she was about to face making a heartbreaking decision. Come 6 o’clock on evening and she’s acting like nothing is wrong. She made his favorite dinner for the family. The doctors all the sudden came in the house without a word being said. They took Phillip away but not without a fight.

“MOM, what is going on??” Phillip screamed. “What are they doing to me?”
“I am so sorry, Phillip….I am so sorry…” both Carmen and Tammy answered. 

“I wanted to believe him but every time they had told me that there was something going on, I went in there and looked and never found anything so I couldn’t prove that there was anything there,” Carmen cried when remembering that dark event. “I had to make sure the other children were safe!”
They doctors strapped Phillip in a straight-jacket. They wouldn’t let Carmen in. But Phillip continued screaming and yelled out a haunting warning; 

“Mom, don’t leave me! Now that I’m gone, they are going to come after you!” 

Carmen cried the entire way home. She was angry, frustrated, sad and conflicted. Everything he said preyed on her mind. Finally, Carmen had enough and wanted to get to the truth. Carmen went to the back stairs and yelled “You son of a bitch, you want to play? You play with me!” She sat at the stairs for a few hours to “quiet, eerie silence”. Nothing ever appeared. Meanwhile, Tammy once again, woke up to see a shadow above her. Her covers were pulled off completely. Tammy ran terrified to Carmen’s room. Carmen then noticed on her way out of the bedroom, she noticed her crucifix was gone. There were no more crucifixes in the house. Carmen returned to Tammy’s room and began to read the Bible to Tammy. Tammy then said, “it’s coming, it’s coming!” Tammy felt a hand rise up under her clothes. Carmen saw the wrist, the hand, the knuckles crawl over Tammy and violate her. Carmen immediately scooped her up and ran her to the dining room. Tammy was trying to calm down when she saw it was coming again. Carmen couldn’t sense it but Tammy did. “The coldness, the growling, the motion of the room, the coldness,” Tammy explained. “ I feel it and I couldn’t see it or fight it back. My rosary began levitating around my neck!” The rosary then dropped and shattered to pieces .

Carmen knew in her heart at this point that committing Phillip was the wrong decision. 

Happier Times: The Snedeker family. (picture credit: Hubpages)
Carmen calls the church after this incident and fortunately, they believed her and told her that there would be an exorcist the next day. Carmen was joyous to know her family would be healed and on that day Carmen was showering on day when the shower curtain “very quickly wrapped around me. I couldn’t push away,” she explained. “It was tightened around my face. Like someone was trying to smother me. It’s getting tighter. I thought this thing is trying to kill me. It wants me dead….”Tammy hears Carmen screaming to her. Tammy tried unraveling her and eventually, pulled and ripped the curtain apart. The house was later on exorcised. “That house, it changed us to the core of who we are,” Carmen said. The family moved out of the house 1989. While the haunted house was behind them, the scars it caused the family weren’t. “The guilt of what I’ve done to my son is overwhelming,” Carmen says sadly. Eventually, Phillip was out of the hospital. The first time she saw him, she just held him and rubbed him and said “I’m so sorry, baby.” While Phillip was back home with the family, he grew up having a very hard time with trust and maintaining a relationship with his family because of what had happened to him. 

After 24 years, Phillip’s cancer appeared. He died in January 2012 at the age of 38. Carmen remembers his final moments; “he came to me a week before he died and came into the kitchen and asked “mom am I evil?” “No, you’re not evil, you’re a sweet boy and I’m proud of you…” 

Shortly before he died, he recorded this audio interview;

“…Can you hear me? I told my mom someday, one, that the house was evil. My parents weren’t believing me and yeah, I guess I became more fascinated then frightened of the things that were in the basement. My mom was trying to be strong and on one hand, was trying to do what was right but on the other hand, I felt a sense of betrayal. It’s hard to describe the way the (inaudible) can find its way into the little nooks and crannies in your life and begin to manipulate you like that.” 

Janes Notes: Oy vey, where the heck to begin? This was a loaded case and what was even more interesting than the episode was a little bit of net searching for more information about this case. This real life case was the inspiration for the movie “The Haunting In Connecticut”. Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators, were soon called upon the house and an exorcism was performed. The Snedeker family have gone on nation-wide talk shows, interviews and their story…and its legitimacy…is still a paranormal debate between believers and skeptics. Anyways, I tried going to Carmen's site, but it just takes me to Go Daddy's! website. I tried looking up Syfy but even they don't have the episode featured. I started by coming across this article here about the case in People Magazine but that wasn’t enough for me. It is mentioned that the entity that haunted Phillip was a “long haired” spirit. It also mentions 3 kids and two nieces. Didn’t she say 4 kids? She said she had 3 boys, AJ, Brad and Phillip and then a daughter. I also couldn’t find anything in the Hartford Courant about the case. Anyways, I found a lot of this research was conflicting, accusations that Carmen was involved in an illegal state lottery scam (couldn't find anything on that) and made my head spin but bear with me as I post the following on what I found on the important characters involved in this story: Carmen Snedeker, Ray Garton (author of the book “In A Dark Place” about the case...and was also interviewed in regards to how the stories the Snedekers seemed to have not added up), Joe Nickell (paranormal investigator/publisher), and Susan Trotta-Smith, the owner of the now famous townhouse. All quotes from articles/interviews are in orange. 

I  did a search of Carmen Reed after learning she changed her name from Snedeker to “protect her children” (source for that quote: here). I did a google search on Carmen Reed and this page came up on the first page. Click here for the full page but some of the content contains on how she has a “gift” and always knew it: 

At an early age, Carmen found a friend, Jaco, who became and remains her spiritual guide. No, no one else can see or hear Jaco, but his ability to help Carmen see into others spirits is well documented. Jaco was not only her spiritual guide and friend, but her advisor, as he knew the "normal" world would not approve of Carmen voicing all her concerns about upcoming events. In spite of Jaco's insistence, Carmen told her uncle of his impending death, and he never forgave her in this life. Thus she learned to "jam" her gift; another way of saying withhold the information. She stifled her abilities for many years. 

This has got me confused because she said over and over on the TV show that there were no such things as ghosts.  She did an interview for CNN that can be found here.


Garton was hired to write a story based off the case and was invited to spend time with the Snedeker family. According to his accounts, the family "was going through some serious problems like alcoholism and drug addiction, could not keep their story straight, and I became very frustrated; it’s hard writing a non-fiction book when all the people involved are telling you different stories”. He also noted in regards to Phillip; 

Since writing the book, I’ve talked to a couple of people who knew the Snedekers when they lived in the house in question, and it seems no one in the neighborhood was aware of the boy having cancer. I’ve been told he was a trouble-maker who had some difficulties with drugs and mental illness, but nothing like the health problems the Snedekers claim. The Snedekers’ story involves an incident in which some young female relatives were fondled and groped in the house by demonic hands, but the boy confessed that he had done the fondling and groping, and that’s why he was removed from the house......Personally, I have no solid evidence that the boy did not have cancer, and I’ve never said that he didn’t. But the evidence that he did is pretty flimsy, and when you combine that with the other holes in this story and some of the disreputable details about the Snedekers and the Warrens, it’s difficult not to question it. As I said, I’m not claiming the boy did not have cancer. But there are reasons to doubt the claim, and all those reasons are related to the wobbly and ever-changing story told by Carmen Reed.

The full interview can be found here


Joe Nickell has 40 years experience under his belt from a magician, to paranormal investigator to a private investigator. He is the publisher for "CSI: The Committee For Skeptic Inquiry" whose "mission... is to promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims." (Here's the link to the site). Nickell had his own encounter with the Snedekers and includes even more disturbing claims;

"Other revealing information came to light in Southington—about Philip Snedeker’s drug use, vandalism, and other misbehavior. There was even an explanation for the sexual touching that Carmen’s niece had felt “from an unseen hand.” The boy was actually caught fondling his nieces while they slept. “Steven” (as he is called in the book) “was taken away by the police that afternoon. He was questioned, at which time he confessed that he’d been fondling the girls while they slept at night, and that he’d attempted unsuccessfully to have sex with his twelve-year-old cousin.” He was later taken to the juvenile detention center, where a psychiatrist diagnosed him as schizophrenic (Warren et al. 1992, 145–147)."

Full article can be found here



Susan and her husband are current owners of the house and aren't exactly thrilled with the Snedeker family and their exploits of the story. An article in The New York Daily News interviewed Susan about the house and the media fenzy that surrounded it in light of the movie. "It's got beautiful woodwork and there is a nice warm feeling to the house," Trotta-Smith said. She further explains that the curiosity surrounding the house has caused a lot of headaches. Article can be found here

My take on it all?  After reading all this conflicting information, it's a good case of "he said, she said'. There will always be a dose of skepticism in the paranormal community when encountering the paranormal but when it comes to this case? It's not looking really good for the Snedekers as far as their credibility goes. Too many questions about it, not enough answers. Phillip played such an important, vital role in this case but to think that he was so quiet about it while his mom went and took this case to a media frenzy level? If that was my child and he was that scarred from it, I would respect that and not tell the story and try to live as much of a normal life as possible but that's just my opinion. This pic pretty much sums up my reaction to this;

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For more ghost adventures, check out my personal site at Message In A Bottle 

1 comment:

Mollpnwgurl said...

LOVE the pic of the drag queen at the end of th article. How come women can never find awesome costume jewelry like that. has great command of grammar, lol.