Something Weird and it Don’t Look Good – Who Ya Gonna Call? A Catholic Priest.

We talk about spiritual warfare more than a little here at OnePeterFive, and there’s a reason for that. More and more stories have emerged showing a disturbing increase in the amount of demonic activity in the world.

A story from The Blaze (hit the link for more creepy pictures) this week references a new book – The Demon of Brownsville Road: A Pittsburgh Family’s Battle with Evil in Their Home. The book is about a demonic manifestation in a Pittsburgh-area home. (I’m not linking to the book because I can’t speak for its contents. In one of the book excerpts online, a possible demon’s name is identified, which most exorcists will tell you is a very bad idea.) The details are provided by the Cranmer family, who moved into the house in 1988 and started experiencing unsettling things almost immediately thereafter. After many years of  of strange happenings : strange apparitions, shadowy figures moving through the house, a substance like blood issuing forth from the walls, strange scratches and bites appearing on the family members at night, and even the inexplicable destruction of sacramentals like crucifixes, the family — not Catholic at the time — sought help.


One of a number of mysteriously broken crucifixes from the Cranmer home. (Bob Cranmer)

For two years, a private demonologist, protestant ministers, and most importantly, Catholic exorcists, worked to remove the demonic presence from the Cranmer family home. Victory was finally achieved through exorcism and the celebration of Mass at the house in 2006. The details of the story are unnerving, to say the least. A local report on what transpired provides more detail:

Bob Cranmer said a blood-like substance was splattered across the walls of his century-old home on Brownsville Road.

Furniture moved on its own. Paintings turned on their sides. Crucifixes were bent and rosary beads were destroyed.

It took faith, an exorcism of the home and a final Mass performed in the basement to rid the house of the evil that resided there for years, according to the family.


Cranmer, who grew up in Brentwood, always admired the home at 3406 Brownsville Road. When he and his family moved back to Brentwood in 1988, the home was on the market and they bought it. Almost immediately they knew something wasn’t right, said Cranmer, who served on Brentwood Council and as an Allegheny County commissioner in the 1990s. He also is the president and CEO of Cranmer Consultants, which offers lobbying and other services.

“The house was cold. It didn’t have a homey feel to it,” Cranmer’s wife, Lesa, 53, said. The house, built in 1909, was designated as a landmark in 1994 by Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

Strange things started happening. Bob Cranmer would come home from work to find a chain in the closet, repeatedly wrapped around the light, he said.

In 2004, the increased activity began to “burst out in our face,” Cranmer said.

A “pillar of stench” would move around the home, Cranmer said, and when he splashed it with holy water, it would move. “This stench would move and you could only smell it when you were right next to it,” Cranmer said.

The family sought answers.

“When this started to unmask itself, you want to do something,” Cranmer said. “Who you gonna call? I can’t call Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. There are no ‘Ghostbusters,’ you know?”

The Penn State Paranormal Research Society, affiliated with the university, inspected the house and found a closed space under the stairwell where items from the house had been hidden.

“It could pass through walls,” Cranmer said. “It could take things in there.”

The activity went in cycles, Cranmer said. “We found ways to push back at it, to make its existence difficult,” he said.

That was done with the help of the Roman Catholic Church, even though the Cranmers at the time were not Catholic, he said.

There was an “infestation” of the home by a “demonic spirit,” said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman with the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, who was brought in to help rid the home of evil. There also was “oppression,” where the demonic spirit was going after “the people in the house to break down their spirit, break down their faith,” in an attempt to get in, he said.

“We trusted the priests who were in there,” Lengwin said.

An exorcist came from New York to help rid the home of the demonic spirit, Lengwin said.

It took more than two years of fighting with the presence and close work with the Diocese to rid the house of the evil, Cranmer said.

The experience took a toll on the family. The couple’s four children, all of whom are now grown, were affected, Cranmer said, each in their own way.

“It was pretty crazy – the end,” Cranmer said. “It didn’t end with some big clap of thunder. It ended with this thing defeated.”


A smoky substance caught on film (and being looked at by the family dog) but not visible to the naked eye.

A smoky substance caught on film (and being looked at by the family dog) but not visible to the naked eye. (Bob Cranmer)

The more I read about the goings on in the house, the more upsetting the ordeal became. I can’t imagine living in a house where things like this happened on a regular basis.

In the end, though, Christ was victorious. The power of the priesthood and the sacraments triumphs over every evil. It also appears that in the process of cleansing the home, the Cranmers — no doubt recognizing the authority of the True Faith over Satan’s kingdom — became Catholic.

This is far from the only story about a house with a demonic infestation over the past few years. And as our godless culture develops an unhealthy curiosity with “ghost hunting,” I can only imagine that such things will become more common.

As much as reading stories like this make my skin crawl, it’s reassuring to know that God has equipped His Church with the means to deal with these supernatural menaces. If you ever experience things anything like this — and to a lesser extent, I have — go to a trustworthy priest for help. Catholics should have their homes blessed once a year. They should be well stocked with sacramentals — rosaries, medals, crucifixes, holy water, blessed candles and oil, etc. — as well as images of Christ, the Blessed Mother, and the saints.  

The war against principalities and powers is never easy and is usually unpleasant, but we are assured of victory through the Holy Cross. Deo Gratias!

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