The World's Most Haunted House: The Bridgeport Poltergeist

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Well-known paranormal investigator Ed Warren said at the time that it was the most well-documented haunting in 100 years. - William J. Hall

by Ray Bendici

In November 1974, Lindley Street in Bridgeport became the epicenter for one of most-documented hauntings in Connecticut history. A small bungalow-style home owned by Gerard and Laura Goodin was reported to be under attack by otherworldly forces that were allegedly responsible for moving furniture, breaking windows, levitating objects, making a cat talk and generally perplexing and terrifying everyone who stepped foot in the house.

As the situation seemingly increased in intensity, police and firefighters were called in, as were news reporters, priests, paranormal investigators and of course, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Thousands gathered in the street to try and glimpse the unexplained phenomena that was supposedly besieging the house, and an international haunting sensation was born.

What made this case was so compelling and drew so much attention as compared to other "hauntings" was the high number of reputedly reliable witnesses who reported experiencing the unusual activities firsthand. Beyond the Goodins and their friends, more than two dozen firefighters, police officers and other investigators on the scene saw all sorts of bizarre happenings, including couches and chairs spontaneously moving across the floor, tables and a refrigerator levitating, paintings and crucifixes falling off walls and even knives flying through the air. They also recounted hearing a range of audio phenomena, from inexplicable knocks and bangings to disembodied voices; Sam the family cat was alleged to have said a number of things (including "Jingle Bells!" and "Bye bye"), while the decorative swans in the front yard were also accused of making unearthly sounds.

The majority of the weird activity seemed to be centered on the Goodin's 10-year-old adopted daughter Marcia, which is typical of many classic "poltergeist" hauntings. Witnesses reported that although many of the odd events happened when the young girl was around, a large number also occurred when she was either in another room or not even in the house.

Although events came to a head in 1974, odd things had been happening since the Goodins adopted Marcia in 1968, increasing in frequency and intensity in 1971. A year later was the first time the family officially called authorities, initially to help find the source of rhythmic pounding they had heard in the house at night. After that, more unusual events started happening—doors opening and closing themselves as well as items being found in random places around the house. The family repeatedly called in the police to search for a cause to it all, but despite thorough investigations, nothing definitive was discovered.

After three days, the Bridgeport Police Superintendent Joseph Walsh announced that the incidents were a hoax created by the resident Goodin family’s ten year-old daughter Marcia and the case was closed. Police badly needed an acceptable explanation to placate and disperse the crowd camped near the house. Its mere presence was disruptive well beyond that block. It continued to block streets for miles around, causing mischief and property damage while holding valuable law enforcement resources hostage. But behind the scenes, the inquiry into the events at Lindley Street was far from over. Police continued to offer the family protection from the phenomena even after the case was deemed closed by the police. The police captain also required officers, who had been on the scene, to assist in a scientific investigation *... William J. Hall

Activity reached a peak in November 1974, and by that time a number of investigators—including the Warrens, members of the American Society for Psychical Research and the Psychical Research Foundation—in addition to the police, had staked out the house. They conducted interviews with family members, including Marcia, and detailed a number of seemingly inexplicable happenings. In addition to the aforementioned activities, TVs were tipping over, dressers were moving around, window shades were rolling up and wall shelves were pulling out of the wall, all without seeming provocation. The Goodins, who claimed to not believe in the paranormal, were increasingly stressed and vexed by what was going on in their home.

Meanwhile, with the local and national press covering the case, large and curious crowds were regularly gathering outside the house. At one point, a few zealous neighbors tried to dispel the dark spirits in their own fashion, attempting to set the house on fire. They were quickly stopped.

The situation seemed to be getting more intense when, a few weeks into the investigation, a police officer witnessed the young girl Marcia attempting to tip over a TV with her foot when she thought no one was watching. Being caught in the act, she soon confessed that she was responsible for all the activities in the house, and explained how she had done it all. The event was soon declared a hoax by the relieved police, who ended the official investigation, although questions remained as to how Marcia had been able to perpetrate some of the witnessed events when she wasn't in the house or those when she had been in another room. The majority of the investigators, press and curious crowds all soon went away.

Interestingly, even though Marcia had admitted to being the cause of events and apologized for her role in all of it, strange happenings purportedly continued to occur in the house for weeks to come. Eventually, the activities did stop and life went back to normal.

More than 40 years later what exactly happened at Lindley Street is still disputed. Some say it was all a hoax perpetrated by a young girl; others who were there and allegedly saw unusual things happen when that young girl wasn't around weren't so convinced it had all been faked. One thing is for sure: It's one of the most interesting and famous "hauntings" in Connecticut history.


by Ray Bendici