Nestled along the Long Island Sound shoreline lies the bustling city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. This historic seaport city lays claim to the birthplace of the frisbee, the former home of showman P.T. Barnum—and a notorious haunted house that nearly tore a family apart over 40 years ago. The Bridgeport Poltergeist made national headlines in the 1970s, and many local residents remember that baffling and terrifying era like it was yesterday.
In 1960, the Goodin family moved into a seemingly normal home on Lindley Street. But they experienced increasingly strange events over the years, and it all came to a head in 1974, when the Goodins actually called the police. As first responders arrived on the scene to calm the family and try to discover the source of danger, word got out and curious onlookers surrounded the home. The house even drew the likes of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and a media circus ensued.
A Bridgeport native and self-described skeptic, William J. Hall always dismissed the tales of the Bridgeport Poltergeist as a hoax—until he decided to do some digging into audio interviews, newspaper articles, and other matters of public record. What he found astonished him. There were dozens of witnesses to inexplicable events in the home, such as talking animals and furniture that seemed to move of its own volition. What’s more, these witnesses included police officers and other city officials.
Hall is a professional magician, making him something of an expert at sleight of hand himself. However, his meticulous research convinced him that this was no hoax—the Bridgeport Poltergeist was the real deal. He even wrote a book on the events. The World’s Most Haunted House takes readers through the paranormal phenomena that plagued Jerry and Laura Goodin and their 10-year-old daughter Marcia.
Check out the following passage from the book to get a glimpse at the horrors that unfolded in the house on Lindley Street. Then, download The World’s Most Haunted House to learn more chilling details about the Bridgeport Poltergeist.
Paul Eno, a 21-one-year-old seminary student, was looking forward to having a quiet dinner with Ed and Lorraine Warren that evening. They had become friends after the Warrens contacted Paul upon reading an article he had written on the paranormal. He had driven the 60 miles from his home in East Hartford to the Warrens’ home in Monroe. Paul was a dedicated and very intelligent young man. On the trip, his vehicle had a flat tire that delayed him just enough so he arrived as Ed was returning from Bridgeport to meet Lorraine and Father Charbonneau at their house.
“Paul, are you in a highly spiritual state now?” Lorraine asked.
The young man knew that indicated there was a case and he was about to be drawn into it. “I guess so. What’s up?”
“We’ll fill you in on the way.”
Father Charbonneau pulled up and they all got into the Warrens’ car and headed back to Lindley Street.
By that time, new people were in the house, joining the police who were still going in and out of the tiny bungalow. Even Barbara Carter, Marcia’s tutor, was there.
At a little past noon, the Warrens, Paul Eno, and Father Charbonneau, more commonly known as Father Bill, entered, and they were all introduced to each other.
Jerry welcomed more potential help, especially because the police and the firemen had not been able to do anything worthwhile to that point. Jerry retrieved a cassette and handed it to Ed, saying that it contained the strange banging sounds that had been haunting the family before things had escalated during the past few days. It was recorded during the night back in 1972 with the help of neighbor and friend Officer John Holsworth. Laura entered through the front door, hobbling with a cane as she returned from the hospital. She grabbed Paul’s arm and said, “Have you ever seen anything like this?”
Jerry gave her a warm and affectionate greeting. Ed, Jane, and Marcia followed her back inside. The diagnosis was two damaged toes, and one was broken. Jerry helped her into her favorite brown recliner.
“It’s fun to have so many people in the house,” Marcia said when she was introduced to Father Bill. Ironically, as soon as she finished making the statement, she turned and left the room. Ed took Paul aside and told him to stay with Marcia at all times. He went on to explain: “It is common in hoax cases for the child to be the perpetrator, and is also frequently a contributor in legitimate paranormal cases. Children are great imitators, and they quickly learn that once the chaos quiets down, people leave. One way to get them to stay is to help things along.” Paul nodded and went to be with Marcia. He located her in the basement, where she was holding the cat and talking with two police officers. The men were trying to cajole her into admitting that she was behind it all. Paul introduced himself and they eventually returned together upstairs.
Marcia was in her room sitting on her bed facing the wall. Lieutenant Coco was talking to Officer Barney Magliamele in the small hallway when they heard a rattling noise. They shuffled off to the master bedroom to see what was happening. Jerry’s brother Edmund was already at the entrance to the room looking in. They immediately noticed movement on the wall. A large crucifix slowly floated down and rested on the floor against Jerry and Laura’s bed. Marcia joined them to see what was going on. There was no one else in the bedroom.
Lieutenant Coco took Edmund by the arm and said, “I didn’t see anything either!”
Then Coco turned to Ed Warren who was also nearby and asked, “Could you please talk to Walsh and explain to him what’s going on here?”
Ed called Police Superintendent Joseph Walsh and told him that the incidents were caused by poltergeist activity.
Walsh laughed and said, “C’mon, please tell the guys down there to clear it up and get the hell out of there.”
Everyone was now back in the kitchen and living room. The police were talking to Marcia, who was now sitting in the middle recliner apparently enjoying the company and the excitement of all the people. Marcia leaned forward to listen to the police officers who were talking to her.
The room suddenly became silent. The recliner in which Marcia was sitting started to rise toward the ceiling. Everybody understood the what. Nobody understood the how. The undeniable reality was that a heavy 1970s recliner was doing a somersault halfway between the floor and the ceiling. It completely flipped—360 degrees—smashing against an end table in back and dropping Marcia to the floor. She screamed, hitting her head as she landed. She began crying as her mother moved to her side.
A police officer tried to right the recliner after it, too, had fallen to the floor, but had difficulty doing it alone. Another officer joined him, and, with some effort, the two managed to sit it up and move it back into position.
The state of mayhem continued at the Goodin home. The banging had returned and was heard at least once an hour. The kitchen table would regularly fall over and one end would lean on a chair or make its way past the chair to the floor. The chairs would fall away from the table, landing on their backs on the floor without any warning and without any noise before they moved. None of it was producing vibrations or shaking the floor. A light bulb in a lamp in the living room suddenly shattered. In the kitchen, Ed Warren found the knives on the floor rotating and swiveling into various positions.
The quiet moments—when they occurred—never lasted long. The Goodins’ stand-alone ash tray—the kind that sits on a solid round base about 30 inches high—suddenly, and without warning, shattered while still in the upright position and fell away from the wall. Oddly, it had shattered in the middle outward rather than snapping apart at the top.
Laura put her hands to her face. Marcia began to cry and said, “Oh Daddy, that was the ashtray we bought you for your birthday.”
“Who cares!” Jerry said with exhaustion, if not surrender, in his tone.
“Evil spirits are trying to kill us,” Jerry said as he went into the kitchen.
He returned with an old coffee jar filled with holy water. He began dipping his hand in it and shaking it around onto objects, people, and walls. He was on a mission.
Three deliberate solid knocks were heard on the kitchen door. Jerry, exasperated and ready for a fight, quickly went to see who or what it was.
Again, no one was there. Back in their living room, the tulip lamps had begun rattling. Jane entered the room to report that the rosary beads in Marcia’s bedroom were moving—repeatedly flapping against the wall.
The wooden wind chime in the hallway started swaying periodically and making noise, causing everyone to move their heads to see it all at the same time.
In an effort to help break the tension, Barbara, shadowed by Marcia, went into the kitchen to make fresh coffee. Ed Warren entered the kitchen and thanked Barbara for her thoughtfulness; as he did so, he called out to everyone to come get their coffee right away. Ed knew the table was not a secure location.
Just as Marcia, Barbara, and Ed left the kitchen, another crash occurred. Barbara and Marcia turned to see what was going on.
“Oh my goodness!” Marcia said.
The table had tipped, and everything had crashed onto the floor, splattering coffee, cups, and chips.
The fire department already checked the cellar, joists, foundation, and even the window sills. A second group had gone to check the new construction site at St. Vincent’s Hospital. They all came to the same conclusion: There was no explanation for the events taking place.
As a last resort, a pair of electric and plumbing inspectors, Guido and Charlie, was called in to check those systems. When they arrived, the police temporarily detained them outside. That had seemed odd to them, but upon entering the living room it all became obvious. They looked at each other but didn’t comment. They moved along and checked out the basement, where both the electrical and plumbing were in order. They returned to the kitchen scratching their heads.
As they looked around the room the refrigerator rose from the floor and glided some 6 to 8 feet to the left before coming to rest. A police officer immediately directed the two inspectors to the door.
“Leave now and keep your mouth shut about what you just saw. This is a police matter,” the office said sternly, as if scolding them for being there.
The two of them went to their car together and got in. They sat in silence for a moment, and then Charlie turned to Guido and said, “Did you see what I just saw in there?”
“Unbelievable,” Guido replied as he shook his head. They drove away pondering what they had just witnessed.
A little past 2 p.m., things had quieted down. It was time for the police to leave. The four original responding officers said goodbye to the family and advised them to report any other disturbances. As they all walked down the front steps, Officer Tomek lagged behind. He called out to them that he forgot something and he would be right back. He had an idea. Tomek was convinced that the—whatever it was—was in some way an intelligent presence. It seemed to taunt and tease, like playing a child’s game and mounting an occasional temper tantrum, unaware of and unconcerned about any problems associated with the damage. He also figured this was the perfect time to take a closer look. He saw that the Goodins and the Warrens were preoccupied in the kitchen as he made his way to Marcia’s room, where he planned to undertake an experiment of sorts. He thought to himself, “If you can hear me, move something.”
Immediately, several items on Marcia’s wall “came to life.” The baby picture shook, the cross shook, the cherubs shook. But the wall itself did not vibrate. As these items seemed to be answering his request, he spoke again to himself, that time offering the command, “Okay, you can stop now.” And everything stopped at once. Tomek believed that he had just communicated with the entity or entities. He decided that his finding was one of those things that should remain private for the time being. It most certainly was not going to find its way into any police report. That just might become a career breaker. He would not speak of this for the next 40 years.
Want to keep reading? Download The World's Most Haunted House today to get the full story of the Bridgeport Poltergeist.
This passage from The World’s Most Haunted House reconstructs the dramatic events that went down at the notorious house on Lindley Street, where the Bridgeport Poltergeist wreaked havoc in 1974. Though onlookers may have initially suspected the Goodin family of either faking or imagining paranormal activity, it quickly became clear to all involved that there was something darker at play. From police officers to repairmen, many onlookers witnessed events they could never explain, even decades later. Download William J. Hall’s gripping book today to learn the full story of the angry spirit that tormented the Goodins more than 40 years ago.
Featured photo via Boyce Batey / The World's Most Haunted House