Photo credit: Courtesy of Bob Cranmer
This is not about pop-up ghosts or zombies, nor was this story made up for Halloween – it’s a real life horror show.
“As far back as I can remember, I was fascinated with the house on Brownsville Road. There were many great houses on that road, but this one – number 3406 – was special.” author Bob Cranmer
“I wanted this house all my life. It was built at the turn of the century – Victorian, mini mansion, historical landmark.” Cranmer told Hollywood on the Potomac. “When I left the military – I was a career military officer – my wife and I decided to leave that life and move home. All of a sudden, this house that I always even just wanted to go in and look at was on the market. I was very anxious to buy this house. It’s a great, as I said, Victorian, brownstone, cedar shake shingles. It looks like central casting for a haunted house picture.”
“I would say it’s one of the scariest places on Earth!”
— People Magazine
Soon after moving into their ‘dream house’ the family began experiencing strange unsettling phenomena that escalated into violence. The house and family were under attack from a malicious demon that was trying to destroy their household. Now hold on, this story is not from someone’s wild imagination nor was it made up to scare people on Halloween; it’s a story from Bob Cranmer who has held a number of high-ranking political offices in Pennsylvania where he is a well known and respected community leader.
Captain Cranmer in 1982 (left)
“At the time it was taking place, obviously it was all very private. Then when I got through it all – since I had kept very copious notes all during this process – I just thought ‘this is just unreal’ to have experienced this supernatural situation – not just once, not just twice but over several years. In 2007, I sat down and I took about 375 pages worth of notes that I had kept and I converted it into a narrative, an initial manuscript. Then I went into the long arduous process of publicizing it.” he added reflecting his decision to publish his book: The Demon of Brownsville Road.
The house was not considered to be ‘haunted’ but infested by a demon as categorized by the Catholic church. We wondered what the difference was……..haunted vs. demonized.
“Well a ghost, if you believe in them, is generally the soul of a person who passed on in some tragic event or something. A demon is actually the opposite of an angel. Again, if you believe in good and evil, the devil and God, one third of the angels were cast out of heaven by God with Lucifer. Those angels became demons. They were cast down to earth. They’re here with us. A demon is what, say in the movie The Exorcist, inhabited that little girl.”
“So is this a religious story?” we asked.
Broken Cross courtesy of the Demon
“It depends on your perspective,” he explained. “The existence of this thing manifested itself in a much different way than a ghost would. A ghost is generally reliving some type of event that took place during a life. Sometimes they can interact with people that are alive. In our case, this was a demonic, evil, malicious, malevolent spirit that interacted with us on a regular basis and it wanted to hurt us. It wanted to drive us out of the house. There was no pretense of it being some kind of a lost soul. This thing was like living with the invisible man.
For the first 10 years or so we lived in the house, we did think simply we lived in a haunted house. The paranormal activity was mischievous, it was typical lights on, furniture moves and so on. It intensified about 10 years ago. Once we began to confront it with the church, because again, who do you really call about something like this? Once I came to the conclusion that this thing was dangerous, when things started flying through the air trying to hit people and so on, I contacted the Diocese of Pittsburgh. We were not Catholic at the time. I mean, who do you turn to? You cannot turn to Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in the Ghostbusters.”
“The thing that was different about this is that once the church started to be involved and I began all these different Catholic rituals and so on and praying the rosary, this thing would take crucifixes and break them in half,” he added. “It would take rosary beads and tear them up. After they would say mass and bless the house, it would have like these temper tantrums and turn all the pictures sideways on the wall and move furniture. There was a direct correlation between its anger and the religious symbology and religious ritual that the Catholic church was using. I can tell you, we did come out the other end, my wife and I are now very strong Catholics. I think we couldn’t help but do that because what we experienced and without the church and without their help, who knows what would have happened?”
We, of course, would have called the movers pronto, the Cranmers did not!
“Most people would,” Bob agreed. “I was a former high ranking politician at the time and I was friends with the then mayor of Pittsburgh. He actually went and met with Bishop Wuerl who is now Cardinal Wuerl down in Washington DC. The Cardinal had put together a team of three priests that worked with us. I can tell you that the situation got much much worst before it ever got better. All we did was really agitate this thing. It became a battle royal so to speak. It lasted for over two years. Finally, after a lot of hard times and a lot of anguish and terror and so forth, the situation was finally dealt with and this demon was expelled in early 2006.”
The next obvious question was why in the world would you stay if it endangered your family?
“Well, again, good question,” he answered. “Initially, I thought that they would be able to deal with this much in the same way as calling in the exterminator or the handyman, that they would come in and after one or two visits, do the Catholic hocus pocus, that would be it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. It was more like the movie the Matrix. We were given the decision early on that said: ‘This is your option. You can sell your house to some other unsuspecting family and move on and hope things go better with them or we will work with you and help you try to deal with this. In a year, we’ll know if we’re making process.’ That’s how powerful they knew this thing was and how difficult it was going to be.
Even though I wasn’t Catholic, we weren’t Catholic, we still had a strong Christian faith. We were Evangelical Christians. I believe the bible says good overcomes evil. I thought, ‘Well, this is our house. No one, nothing’s going to take it from us.’ I said, ‘We’re in.’ I didn’t know what we were in for but we were in. Once we engaged in this process, it was kind of hard to back out of it. If I had anything to do over again, I most likely would have moved my family. My children were teenagers by this time but nonetheless they were still very vulnerable to it, I would have moved them out.”
“We bought it. We loved the house.,” Cranmer reiterated. “We decided we were going to stay and fight for it because this evil was trying to force us out of it. Again, I was confident that in the end, good would prevail over evil, that the devil and evil would be vanquished. That eventually did happen but I really had second thoughts through the process.”
We wondered how each family member reacted to the situation – his wife and four children.
“My daughter and my middle son, even though they saw the thing, even though they were impacted by it and terrified and it appeared to them; even with one of my sons who was scratched him and so on, it really didn’t affect them as deeply as my other two sons. They were affected very severely with psychiatric issues. They both were repeatedly in psychiatric hospitals under doctor’s care. It was really bad. Early on as well, my wife had been impacted by it.”
“We didn’t realize it at the time that it was attributed to the spirit because I didn’t realize it at that early point what we were dealing with,” he explained. “She (his wife) also had in her early 30’s when we moved in this particular room in the house that was associated with a lot of evil things that had happened decades ago, she had one or two nervous breakdown and ended up in the hospital, psychiatric ward for several weeks. This was a completely normal president of the local school board, normal young woman and coinciding with moving into this room, she had a complete breakdown. Again, that’s part of the story. Some people might say it’s all natural events, but when they’re all put in the context of the story, all the pieces of the puzzle fit.”
And there’s the dog: “Our dog would go into what I call his terminal stare and I know he was looking at something, he could see it. I was coming down the steps. He was in his terminal stare. I simply held the camera and took a picture. Then when the picture was developed, the demon was in the midst of it.
I don’t have video. Now you have your iPhone. Back then, it was the big thing you held on your shoulder. It was difficult to have, all of sudden grab a video, what are you going to video tape? I certainly have pictures and a number of different pictures of how it would manifest itself. I even did catch one of those manifestations on film. It would cover the walls with this blood-like substance. I have pictures of that. It did all types of horrendous things. I did catch a lot of it in pictures……the scratches, the bites……..different things.”
Inside a “Demon House” – Video courtesy of FOX 8 Cleveland:
Naturally we wondered what was so great about the house that Bob would allow his family to endure such things.
“Well, it was tough for a while. My two sons finally recovered. It took my oldest son a number of years to get over what he experienced. At one point in time we did think that he was actually possessed. He wasn’t, but it was bad. They’re all fine now. They’re all adults. They all know what we dealt with. They all know the severity of it. Looking back on it, they certainly don’t have any warm feelings for the experience. It’s not something that your average family should go through. But nonetheless, we did. They accepted my decision to stay.”
“So do they come and visit for holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas?” we wondered.
“Oh sure, sure they do. We only have one son that lives out of state now. Everyone’s still around. I have grandchildren and they stay overnight. The house is fine.”
“What about the reaction of the towns’ folks?” we asked. “Let’s say if you would run for a higher political office right now, would the people in your town vote for you or will they think you’re a little bit off?”
“I can tell you, I thought when I decided to publish the book and it went through several years of ups and downs and finally published, got it published, I was very concerned. I mean, I still have a business,” he answered. “I’m a state lobbyist in the state of Pennsylvania. I still deal with all the politicians from the governor down. I thought, ‘Wow, how are people going to take this?’ I found the exact opposite as far as how I affected the book rather than the book affecting me. I left office with a very good reputation. I didn’t run for reelection. A lot of people said, ‘Well, since you wrote this book and we know you, we’re going to take it seriously.’ I’ve had positive responses. I mean, I’m out every night almost now doing talks at community libraries, community centers, book signings at Barnes and Nobles. I mean, it has just gone over and I haven’t run into anyone who says, ‘You’re nuts'”
We still live there. That’s kind of the uniqueness of the story. We dealt with the issue and it’s still our home.”
Terrorized by Demons courtesy of KDKA-TV: