What began as a benign but remarkable haunting, escalated into terrifying poltergeist activity, makes this one of the most remarkable cases of paranormal activity in recent American history. The real name of the family involved has been kept secret to protect their privacy. The Psychical Research Foundation investigators provided them with the pseudonym of Berini.
The haunting started shortly after Joe Berini moved his wife Rose and two of her children from a former marriage into his ancestral New England home in the late 1970s. The first ghost was that of a little girl whose voice was heard one evening in May, 1979. The girls apparition spoke to his wife Rose "Mama, mama, this is Serena." Neither Joe nor Rose knew of any girl in the family's past by the name of Serena at that time.
After Serena's first visit, their daughter Daisy went to the doctors to have her tonsils taken out, during the operation there were complications, which resulted in her heart stopping, and she nearly perished. The timing of Serena's visit and Daisy's near death experience did not go unnoticed by the Berinis.
Serena's visit to the family also coincided with the stroke of Joe's grandmother and a night in November before the elderly woman passed away. Her connection to the family seemed strong as Joe remembers waking up hearing Serena's voice to find his wife choking next to him in her sleep. After shaking her awake, she shares with him that her ex-husband was choking her in her dream.
From Christmas 1979 to February 1981, the paranormal activity in the house had decreased, and then in March Rose was startled by the ghost of a small boy, dressed completely in white, walking along the upstairs landing. . "It was almost like looking through a milk bottle," Rose later told researchers. "It was a very peaceful experience. It stayed for about two hours on and off, coming and going." The boy's spirit appeared again a week and a half later, and this time spoke to Rose asking, "Where do all the lonely people go? Where do I belong?"
The boy's ghost, was witnessed by Joe, he watched the apparition enter each bedroom then settled on the floor of the hallway in search of something. Curious, Joe later pulled up the floorboards and found a medallion of the Virgin Mary.
On one occasion when Joe saw the boy's apparition he heard the little boy say to him, "My oldest brother is the only one who can help me." Joe did not know what this meant but that very sentence was the beginning of the terror. It was shortly after this statement that objects started to move in unpredictable fashion with phones flying, doors slamming open and shut and objects being yanked from Rose's hands.
The Berinis upset sought the advice of a local priest who said they should ignore the spirit if it should appear again. The next time the boy in white appeared to Rose, she did as she was advised and paid it no attention. Immediately, the closet door began to slam opening and shutting repeatedly. On some occasions unexplained footsteps were heard in the house, and box of macaroni was yanked from Rose's hands and thrown to the floor.
Joe and Rose returned to the Church for help, two of the priests agreed to visit the house. The priest's came and they blessed the house, and said mass. Initially there was a quiet spell after the rituals, but it did not last long.
In June 1981 a new entity descended upon their home this one according to the family was straight from hell. The apparition of a sinister hunchbacked male figure clad in a black cape. Throughout that summer, the hunchback, which the Berinis described as having large feet and a gruff voice, appeared regularly in the house. The Berinis tried to question the entity, but the only thing it only told them was "I a minister of God."
Though it proclaimed itself "A minister of God" it brought with him only fury and intimidation. Rose took the brunt of the figure's attacks on one occasion Rose was struck by an opened freezer door. One day when Rose was praying with her rosary, the dark figure tried to distract her with various obscenities. The poltergeist activity increased in frequency and intensity. Joe, Rose and 15-year-old John reported that they had been struck by thrown objects. The bedroom telephone continued to fly off the table. A bedside lamp "fell," striking Rose on the head. Furniture in several rooms was on occasion found overturned or moved. Daisy's bedroom desk was somehow transported down the stairs. The retractable attic stairs were open and shut repeatedly and with such violence that it cracked the hall ceiling. Several religious objects were removed from walls or broken.
During an evening meal, Rose's arm was twisted behind her back and her head pulled to one side with such force that she began to choke. On more than one occasion, Joe testified, that he saw Rose pulled out of bed at night, levitated into the air and then dropped to the floor. After one of these attacks, bruises were found on her arms and legs, as if from a powerful grip.
Two months after it first appeared, the dark, hunchbacked entity became its most violent. Not long after Joe left the house to work the night shift at his factory job, a loud banging shook the bedroom walls. "The bed was rising off the floor," Rose said. "I tried to scream and the door slammed so I could not get out of the room. The dog was growling and the door opened." Rose struggled to get to the children's bedrooms, but their doors slammed shut and she was dragged by the unseen force back into her room. Invisible hands began to choke and scratch her. She managed to phone Joe. He rushed home and ran upstairs to the bedroom where he saw the bed jumping as high as two feet into the air, and found Rose crouching in a corner clutching a crucifix.
Remarkably, the Berinis still refused to abandon their home. Their minds were changed, when one morning they awoke to find a heavy carving knife stabbed into the kitchen table. Fearing that their lives could truly be in danger, the Berinis moved out of the house for a month, putting most of their belongings into storage. Once again they sought help from a priest, who went to the house and performed an exorcism. When the Berinis returned to their home, the evil seemed to have been vanquished. They no longer saw apparitions of any kind or suffered any more poltergeist activity.
Ironically, it was only after the haunting activity stopped that Joe Berini invited an investigation by the Psychical Research Foundation, based in Durham, North Carolina. The organization is now the American Institute of Parapsychology, based in Gainesville, Florida. The investigators were able to corroborate some of the Berini's claims through friends, neighbours and their priest, all of whom testified that they witnessed poltergeist phenomena in the Berini home.