Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 6/22/2008 [Archive]

A Suburban Haunting

A Suburban Haunting

By Martha Randolph Carr

How hard would you fight for the life that you've built? There is a family in the suburbs of Pennsylvania that has had to answer that question under what has to be the most unusual of circumstances. Their house has been certified by none other than the Catholic Church as having been possessed by demons that they ended up battling for over two years in order to reclaim not only their home but a normal lifestyle. Not ghosts but evil entities which only mean to do harm. A true story that's never been told before with plenty of documentation of all the things that you'd expect that completely defies logic and yet there it is. Stand-up people like the renowned exorcist from the New York Diocese, the late Father James LeBar who died earlier this year and former three-term mayor of Pittsburgh, Tom Murphy were involved in helping to cleanse the house of diabolical forces that almost drove a family to madness. As might be expected, it is a difficult chore to get the Catholic Church to agree that evil has shown up at your door and yet that's not even the big twist to this story.

The Cranmer family, led by Bob Cranmer a prominent former political figure in Pittsburgh battled demons, blood seeping down the walls, furniture moving, the stench of burning sulfur, physical and psychological attacks, mangled crosses, pounding in the walls, dark apparitions and more but never ran away from the house. That's right; they never did that Hollywood thing of suddenly grabbing what they could and running off into the night. The equivalent of escaping an other-worldly tornado. They're still there now keeping watch for any renewed signs of activity.

The Cranmer's refused to give up the house they had always dreamed of owning even though at times they were hounded into psychiatric wards, the ICU and for awhile ceded two of the bedrooms in the house to the evil entity.

As Americans what we've managed to accumulate, our possessions, matter to all of us. It doesn't matter if you own a mansion or rent a one-bedroom apartment. It doesn't even matter if the furniture inside the rental is also rented. We instinctively create a nest out of the space we've found and call it home. When a natural disaster strikes and wipes out the familiar we stand awed amid the wreckage and marvel that we were left standing.However, part of us aches from the loss of our personal history and the knowledge that our touchstones have been erased.Immediately, we begin to rebuild because that's all there is left to do. What was just there is now gone forever.

But, what if you got caught in the path of something that a lot of people refuse to believe even exists and what if the life you know hasn't been wiped out so much as taken over by an unwelcome presence? Then there might be options to be considered. One of them, which was never a choice considered by the Cranmers, is to try and dump the place on the next unsuspecting family and never speak of it again. That takes some twisted moxie. The next option is to leave the house standing empty and start over from a financial pit. A lot of people would strongly suggest this is the route to take.

But if faith of any kind is involved that also means letting the demonic terrorists win and that's just not in America's church-going DNA. That leaves waging war from room to room with something you can't see coming and don't even know the extent of what it might be able to do or how long this might take. And every day, you get to ask yourself what exactly you're fighting for and who is on your side. The sides become very clearly drawn.

Therein lies a blessing. Rather than focus on the evil, the Cranmers grew to rely on a much Higher Power, the God of their understanding, Christ, and then each other. They chose to stay because to run, for them, would have meant an admission that in this world we just might be on our own. That was a worse fate than being shoved down the stairs or scratched along the neck, both of which happened at different times and was even caught on film.

Smaller worries, like how to pay for retirement or the rising price of gas are released because they've answered a tougher question. Even in the strangest of times, we are not alone and if we become willing good still trumps everything. Then, everything else falls away and what really matters ends up being all that's left behind. That's a better ending than the movies, anyway.

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email

Martha Randolph Carr is currently working on a book with Bob Cranmer about the family's long ordeal. Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: Author's email: or visit

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