Belfast Telegraph

US 'ghostbuster' who helped Catholic Belfast family rid home of chain-smoking hardline unionist spectre dies

Lorraine Warren (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP file)
Lorraine Warren (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP file)
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

One of the world's top ghostbusters - who helped a Catholic family in Belfast rid their home of a chain-smoking, hardline Ulster Unionist spectre - has died.

Self-styled clairvoyant Lorraine Warren and her demonologist husband Ed were once billed as America's leading exorcists and their work inspired horror films such as Amityville Horror and The Conjuring.

But one of the most bizarre cases the couple investigated was in 2004 and involved the Fitzpatrick family who were convinced they were being haunted by a bigot from the past.

Law student Nathan Fitzpatrick has previously explained why he believed the strange smells and scary noises in the Victorian property in north Belfast were caused by Richard Dawson Bates.

"Bates was a chain-smoker," he said.

"And we've all smelt tobacco smoke in this house, but none of us smoke."

After partition in 1921, Bates became minister of home affairs and controlled the RUC and B Specials.

He made no secret of his hatred and suspicion of Catholics.

According to author Chris Ryder he was "an uncompromising bigot" who distrusted all Catholics and said they needed to be "neutralised in every conceivable way".

Nathan and his twin brother believe Bates began stirring up trouble after they brought a ouija board home as part of a film studies project.

"One time I was walking out of the TV room carrying a pint full of water and the glass exploded in my hand," Carl recalled.

The family called in the "religious demonologist" and "ghost hunter" who quickly replaced the ouija board with a crucifix.

But 10 years ago the paranormal activity returned with a vengeance, luring Warren back to the city - without Ed who passed away in 2006 - to host a special "supernatural evening" at the house.

She was all too aware of the challenge she faced if it was indeed Bates who was responsible.

"I'm a Roman Catholic as well, so I hope he won't hold that against me," Warren said at the time.

The 92-year-old died peacefully in her sleep before being reunited with Ed in Stepney Village Cemetery in Monroe, Connecticut - an 18th century graveyard reputed to be haunted.

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