BURRILLVILLE – The woman who owned an allegedly haunted farmhouse in Harrisville for 32 years has come out against a program about the property that premiered Halloween night on the Travel Channel, questioning a scene in which a Burrillville police officer is seen discussing alleged calls for service to the home during the time she lived there.
Norma Sutcliffe, who owned the house that inspired the 2013 hit film The Conjuring from 1987 through June of 2019, has long said that the property at 1677 Round Top Road is not filled with malevolent ghosts and spirits as many have claimed.
And following a two-hour Ghost Adventures special on the house that was released last week, Sutcliffe is speaking out – and has filed a complaint with the Burrillville Police Department regarding statements made about her life there.
“This is a disgrace and I am angry about an appearance of a police officer claiming things that are absolute lies,” Sutcliffe told NRI NOW.
The team from Ghost Adventures visited the house in August to film the special, in which paranormal investigator Zak Bagans meets with former resident Andrea Perron, among others, and claims to attempt to verify reports that the house is “cursed.”
Perron and her family lived on the property in the 1970s, and it was their experience with famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren that inspired the film – the first movie in what is now a series known as The Conjuring Universe.
Sutcliffe sold the home, which she and her husband bought in 1987 for $169,500, to Cory and Jennifer Heinzen in June for $439,000.
The Heinzens, also paranormal investigators hailing from Maine, have said they plan to open the farmhouse to the public, and camera crews were on the property filming for a national program within months of their arrival in Burrillville.
“We’re here because the new owners believe that this dark force has been reawakened,” Bagans says.
Bagans also speaks to Burrillville Police Lt. Albert Carlo in the program, dubbed, “The Curse of the Harrisville Farmhouse.”
“We’ve tracked down the lieutenant who has jurisdiction over this area,” the star of the popular ghost hunting program says.
“A lot of people knew of the house and knew of some of the things that happened here,” says Carlo. “After the movie it became non-stop traffic up and down the road”
Bagans says that Carlo told him that the owner “just before Cory,” had several emergency calls to 911 for mysterious illnesses.
“We would come here in the middle of the night,” said Carlo. “It was constant for a guy that didn’t seem to be all that ill.”
Sutcliffe calls the statement “lies,” and she has filed a complaint over the story with the Burrillville Police Department.
Asked about the appearance, Burrillville Police Col. Stephen Lynch said that the Policeman’s Bill of Rights prohibits him from speaking publicly on any complaints regarding an officer.
The show also discusses incidents that allegedly took place in the nearly 300-year-old home, including reports of suicides and murders of members of the Arnold family that once owned it.
The problem, says Sutcliffe, a counselor who operated a daycare facility in the house for some 20 years, is that it’s all false. Sutcliffe says she researched the home, and the Arnold family, whose stories have become an urban legend, at the library in Harrisville.
“There was never any murders, suicides or drowning on property,” said Sutcliffe, running through members of the Arnold family named as victims of mysterious deaths on the program. “Prudence was murdered in Douglas, Mass. in her home. No drowning was ever published. Sarah and John died at their homes.”
And while some may think it’s harmless to indulge in curiosity around a story that is ultimately fabricated, Sutcliffe disagrees, saying that the historic property should be “revered not exploited.”
She has also sent a letter to the Travel Channel.
“You have lied about everything,” wrote Sutcliffe. “Do what should have been done before you filmed. That is to find truth through evidence.”
“If you claim (it’s) so obviously haunted then get the real scientists and skeptics in to do research,” Sutcliffe wrote. “But you don’t dare. We can’t continue to defraud the world, more so now. We have enough of that surrounding America and the world.”
She’s not alone on her mission to clear up the facts.
J’aime Rubio says she has spent a lot of time researching the life of the woman whose spirit alleged haunts the property – Bathsheba Sherman – and has published her findings.
“It was not until the 1970’s that mysterious rumors sprang up out of thin air, ruining Bathsheba’s reputation posthumously,” wrote Rubio in a blog, which can be found here. “No one in town had ever heard of any questionable events regarding Bathsheba, but all of a sudden, stories were spreading like wildfire in this small community. Older folks who respected history became agitated by the false accusations, while the younger more superstitious ones wondered about the possibilities of this spine-chilling folklore actually being real.”
Rubio has made it her mission to clean up the record, and tell the true history behind the home and its former inhabitants.
“To give any entity an identity and attach to them the name or stories of people who were once actual living human beings and then sully them in death is so very wrong,” Rubio wrote. “This has happened to poor Bathsheba, and for far too long. My job as a writer is to sift through the story and get to the raw facts. Sometimes we find out that stories are not fact based, and so we have the responsibility to provide the true information to the public in order to set the stories straight.”
For Sutcliffe, it’s about protecting a piece of history.
She says that when the movie came out in 2013, people began visiting the house at all times of day and night and damaging the property.
“Even though I no longer own farm, I will forever fight to protect the value of the property as an invaluable heritage site,” she said.