2019 year in review: ‘Haunted’ farmhouse tops Burrillville news

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Surpassing stories on government, police activity, local business and schools, was one topic in Burrillville that drew a national audience to NRI NOW throughout 2019.

It seems the stories – both fact and fiction – surrounding a little farmhouse on Round Top Road and its former occupants, continue to capture the imaginations of a massive audience.

In June, a man identified as a paranormal investigator from Maine purchased the house on which the 2013 hit horror movie The Conjuring was based, announcing plans to make the property open to the public.

Cory Heinzen, co-founder of GRAVES Paranormal investigations, bought the dwelling from former owner Norma Sutcliffe for $439,000.

The Perron family owned the 300-year-old home in the 1970s, when famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren visited the property. Their experience was the subject of the movie, a supernatural horror film that spawned the Conjuring Universe franchise.

In July, NRI NOW reported that the headstone of the spirit some believe haunt the property, Bathsheba Sherman, which had just recently been repaired by Burrillville residents and restoration experts Betty and Carlo Mencucci, had again been damaged by vandals.

It was also announced that month that the house would be featured on a special Halloween episode of Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel. The show, dubbed “The Curse of the Harrisville Farmhouse,” would feature former occupant Andrea Perron, along with Rhode Island-based self-identified demonologists Carl and Keith Johnson.

NRI NOW was contacted by Sutcliffe after the episode ran, and the story that followed would prove to be one of the website’s most popular yet, garnering more than 8,000 “likes.”

Sutcliffe, who owned the property for some 32 years and even ran a daycare in the building, disputed claims that it was occupied by malevolent ghosts and spirits.  She also questioned the appearance of a Burrillville police officer on the program, who discussed alleged calls for service to the home during the time she lived there.

Sutcliffe also disputed much of the history attributed to the farmhouse, and her historical account was backed by researcher J’aime Rubio, who noted that nothing negative was said about Sherman until well after her death.

Reactions to the story were mixed, with many locals fondly recalling visits to Sutcliffe’s daycare. Others, however, still say the property is cursed, and point to a 2005 episode of Ghost Hunters in which Sutcliffe appeared.

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