Lurancy Vennum, aged 13, was possessed by the spirit of a dead girl.

This story is known through the Roffs who abundantly recounted their adventure.  The Lurancy Vennum case was also studied by doctors, psychiatrists, parapsychologists who consecrated many works to it.


Lurancy returned to her parents’ home and never had any more attacks of catalepsy.  At eighteen, she married a Kansas farmer George Binning, to whom she gave eleven children.  She died at the beginning of World War II, over eighty years old.  Frequently interrogated by psychologists and journalists, she always declared that she had no memory of her extraordinary adventure.


There can have been no trickery.  Lurancy knew nothing about Mary Roff’s life.  Mary had died before she was born.  Further, she often related facts which only Minerva or Mrs Roff had witnessed.


The Roffs affirmed to the end of their lives that they truly believed that their daughter’s spirit had lived in Lurancy’s body.  They declared:

“From the month of March, we were convinced that our daughter had come back to our home and that it was with her that we were speaking.  Everything, anyway, was proving it to us!”.


Lurancy’s parents lived through a nightmare while their daughter was living with the Roffs.  Several times, they went to Dixville, but the little girl talked to them as if they were strangers.


Georges Langelaan studied Lurancy’s story and related it briefly in his Cursed Deeds.  He cited the case of young John Juergens who, for a while, was truly “possessed” by the spirit of an adolescent friend of his named Toby, who died after a hunting accident.  But John Juergens was, it could be said, “possessed by intermittence”.  Sometimes he was Toby, sometimes he was John.  And, curiously, the Juergens’ dog perceived the change.  When he sensed “the arrival” of Toby into John, his fur stood on end and he didn’t allow himself to be touched by the adolescent whom he considered to be a stranger…

There is another case that can be classed in the same category, although it is a bit different.  It is that of Iris Farczady.  Iris was a young Hungarian, the daughter of an engineer and a school teacher in Budapest.  In 1935, when she was fifteen, she fell seriously ill after catching a chill which degenerated into pneumonia.  She was hospitalised.  A few days later, on 28 May, she was dying.  But, at the precise moment when the doctor who was watching by her side was noting the decease, the young girl’s eyes opened and her body came back to life.  The next morning, her state was so much better that she started to speak.  The nurses then noticed, astounded, that she was speaking in a foreign language.  Questioned – obviously in Hungarian – Iris signalled that she did not understand what was being said to her.  As she had several times pronounced the word “senora”, an interpretor who came from Madrid was brought to whom she explained with volubility, but in perfect Spanish, that her name was Altarez de Salvio, that she was the wife of a municipal employee in Madrid, that she was forty years old and had fourteen children (eight daughters and six sons).  She added that she had been hospitalised for a cancer of the uterus and that the doctor had not hidden from her that her state was very alarming.

“So, a little while ago, I was feeling very tired;  I closed my eyes and I must have nodded off.  And here I am in another bed, surrounded by unknown people who don’t speak my language.  Explain to me what is happening!”

No-one, naturally, is able to furnish an explanation.

Later, completely cured, Iris returned to her parents’ home and had to learn Hungarian which she then spoke with a strong Spanish accent.  She had no memory of her life in Hungary;  on the other hand, she didn’t stop talking about her children, whose names she gave, about her husband Manuel, whose functions at the Town Hall she explained, and about Madrid, of which she described the streets and the monuments.  On top of that, she started to make succulent paellas and play the guitar…

Finally, the Spanish Ambassador was informed of what was happening at the Farczady home.  Intrigued by the young girl’s declarations, he had an investigation made in Madrid and soon learned that Senora Altarez de Salvio, the wife of a municipal employee and mother of fourteen children, had died in hospital from a cancer of the uterus on 28 May, at five o’clock in the morning, that is to say, taking into account time-zone differences, at the same time that Iris died in the Budapest clinic.  As well as that, all the details that the young girl had given on the life and family of the Senora were recognized exact…


This story is known through Doctor Arnall Bloxham from Cardiff, who personally studied the case of Iris Farczady and published many articles about her in British and American magazines.


There is no explanation for these phenomena.  But Guy Breton quotes the comment of an American psychiatrist Warren Butler, the author of a book on “personality changes”:

“It seems that at certain moments, our body, of which we know nothing concerning the subtle ties which unite it to our spirit, can be “possessed” by mysterious entities endowed with memory and capable of making it communicate in languages which have not been learnt, or of prodding it to act in paradoxal fashion.  After which, these entities disappear just like they came.  But where do they come from?  Where do they go?  Why do they “occupy” certain bodies?  How are these bodies chosen by them?  So many questions without answers…”

As Maurice Maeterlinck used to say:

“When shall we at last know who we are?”