East Lyme — In August 2019, Michael Salerno and Eric Morin got a call from a Travel Channel producer saying their help was immediately needed for a paranormal investigations show.
A man and his family in the small town of Malvern, Iowa, was being terrorized by what the producer thought was no ordinary ghost, but rather a demon — paranormal entities in which Salerno and Morin say they are experts.
“All they told us is that they needed help with a demonic case, nothing else,” Salerno said. “When we got there things were pretty intense right away, we knew something was going on.”
Their encounter with the demon and the family victimized by this paranormal predator will be aired at 11 p.m. this Friday, March 27, as part of the Travel Channel’s “Haunting in the Heartland” series starring host Steve Shippy, a paranormal expert and rapper who goes by the name of Prozak.
The show, which began airing this month, details Shippy’s paranormal investigations around the country’s heartland. But sometimes he encounters more than what he bargained for.
In this case, that came in the form of a demon attempting to possibly possess the Iowa victims — something outside Shippy’s typical paranormal wheelhouse.
“We sometimes get called out to go on these shows,” Salerno said. “And because I know Steve and the producer, and because I trust them, we will go help.”
Demons vs. ghosts
Both East Lyme-based demonologists, Salerno and Morin were brought together while studying paranormal investigations. The two now travel around the state and the country helping people heal from demonic paranormal activity, which they say is different from other forms of paranormal activity.
While Salerno is not a priest and cannot perform exorcisms on humans, he works directly with victims to eradicate demon activity within homes. Morin, on the other hand, is like his wingman. He helps protect Salerno and victims by making sure all are breathing, conscious and stable while Salerno performs rituals or recites certain Latin prayers to make a demon leave. Morin also is an artist and draws renderings of demons based on victims’ descriptions, much like a criminal sketch artist.
“Demons can show themselves to victims in different ways,” Morin said. “In some cases, they might look like what you would assume a demon would look like, while in other cases, demons can appear as little girls with no eyes.”
Adding to that, Salerno said, a demon is not a ghost, but rather is an evil entity that roams the earth preying on the spiritually weak.
“Demons can enter your life in a variety of ways, but they can’t just come out of nowhere,” Salerno said. There needs to be some sort of weakness or an invitation has to be made.”
In most cases, that invitation happens through the use of a Ouija, or “spirit,” board.
“People can play with these boards and have no idea what they are opening themselves up to,” Salerno said, explaining that was the case for the victim in Iowa. “He and his brother were using a Ouija board on haunted grounds and after you do something like that, a demon can follow you.”
A calling, not a hobby
Salerno and Morin fell into demonology — the study of demons or beliefs about demons — in different ways.
Morin, who is 43 and who grew up in a haunted home in Deep River, said he always has had a fascination with the paranormal, while Salerno, who is 50, said he had never experienced a ghost in his life but was called to the practice while healing from a near-death experience after he contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in the mid-2000s.
Salerno said it was while he was watching the Discovery Channel’s “A Haunting” one day during his recovery, he received the calling to help people affected by certain spirits. But it wasn’t just about ghost hunting, he said, it was also the spiritual aspect of certain paranormal practices that attracted him to dive headfirst into his new calling.
“I went to the Book Barn and I started buying every book I could find on the paranormal, on Ouija boards, on séances, on psychics, on investigating,” Salerno said. It was a book written by Connecticut-based demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, whose work inspired “The Conjuring” films, that captured his interest.
He then started working with Lorraine Warren, as well as joining a local ghost hunting group in an effort to learn more about the practice and gain experience. But, it wasn’t until sometime later he said he became tired of ghost hunting “like what you see on television.”
“We used to go in and do all the investigations with the cameras and stay up late all night,” Salerno said. “All these groups go around with this equipment and they get evidence, and OK, that’s great, but that doesn’t help the person who is having the problem.”
Rather, Salerno said he realized he was meant to come face-to-face with demonic paranormal activity to help eradicate evil entities frightening individuals and families. He has been working with Morin, as part of their group East Coast Angels Paranormal Rescue, ever since.
In the years since, Salerno has converted to Roman Catholicism to strengthen his faith and to help confront demons — though he grew up as an Episcopalian — and he said he has since encountered dozens of cases in Connecticut. As recently as a couple weeks ago, Salerno and Morin said, they eradicated a demon terrorizing a family in East Lyme.
“To get into this, it has to call you,” said Salerno, who also works as an electrician for Electric Boat. “We don’t do this to make money. We don’t charge people a fee. This is just our calling.”
“This is our way of giving back to the world in the same way some people go to the local soup kitchen to help their communities,” Morin said.
Besides Friday’s airing, Salerno and Morin’s episode also will air at 3 a.m. March 28 on the Travel Channel. Salerno and Morin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.