The Phoenix

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The REAL Exorcism...#2 of my spooky stories series

William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel The Exorcist and the Warner Brother's film from 1973 have etched the term "exorcism" forever within our everyday vocabulary. For most of us, images of a demented Linda Blair spitting pea soup, her head spinning around, and all kinds of spooky scary stuff.

The novel was based on eye witness testimony and a 26 page diary (once thought to be 16 pages). Eye witness testimony includes first hand accounts from Jesuit priests, various professors, family members, friends, hospital workers, and even construction workers.

What exactly happened? What is Blatty's novel based on? And how is this true story linked to St. Louis?

Here are the facts that have been confirmed by various investigators, and many details have been clarified and corrected:

>The family involved remains anonymous, so we'll call them the Doe Family and the boy that was allegedly possessed we'll refer to him as Rob Doe. The Doe Family was from Cottage City Maryland, not Mt. Rainer, Maryland as previously believed.

>January1949, strange things began to happen to 13 year-old Rob. He was being scratched and attacked by something unseen. His parents witnessed his blankets flying about on their own, the bed shaking violently.

>Februrary 26, 1949...The Does were Lutheran, so they turned to Rev. Schulze. Rob spent the night in Shulze's room. There, Schulze witnessed paranormal phenomena, such as a rug moving by itself across the room. After taking Rob to the Mental Hygiene Clinic of the University of Maryland, Rev. Schulze recommended the Doe Family consult Father Hughes of St. James Catholic Church in Mount Rainer.

>End of February, 1949...blessed candles would fly across the room, tables moved, and an attempted baptism went wrong. Rob would curse and act violently. They moved him to Georgetown hospital where Father Hughes began an unsuccessful rite of's unclear if it was authorized by the Church.

>Early March...Rob is released from the hospital, and Mrs. Doe decides to go back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She thought maybe the "hauntings" would stop. As soon as they arrive, family members witness various supernatural occurances surrounding Rob.

>March 9, 1949...One of Mrs. Doe's cousins requests the help of her priest professor at St. Louis University, Father Raymond J. Bishop. He sees the scratches on Rob's body, floating objects, and the mattress vibrating on its own.

>March 11, 1949...Father Bishop calls in Father William Bowdern of of St. Francis Xavier Church (at the corner of Grand and Lindell here in St. Louis, pictured left; Fr. Bowdern is pictured right). These two priests and a Jesuit scholar, Walter Halloran, witness the scratches on Rob's abdomen, the bed shaking, Rob speaking to them in Latin and possibly Aramaic, and the 13 year-old boy's violent and strange behavior.

>March 16, 1949...Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter gives Father Bowdern permission to begin the formal rite of exorcism. That night, accompanied by Father Bishop and Walter Halloran, Father Bowdern begin reciting the ritual prayers of exorcism.

>March through April, 1949...Rob's "seizures" become more violent and often is held down by as many as ten people during the exorcism or prayer sessions. He would tear the sheets and even broke Halloran's nose. During this time, Rob is taken back and forth between his relative's house and Alexian Brother's Hospital. Numerous priests, students, and hospital workers witnessed many of the supernatural occurrences in his hospital room .

It was a stressful and scary time. Father Bowdern was known to have lost 40 pounds during the ordeal.

>April 18, 1949...The Final Exorcism...Fr. Bowdern places various religious medals around Rob, and instructs him to hold a crucifix. Rob starts to become possessed, and screams that the medals were becoming hot...soon, he is in full demonic possession and starts hissing and flicking his tongue like a snake.

The rite continues when suddenly, in a different masculine voice Rob says, "Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now! Now! Now!" Rob has one last spasm before falling quiet and witnesses reported hearing a "gunshot sound" throughout the hospital at that moment.

Rob told the priests of a vision that he had of St. Michael holding a flaming sword, and that the demon was gone.

Twelve days later he left Missouri and returned to Maryland.

The story made headlines, and several family members told the story to newsreporters. Rob grew up, had a normal life, had three children, and resided somewhere in Maryland. Rob, if still alive, would be 70 years old today.

Walter Halloran (pictured left) became a priest and often talked about his experience with others. He passed away just this spring.

Fr. Bowdern passed away in 1983. He never publicly talked about his experience. With his report to the Church, he received 41 signatures from those who testified to witnessing paranormal phenomena with this case.

Following the exorcism, the hospital staff at Alexia avoided the room. The smells and cold air still emanated from under the doorway. No one ever used the room again. The entire wing of the hospital eventually was sealed off, and was demolished.
Before demolition, the crew found a copy of the exorcist's diary, which was given to hospital administrators. The diary was William Blatty's basis his book.

Whatever you decide, you cannot deny our fascination with demonic possession.


Blogger Pixie said...

This film has always scared the shit out of me, not because of the Hi-Tech special effects but the very fact that its based on a true story.
I have only watched it once, never agin I watched it many years ago when it was still banned from DVD , TV etc .I managed to pick it up on a german satellite channel , if was in english but had german subtitles...I was too scared after it finished to even let the dog out to pee!

Today the very sound of the music is enought to send shivers down my spine, I remember my BF telling me when we first met about it being based on a true STL story and I had forgotten all about it till now.
If I dont sleep tonight I know who to blame.LOL

9/29/2005 8:36 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Excellent post my friend!

9/29/2005 10:00 PM  
Blogger KC said...

There's something about this story that is so gripping. No matter how many times I've read about it, it never gets less scary. The little hairs on my arms are standing up right now.

9/29/2005 10:29 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Thanks for inviting my opinion on exorcism via your comment on my site.

I've never been interested to watch the film, although from what you've posted it seems to be very realistic. Maybe that's why it's so scary?

There's no doubt that something unusual was happening. The witnesses all seem reliable, etc.

Not being Catholic, I don't hold to their rite as such, but there's plenty of Scripture in support of demonic activity -- Jesus, Paul and most all of the early Christians ran into very similar phenomenon. It's not usual in our society for it to be documented (maybe the devil doesn't need to work so hard to lead us off course? ha!) but in many places around the world you can find many, credible accounts of exactly this sort of thing happening as regular occurrences--even today.

For me, I guess if you accept Christ's commission to preach the gospel today, then you ought to also accept his commission to "lay hands on the sick and they shall recover" and "cast out demons in my [Jesus'] name" today. That the subject in this case was completely delivered and went on to lead a very normal life would be normative if God's involved, I would think.

That would mean this is certainly no hoax nor figment of someone's imagination, but simply a very Scriptural occurrence that happened to be recorded. Perhaps if more of them were made public and investigated, the deliverence ministry of God's people (the Church) would gain greater acceptance and more people who are tormented in this way could be set free to enjoy a normal life and worship God.

9/30/2005 1:10 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

I just re-read my post and it looks from my Hi-Tech comment could be a little confusing to those who havent seen it...It was meant to be "Dry" humour but failed!
If you mean Hi Tech as in pea soup squirting out of the girls mouth then I guess it could be seen as Hi Tech..but no its a 70's flick.
I think though if it had all todays super special effects that that would probably take away some of the essence, or maybe thats just me?

9/30/2005 7:19 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

In middle school, I had a friend that had to get counseling for some time because he watched The Exorcist on cable when his parents weren't home.
It really messed him up for a long time.
There's a bunch of stuff I had to cut from this post...Rob's mother and aunt were very much into the occult and messed around with a ouija board. Immediately after his aunt died, all this stuff started happening. Those oujia boards scare me...I wouldn't mess with that stuff.

9/30/2005 8:01 AM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

I've never watched the Exorcist, mainly because it scared the crap out of my husband and he never gets freaked out by movies!

I tried a ouija board once when I was a teenager... and the FRICKIN THING MOVED! That was the last time I touched one.

If there are ghosts walking around doing their own thing, that's one thing. Going and looking for stuff - demons, spirits, whatever - that's another.

9/30/2005 11:54 AM  
Blogger Grafs said...

Great story...I love this stuff!

9/30/2005 1:22 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

I wouldn't mess with that ouja board way.

The movie wasn't high tech at all...I think it's the idea of demonic possession that scares the bejesus out of people.
The pea soup thing was pretty nasty.

9/30/2005 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just popping in from Blog Explosion to say hi!

Have a great day!

9/30/2005 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ever hear that story about Blatty meeting a little old woman in Washington DC who spoke in the voices of a little girl and little boy... then after she died the cops found skeletons of a little boy and girl under he floor? Apparently she completely frightened Blatty. I want to read mor about it somewhere so if you know of anything please post info or a link. Thankyou.

9/30/2005 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

Hello. I stumbled across this place while looking for blogs from Missouri. I didn't realize that The Exorcist had any St. Louis connection, before reading your post.
I've seen the movie twice, but won't watch it, its sequels or do-overs, or anything about Emily Rose, again. The whole thing is fascinating, though. Thanks for posting the background info regarding the family's occult activity. I wish that had been included in the film.

I've added you to my Bloglines, and I hope there are more spooky stories to come.

10/01/2005 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Tasa said...

Thank you for your comment on my site =)

I saw 'The Exorcist' a while ago and I did not like it at all. It would be scary if it happened in real life, but I just didn't like the movie.

'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' however, was much better. My boyfriend, who is very knowlegable in Catholocism, said that it was the most accurate exorcism movie he's seen =)

This was a good read though, thank you! ^^

10/01/2005 11:24 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

With respect to "Emily Rose," I would really like to hear those tapes. Apparently, it was documented by audio tapes.

In reality, if I were to hear the tapes, I would get to the part where she starts speaking in Latin in her demon voice, then I'd run away crying for my mommy.

10/01/2005 12:20 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

This movie has scared the heck out of me both times I watched it. Just the thought that something like that had actually occurred is frightening. In fact, the first thing I thought about when I was reading this post was the part in the movie where the girl is in a back bend position walking down the stairs. EEk!!

I had a Ouija board when I was in the 8th grade. At the time, we thought it was all fun and games. We would push it around and have it say stuff. Then one night 2 of my friends and I were sitting on the floor getting it ready to play. We had eached placed our hands on the planchet and I was about to start moving it when it moved on its own. I assumed one of the other 2 were moving it. To this day, nobody owns up to moving it, and nobody will talk about what happened. For some reason one of us asked who 'ouija' was, and it said 'you know'. The freezer door flew open, the light went off, and that was the last time we used it. It was my game, and I have no idea where it even went. It just disappeared at some point after that. I'm sure there's a perfectly good explenation as to where it went, but, don't ask me.

10/01/2005 3:57 PM  
Blogger DLAK said...

I bet if I read all this I would laugh or something, anyway, Hi.

10/01/2005 6:57 PM  
Blogger Jillian said...

Man what is going on with my comments?? I keep on commenting but they aren't working. :-(

Either way, so yeahhh good times with Exorcism.

Not ha ha -- Just kidding!

So yeah...pretty scary for your second Halloween-esque posts. :-)

10/03/2005 9:14 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

A guy I used to know was once employed at Alexian Brothers Hospital in the maintenance department. He told me that before the wing where the exorcism took place was demolished, they tried reapeatedly -- without success -- to paint the walls in the room. But these stains (from the exorcism) kept coming through each coat of paint. I think that's when they decided to seal the room off and then the whole wing.

10/28/2005 4:12 AM  
Anonymous liz said...

my name is liz I would like how it feels to go through that I not scared of spirits,deamens,devil itself cause
i been through that .

11/11/2005 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/19/2006 9:38 PM  
Blogger Daniel Kong said...

I was reading it the emily rose case and now I was in this one, when suddenly I hear a spoon falling to the kitchen sink... Ok, just a spoon falling from a plate to the sink.
The thing is I hear it twice, exactly the same sound... but that is not all, now I just remembered, I have no spoons.

shit, no kidding. I'm shivering now.

11/01/2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger robin said...

it just so happens that i beleive somone very close to me is demon posssessed and her name is wendy as a child her own father sexullay molested her and all four of her brothers this family was supposed to be highly christians.. but what happened today she sees and hears things also just this week she called me and said somone urineated in her closet i beleive she did this also in the four mounths i known this young 20 something lady she has maybe taken a bath once... the smell from this person is ungodly unreal yet it is... whenevrer shes around u can fell this horrod darkness i could go on and on please if anybody can help me contact me at

10/25/2007 2:38 PM  
Anonymous rock climber said...

i am very much into these kind of storys etc
i enjoy clairvoyancy
i sometimes lie there in my bed things will happen
some ppl say it is just my mind playing tricks but when my firends who have been me one certain time will explain what happend one night. when we went for a late night walk have been erm horrified by what has happend
we were walking by the field over the road from my house that has been proven to be haunted etc was in the paper lol
anyway we were walking there was a barbed wire fence to my right and woods to my left
someone or somthing was watching me i could feel it
then it spoke to me
it said
"leave.... leave now "
at that point i passed out and hit the floor my friends had to carry me back home
this is one of the most horryfiing experiences off my life
i am not a man of faith
but the lord does help
thank you for reading
take this blog how you will
my friends will recolect what happend that night with out mne even talking to them
take this how you will

lee stanaway


1/04/2008 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well maybe everyone should take into account that most posessions occur around christain based familys and persons. younger people are more prone to possesion because they are more linked to the spiritual world(i researched this many times)If you look into demonology or satanism, they all say that demons are very proud creatures and get easily offended by christains or any person who down talks them. when I was a young teen I did black magic based on opening portals to hell. i was the only one not haunted because one I didn't fear demons, two i didn't follow god,and three I didn't believe that anything was purely evil. so as you can see i was less ofensive towards demons. my mother was severly haunted by these demons and I was fascinated by them. they would make themselves known to me every once in a while, but never possesed me or hurt me in any way. they even showed me thier faces, which to this day i find interesting and feel in awe of the experience. as for my poor mother, they would walk around her bed at night, make nioses to scare her, not sure what else they did she kind of never talks about such things. she eventually got out of bed one night and yelled at me for doing witchcraft, and said if I did not stop she would throw me out of the house. so i stoped doing it and eventaully it just stoped. so there is what I believe to be true. so I think that some people that are christain should respect satan and his demons or they are prone to this sort of destruction. even most pastors will tell you to show some respect but never fear them. even now they tell you to not fear god as far as I know, because I was christain for a short while. so have respect and never fear. keep this in mind and you will be fine!

12/07/2009 1:05 PM  

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Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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