Real 1949 St. Louis Exorcism More Scary than Movie it Inspired
Did you know one of the most famous horror movies of all time, The Exorcist, was inspired by a real event in St. Louis, Missouri? It was. You should also know that what really happened in that St. Louis hospital in 1949 is much more terrifying than the movie it inspired. It also has a happy ending. Sort of.
When The Exorcist was released in 1973, it scared movie-goers and ended up being nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture.
So, The Exorcist really happened?
Not exactly. The Exorcist was based on a real life exorcism that happened in St. Louis referred to as The Exorcism of Roland Doe. The movie changed the name of Roland/Ronald to "Regan". As Wikipedia documents, the boy is known only as "Robbie" (aka Roland Doe). As the story goes, "Roland" was cared for by his Aunt Harriet who also happened to be a spiritualist. She introduced him to the Ouija Board and that's when the trouble started.
All That's Interesting filled in some of the blanks in Roland's life about what happened next. They claim his real name was Ronald Hunkeler. He began to hear strange sounds and then his bed would move on its own. Then he became...violent.
After a failed exorcism in Washington, D.C., where Roland broke off part of a mattress he was attached to and broke a priest's nose, he was moved to a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. They noted as they observed him that he would be calm during the day, but would change his demeanor at night. Screaming was common.
Multiple exorcisms reportedly took place in St. Louis in 1949 with priests witnessing a large "X" on his chest which the priests believed stood for the 10 demons who possessed him. He also apparently stood on his bed and screamed that the devil would always be with him. This was on March 20, 1949.
The battle continued until the night of April 18, 1949 when the priests told the devil that the Archangel Michael would battle for the boy's soul. That's when the miracle occurred. 7 minutes later, they heard the phrase "he's gone" and Ronald aka Roland never had another episode again.
The real exorcism was documented by The Washington Post in August of 1949. There's also a book on Amazon called "Possessed" which used the accounts of one of the priests to tell the tale which is much more sinister than the movie that scared everyone back in 1973.