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Deliver Us From Evil

Exorcisms in Real Life

Priests performing exorcisms on terrifying demon-possessed characters are a popular storyline in Hollywood horror films.
June 17, 2014, 3:50pm


Priests performing exorcisms on terrifying demon-possessed characters are a popular storyline in Hollywood horror films. Movies like The Exorcist and The Rite are filled with images of disjointed bodies and spinning heads that haunt viewers well after the films have finished. But, those scary tales aren’t found only in movies and nightmares. Like the new film, Deliver Us From Evil, these stories are inspired by true stories of chilling paranormal phenomena.

For centuries, real-life demonic possessions have been recorded around the world. Even today, religious figures are continuing to train in the practice of exorcism. Some of most notorious devil dealings have taken place in the past 50 years and just like the movies, the tales are frightening enough to keep you up at night.

The story of the Ammon family in Gary, Indiana is one of the most recent stories involving possession. After moving into a rental home in November 2011, Latoya Ammon and her family began to experience paranormal activity.  What started with creaking doors and swarming flies, soon turned into Latoya’s 12-year-old daughter unconsciously levitating above her bed. The strange events lead to an inspection of the house by clairvoyants who reported that 200 demons were present.

The family, who was further inspected by doctors, was diagnosed with no mental illness and police corroborated that something evil might have been responsible. One nurse recalled Latoya’s nine-year-old son walking backwards up a hospital wall. After finally moving out of the house and undergoing several exorcisms, Latoya believes that her and her family have finally rid the demons.

Another record of demonic possession occurred during the 80s in Litchfield, Connecticut. The case involved Pat Reading, a wife and mother, who endured a total of 16 exorcisms.  Pat had also experienced strange occurrences in her home, with large furniture being moved and strange noises heard by her family. The rituals, performed by her local Bishop, were ultimately unsuccessful and Pat experienced her violent tantrums until she died.

During the same time in Brookfield, Connecticut, Cheyenne Johnson became known for being the first defendant in a court case where demonic possession was blamed for the murder. In 1981, Cheyenne was charged for first-degree manslaughter after he killed his landlord during a dispute.  The Glatzel family who shared the home with Johnson reported that the home had been haunted prior to the murder. Allegedly, the 11-year-old David Glatzel had previously been possessed by the demon. The family called on demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are best known for their investigation of the Lutz’s haunted Amityville house and whose cases with the paranormal inspired the films The Amityville Horror and The Conjuring. With the help of several priests, the Warrens exorcised the young boy, but the demon allegedly jumped to Cheyenne. The judge eventually convicted him, claiming that the defense couldn’t be proven.

Possession was also blamed for the murder of Christine Taylor. On October 5, 1974, in the British town of Ossett, Michael Taylor underwent an exorcism for demonic possession. Michael began displaying erratic behavior after his wife confronted him about his infidelity. Following months of the 31-year-old continually acting out of character, he sought out the help of his local clergy.  Two ministers,Father Peter Vincent and Reverend Raymond Smith, performed an exorcism that lasted over 24 hours. They expelled 40 demons, but believed that the three responsible for insanity, murder and violence remained.  The men planned to continue the exorcism after a night of rest, but when Michael returned home he brutally murdered his wife Christine.

Finally, one of the most well-known cases of possession was that of 22-year-old Annelise Michel who underwent an exorcism in Germany in 1975, after she started hearing voices, eating insects and became repulsed by religious paraphernalia. After unsuccessful treatment for her mental illness, her parents sought the help of the Catholic Church because they were convinced that she had been possessed by demons.

Her exorcism ritual was ordered by the Bishop and performed by twos priests for 67 sessions lasting ten months. Annelise died after the rigorous exorcism process due to malnutrition and dehydration, to which her parents and the priests were charged with negligent homicide. Her story went on to inspire the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which was directed by Scott Derrickson who also directed Deliver Us From Evil.