In 1973, the whole world trembled before The Exorcist by William Friedkin. Considered as one of the scariest movies of all cinematographic history, it depicts a little girl possessed by a demon and two priests who came to exorcise her.
At the time, The Exorcist knew a planetary success the likes few movies has ever seen, to an extent where it literally redefined the supernatural-horror genre.
But many people ignore it. The exorcist is actually inspired from a true story – that of the Roland Doe Possession!
In 1949, still a student, William Peter Blatty discovers an article posted in the Washington Post about a young boy of 14, called Roland Doe, who was allegedly possessed by a demon and exorcised by the catholic church a year prior the newspaper publication.
The name “Roland Doe” is a pseudonym name given by the Catholic church to protect the real identity of the boy.
William Blatty became so fascinated by this story that it was etched in his mind for decades and in 1971, he published his book – The Exorcist.
It was an immediate best-seller. Two years later, William Friedkin put it in front of our screens as a motion picture super-hit.
A year prior to the Washington Post article that immortalized this story, In 1948, Roland Doe, was an average young boy of 13 from a middle class family from Mount-Rainier, Maryland.
He was described as a calm, reserved and an introverted boy. He lived in a modest extended family, with his parents, grandmother and aunt Harriet, who, although lived in Saint-Louis, would come very frequently to visit Roland Doe.
His aunt Harriet liked to be called a medium and on her occasional spiritual sessions would use a Ouija board to communicate with the dead.
The whole shebang fascinated the young Roland, to an extent where he begged his aunt to teach him how to use the Ouija board – and she did!
It was however not before long that her aunt succumbed to a fatal illness, leaving the young boy utterly distraught. He began to change, became more introverted and sedentary. He spent days in his room, without coming out, possibly in an attempt to contact his dead aunt with the Ouija board.
According to accounts by Thomas B Allen in 1991, who dedicated his life to the story of Roland Doe, strange things started happening around him soon after his aunt’s death.
His parents started hearing strange noises, which at first they thought were rats in the basement. They called on a private pest control service and found nothing out of the ordinary.
But then things really went chaotic, in a way no rational mind will ever be able to explain…
Lights started switching on by themselves, inanimate objects started making weird noises, chandeliers moved like crazy in a room with no draft and with closed windows. A statue of Jesus Christ kept banging on the wall and objects seemed to be moving by themselves.
At first, his parents tried to rationalize the supernatural events by thinking it was aunt Harriet trying to communicate with them. But the magnitude of the sheer horror they started experiencing made them abandon this thought soon enough.
Whole furniture started moving in a hazardous manner, drawers leaving cupboards like projectiles and supernatural phenomenons started happening everywhere in the house.
Whence came the night, Roland Doe’s attitude changed markedly. He became scary. He developed unexplained bruising and scratch marks on his body. He curled onto himself and started screaming like a madman.
It was then they understood he was possessed.
His parents decided to call on the services of their spiritual guide, lutheran pastor Luther Miles Schulze – for it seemed it was the only sensible thing to do at this point.
Pastor Schulze made a report and relayed it to the Evening Star, which then published the article. It created an uncontrollable nationwide sensation.
Roland was examined by a slew of doctors and psychiatrists who were not able to explain the phenomenons affecting the boy from a scientific point of view.
Pastor Schulze was very skeptical about the supernatural claims. He decided to harbor the boy for one night, for observation.
He later writes in a private letter to his parapsychologist friend (Dr. Rhein); seeing the boy sound asleep on his couch and moving by himself. Not using his legs. or hands. But moving as if an invisible force was pulling on him.
Not skeptical anymore, pastor Schulze tried to perform various exorcism rites to no avail. In fact, the more he tried, the more violent the possessions would get. He handed the Roland Doe possession case to the Catholic church.
The Roland Doe Possession
Demonic possessions are generally scary, but that of Roland Doe is a particularly scary story. A story that has inspired and scared many people for decades and continues to do so to this day. Sleep with your lights on tonight. You never know.