4 Most Infamous Exorcisms: Demonic Possession or Mental Illness?
Over the last decade, the annual number of exorcisms performed by the Catholic Church in the United States has doubled. Does this escalation indicate that demonic activity, or perhaps mental illness, is on the rise? Here we examine four of the most infamous cases of demonic possession that resulted in exorcisms, detailing the medical histories of the possessed as well as the rituals employed to cast out the negative entities. Videos and recordings of the actual exorcism are included when available.
Mental Illness or Demonic Possession?
In Gary, Indiana, 2011, a teenage girl floats several feet above her bed while unconscious, within full view of extended family members attending a dinner party. Several months later, her brother walks backwards up a wall and across the ceiling of a hospital emergency room; the chilling event is witnessed by multiple healthcare professionals and a social worker. The Gary, Indiana Police Captain describes their home as a "Portal to Hell."
Mental health professionals who examine the Ammons children, blame these strange occurrences, in addition to other bad behavior exhibited by them, on the excess religiosity of their mother.
What was going on in Gary, Indiana with the Ammons family? Was this really the result of their mother's mental fixation, expanding into a collective familial hysteria, ultimately culminating in mass hallucinations experienced by medical professionals, social workers, priests and police officers, or was this family truly suffering from demonic possession?
Here we examine in detail four of the most infamous modern cases of demonic possession, including the well documented case of the Ammons family described above. Review the video tapes, recordings and evidence provided through these exorcisms to decide for yourself, "Are these cases the symptoms of mental disorders, or is something supernatural at work?"
The videos and recordings of the following real life possessions and exorcisms may be disturbing to some; viewer discretion is advised.
- ABC's 20/20 "Gina" Televised Exorcism
- Anneliese Michel - Audio Recordings of her Exorcism
- The Ammons Family - Video Interviews
- Maurice Thibault - Video of Exorcism
- A Muslim Exorcism - Video Where the Jinn is Invited to Convert to Islam
Psychotic Patients' Beliefs in Esoteric Causality
Esoteric causality, in this instance, refers to a mental patient's belief that an external force is the source or is partially responsible for their mental illness and behavior. Such suspected esoteric forces might include conspiracy theories such as chemtrails, alien abduction, voodoo curses or demonic possession.
In a study by Angermeyer & Klussman (1988), the researchers sought to determine what percentage of patients suffering psychosis attributed their illness to esoteric causation. In direct, oral interviews, a scant 1% professed belief in an esoteric cause for their illness. However, when given in-depth written questionnaires, 54.9% indicated that esoteric causes could possibly be an influence in their condition. Among the respondents of the questionnaires, 10.9% felt that demonic possession was a likely or very likely the source of their mental condition.
Is this simply wishful thinking, that an external force is responsible for their mental health breakdown? It appears that they are shy of confessing to the possibility of demonic possession when asked directly, "Do they consider it a possibility?" Yet in private, in written questionnaires, absent of a witness to the confession, they reveal secret beliefs and concerns.
As we will see later, professing the belief that one's own person is under demonic possession is a red flag to investigators. Claiming to be possessed, often is enough to end a Catholic investigation of demonic oppression or possession, and label the affliction as mental illness.
Modern Demonic Possession
In 1991 the Catholic Church made the decision to takes its dirty little secret, exorcism, out of the closet, and bring it center stage. The Catholic Church wanted America to know it was fighting a very real battle of good versus evil.
In a nation becoming increasingly secular, where demonic possession is the stuff of superstition and horror movies, the Church invited the producers of ABC's 20/20 to witness and televise a Church sanctioned exorcism. (Case Study Gina below) Since then, Catholic exorcists have been making the rounds on television and on the university campus lecture circuit. Simultaneously, a new industry has emerged, ghost hunting and paranormal research. It is estimated that there are annually 500-600 official exorcists in the Catholic Church; many Pentecostal ministers also practice forms of exorcism in their local churches.
Are these claims of demons, spirits and negative entities merely deception, preying on our fear of the unknown, or are there unseen forces from another realm or dimension finding portals of entry into our world. Is their intent to torment individuals and feed off of the negative energy their activities engender?
Dr. Richard Gallagher, a Princeton graduate who has trained in psychiatry at Yale and in psychoanalysis at Columbia universities believes so. Some years ago, Dr. Gallagher was approached by a Catholic priest to access one of their subjects and determine if she had a mental disorder or if she was actually demonically possessed. The results of his interaction with his first patient under official investigation for demonic possession opened his mind toward the paranormal.
One Psychiatrist's View of Demonic Possession
Dr. Richard Gallagher, while a practising Catholic, was a healthy skeptic of demonic possession, when he was approached by a Catholic priest to access the mental health of their subject, referred to as "Julia." Julia was an avowed Satanist and often described herself as a "Queen to Satan." During interviews, Julia would pass into trances. During these trances Julia would become hostile and abusive, often using vulgarity, as well as taunting the doctor with "hidden knowledge." She could tell Gallagher how people whom she had never met had died. This hidden knowledge included painful specifics regarding Gallagher's own mother's death, which was from a rare form of cancer.
Dr. Gallagher ultimately determined that she possessed paranormal abilities, and that her disorder was not psychiatric; there were no underlying medical causes for her affliction. Eventually, Julia was subjected to an exorcism attended by eight participants in her deliverance. Each of these participants later swore to Gallagher that Julia spoke in several languages during the Rites of Exorcism including Latin, French and Spanish; languages which she was not conversant in when out of trance. They also swore that she levitated for 30 minutes during the exorcism, and that she required the strength of 6 men to restrain her onto the bed.
Since this time, Dr. Gallagher has become a popular psychiatrist for priests to turn to when in need of psychological assessment of a potential victim of the demonic. Gallagher states that demonic possession is quite rare, and many of those he sees he diagnoses with forms of psychosis. However, he allows for the fact that there are forces unseen, those that affect patients outside the realm of psychiatry.
Gallagher approaches each new case with skepticism, then honestly weighs the evidence. Having seen numerous cases of actual demonic possession and more commonly oppression, he expresses his opinion thusly, "As a psychoanalyst, a blanket rejection of the possibility of demonic attacks seems less logical, and often wishful in nature, than a careful appraisal of the facts. As I see it, the evidence for possession is like the evidence for George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. In both cases, written historical accounts with numerous sound witnesses testify to their accuracy."
And, according to the priests referring patients to him, the number of subjects seeking deliverance from demonic activity is on the rise. In fact they have doubled over the last ten years.
What Constitutes Demonic Activity: Stages and Types
The Catholic Church divides demonic activity into two categories, ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary involves everyday temptation, while extraordinary can be broken down into four stages.
Extraordinary Demonic Activity:
- Demonic Infestation - This can be of a location or a cursed object (currently associated with paranormal events such as poltergeists and haunted homes). In this instance the home or object would be blessed to remove the association with or dedication to the diabolic.
- Demonic Oppression - The individual suffers physical attack, such as bites, claw scratches, pushes or shoves.
- Demonic Obsession - The individual is plagued by constant thoughts running through the mind of committing evil or violence.
- Demonic Possession - The individual has invited the demon indirectly or directly (through a challenge, paganism or a bargain), and the demon or demons possess the individual. The victim remains trapped within his body, in a trance like state, while the demons control the actions and communications of the individual. In this instance the physical body has become a vessel in which multiple entities reside.
Gina's Exorcism Continued
First Televised Exorcism Sanctioned and Performed by Catholic Officials
Sixteen-year-old Gina has been hearing voices that torment her, and is prone to violent outbursts. Physicians diagnose her with psychosis; paranoid schizophrenia is also suspected. Initially, medical intervention was not useful to Gina. Anti-psychotic medications did not appear to ameliorate her symptoms, which progressed over the course of a year and a half.
In the 20/20 segment, we see Father LeBar, early in his career, as one of the demonic investigators who investigates the claim of the possession of Gina for the Catholic Church. After interviewing her extensively, as well as family members and medical professionals, his team determines that Gina's situation indicates that an exorcism is appropriate.
The first half of the episode covers the actual investigation that lead to the exorcism. The exorcism itself begins at 5.0 in the first video.
In anticipation of Gina's arrival and the subsequent exorcism, paintings are removed from the walls and any objects that might become projectiles are put away for safekeeping.
Gina does not know that she is coming to this meeting for an exorcism. She is therefore a little bewildered as to why she seems to be the focus of everyone's attention. The officials offer her some water to drink, but unbeknownst to her the water proffered is "holy water," that which has been blessed under Catholic rites. Shortly after consuming the holy water, Gina begins to vomit unexpectedly. This is the final test, indicating that they should proceed with the exorcism.
The exorcism unfolds with the priest demanding the names of the negative spirits within Gina. It is believed that once the exorcist is armed with the names of the demonic, he will be better able to order them to leave the victim. The physical inability to tolerate religious iconography signals that it's time to begin the Rites of Exorcism.
During the ensuing six hour long exorcism, two entities are identified by Gina as her tormentors. Minga and Zion are named, and are then to be cast out.
Gina's Recovery Following Her Exorcism
Two days following the exorcism, all parties involved in the ritual, both religious and medical, agreed that Gina should be hospitalized in a mental facility. On her arrival at the medical facility, doctors there agree she is in much better condition than she was when she was initially brought in for evaluation a year and a half earlier. She stays for two weeks, during which time she is given new anti-psychotic medications.
Follow Up on Gina's Recovery
Following the exorcism and a new regimen of medications, Gina was able to return to leading a productive life as a high school student. Doctors believed that her progress following the exorcism was the result of personal religious beliefs. Believing that an external source was the cause of her mental issues, which the exorcism presumably had removed, empowered her to take better control of her outbursts and auditory hallucinations.
It is interesting to note that some 20+ years later, Father LeBar, now Chief Exorcist of New York, expresses his belief that Gina was not fully possessed, but suffering from a "serious demonic oppression."
The Catholic Church performs an exhaustive investigation, often lasting six months, before they will consent to sanction an exorcism. Mental health issues must be ruled out, and at least three of these signs must be present to warrant an exorcism.
Signs That Differentiate Demonic Possession From Mental Illness
As we have seen, the Catholic Church, as well as many shamanistic practitioners, are still in the business of performing exorcisms. The Catholic Rites of Exorcism were first sanctioned in the 1200's, then revised in 1533 and again in 1998. In 1999, Father LeBar, exorcist of the Archdiocese of New York, estimated that he performed 30-40 exorcisms per year in that area alone.
The Catholic Church performs an exhaustive investigation, often lasting 6 months, before they will consent to sanction an exorcism. Mental health issues must be ruled out, and at least three of these signs must be present to warrant an exorcism.
Signs of Possession of an Individual Include:
- Superhuman strength
- Clairvoyance - Knowledge of future events or events of which the individual can have no explicable knowledge
- Aversion to holy water and the Blessed Sacrament
- Ability to speak articulately in languages that the victim has never studied before
Additional Signs Not Required but Worthy of Note in an Investigation Include:
- Powerful smells of rotting flesh or sulfuric smells
Signs That Contraindicate an Exorcism:
- The individual believes he is possessed and personally seeks the exorcism
- Mental illness has been diagnosed
In Gina's case, we see few of the aforementioned signs of demonic possession. She demonstrates normal physical strength, and at no time does she levitate or speak an intelligible tongue or other language. However she does show a marked aversion for holy water, hence Father LeBarr's belief she was under demonic oppression, which might ultimately result in full possession..
The Superhuman Strength of the Possessed
Typically during an exorcism, the individual being exorcised will be restrained. Often they will be bound with hospital restraints to a bed or hands and legs may be manacled to a chair. Witnesses to exorcisms have reported the possessed being able to snap chair legs and break metal manacles while in the throws of resisting the intervention.
Father LeBar reports seeing an individual pick up a 200 pound bag with one hand and hurling it at the exorcists as easily as one might throw a pillow. Parents of a possessed child may find it nearly impossible to subdue the child while in the throws of possession. These children have strength that equals that of one or two parents combined.
The demon will on occasion taunt the interviewer with knowledge that could not be logically obtained by its victim. They may have intimate knowledge of remote events, such as where the priest was earlier that day or week, the names of his contacts and knowledge of their conversations and the events that transpired in detail.
In other instances the demon may be in possession of knowledge of future events, and claim causation for an impending occurrence. It is important to note that under Catholic tradition, not all clairvoyance is deemed evil or demonic. Many saints and prophets have had the gift of knowledge of remote events or have had knowledge of future events.
Aversion to Holy Water and the Blessed Sacrament
Holy water is water that has been blessed through a Catholic Ritual. In a case of demonic possession, the individual will have a strong negative, visceral reaction to the holy water. In the 20/20 video above, Gina is given holy water to drink, without being informed that it is holy water. Shortly after ingesting the water she begins to vomit it up. This incident, in part, encourages the priests to commence her exorcism.
Father Vince Lampert, another Catholic exorcist, describes a typical response of the victim when splashed with holy water, "The eyes roll back into the head, and the possessed may begin to foam at the mouth." This response would indicate that it is appropriate to proceed with an exorcism.
The Blessed Sacrament, also the Body and Blood of Christ, refers to the Host or prosphora and Eucharistic wine after it has been consecrated in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The possessed are intensely resistant to symbols of the Blessed Sacrament as well as to entering churches housing it.
Anneliese Michel as a Healthy Teenager—Then in the Throws of Exorcism
Mental Illness or Demonic Possession: Anneliese Michel's Case
Most modern mental health practitioners make no room for demonic possession in their catalog of diagnosis. And indeed, we can all agree that illnesses such as epilepsy, Turret's Syndrome and schizophrenia are not, as was once believed, a sign of possession. In the controversial case of Anneliese Michel, a German teenager diagnosed with epilepsy and mental illness, the girl believed she was possessed, and requested an exorcism, which was initially denied by the Church. Two priests conducted Rites of Exorcism for 10 months, over some 67 sessions, lasting as long as 4 hours per session.
Ultimately, in 1976, Anneliese died of malnutrition and dehydration, eagerly anticipating her martyrdom. At the time of her death, she weighed a mere 68 pounds. Annaliese's belief that she was possessed, and her subsequent refusal to eat or drink, indicate that her case was one of mental illness and not demonic possession. The parents and priests were found guilty of negligent homicide and all served brief prison sentences.
Recording From Anneliese Michel's Exorcism—Disturbing
Anneliese was a devout Catholic, who at the age of 16 was diagnosed with epilepsy. She was hospitalized for a year, however the treatments did not improve her condition, and she became depressed and possibly suicidal. While hospitalized, she began having "devilish" visions during her prayers. She also complained of evil voices speaking to her, and telling her she was damned.
Anneliese's condition waxed and waned over the ensuing years. At times she could attend school, then she would descend into madness. She ate flies, coal, bit the head of a dead bird and even licked her own urine off of the floor. In one episode she spent two days under the kitchen table, barking like a dog.
Growing increasingly frustrated with her medical treatment, Anneliese became convinced that her condition was in need of religious intervention.
At the age of 23, on a pilgrimage to a religious center, Anneliese 's travel companion noticed that she had developed an aversion to a painting of Christ and refused to drink water from the holy spring there. Additionally, her companion complained that Annaliese had begun to smell "hellishly bad." A priest from a neighboring town with experience in exorcisms examined Anneliese , determined she was possessed and in need of an exorcism, which was ultimately granted.
Anneliese professed to harbor the spirits of five damned souls: Cain, Judas Iscariot, Adolph Hitler, Nero, and Fleischmann (a fallen German priest of the 1600s) as well as Lucifer and Satan. Modern forensic psychiatrists often associate such delusions, hallicinations and her episodes of psychotic behavior with schizophrenia.
Mental Health Professionals and Priests Clash over the Ammons Possession Case
Ammons was examined repeatedly by psychologists, who described her as "guarded," but seemed not to be "experiencing symptoms of psychosis or thought disorder." At one point, one of her psychologists recommended Ammons be assessed to "determine whether her religiosity may be masking underlying delusional ideations or perceptual disturbances."
The Superbly Documented Case of Latoya Ammons: A Family Living in a Portal to Hell?
In 2011 Gary, Indiana, a family consisting of a mother and her three children suffered from what appears to be a case of extreme demonic oppression and possession. Following a series of odd, inexplicable occurrences (including the sounds of footsteps in the basement and wet boot prints appearing mysteriously across the upstairs floors) Latoya Ammons and visiting friends and family were shocked one evening to find her daughter unconscious and levitating 5 feet above the bed. Friends and family fell into prayer, and eventually the twelve year old settled back onto the bed, however the girl had no memory of the incident. Witnesses to the event were so terrified, that they refused to return to the Ammons family home.
According to Ammons and extended family, the oppressive activities escalated. Family members were thrown against furniture, freezers and walls; children were pulled from the sofa and punched by unseen forces, until their lips and gums bled. Swarms of horseflies were found on the porch on chilly winter mornings, lights flickered and pounding was heard on the basement door which they had long since dead-bolted with a lock. Shadowy figures passed through their home at night and walls and blinds dripped with oily fluids. Two clairvoyants brought in to explore the property, claimed that over 200 demons and spirits haunted the home.
As the demonic oppression escalated, chilling new themes of death were introduced to the children. At one point the youngest son was found in a closet, conversing with another child whom only he could see. This invisible child was describing to him in detail what it felt like to be killed. In another instance, the 12 year old daughter felt that she was being choked by invisible hands, and could not take a breath during this attack, while a telepathic voice told her that she would be dead within twenty minutes.
The children began missing substantial numbers of school days. Ammons explained their absences were necessary because the kids were often kept up all night by the occurrences, and the children were exhausted or sick in the mornings. The Department of Child Services (DCS) was called in to investigate possible neglect and physical abuse of the 3 children. (It should be noted that Ammons was investigated for neglect by DCS several years earlier).
Things came to a head between the family, DCS and the medical community when Ms. Ammons and her mother took her sons to see the family physician. Once there, the boys began to growl and curse the family doctor in "demonic voices." The physician admits to having been unnerved by the boys, although he believed their behavior resulted from a form of mental illness.
While still in the examination room, according to a nurse witness, the youngest boy was raised up by an unseen force, then flew into a wall. Following this incident, both boys abruptly fell to the ground unconscious.
Staff at the practice were terrified by witnessing these events; and raced from the room, refusing to renter it, and leaving the unconscious boys to be cradled by their mother and grandmother. Not knowing what to do, the physician's staff contacted the police and called for an ambulance to take them to the nearby emergency room. Seven or eight police cars and two ambulances arrived to take the family to the local Methodist Hospital. DCS also sent an agent, Ms. Washington, to the Methodist Hospital ER, and the events that transpired next are part of the official DCS report.
The children had regained consciousness by the time they arrived at the hospital and were examined and found to be healthy and free of injuries or bruises. While there, a psychiatric examination was made of Laytoya Ammons; the psychiatrist found her to be "of sound mind."
During the interviewing of the boys, the seven year old began to growl and bared his teeth, his eyes rolled back into his head, after which he began to choke his nine year old brother, saying in a deep, demonic tone, "It's time for you to die. I will kill you." Adults present had to pry the seven year old boy's hands off of his older brother's neck.
Later in the evening, according to Washington's DCS report, at the hospital ER examination room, in front of Walker, the boys' grandmother and herself, the youngest boy's eyes rolled back in his head and he growled. He got a weird smile on his face, and glided slowly backwards across the floor, up the wall to the ceiling. From there he flipped over his grandmother, landing on his feet, all while holding his grandmother's hands. During this feat of flipping over the grandmother, Washington notes, with some amazement, that their arms never tangled.
Terrified, the social worker and nurse ran for security, who then contacted the ER Chaplain, who then contacted Father Mike Maginot. Police investigating the incident asked the agent, Washington, if this could have been an acrobatic stunt. She had no explanation of it, as it was done in slow motion and there was no way he could have humanly accomplished this on his own.
A police report later quoted Washington as saying, there could be an "evil influence" affecting the family. Washington's own DCS report details that, "they told a doctor what happened. The doctor, who did not believe them, asked the boy to walk up the wall again."
Walker told the doctor he doubted the boy could repeat the feat. "This kid was not himself when he did that." In fact the boy did not recall performing the feat, and said he could not walk backwards up the wall.
Legal Intervention for the Ammons Family
Following the ER examination room incidents, DCS had the children examined by their psychologists. They found the boys to be deceptive in their answers to questions, with "demonic" behaviour being employed when they were challenged, redirected in questioning or when they preferred not to answers questions. It was their opinion that the children had been acting out to satisfy their mother's beliefs in the supernatural. Skeptics suggest that the children were particularly agile and flung themselves into appliances and walls, while the boy had walked backwards up the wall with the assistance of his grandmother, who held one or both of his hands. The day after the incident DCS took emergency action and removed the children from Ammon's care without a court order. Consequently the children were removed from their mother's custody, and she was advised to learn "to employ alternate forms of discipline not directly related to religion and demon possession." Ms. Ammons was allowed supervised visits over the following six months suspension of her parental rights.
A few days later, Father Maginot, at the request of the hospital Chaplain, met with Ms. Ammons and her mother Ms. Campbell at their haunted home. Father Maginot had come to investigate himself, to determine if the house had demonic activity or if this was a hoax. According to him, during a four hour interview he did observe demonic activity and believed the house to be haunted as well. A light in the bathroom flickered, yet the flickering stopped whenever he approached it to investigate. Venetian blinds rods in the kitchen swayed, while the tags remained still; a breeze would have moved both objects simultaneously. He observed wet footprints in the living room towards the end of their meeting, but could not recall having seen them earlier during the investigation. Oils were observed dripping down the blinds in the bedroom. Ammons explained that she had anointed all of the entry points to the home with olive oil one month earlier, however looking back to the beginning of the investigation, Maginot could not recall having seen the oils dripping down the blinds in his initial walkthrough. During the interview, Ammons complained of a headache; the priest placed a crucifix on her forehead, which caused her to quiver and convulse. As he was not prepared to do anything more than an investigation, he removed the cross from her forehead.
At the conclusion of the investigation, Father Maginot blessed the ladies and their home.The next day Campbell called Maginot to report that Ammons was "sick as a dog" the headache had not abated. Additionally, they were sharing a bed that evening and were awakened as something was removing the covers from their feet. They had decided to reside with Ammons brother in Indianapolis, and requested that the Father bless this home before their moving in. They hoped that leaving the home and the blessing would render the need for an exorcism unnecessary.
The Police Document Occult Occurrences in the Ammons Home
Meanwhile, Gary, Indiana police took a renewed interest in the Ammons home. DCS agent Washington requested a police escort on her visit to the Carolina Street home one week later. An officer from Lake County accompanied her, as well as officers from Ward County and Hammond County, who joined out of curiosity. They met Ammons and Campbell at the front of the house. Ammons refused to re enter her home, but Campbell agreed to show them around.
During the visit, equipment malfunctioned, newly charged batteries drained and officers took photos that revealed previously undetected wisps that appeared to be the forms of men and women floating under the basement stairs and in the front porch screen of the home. And while nothing particularly dramatic happened during this visit, Washington of DCS refused to revisit the home in subsequent investigations.
Two weeks later, DCS, the police officers, a police dog, Ammons and Father Maginot returned to the Ammons home. The dog showed no particular interest in the exterior or interior of the home. They returned to the basement, where they dug a hole where the concrete had previously been cut out of the slab around and under the stairs. According to Maginot, one of the police officers dug a 4-foot by 3-foot hole beneath the stairs. At about two feet of depth they began unearthing "disturbing" objects: a pink press-on fingernail, a white pair of ladies panties, an oval lid for a kettle, socks with the bottoms cut off below the ankles, hair beads, a broken piece of plastic from a shoe horn, candy wrappers tops and a heavy metal object that looked like a weight for a drapery cord. The Father goes onto to muse that perhaps the original owners' son had been killed at a young age by a blow to the head with the 10 pound metal object, and the father of the boy had buried those objects associated with his son's death. He further reckons that the mother might have tried to conjure up the dead son's soul, and if she had been successful in that endeavor, might have tried it with other dearly departed loved ones. He suggests in his letter to the Bishop requesting the exorcism, that a mass should be said for each of these family members, if their names can be identified, in order to release their souls into Christ's light.
(Maginot had researched the history of Carolina Street and discovered that one murder had occurred in the past, a domestic dispute, that was solved. The fact that he does not have a name for the young child killed accidentally suggests that this is pure conjecture on his part. Interestingly, this odd assortment of items buried two feet deep under the stairs resembles an assemblage of voodoo curse objects employed in black magic).
The items dug up were replaced in the hole and dirt was raked over the objects. Maginot sprinkled the site with blessed salt.
While in the basement DCS agent Ilic, standing in for Washington, noticed a strange liquid dripping in the basement. She touched it and found it to be slippery and at the same time sticky between her fingers. Later, upstairs, her pinky finger turned white, and she complained that it felt broken. Soon she began to feel as though she was suffering from a panic attack, and was having trouble breathing. She excused herself and waited for the other outdoors.
According to the police report, once upstairs again, the police took note of an oily substance dripping down the bedroom blinds. They cleaned it up with paper towels, closed the door and stood guard at the door for a half hour. When the half hour had passed, they opened the door to find the oily substance had returned to the blinds.
That afternoon the Father performed a minor exorcism, which does not require authorization from the church, on Ammons. Ilic and two police officers were in attendance as the priest attempted to cast out the demons. An intense blessing was also performed on the home.
During the two our rite, the witnesses reported feeling a presence, as though someone was breathing down their necks. Ilic reports feeling chills throughout the ritual.
Interviews With the Exorcist, Father Maginot, and Police Photos of the Carolina Street Home in Gary, Indiana
Exorcisms and Resolution for Latoya Ammons and the Carolina Street Home
Subsequent to the minor exorcism, Bishop Melczik authorized a Church sanctioned exorcism for Ms. Ammons. While the ritual is the same, it is believed to be more powerful, as it is Church sanctioned. Latoya required three exorcisms to be rid of her headaches and tormenting nightmares, which had followed her to her brother's house. There are no reports available to the public on how the children fared while in DCS custody.
During the exorcisms, Ammons felt terrible pain, which she equated to childbirth. She felt a sense of separation, or something being ripped away from herself. In each exorcism, her body convulsed until she ultimately fell asleep; according to Maginot, this the demons' way to lessen the effects the ritual has on the demonic possessing the individual.
After the third major exorcism, held in Latin, Latoya was freed from her oppression. Her children were returned to her custody, and on their return they too felt free from demonic oppression, now that they no longer lived in the Carolina Street home.
Was Latoya Ammons actually possessed? She does not meet the strict criteria for possession. She is not reported to have spoken in other languages, did not possess superhuman strength nor clairvoyance. Her children seem to have ceased demonstrations of the demonic without religious intervention. Was removal from the home enough to alleviate their symptoms. It seems Ammons was under severe demonic oppression, perhaps her oppression extended into the torment of her children?
The home itself had been a rental home since 2004. The owner of the home insisted there had never been any problems for other tenants, and in fact the next tenant to live there, called the Ammons story hocus pocus. Skeptics quip that the Ammons were haunted by the ghosts of unpaid rents.
In 2014, Zac Bagans, ghost hunter and host of Ghost Adventures purchased the property. Here he performed an exhaustive investigation that culminated in the demolition of the house. He claimed a great darkness necessitated the demolition, which will be revealed in a documentary movie about the home. Others have mused that he wanted to prevent skeptics from entering the house and debunking, while still more cynical skeptics believe the demolition was intended to create buzz for his documentary, Demon House, due out in 2018.
Is it Diabolical or Mental Illness
Do you believe in demonic possession?
The Maurice Theriault Possession and Exorcism
In this video of his exorcism, you will see large raised bumps traveling under the skin on his arms, and a bloody crack open on his forehead, which heals by the end of the exorcism. Also, you will see Maurice responding to the some of the exorcist's questions in Latin, a dead language in which Maurice, educated only until the third grade, had no training.
Maurice Theriault: A Troubled Childhood and Even Stranger Adulthood
Maurice "Frenchie" Theriault was the subject of the book, Satan's Harvest by Ed and Lorriane Warren, noted parapsychology investigators and demonologists. They witnessed his possession as well as his Catholic exorcism.
By all accounts, Maurice had a miserable childhood at the hands of a cruel father. Maurice was worked harder on the farm than a child's stamina could support, and forced to quit school by third grade. Maurice prayed for salvation, and it seemed to come to him in unusual ways. Maurice found himself growing physically stronger and stronger. He began to "know" things that he could not account for.
As he grew older, he witnessed an obscene act in the family barn involving an animal and his father. Caught spying, his father forced him to participate as well. The exact details of these events were too disturbing for Maurice to specify. The harshness of his childhood and strange proclivities of his father are certainly enough to cause mental illness in any child or young adult.
After drifting around New England for some years, Maurice finally settled down with a young bride on a family farm in Western Massachusetts. Here he led a normal life, and was considered a kind man by his neighbors. Then Maurice began losing chunks of time from his memory, and small fires began erupting across the farm. These little fires brought the Theriault farm to the attention of local law enforcement.
It is no surprise to us, given his background, that Frenchie ultimately committed several outrageous crimes including: rape of a minor child, attempted murder of his wife and ultimately suicide.
Did Frenchie have a psychosis, perhaps multiple personality disorder, that allowed him to be a kind gentle man one moment and a psychotic killer the next? This might explain the lapses in time he experienced, as well as the lack of intelligence of events he must have been either involved in or witness to.
Yet there were other even more disturbing occurrences in Maurice's life, witnessed by law enforcement, clergy and the Warrens, that defy explanation.
Among the many odd occurrences on their farm, during the height of his possession, Maurice would bleed from his eyes and mouth in a twisted sort of demonic stigmata, which was documented by multiple witnesses. The cause of the bleeding could not be determined; once it had ceased, there was no evidence of open wounds or sores.
Maurice also possessed incredible physical strength, which he had enjoyed since childhood. He could lift 300-400 pound objects with apparent easy, while other men strained to even budge these same objects.
Most peculiar of all, was Maurice's ability to be "two places at once." Numerous witnesses testified to the fact that they had seen Maurice in one area, perhaps his study, then a short time later at a greater distance than they could have imagined him traveling in that short span of time. Checking back at his original location, they found that he was still there, and with no knowledge of having left the room. Doppelgangers, translated from German literally as "double walker," are associated in paranormal lore as being harbingers of bad luck. It was this strange phenomenon that caused the family to reach out to the Warrens for an explanation.
Their investigation is chronicled in their book, Satan's Harvest. Ultimately the Warren's believed Maurice was under demonic possession, and they arranged for an Exorcism to be performed at his farm.
In this video of his exorcism, you will see large raised bumps traveling under the skin on his arms, and a bloody crack open on his forehead, which heals by the end of the exorcism. Also, you will see Maurice responding to the some of the exorcist's questions in Latin, a dead language in which he had no training.
Maurice was determined to be free of the demonic following the exorcism, and for several years seemed a normal family man, returning to the kind, gentle man people had referred to as Frenchie. According to family and witnesses, the demonic returned with tragic consequences.
In what is best described as a psychotic rage, Maurice shot and wounded his wife, blowing off her arm with the shot from a 12 gauge shotgun, as she attempt to escape from him, then after wounding her, drug her back into their home. It seemed to her that he intended to take her life. Then after a prolonged struggle with himself, he turned the shotgun on himself, and ended his own life. "Amen," said his wife.
Maurice Theriault sought assistance from Ed and Lorraine Warren, the world’s most famous demonologists, in deliverance from his demonic oppressors. It was the Warrens who called in one of America’s most renowned exorcists, Bishop Robert McKenna.
What they all experienced is described in this extraordinary book, which chronicles the many horrifying physical manifestations of Maurice's possession.
Did Maurice Make an Inadvertent Bargain With The Devil?
We can certainly suspect mental illness as the source of Maurice's strange behavior and ultimate demise, however many witnesses attest to paranormal occurrences surrounding Maurice's existence in the last years of his life. Did his childhood prayers for strength and salvation inadvertently make a pact with the demonic? Was his extraordinarily cruel father involved in the occult? What was it that occurred in the barn that night in which Maurice was forced to participate?
Maurice's story qualifies with three of the requisite signs of demonic possession, and in fact a Catholic sanctioned exorcism ultimately occurs.
- Maurice possessed superhuman physical strength
- He possessed "hidden knowledge" of people and events
- He spoke in Latin during his exorcism
- Inexplicable physical phenomenon, such as bleeding from the eyes and mouth and the object moving under his skin in the video
- Doppelgangers witnessed by multiple neighbors
Muslim Exorcism Demonstrates a Different Approach to the Demonic
In this video, the possessed woman appears to have substantially black eyes, only when the eyeballs roll back into her head do we see the whites of her eyes.
During this exorcism, as in other Muslim exorcisms we have reviewed, the Jinn possessing the woman is invited by the exorcist to convert to Islam. In this instance, the possessing Jinn appears to take the oath of conversion, and agrees to return to its realm, as well as to refrain from oppressing human beings again. This is a very different approach to exorcism from that practiced by the Catholic Church, where the evil spirit is cast out, but not invited to convert to Christianity. In Catholic dogma, the demonic is dedicated to evil. In Islam, the Jinn have the power of self determination, and cab choose good or evil.
© 2017 James Wilson