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[00:00:02]

There's this saying that we use when someone does something weird or out of character, I don't know what possessed them to do that. It's such a common phrase that you've probably never thought about what it really means or where it comes from. But then I started digging into this story, which is about a 13 year old boy, given the pseudonym Roland Doe. It made me think about that saying in a whole new way. Roland was a sweet, gentle boy by all accounts.

[00:00:31]

But in January of 1949, something happened to him. And in a fit of violence, Roland reportedly stabbed a priest who tried to pray with him, maiming him for a life. In the aftermath of that incident, Roland's mother found herself wondering what could have possessed him to do that. Well, by all accounts, the devil in the winter of 1949, Rolando was possessed by a demon and it made him do that. This is Supernatural, a podcast original, and I'm your host, Ashleigh Flowers, every Wednesday, I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained occurrence to try and figure out the truth.

[00:01:29]

You could find all episodes of Supernatural in all other cast originals for free on Spotify. And if you like what you're hearing, reach out on Facebook and Instagram app, podcast and Twitter at Podcast Network. This week we're talking about the exorcism of a young boy known only by the pseudonym Roland Doe. It's considered to be the most thoroughly documented case of demonic possession in American history. Story even went on to inspire a Hollywood classic, The Exorcist. We have all that and more coming up.

[00:02:01]

Stay with us. Any time your life story is made into a movie, there's always going to be a question of what's real versus what's embellished. And if your life story was made into a movie featuring a spider walking, head spinning, pea soup spitting little girl, that question becomes even more important. So let's go ahead and set the record straight. This will not be a retelling of The Exorcist. Rolan story inspired the book, but it's hardly a faithful account.

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But there is a written record of what really happened. One of the priests, Raymond Bishop, kept a daily log throughout the exorcism because he thought it would be helpful to anyone trying to fight off demons in the future.

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Writer Thomas Allen received a copy of the diary in the 1990s, decades after The Exorcist was given the Hollywood treatment. Allen was researching Rolands case for his own book Possessed. Until then, the log had been locked away and kept secret. Allen did his own interviews and research, corroborating as much of the diary as possible.

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There were almost 40 witnesses to the different stages of Rolands possession, and their accounts match. Father Bishop's Allen believes that the exorcism log can be trusted as a primary source. So, according to Father Bishop's diary, what follows is the story of Rolando. And just to note, to protect Rolands privacy, his name and the names of his family members are pseudonyms.

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The first incident occurred on Saturday, January 15th, 1949, in the family's home in Maryland, 13 year old Roland and his grandmother heard a loud dripping noise like a leaky faucet coming from somewhere inside. But they checked every sink. All of them were dry. Eventually, they honed in on the grandmother's room. The dripping seemed to be coming from the attic, so they decided it must be from a leaky pipe. But later in the night, a new sound emerged in the grandmother's room.

[00:04:04]

This time it was scratching and it was the loudest underneath her bed. But again, they wrote it off as normal household noises. Roland's father, Kevin, thought it was probably a rodent of some kind. He promised to call an exterminator in the morning, but the exterminator couldn't find the source of the scratching. He ripped up the floorboards under the bed and laid down some poison. But there wasn't any sign of a nest or infestation. But whether they could find rats or not, the scratching continued.

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Even weirder, it followed a set schedule. It started every night at seven p.m. and then died down just after midnight. This kept up for 11 days until January 26th. Then the noise moved the grandmother's room to Rolands. But instead of scratching under the floorboards, Rolan heard what he describes as a pair of squeaky shoes walking up and down the length of his bed. So obviously this couldn't be explained by a rat, but Roland's family had no other explanation for it either.

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Eventually, Rolands mother, Patty, tried to communicate with whatever was making the noise, or rather who ever.

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You see, Kevin's sister, Helen, had recently passed away, Roland was particularly close to his aunt. They spent hours together whenever she came in to visit from St. Louis. And during her most recent trip in the winter of 1948, she taught Roland how to use a Ouija board. Aunt Helen was a spiritualist, meaning she tried to contact the dead using seances, mediums and Ouija boards. Spiritualists believed that the dead could see into the future and they could give the living advice based on what they saw.

[00:05:48]

And while some religions warn that speaking to spirits is dangerous, spiritualists believe there's no such thing as a bad spirit and that no harm can come to someone acting as a medium. So when Aunt Helen died, Roland turned to his Ouija board for comfort. He spent hours every day trying to reach Helen in the spirit world. He hadn't gotten much of a response from the board, but Aunt Helen had said that sometimes spirits communicate in other ways. So on the night of February 2nd, as the squeaking shoes marched up and down Roland's bed for the sixth night in a row, his mother, Patty, decided to ask if it was Helen making all that noise while Patti Roland and his grandmother laid on the bed.

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She timidly offered, If you are Helen, knock three times. After a few seconds, they felt three waves of air pass over them, which produced three distinct knocks on the floor beneath them. Patty asked again If you saw Helen tell me positively by knocking four times they felt four more pulses through the air for more knocks. Patty felt like they had confirmation it was Helen, but then the familiar scratching noise started again. Only this time it wasn't coming from under the floorboards.

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It came from inside the mattress. They could feel something worming its way around the springs, almost like a little claw. Then the mattress began to shake, gentle at first and then more and more violently, then suddenly stopped.

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And when it did, the edges of the bedspread flew out from where they had been tucked under the mattress, and, according to Father Bishop's record, stood up above the surface of the bed in a curled form, as though held up with starch. Patty cautiously reached out and touched the stiff coverlet when she did it relaxed, falling perfectly back into place. But they could all still hear the little claw scratching. It didn't stop until after midnight, and every night following the noise came back for weeks.

[00:08:08]

Then other strange things started happening to Rollan and I mean really strange, like a pear and an orange flying across the room, a bible sailing off the bookcase and his desk at school, slamming into other desks, seemingly of its own volition.

[00:08:26]

Patty and Kevin didn't know what to think. They knew Rowan was upset over Helen's death. So was this all just some kind of cry for attention? Misguided grief. But Rowan swore he wasn't doing it. And in some cases, his parents had to admit that they didn't see how he could be. Like one afternoon while some relatives were visiting, Rolan was sitting in a heavy armchair in the living room while his family members watched. The chair lifted a few inches off the floor, then flipped over, completely dumping Roland onto the ground, trying to catch him in a lie.

[00:09:00]

Kevin sat in the chair and tried to flip it over himself, but it was too heavy for him to lift. Roland's uncle also tried, but he couldn't flip it either.

[00:09:09]

Then, while the men were wrestling with the arm chair as they started to levitate off the table, it whizzed through the air and smashed into the opposite wall. It was pretty clear something was wrong. Roland himself started to change to becoming withdrawn and depressed. He was also exhausted, kept up every night by the scratching and the shaking. On nights when he actually was able to close his eyes, he talked in his sleep. But the things he said were horrible and totally out of character.

[00:09:43]

Roland's parents agreed this wasn't some boyhood prank. They needed help. They met with a pediatrician, a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a Lutheran minister. The doctor said Rowan seemed fine. If anything, he was a little high strung. The Lutheran minister named Miles Schult prayed for Roland in his family, but the problems only got worse. So the minister decided to see what was happening firsthand. On Thursday, February 17th, Roland and his mother spent the night at Shultz's house.

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He still believed that this was probably. All an elaborate prank, if he was somewhere unfamiliar, Roland wouldn't be able to pull his usual tricks. That night, Schultz and Roland slept in the same room, each in their own twin bed. Roland's mother slept in the guest room.

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Around midnight, Schultz woke up to a rattling noise. Roland's bed was vibrating. Schultz told Roland to move to a large armchair in the corner. When he did, the shaking stopped. Roland sat in the chair with his legs pulled up, his chin resting on his knees. After a few moments, the chair slowly leaned to one side until Roland toppled to the ground. Schultz said that throughout the slow collapse, Roland didn't move at all. In fact, it looked like he was in a trance.

[00:11:04]

Baffled, Schultz sat in the chair himself and tried to tip it, but it was too heavy and too low to the ground. Exhausted, Schultz pulled out two blankets and told Roland to lay down on the floor with no mattress to shake and no chair to tip. Schultz figured this would be the end of the theatrics. But at three a.m., Roland and his blankets started slowly sliding across the floor. The blankets made their way underneath one of the twin beds.

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Then Roland's body started bouncing off the ground up into the bedsprings above him. He didn't move. He didn't even flinch as he smacked into the metal coils again and again. When Schultz pulled Roland out from under the bed, he had bloody scratches on his face from the springs again. Schultz described him as being in a trance. The next morning, Schultz had no explanation for what he'd seen. Instead, he advised, you have to see a Catholic priest.

[00:12:03]

The Catholics know about things like this. Coming up, Roland Dough's first exorcism Attempt II supernatural listeners, I wanted to take a quick break from our episode to tell you about a brand new audio podcast that is out right now. It's called Park Predators. This limited true crime series will take those of us still stuck inside and unable to travel out into some of North America's most beautiful national parks and will tell you about some of the most sinister crimes that happened in them.

[00:12:40]

Here, take a listen to the trailer and then please go follow the show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts so you can listen to the first two episodes that are out right now. In the woods, the desert and mountains, the natural world is balanced, there's predators and there's prey, a vast landscape like a national park is the perfect place for a predator. There's endless places to hide remote spots. Only a few people know how to get to and ground.

[00:13:13]

No one will ever stumble across. But sometimes the breathtaking beauty of these national parks mask the evil lurking within. And both the natural environment and swarms of tourists visiting these parks every year allow killers to blend in and go undetected.

[00:13:31]

Or Predators is an 11 episode audio check original series hosted by me Dahlia Dombra.

[00:13:38]

And each week, starting July 7th, I'll be bringing you a new story of human predators in parklands across North America who chose to defy nature and use the beautiful landscapes around them to cover up unspeakable crimes, subscribed to park predators for free on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts to be sure you don't miss the first two episodes.

[00:14:02]

And I'll see you in the park. Now back to the story. In late February 1949, 13 year old Rolando developed a new unsettling symptom, in addition to the nightly scratching and shaking and sleepwalking, red claw marks started appearing all over his body. They were long, thin red lines, almost like claw marks from a cat. Even weirder, some of the scratches looked like letters of the alphabet. Not sure where else to turn. Rolands parents Kevin and Patty decided to consult with a Catholic priest, Father E.

[00:14:45]

Albert Hughes. He was a young priest, only 29, but he agreed to meet with Roland and give his parents an assessment. Hughes said that when Roland came into his office, the ear turned cold. He gave off an aura of evil. And then the next time he saw Roland, he claimed that he saw a sure sign of diabolical possession, speaking a language that the possessed person doesn't know. Allegedly, Roland said, in perfect Latin priest of Christ, you know that I am the devil.

[00:15:18]

Why do you keep bothering me with that proof? Hughes approached the local archdiocese for permission to perform an exorcism. The rights of exorcism are contained in a book called The Roman Ritual. Every priest has a copy, though few ever use that particular section. There are 58 pages of guidelines that are the who, what, where, how and why a performing an exorcism. On the advice of the book, Hughes reportedly had Roland admitted to a Catholic hospital.

[00:15:46]

It should be easier to exorcise the demon there under the care of nuns and the orderlies instead of at home. But if Hughes had read the guidelines closely, he would have realized that he wasn't the right man for the job. It advised a priest ought to be of mature years and revered, not alone for his office, but for his moral qualities. 29 year old Father Hughes did not fit that bill. According to author Thomas Allen. His parishioners often compared him to Bing Crosby in Going My Way, a young priest with an unconventional style and little use for the established order.

[00:16:25]

Still, he is said to have brashly attempted an exorcism on Rolando.

[00:16:29]

On March six, 1949, Rolands arms and legs were strapped against the mattress of his hospital bed. Then the priest knelt by the bedside and started the ritual. While he was recited, prayers in Latin, Rollan managed to wriggle one of his hands free from the straps. He clenched his fists around one of the metal bedsprings.

[00:16:52]

Somehow he worked the coil loose and then drove it into Father Hughes left arm, gashing the priest from his shoulder all the way down to his wrist. The orderlies held Roland down, and Hughes stumbled out of the room, gushing blood. Father Hughes needed over 100 stitches, and he never regained full use of his arm and for obvious reasons, refused to try another exorcism.

[00:17:19]

In the wake of the failed ritual, Roland only grew worse. New scratches appeared on his body every night, and then the bloody scratches started to form words. One night, the word Lewis appeared across Roland's chest. Now, Kevin and Patti had actually talked about going to St. Louis before the scratches appeared. They thought it might help Roland get away. When they saw the red welts, it was decided to appease whatever was torturing Roland. They would go to St.

[00:17:52]

Louis.

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In March of 1949, the family boarded a train heading west, but they didn't find any relief. In St. Louis, the nightly bed, shaking and scratching resumed right on schedule. After a few days, Roland's older cousin approached one of her professors at St. Louis University, the future author of The Exorcism Log, Raymond Bishop. She told him all about Roland's troubles, which she'd now seen first hand. Based on her description, Bishop thought it might be a diabolical possession, but he was both a skeptic and an academic, so he didn't jump to any conclusions.

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He wanted to meet Roland first and see for himself. That night, Bishop walked through the house and said a few prayers, giving the house a priestly blessing. He paid special attention to Roland's bed, sprinkling it with holy water and pinning a small religious relic to his pillow. Around 11:00 p.m., it was time for Roland to go to bed. Not long after Roland went upstairs, familiar noises came from his bedroom thumping, banging, screaming. Bishop and the other adults rushed upstairs to see Roland in the middle of the bed.

[00:19:03]

Perfectly still, the mattress shaking below him. Bishop sprinkled holy water on the bed which made. Emotions stop, but as soon as he stepped out of the room, the mattress started shaking again. Then Roland screamed and lifted his pajama shirt before their very eyes zigzagging, scratches erupted on his chest. It looked like something inside him was trying to claw its way out.

[00:19:30]

After taking it all in, Raymond Bishop decided he was entirely out of his league. The next day he brought the case to his close friend, another priest at the university, William Bowdon. He met Rollan as well and came to the same conclusion. Some kind of demonic force was at work here. They started researching for an exorcism. Bowdon learned that there are three stages of possession infestation obsession and then actual possession infestation is sort of a general poltergeist activity, objects moving at will, knocking on walls.

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Bowdon believe that Rolan was in the next stage obsession because of the claw marks on his body.

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So far, Bishop Inboden hadn't seen anything to indicate possession, like speaking in tongues or unnatural strength, but they clearly seen precursors to possession. Maybe if they acted fast enough, they could stop the demon from fully taking hold of Roland Bishop. Inboden contacted the local archdiocese for permission to perform the exorcism. Right. He agreed with two conditions. First, they had to keep their work completely confidential. Second, Father Bowdon would be the exorcist. Baodong refused.

[00:20:50]

He had no interest in going toe to toe with a demon. He'd be forced to touch evil, inhale it, look it in the eyes without flinching. As a young boy's soul hung in the balance, he didn't think he could handle it. But the Roman ritual recommended using a priest known for his piety, prudence and integrity of life. And that was Father Bowdon, a Jesuit from the age of 17 and a former Army chaplain. It was Bowdon or it was no one at all.

[00:21:19]

So on Wednesday, March 16th, the priest prayed, fasted, made a general confession and then went to see Roland. Just after 10:00 p.m., Roland laid down in bed and Bowdon started to pray over him. He called on God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Archangel, the holy innocents, the saintly widows, the martyrs, the holy priest, and so many more. He summoned the power of every religious figure to stand with him tonight to face off against evil.

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As he called on them, Rolands mattress began to shake. Bowdon pressed on reciting prayer after prayer for two hours, but the shaking continued. Finally, Bowdon invoked the most powerful prayers of the exorcism. Right? The ones that addressed the demon directly, he shouted, I command the unclean spirit. Roeland screamed in pain. He pulled open his pajama top and three red welts had appeared across his stomach. Bowdon kept praying, but every time he said the word Lord or God, fresh bloody welt erupted on Roland's body.

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Soon his whole body was covered and he was writhing in pain. Continuing the ritual, Bowdon commanded the demon to tell him its name, as well as when it would leave Rolands body for letters formed from the scratches on Rolands chest.

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H. E. L. L. Bowdon shouted again, Tell me your name and when you will leave two more letters formed on Roland's stomach G o and on his right leg, the letter X. The Roman numeral for ten. Did that mean he would leave after ten hours or ten days?

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Bowdon wasn't sure he could go through this for ten days, but he summoned his strength and started to pray again, addressing the demon, casting him out. Roland's eyes were closed now, but his body thrashed, his arms flailed. The adults had to hold him down on the bed. He spit at both Bowdon and Father Bishop and hit them both square in the face with gobs of saliva. This wasn't good.

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This was a sign that Rowan was moving from obsession to the final stage of possession. Bowdon splashed him with holy water and continued to pray, making the sign of the cross over Roeland, over his wounds, over his bloody hell on his chest. It went on for hours around five a.m..

[00:23:56]

Bowdon said what he hoped would be his last and final prayer. One to banish the demon for good, he shouted, I cast you out. And for a moment, Rolan was still his body calm, like he'd fallen asleep until he sat up, his body stiff, his eyes scrooged shut and he started to sing. Way down upon the Swanee River, far, far away, he stuck his arms out and started to sway to the music. The more he sang, the louder and faster his words got until he was singing gibberish.

[00:24:37]

They were too late. The demon was speaking through him. Now Rolan was fully possessed. Bowdon resumed his prayers. The exorcism continued another two and a half hours until finally, at seven thirty a.m., Roland fell asleep and stayed asleep. Father Bowdon tried to comprehend everything he'd seen during the first night of the exorcism. Could he really go through this nine more times? Well, he was resolved to at least try. They returned to the house on Thursday for another round.

[00:25:13]

Almost immediately, Roland fell into a trance like sleep. Sometimes he sang, sometimes he spit. And the whole time he thrashed with such unnatural strength. Father Bouton's fears were all but confirmed. Roland was now fully possessed. Father Bowdon continues his battle with the demon right after this. Now let's get back to the story. For the next several nights, 13 year old Roland Dough's exorcism followed the same pattern. The priests arrived in the evening and they battled the demon well into the early hours of the morning.

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During these sessions, the demons showed itself more and more frequently, making Roland spit in the priest's faces, curse my masturbation and repeatedly urinate all over himself. Roland often saying during these sessions, singing words to songs he'd never heard and hitting all the notes in perfect pitch. Perhaps most unsettling, the demon started to grin and laugh at Bowdon during these sessions, a laugh that was described as wild, idiotic and diabolical.

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Eventually, they reached the ninth night, March 24th. It was a holy day, the feast of Saint Gabriel, which made Father Bishop think that there might be a chance that the demon would leave. Looking for some extra firepower, Boughton decided to hold that night session in his quarters at the rectory. Father Bishop walked into the session cautiously optimistic, but it was one of the worst night they'd had so far. Speaking through the 95 pound boy, the demon taunted every man in the room.

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He warned one, You will be with me in hell. In 1957, around 2:00, 3:00 a.m., the demon spoke directly to Bowdon. You like to stay with me? Well, I like it too. Then Roland fell into a deep sleep, the session done for the night. But there was no sign that the demon had departed for good like Bishop had hoped. Instead, the priest swallowed their disappointment and geared up for the tenth night of exorcism.

[00:27:24]

When the demon implied it would leave again, they held the session in the rectory. Bowdon delivered his prayers and invocations with more strength and sense of purpose than ever before. Normally, when Bowdon used the word God or Lord in his prayers, Rolan had some kind of physical reaction. But there was none of that tonight. None of the taunting, none of the urinating, rolling thrashed in silence until he fell into a deep sleep. Maybe the demon had moved on.

[00:27:52]

The next morning, Bouton's sent Rowan home. This was a test. If he could make it through tonight, he'd be in the clear. And nothing happened Saturday night, not Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. But then on Thursday, around eleven thirty pm, Roland told his mother he felt sick.

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She sent him to bed. He just needed to get some rest. But he begged. Please come up with me, everybody, please. Roland's mother, his aunt and uncle and his cousins followed him. He sat on the bed and then his eyes snapped shut like he was in a trance. He started moving his fingers across the bed sheet like he was writing something. Then he said out loud in a deadpan tone, I will stay ten days, but we'll return in four days.

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If you stay and become a Catholic, it will stay away. You may not believe me. Then Roland will suffer forever. It seemed to match up to the timeline. It had taken ten days to exorcise the demon. Now, four days later, it was back. It also gave Father Boughton a clear course of action. He had to baptize Roland in a Catholic church if he wanted the exorcism to take. But the demon had other plans in the car ride on the way to the baptism, Roland, and fell into a trance state, the demon emerged and shrouded in a deep, guttural voice.

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So you were going to baptize me and you think you will drive me out with Holy Communion? Then Roland lunged forward from the backseat and grabbed the steering wheel away from his uncle, veering the car off the road. The uncle pulled the emergency brake, stopping the car before it could slam into a lamp post. Then Roland turned towards his mother and tried to strangle her. It took both Roland's uncle and father to pull him off her. They held him down in the back seat the rest of the way to the church once inside.

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It took four attempts to baptize Roland. Then they took the next step, his first communion. Over the course of several hours, it took three priests, five tries before they could get Roland to successfully swallow the host. But as soon as he did, the change was evident. He was lucid and calm, at least for now. That night, they performed another exorcism. When they reached the part of the ritual where Bowdon asked the demon what day and what hour it would depart.

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A new Roman numeral appeared on Roland's leg 18 April 18th. That was 16 days from now. Bowdon didn't know if he could hold on that long. He didn't know if Roland could hold on that long. The next two weeks pushed Roland, his family and Bowdon to their limits every night. Now Roland's body erupted in painful, bloody lesions. According to some reports. By morning, they were gone, leaving a blank canvas to carve again. The next night, as they got closer to the new departure date, the demon seemed stronger than ever, taunting the priest showing off its power.

[00:31:12]

Roland's body was physically changed, one eyewitness said. His stomach distended and his features were so distorted that he seemed altogether a different person. Finally, after so many nights of prayers and taunting and spitting and clawing, they reached April 18th. When Bowdon enter Rolands hospital room. That night, he brought with him a new resolve. Instead of praying in Latin, he would use English. Instead of shouting his prayers, he spoke calmly. When Roland was lucid, there was a new resolve in him as well.

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He clutched a crucifix to his chest, and any time he was coherent, he prayed. But when he was in the trance, he was filled with rage. Again and again, he spat gobs of saliva into Father Bouton's face.

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Finally, Bowdon reached the most powerful prayers, the ones that addressed the demon directly commanding him to leave Roland's body twisted and arched. The contortions were so extreme, his shoulders nearly touched the soles of his feet.

[00:32:23]

Around 10 45 p.m, Bowdon concluded his latest prayer before he started the next one, he realized a quiet had fallen over the room.

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Suddenly, a new voice emerged from Rollan, one that was loud and rich and deep. It said, Satan, Satan, I am Saint Michael and I command you Satan, to leave the body in the name of Dominos immediately. Now, now, now. Roland's body fell back against the mattress, twisting wildly for several minutes. Then he stopped in his own voice. He said he's gone. Bowdon and the other priests could feel it in the room, could feel the release of evil.

[00:33:10]

It truly was gone. For a few weeks, Father Bowdon and Rolands family were cautiously optimistic, but when it was clear the exorcism had taken for good, they allowed themselves to relax. Rolan his parents returned home to Maryland. Bowdon stayed true to his word and kept the details of the exorcism secret. He sent Father Bishop's daily log to the local archdiocese to be kept on file in case anyone else needed instruction in the future. But the Lutheran minister who first saw Roland Mailshot didn't have as much discretion.

[00:33:48]

In August of 1949, he gave a lecture on the subject. He was apparently really interested in parapsychology and felt it was important to share what he'd seen. This lecture was written up by a few local papers, and it was this brief recounting that author William Peter Blatty used to inspire his novel The Exorcist. In the wake of all the publicity, the Catholic Church ordered an official inquiry into Roland Doe's exorcism. Was he actually possessed, according to the official inquiry?

[00:34:20]

No, they failed. All of the details of Roeland story could be explained by a, quote, psychosomatic disorder and some Kinesis action that we do not understand, but which is not necessarily preternatural, end quote. But all that really means is we don't know what happened, but we're pretty sure it wasn't a demon. In his book on Roeland Possessed, author Thomas Allen questioned the report. If it wasn't possession, then what could explain it? There were three dozen witnesses to Rolands torment both in Maryland and St.

[00:34:56]

Louis. Doctors, priests, neighbors, teachers at school, people who had no reason to lie about what they saw. Clearly, they saw something happening to him. Now, some psychologists think that possession is a crisis of the mind, not a faith. It's about inner demons. And in many cases, people who feel like they've been possessed have a history of childhood sexual abuse. In the beginning, Rolands mom thought that Aunt Helen was responsible for everything happening to her son.

[00:35:26]

And remember, Rollan was really affected by her death. It's been posed before that maybe there was some kind of like sexual abuse element to their relationship. And it's possible. I mean, during some of the exorcism sessions, Rolin made obscene sexual comments and mind masturbation. But if this was a manifestation of trauma, why was it cured by the exorcism? For weeks, Rolan underwent these sessions and they were agony. And exorcism is incomparable to talk therapy. If anything, you would think it would make his trauma worse.

[00:36:01]

Other possible diagnoses include religious OCD, Tourette's syndrome and childhood schizophrenia. But in all three of those, the symptoms are chronic. They wouldn't suddenly appear and then just disappear the way that Rolands troubles did. And there are still some things that don't fit into any diagnosis at all. How did Roeland suddenly develop? Perfect pitch, but only while in that trance state. What caused those red welts on his body marks that appeared out of nowhere in front of multiple witnesses?

[00:36:34]

How do we explain so many objects moving at will? The Kinesis action that the report refers to?

[00:36:42]

There's no clear answer, obviously. But one thing to consider is this. The Bible warns against communicating with spirits in two different chapters. It goes so far as to say that anyone who's been in contact with spirits should be stoned to death. So that implies there's a long history of bad stuff happening when you try and talk to dead people. When Roland used the Ouija board, maybe he did reach some kind of spirit. It just wasn't Aunt Helen and maybe it wasn't a literal demon from hell.

[00:37:16]

It was just some kind of malevolent force that we can't understand. Another priest, Father Herbert Thurston, told Thomas Allen that he thought this was a more accurate interpretation. He said, quote, It is possible that there may be natural forces involved, which are so far as little known to us as the latent forces of electricity were known to the Greeks. It is possibly the complication of these two elements, which forms the heart of the mystery, end quote.

[00:37:47]

Thomas Allen also managed to contact Walter Halloran, a priest in training who was present for every session of the exorcisms.

[00:37:56]

He asked Halloran if he thought Roland was truly possessed or not. Instead of answering the question himself, Halloran recalled a conversation he had had with Father Bowdon several years before. When Halloran asked the priest what he thought about the official report, Bowdon replied, What did it matter what the examiner thought? Whether. He said it was true or whether he said it was false, people were going to agree or disagree, Bowden told him, You and I know it, we were there.

[00:38:43]

Thanks for listening.

[00:38:44]

I'll be back next week with another episode, you can find all episodes of Supernatural in all other Sparkasse originals for free on Spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts all in one place, and they're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear for free on your phone, computer or smart speaker. And if you like the show, follow out podcast on Facebook and Instagram and app podcast network on Twitter.

[00:39:11]

Supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers and is a podcast studio's original. It is executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Keri Murphy with production assistance by Ron Shapiro and Carly Madden. This episode of Supernatural was written by Abigail Canon with Writing Assistants by Kate Gallagher. To hear more stories hosted by me, check out Chrin Junkie and all audio Chuck Originals.