The boy behind ‘The Exorcist’ film
Roland was born into a German Lutheran family. During the 1940s the family lived in Cottage City, Maryland. According to Allen, Roland was an only child and depended upon adults in his household for playmates, primarily his Aunt Harriet. His aunt, who was a spiritualist, introduced Roland to the Ouija board when he expressed interest in it.
According to author Thomas Allen, Jesuit priest Father Walter H. Halloran was one of the last surviving eyewitnesses of the events and participated in the exorcism. Allen wrote that a diary kept by attending priest Father Raymond J. Bishop detailed the exorcism performed on the pseudonymously identified "Roland Doe" aka "Robbie". Speaking in 2013, Allen "emphasized that definitive proof that the boy known only as 'Robbie' was possessed by malevolent spirits is unattainable." According to Allen, Halloran also "expressed his scepticism about potential paranormal events before his death." When asked in an interview to make a statement verifying that the boy had actually been demonically possessed, Halloran responded saying, "No, I can't go on record. I never made an absolute statement about the things because I didn't feel I was qualified."
According to Thomas B. Allen, after Aunt Harriet's death the family experienced strange noises, furniture moving of its own accord and ordinary objects such as vases flying or levitating when the boy was nearby. The family turned to their Lutheran pastor, Luther Miles Schulze, for help. Long interested in parapsychology, Schulze arranged for the boy to spend a night in his home in order to observe him. When parapsychologist J.B. Rhine learned that Schulze claimed he witnessed household objects and furniture seemingly moving by themselves, Rhine "wondered if Schulze 'unconsciously exaggerated' some of the facts." Schulze advised the boy's parents to "see a Catholic priest".
According to the traditional story, the boy then underwent a number of exorcism. Edward Hughes, a Roman Catholic priest, conducted an exorcism on Roland at Georgetown University Hospital, a Jesuit institution.
During the exorcism, the boy allegedly slipped one of his hands out of the restraints, broke a bedspring from under the mattress, and used it as an impromptu weapon, slashing the priest's arm and resulting in the exorcism ritual being halted. The family travelled to St, Louis, where Roland's cousin contacted one of his professors at St. Louis University, Bishop, who in turn spoke to William S. Bowdern, an associate of College Church. Together, both priests visited Roland in his relatives' home, where they allegedly observed a shaking bed, flying objects, the boy speaking in a guttural voice, and exhibiting an aversion to anything sacred. Bowdern was granted permission from the archbishop to perform another exorcism.
Before the next exorcism ritual began, another priest, Walter Halloran, was called to the psychiatric wing of the hospital, where he was asked to assist Bowdern. William Van Roo, a third Jesuit priest, was also there to assist. Halloran stated that during this scene words such as "evil" and "hell", along with other various marks, appeared on the teenager's body. Allegedly, during the Litany of the Saints portion of the exorcism ritual, the boy's mattress began to shake. Moreover, Roland broke Halloran's nose during the process. Halloran told a reporter that after the rite was over, the anonymous subject of the exorcism went on to lead "a rather ordinary life."
This exorcism case inspired the 1971 novel The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, which in turn was adapted into the 1973 horror film of the same title.
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The Norfolk Headless Body
The scant remains of a decapitated woman were found near Swaffham, Norfolk, England, in August of 1974. Ironically, a tractor operator named Andrew Head found the body.
The deceased woman was estimated to be about five feet tall and between 23 and 35 years old. Her hands and feet were bound, and she was clad in a 1969 Marks & Spencer pink nightgown. She was wrapped in plastic containing the logo for National Cash Registers. But the model of payroll machine it originated from numbered in the thousands.
[the nightdress the victim was wearing]
Detectives also looked at the unique rope used. It consisted of four strands, rather than the usual five – or even three. An expert told police that the rope’s composition “suggests it was made for use with agricultural machinery.” A trace of the rope’s manufacturer produced no new clues, as the company that produced it has been defunct for some time.
The most popular theory regarding the woman’s identity is that she may be a prostitute that lived near the Great Yarmouth docks known as ‘the Duchess.’ The well-known lady is said to have disappeared in the summer of 1974 – leaving all her possessions behind. However, nobody recalls the woman’s real name, and documents from her brief incarceration are no longer in existence.
Police exhumed the Norfolk headless woman in 2008 for DNA testing, but like many other cold cases, it produced no matches. Her head remains missing.
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