DEMON CRITICS EXPOSED: Cracking the Demon Critics

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Cracking the Demon Critics


Steve Erdmann

(Copyright 2016, Steve Erdmann-All Rights Reserved)

octoBER 31st, 2016


Part I:


The Exorcist Arrives 

Cracking the Demon merrin_arrives_light-at-window_The-Exorcist

The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of ‘Roland Doe’, deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two priests.

The Exorcist was released theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. on December 26, 1973.  The film earned 10 Academy Award nominations, winning two (Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay), and losing Best Picture to The Sting. It became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, grossing over $441 million worldwide.  It is also the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.

Steve Erdmann wrote several articles on the true story on which the movie and book were based, essentially from a carbon copy of one of the several “diaries” written on the case by the priests involved in the exorcism. The late Father Eugene Gallagher of Georgetown University graciously sent this author several carbon-copy pages along with photos of the diary and himself. Though the names of the priests and the victimized boy involved were “crossed over” one could hold the sheets up to a bright light and read the identities. This author combined his own research into those who involved in the early investigation of the case.  One article was in the “The Truth behind the Exorcist,” FATE Magazine, January, 1975; another was “The Real Story Behind ‘The Exorcist,’” OCCULT Magazine, April, 1975); and one booklet (“Anatomy of a Demon Possession”): available from Luminist Publications, P.O. Box 20256, Minneapolis, MN, 55420, (info@, based on my initial encounter with the environment back in the 1970s.

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Scene From The Movie ‘The Exorcist’

Through the years, I attempted to be impartial as I could, though I had previous knowledge of poltergeist and other paranormal incidents which tended to sway my sympathies.  Later scientific findings seemed to confirm these feelings. Two books, among a few, have stood out in the library: People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck, M.D., 1983 and Evil: Satan, Sin, and Psychology, Cooper and Epperson, 2008.


Several cases seemed to vindicate that such things as incarnate spirits and their human possession existed. The following are just a few of them:

One such case involved a Pat Reading from Litchfield, Connecticut in the 1980s. Reading was not a particular student of the occult, and never showed signs of mental illness.  During this time, she began to hear strange banging sounds in her home, as well as having furniture overturned, and seeming violent attacks on her.

“Paranormal investigator John Zaffis, who recorded the events from the case, claims that hair was ripped right out of Pat’s scalp, and bite marks inexplicably appeared on Pat’s back.”

A Catholic priest was called in to perform over sixteen exorcism attempts that were unsuccessful, and Reading continued to have attacks up until her death from colon cancer. Zaffis concluded that Reading was a “soul victim,” a “purely innocent person” that had somehow fell victim to evil forces.


The horror movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose is loosely based on the true story of Anneliese Michel, a German Catholic sixteen-year-old girl that was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy.  

Medication did not improve her condition. She began seeing visions of devils and hearing voices that she would “rot in hell.”   She was reported to have injured herself, eating insects and drinking her own urine. Catholic Bishop Josef Stangl allowed Fathers Arnold Renze and Ernst Alt to do the ritual of exorcism in total secrecy. Unfortunately, Anneliese died of dehydration and malnutrition on July 1, 1976, and the priests were prosecuted of manslaughter and given six months imprisonment with three years’ probation.

Latoya Ammons:  Police Captain Charles reported to the Indianapolis Star that close to 800 pages of official documentation indicated (as of January 2014) that Indianan Latoya Ammons appeared to be possessed by an evil spirit.  

“According to her, dark entities caused her three children – then aged 7, 9, and 12 – to be observed with bulging eyes, evil smiles, and strangely deep voices.”

What seemed to have begun in November 2011 as a swarm of flies by her kitchen window was soon followed by strange sounds, shadowy images and wet foot prints on her floor. Ammons then saw her twelve-year-old daughter levitated over her bed, and the girl only descended when family members and friends prayed. The girl had no memory of this. The girl was soon smacked by a headboard which caused a wound that required stitches. The 7-year-old son was thrown out of a bathroom; a nurse witnessed the 9-year-old son walking backwards up a wall onto the ceiling.

The children were taken away from Latoya because of alleged abuse.  A photo of the Ammons’ home that an officer took with his iPhone seemed to lend credibility to the troubled mother’s story:   A white human-like silhouette is clearly visible in one of the windows.

Clara Germania Cele:   In 1906, a sixteen-year-old girl from Natal, South Africa was recorded as being able to understand German, French and Polish, despite the fact that she did not have any prior knowledge of these languages. Clara could reveal intimate knowledge of people despite that fact that she had never been in contact with the people. She could levitate up to five feet in various directions, and was able to throw people about with great strength. She warded off holy or blessed objects. It was stated that her voice was like “a veritable herd of wild beasts.”

Clara had confessed earlier to Father Horner Erasmus that she has made a pact with Satan, whence she became possessed. The demon was driven from her in an exorcism that lasted two days and much physical battle.

Julia and New York Medical College: A Caucasian women (given the alias as Julia) was attended by Dr. Richard E. Gallagher, associate professor of psychiatry, New York Medical College. Gallagher released his report in March of 2012 telling of strange and abnormal behaviors of Julia. The female had resorted to Satanism and openly practiced her alleged occult powers despite being baptized a Catholic as a child. She would enter into trances, while under examination, and scream hateful phrases in voices entirely different from her usual voice, but she claimed no recollection of the events. When having conversations with his colleagues, these same macabre voices would interject themselves into Gallagher’s phone conversations.

Julia demonstrated strange psychic abilities, such as knowing details about members of the team.   She, for example, knew of a violent “cat fight” in one of the psychiatric team members’ homes, and she commented only a few hours after the fight; “So those cats really went berserk last night, didn’t they?”.

When the exorcism ritual was finally performed to relieve Julia, the room grew unbearably hot.   She began to speak recognizable Spanish and Latin although she apparently knew only English.  Julia also screamed in pain when sprinkled with holy water, but astoundingly would have no reaction when ordinary water was secretly used on her. The records show that she levitated six inches in the air for approximately thirty minutes.

As of the last reporting, Julia has not been successfully exorcized of the strange force.

Doris Bither:   Dr. Barry Taff and associate Kerry Gaynor investigated events surrounding a single mother of four children who lived in Culver City, California on August 22, 1974. The events were used as a basis for the 1983 film called The Entity. According to Bither and the children, a ‘ghost’ attacked Doris, causing visual bruising, in addition to raping her.

One Taff-Gaynor experiment in the home entailed a camera recording an orb of light that could not have been caused by any “known source within the room”.  The bending of the light within the room “could not bend the way it appears in the photograph.”


A number of books and articles had covered the one major case that William Blatty based his fiction story on, and the identity of the victim has been amply identified in that case: Ronald Hunkeler. The purpose of this article is not to go into the usually trite chronology of the 1949 story, but to add some insight into why and how the critics have become part and parcel to a sadistic phantasmagoria that may be just as evil as the evil associated with the exorcism victim.

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High School photo of Ronald Hunkeler.

One such account that seemed fairly accurate was in the 1993 book Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism by Thomas B. Allen.  Another inclusively extensive article is the one found on The summation of events told of poltergeist activity in the presence of the boy which led to an investigation by the family’s Lutheran minister (who said he witnessed some of the poltergeist phenomena; he later lectured about his experiences at a Washington, D.C., Society for Parapsychology) and consequently  another investigation was done at the J.B. Rhine parapsychological laboratory, which further led to an investigation at the Georgetown University Hospital and a Father Edward Hughes, a priest that was attacked during an exorcism by the boy with a bedspring as a make-shift weapon.

Body-branding indicated the boy should be moved to St. Louis, Missouri, whereupon the family sought help from the Catholic Church and was given permission for an exorcism involving St. Louis priests Raymond J. Bishop and William Bowdern (Bowdern being an associate of the College Church at the time).  Ronald was moved about from a relative’s house in Bel Noir, Missouri to the rectory at St. Francis Xavier College Church at St. Louis University.

Eventually, Ronald was moved to Alexian Brother Psychiatric Hospital on South Broadway to a protected ward where a final exorcism took place after several bouts with what witnesses profess to be supernatural.  It was alleged that about 30 exorcism attempts took place over 6 weeks.

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Alexian Brothers Hospital. 3933 South Broadway. Photograph by unknown, ca. 1872 Missouri History Museum Photograph and Print Collection. Hospitals n34758

An assortment of other priests and attendants professed to have been involved and to have witnessed paranormal activities (a total of about 48 witnesses, in one account, while Father John J. Nicola [who was advisor to the movie and consultant] saw the Vatican report on the case, and said there were 41 signed witnesses): William Van Roo, Father Walter Halloran, and Father Charles O’ Hara (Marquette University).   In his attempts to aid the exorcism, Father Holloran had his nose broke, saw ‘body brandings’ such as “evil” and “hell” appear and witnessed the shaking of the mattress. After a final exorcism, Ronald’s life quickly returned to normal, and Ronald eventually became a scientist at NASA and had children.


Although poltergeist accounts had gained a sizable following of advocates, a band of critics of the 1949 case began to arise not only questioning, but attacking the veracity of Ronald and his family.  In his 1993 book Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism, author Thomas B. Allen offered, perhaps in an attempt to distance himself and regain respectability, “the consensus of today’s experts” that “Robbie was just a deeply disturbed boy, nothing supernatural about him.” Allen later modified his comments as to whether the case involved spirits as “unattainable.”

But the trend to challenge the 1949 case seemed to be based, not on objective and consensual findings alone, but rather on sub-Rosa and harbored resentment to religious beliefs.  It seemed apparent that some of the said critics were out to fragment the story with any weak spots they could engender.

One such critic was Mark Opsasnick. Opsasnick was a Washington, D.C.-based writer and cultural historian who had authored seven books and more than 70 articles on such subjects as unexplained phenomena, popular culture and rock and roll music.   Opsasnick took an interest in the Hunkeler case, and after considerable investigation, it resulted in a so-called “expose’” in Strange Magazine, No. 20, December 1998.   Opsasnick also wrote a book on his investigation entitled The Real Story Behind the Exorcist (Xlibris Books, 2006).

Opsasnick questioned most of the supernatural claims and proposed that Hunkeler was actually a spoiled, disturbed bully who deliberately threw tantrums, pulled pranks, and ingeniously fooled a lot of people {1}.   He tried to locate substantive accounts of Father Edward Hughes having performed an exorcism, and could not find any. Likewise, when collecting accounts by Father Walter Holloran, concluded that Holloran did not witness many of the things people say: did not hear strange voices from Ronald, did not levitate the bed and said that Ronald was only mimicking Latin.  

Opsasnick also alluded to Halloran suspecting that the boy was doing the body “branding” with his own fingernails. Furthermore, Opsasnick interviewed neighbors and childhood friends of the boy and concluded that they testified Ronald was exactly what Opsasnick said he was: a hoaxer and prankster involved in “role-playing trickery.”

Arch-Skeptic Joe Nickell likewise proclaimed the case a hoax by Ronald and family who convincingly produced a “stereotypical storybook portrayal” of the devil, using various gimmicks.


My history, in this case, goes back much earlier when I first discovered the case around 1973.   The late Father Eugene Gallagher of Georgetown University sent me a copy of an original “The Exorcist Diary”.  Consequently, I wrote about three articles.  Much later, when the Riverfront Times ran an article on the topic, I noted an enthusiast wrote a ‘Letter to the Editor’ on the topic, and it was in a short period following that said ‘investigator’ contacted me to compare notes including location of grave sites, real estate plans for homes associated with the family, photos of the diary, and a plethora of information that I and he had.  I will designate this person under the pseudonym of “B.”

It was about a year into our correspondence that I denoted B’s disposition was not entirely fair-minded and objective but had gone off into growing cynicism and allusions into the dark history of the family, some of which, while interesting, had yet to be proven. B suggested that Ronald was a victim of child molestation, and possibly had a cruel bent (perhaps because of the molestation, but rather just being an evil teenager).   B’s biggest ‘hero’ and proponent for his theories was, of course, Opsasnick, which he quoted at length.   He traced the family tree back several generations, portraying how this member or that member (or friend or schoolmate) somehow if only indirectly, contributed to or inadvertently upheld Ronald’s hoax.

B’s attitude was typical of many current investigators which held high disdain, not just for psychic phenomena, but religion in general. In this case, B tried to garner sympathy by saying he was a Baptist, his father a minister, and he believed in the existence of the Devil (later contradicted heavily by his stringent remarks, not only about Ronald but also Hunkeler’s family, also generally about religion and including the alleged skepticism of his father about Blatty’s book and the movie).

The second part of this article will be an incursion into the method and somewhat contradictory philosophy of these particular type critics that belie their sincerity and scientific objectivity (some are better, having a rather innocent curious approach; some are worse, demonstrating an obvious bias and a total lack of scientific stability). These are bits and pieces of the case that are not factually detailed on their websites or in their remarks, but the questioning is necessary to demonstrate untold aspects of the 1949 story. I will concentrate on the actions of B, mainly because he typifies the worse of the kind (not all are as unkind) and space limits the inclusion of the many examples of cynics and critics that could also possibly be included.

To be continued in Part II.

1 It seems interesting that the critics like to accentuate the evil nature of the ‘boy,’ when, in fact, ‘evil’ seemed to be a predominant factor in most possessions and the topic (not to mention the actions of the critics themselves).


Steve Erdmann. September, 2016, St. Louis, Mo.



continues below



Steve Erdmann



(A number of books and articles had covered the one major case that William Blatty based his fiction story on, and the identity of the victim has been amply identified in that case:  Ronald Hunkeler. The purpose of this article is not to go into the usually trite chronology of the 1949 story, but to add some insight into why and how the critics have become part and parcel to a sadistic phantasmagoria that may be just as evil as the evil associated with the exorcism victim.   In Part I, we explored the background of the 1949 case and the alignment of one cynical bibliographer called B.)

B’s attitude far surpassed any of his mentor’s remarks in ferocity; the mentor demonstrating a classical and, oft times, ingenious approach to investigative journalism: get to the sources and quote them. The problem with many of these so-called investigators is that their bias to ‘expose’ as mundane strange things did not encompass the full reality of the situation and entailed several missteps.

After a spate of exchanging materials and information (of which B was quite generous and reciprocal in many ways), he began to inject a rather preconceived notion that was guiding his investigation: that Hunkeler was hoaxing the affair (somehow mixed-in with mental illness), and I would sometimes take issue with his conclusion as unfounded. The following are some of the issues that led to a division of association from each other.

There are twenty-seven listed “cognitive biases” that are usually involved in any investigation.   And while investigators that have delved into the 1949 case, on any side or approach, such missteps are, as we will see, greatly found in the approaches of the discussed “critics.”  This list can be found at:

The biases include:

Bias blind spot – the tendency not to compensate for one’s own cognitive biases.

Deformation professionnelle – the tendency to look at things according to the conventions of one’s profession, forgetting any broader point of view.

Focusing effect – prediction bias occurring when people place too much importance one aspect of an event – causes the error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.

Impact bias – the tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity to of the impact of future feeling states.

Information bias – the tendency for people to seek information even when it cannot affect action.

And, among others, the Hyperbolic discounting effect – the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs, the closer to the present both payoffs are.

None of the twenty-seven points would endorse rash or ranting ridicule, or gross biased decisions, as a format of their investigations. “Mr. B” had done these in his exorcist diatribes and set the stage for his methods in his radio broadcasts.


(You Shouldn’t Be Surprised!)

“Mr. B’s” bias against psychic phenomena and religion appeared amply in transcribed portions of his early morning radio program which seemed to be dedicated to iconoclastic barbs against orthodoxy; and while I can sympathize with “B’s” trend to challenge bad authority in general, his cruel sentiments fall short in being fair and well-rounded.

The following are just a few notations and excerpts from a “composite” of previous radio broadcasts (which filled almost the entirety of his regular broadcasts):.

– 6:28 a.m., CST, “Satan Call”, October moon song “Son of Satan”: having sex on the altar to a “one-eyed goat,” missionary style.

– 6:57 a.m., CST, Sound-tract: a drive-in “Facts of Life” featured Madonna. Co-host mentioned erotic areas of a women’s body and said: 

“Honey, let’s play windshield wiper.”

– 7:05 a.m. CST, The host Played Gilbert O’Sullivan’s song Alone Again, meshing it with conversation about razor blades and suicide. 7:10 a.m., the host said to his audience:

“You shouldn’t be surprised I’d play something like that.”

The host asked his audience if they had gotten out their razor blades yet.  

“I’ll talk you down, I’ll talk you down” (7:14 a.m.)

– 7:20 a.m., CST, song Why You Love Me – anywhere we could, in the front yard, in the woods, in the rear, long and hard – going into various erotic descriptions.

– 7:34 a.m. CST.  The announcer began the topic about “Rat stomping.”  Switched from talk of Steve Austin’s movie Condemned to talk about the missing pilot, Steve Fassett:

“Frankly, I don’t care what happened to him…go down the drain….so what, he’s got money.”

The host said he could care less if Fassett disintegrated.

A review of the many months of radio transcripts would show a plethora of such dedicated bias (the radio broadcast has since disappeared from the airwaves, however):

The “I don’t care” attitude was prevalent through several of his remarks, such as this one in 2014:

“You can say or think what you want about what I say or have written in the past…I can’t say, truthfully, that I really care what people think.   I lose no sleep over it one way or another.” The critic’s basic approach is one of carnival and sardonic ridicule of religious and Sacred Cow beliefs (and there probably “is” an exclusive audience for this type of approach and spectacle. I have noted the critic is happiest around this sympathetic audience).

The other arena that B communicated through is several sardonic websites dedicated to his format of rancid ridicule about Hunkeler and his family members and different people associated with the 1949 case.

One website referred to itself as a site to be read on a rainy day and just for fun, and B warned readers that the reader will encounter the critic’s “flippant” opinions and that if the reader didn’t like that, he will show you the door (2010).

The websites usually were decorated by his regular mischievous and scornful comments.  He had a dictionary of favorite jabs: “childish, contradictory,” etc. Yet it is he who instituted websites full of sardonic bards (referring to the 1949 victim as “Ronnie,” “the Ron-ster,” “little-puke”, and other persons’ comments as “thingies”: hardly mature and stoic, scientific comments).  True to his “style,” our biographer referred to a world-famous and bestselling author on UFOs as “whack-ass” (January 22, 2014).


(I noted that a “spasm” of cardinality by his readers on the ‘art’ of ‘farting’ {about April 11, 2014} has either been removed or hidden. On his Facebook Timeline [December 2, 2013] he heralded Benny Bell’s recording of “goosing,” and Tony Cabanell spoke of “I am nostalgic for brain sandwich farts”: September 19, 2014. The “farting” joking-fad was, in part, due to the 1949 ‘victim’s’ forensic act of smelling foul while under alleged demonic attack [if not just rabid humor on our biographer’s part]).

Placards and slogans that typified his sardonic approach headlined the radio program:

“Where good music goes to die…The Wonderful World of Stupid…The Splatting Nun!…Vintage Idiocy…House of Whacks…Songs for Fart Lovers!”)


Similarly, Erdmann wrote a letter to actor Max Von Sydow in care of the movie studio.  Von Sydow wrote back to me from his home overseas in a personal letter.  We discussed if he felt a curse had been placed on the movie, as mentioned in the press: he said no.  I mentioned this to B and B immediately promulgated (assuming great familiarity with the letter) that this was another ‘proof’ of the case being a hoax because someone else had a criticism of the movie. 

In reality, B had never seen the letter or read its content, and there was no way he could have spoken with authority about the letter at all.


By pretending to be socially sympathetic to the family’s plight, B attempted to gain the confidence of family members or those who had relative information. He assured them he was not writing on the topic at all.  The family saw through the ruse, as can be seen in their reply to B: Axxxxx (Hxxxxxxxx) Bxxxx said on April 18, 2007:

“You say you are not writing or publishing anything, yet you say that some of the pictures you sent were taken as early as 1975.  I would be interested in knowing just why this research is so important to you and/or others.  Do you have a connection with these families?  What ARE your intentions for requesting this information?

“Younger family members such as my nephew, Gxxx Hxxxxxxxx, also have very little knowledge on this subject.  He told me that you had written to him as well, but he said he is not going to reply to your letter at all.  I would request that you refrain from contacting other relatives on the subject because you will not obtain anything new.

“Family problems or secrets are meant to stay that way.  The years have not changed the information you have gathered.   Further information that you have requested is not and will not be available to you or others who are looking for sensationalism or monetary rewards. The family does not wish to dredge up old stories from yesterday that may be hurtful to the younger generations today.”

Cracking the Dmons home in Bel-Noir image-1

The Family Home in Bel Noir, St. Louis

What was also interesting, upon reception of that letter, that, unrelentingly, our “hound” went on to analyze this ladies’ handwriting; he even attempted to diagnosis that she had an unspecified illness (of course, needless to say, our ‘hound’ ‘was’ trying to gather information for publication and publicity, despite what he told the “boy’s” relative); this can be seen in his gathering information to publish, but it was on several websites that he devoted to the topic, one with a ‘visitor counter.’

In 2007, letter after letter, B meandered over the families’ private, psychological and intimate situation when there is no way he could possibly have that kind of knowledge of their personal affairs, nor did he have an expert or clinical background to make those judgments.   The victim’s father was a “whimp,”  “a weakling,” and the victim’s grandfather was also “henpecked,”  (“…and let those two women run all over him.”).  He commented that a daughter referred to her mother by her first name and that meant a sinister connotation).  He spoke intimately and fluidly about members of the family contributing to child molestation, abuse, and other private family problems. Our amateur biographer alluded to family situations that he said allegedly indicated foul play by the parents or relatives. In general, he claimed personal knowledge or insight into the families’ background (often in the above-mentioned disparaging and mocking tones) which, in no way, he could have had such accurate or intimate knowledge; other than vainglorious gossip and rumor, no one could.

Mr. B corresponded with a reporter D.W. Wright of the National Inquirer in 2007.

Wright had contacted yours truly for a special on the story.  I, unfortunately, not knowing B’s hidden agenda, told Mr. B about my interview with Wright. Mr. B, as was his technique to corral any available expert and try to squeeze some kind of hoax confession or hoax collaboration out of them, tried the same method on Wright. Wright’s remarks were that Hunkeler was caught off guard in his driveway and consequently refused comments, alluding to his parents as the blame for everything. Mr. B, in an ‘ah-ha’ moment, distorted that to mean a “confession” of a hoax.   It obviously could mean several alternative things, such as Hunkeler’s parents being a driving or contributing factor to his possession or obsession, or indicating that the parents were mitigating factors in the case, other than outright hoaxers.


B joined into the speculation that the late Aunt Tillie sexually molested “the boy.”

B queried in his comments to me: “I’d kind of like to know how long the molestation was going on; I guess we might be able to figure that out if/when we learn how long Oma…Axxxx stayed with the Hxxxxxxxs.  A clue might be derived if I can find out when Jxxxx Cxxxxxx died….” (January 24, 2007).



Home of ‘Aunt Tillie’  in St. Louis As It Appears Today

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Our “biographer” recently sucked-up some new gossip that would tend to dispel the child molestation theory:  “Regarding Axxxxx: not to me (but I can’t reveal to whom she told this), but she confirmed that her mother, in the last years of her life, had crippling MS and was confined to a wheelchair.   Therefore, she would not have even been able to sexually manhandle RH [as has been theorized in the past].”) (6:27 am, November 7, 2014.)

Interestingly, sexual abuse may not have been prohibited by a physical ailment on the part of a perpetrator (in this case, the suspected Aunt Tillie), as capability would extend beyond not only “healthy” people being capable of doing this type of crime. The further question is: why is our mongering inquisitor dabbling into the private life of the ‘victim’ in such a brazen way?  He was not an authentic journalist in the full sense of the word, nor a professional detective or physician.

The late Father William Bowdern, S.J, the exorcist in the 1949 case, also was compelled to keep oaths of privacy, when he wrote author William Blatty on October 17, 1968, and I quote:

“My hesitancy in giving you the details of the case of possession is due to two facts.

First, Archbishop Ritter (later, Cardinal Ritter), who delegated me as the exorcist, instructed me not to publish the case.  I have been faithful to his instructions.  

Secondly, it would be most embarrassing, and possibly painfully disturbing to the young man, should he be connected in any way with a book detailing events that took place in his life some years ago…I can assure you of one thing: the case in which I was involved was the real thing.   I had no doubt about it then and I have no doubt about it now.”





(Something Out of the Ordinary)

Troy Taylor, author of The Devil Came to St. Louis, as well as a parapsychologist, discovered the Brother Greg Hollewinske who was telecast in an Unexplained Files TV appearance telling of Hollewinske’s participation in the exorcism in the 1949 case. At the time of Hollewinske’s interview, caught on film, the 90-year-old cleric told how he aided three priests to constrain the ‘boy,’ standing at the foot of the bed, placing his arms over the ‘boy’s’ ankles and knees. He told the viewers that what he saw was “unbelievable” and what he believed was the “power of the Devil.”  He said: “…the boy’s body levitated…what I saw was real…what I saw, I’ll never forget.”    Was he a participant to the exorcism? “…yes I did….”  Hollewinske’s obituary stated that he did work at the right hospital, at the right time.

The Real Story Behind ‘The Exorcist’…GRid=130731720

Kim Allegrezza, a reporter for, said on July 30, 2014:

“In 1949 Holewinski (sic) was working at the Alexian Hospital in St. Louis, MO. He heard hushed rumors of a special patient just admitted and housed on an upper level in the hospital. It was said the child was possessed by the Devil. He described walking into the room for the first time and seeing three exorcists around a young boy.

“Holewinski detailed how the boy’s demeanor would change when the possession was active.   Every once in a while the Devil’s voice would come out of the child’s mouth, shouting profanities. Holewinski said he was stationed at the foot of the bed to hold down the boy’s legs, which were thrashing about. He admits being very frightened.

“Brother Greg describes feeling the power of evil present in the room and said he even saw the boy’s body levitate off the bed. He says it all was real and it is an experience he will never be able to forget. To him, anybody who witnessed what he saw would never question whether or not this was a hoax or misdiagnosed mental disease.

“Brother Greg described himself as being terrified during the exorcism. Items were flying around the room. He was almost hit in the head by a glass vase.  He described the crescendo coming during an attempt to give the child communion.  A crucifix was forced into the boy’s hand, it caused him great pain.  No matter what they did, the priests could not get the communion wafer into the boy’s mouth.”

“The True Story Behind the Exorcist”

Troy Taylor stated on a July 31 post that he remained open-minded on the case, which represented twenty years of research.

Mr. B, in his usual sardonic fashion, postulated Hollewinske as being “drugged” on his medications, though Hollewinske appeared quite capable and sober in his interview.

A researcher, that is identified as Cori aka ChrisSCrush on a sitcomsonline chat-board, outlined several questions and areas for further research that may intrigue scientific investigators.

Why was the Lutheran minister, Luther Miles Schulze, called in originally to talk to Hunkeler, and then committed to talking on the case to a New York-based Parapsychology Foundation referent to his article for The Parapsychology Bulletin (August 1949, Number 14), titled “Report Of A Poltergeist”?

“Well, why was this article published and what did it say?” asked Cori aka ChrisSCrush.   “So, you’re an adult with a responsible community position, a child/teenager comes to your house and pulls a mischievous prank, and you go to a Parapsychology Foundation?  To say what?   Beware of pranksters?  Without seeing this article, it would seem to me that there is more to this.”

(Diary notes written by the exorcist-priests and supplemental papers mentioned the minister having housed the ‘boy’ also witnessed poltergeist activity such as a carpet floating and a chair turning upside down.)

Cori aka ChrisSCrush continued to summarize:

“Then there are the priests.   Why would people who present themselves as professionals allow themselves to be yanked around for months by a highly-strung young man staging an elaborate act?  At what point would they not simply walk off, saying, ‘He needs help other than ours’?    Who leaked this story to the press, and why did Father Halloran continue to discuss it for decades afterward?  If absolutely nothing paranormal happened, why would professional people risk their reputations by taking a non-story to the press?

“As for the subject and any of his family members not wanting to discuss it, that proves absolutely nothing.   If he was possessed, would they advertise it?   If not, yes, they’d be embarrassed, and either way, it was not their finest hour and they’d want to put it behind them.   Their behavior in no way proves anything paranormal either did or did not, happen.

“Lastly, there is the mysterious matter of Brother Greg Hollewinske, a dying cleric who should be making his peace with God, coming forward and absolutely swearing he witnessed profoundly paranormal phenomena. His possible involvement bears further looking into.

“I have come to no bottom line conclusion here, except that there is an awful lot of smoke for no fire. Certainly, the exaggerated events did not occur as depicted in the book and movie, but it seems to me something out of the ordinary did in fact happen.

“Another obituary showing that the purported witness was a distinguished and decorated hero!  Hardly the sort to spout sensationalism. He came from a large family and has a brother and sister still living!”…13&mid=5991334

(Cori aka ChrisSCrush indicated that the exorcism case could not be divorced from the reality of psychic phenomena in general; he said:  “All the nonsense peddled about the Exorcist events makes me think of one of my favorite subjects, Chicago’s famous hitchhiking ghost, Resurrection Mary.  Notice I say ‘subject,’ not ‘story,’ ‘myth,’ or ‘legend.’  There is just too much good evidence for the events, about which I have posted here:…ection+%2Bmary…d.php?t=330240.”)

Last edited by Cori aka ChrisSCrush: 11-10-2014 at 04:10 AM.

Read more: OT: Shedding Light on the Exorcist Case – Sitcoms Online Message Boards – Forums


A similar report came from another ‘male nurse’ attendant at the Alexian Brothers’ Hospital in 1949:  The male nurse attended the boy’s room at the time and saw many strange things.   It does not fit their ‘pattern’ so they say it is a fiction; however, I heard this man lecture on his involvement!

My first wife, myself, several St. Anthony of Padua church parishioners, Father Steve Yxxxxx and another priest, attended a monthly religious discussion group (sometime around or near 1974) at the home of Vxxxxxx and Nxxxx Axxxxxxx, parishioners.   Another parishioner (I call a Mr. “Schaffer” in my booklet) was also attendant and very quiet.  

When a speaker eventually finished speaking on the topic of the Myth of Satan (it was a ruse to see if they could get a reaction from Ernest), Ernest became quite upset and fidgeted, and telling the group that what the speaker was saying was not true.  Ernest said that he had been kept to a vow of silence on the matter but that he would speak out that one time because he felt the speaker was not truthful.  Ernest then went into a telling of what he physically saw and did in the time he worked at Alexian Brothers’ (Psychiatric) Hospital, and his encounters with the supposedly possessed boy. As far as I know, Ernest never spoke on it again up to the time of his death.

Ernest spoke of the ‘boy’ demonstrating some paranormal abilities and leaving an unusually large amount of bodily fluids, similar to classical poltergeist activity in other noted cases.


Another incident highlighting B’s willingness to distort concerned my misquoting B’s comments of 2007 that he saw the relatives speaking on an Internet ‘message board.’  I asked B to reproduce it for me and he refused.   Later, B pointed out my error as to calling it a “chat room,” as my being ‘unscientific,’ and his claiming no such statement was made.   Consequently, it was discovered in salvaged letters from B, that he did mention seeing the relatives’ comments on the Internet (but without a lot of identifying details in 2007) and told me that…

“…Axxxx Bxxxx posted a public message for RH on the ZabaSearch message board (it has since been removed, but it did confirm that all RH’s Hxxxxxxx cousins were still alive at that time).…I never participated or interfered with the message except to print it out (maybe I sent you one?) and the blog.”(November, 2014 email)

In the critic’s letter of September 18, 2007, he “did” tell of the family trying to converse on the Internet:

“Secondly, I’ve tapped into an attempted line of communication from Axxxxx to Rxx.  I discovered this fact accidentally – she used a public, on-line bulletin board to leave the message. She may not have known that her message could be seen by the general public. So much for her ‘privacy’…”

(Much of B’s sub sequential and consequential comments resembled the same pattern. The last “exchange” between this particular critic and myself resembled a Tic-Tac-Toe game of traded insults, with B insisting his comments were error-free and my comments were totally faulty [and deluded] and that he was refusing any further discussion, often because he saw disagreement as some type of furious, personal anger by his opponent.)

Parapsychology had strong evidence for associated phenomena related to this case. In a Part III, I will present some of those arguments and case histories that would suggest what happened in the 1949 Hunkeler case not to be absurd at all; that poltergeist and other phenomena really do happen.

To be continued in Part III.


Steve Erdmann. September, 2016, St. Louis, Mo.



countinues below




Steve Erdmann

Part III 


(A number of books and articles had covered the one major case that William Blatty based his fiction story on, and the identity of the victim has been amply identified in that case: Ronald Hunkeler. The purpose of this article is not to go into the usually trite chronology of the 1949 story, but to add some insight into why and how the critics have become part and parcel to a sadistic phantasmagoria that may be just as evil as the evil associated with the exorcism victim.   In Parts I and II, we explored the background of the 1949 case and the alignment of one cynical bibliographer called B.  In Part III, we continue with further information about the case and psychic phenomena.)

The strange incidents reported in the 1949 Hunkeler case are well-within the arena and background of what is known as poltergeist phenomena. Those cases follow a typical pattern.


Poltergeists were violent, and more often than not the activity surrounding them focuses on a single individual. In most cases, this activity is similar to your traditional signs of a haunted house, but the aggressiveness is what sets poltergeists apart. Here’s a list of that you may be experiencing one:

#  Electrical disturbances, or electrical objects working on their own.
#  Rapping or banging on walls, or other unexplained noises.
#  Objects moving or being thrown around by themselves.
#  Objects mysteriously disappearing and reappearing.
#  Strange or unusual smells.
#  Occasional levitation.

Cracking the Demon poltergeist-ghost-stories-82013q

Artist Conception of Poltergeist Activity

Tales of poltergeist phenomena are sprinkled throughout the literature for those who want to make this research trek; some are quite amazing. Rod Dreher (“The Unexorcisable Exorcist”) tells of Alvin Schwartz ‘s experiences and stories of poltergeists (“The Trouble” in Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones [page 69 if you happen to have the old box]).

“What brings a poltergeist to haunt someone?” asked Dreher. “That’s an interesting question.   It’s generally accepted that poltergeists aren’t your normal ‘spirits,’ but rather psychic manifestations of stress or anxiety, often that of a teenager.  

In other words, when exploring a paranormal explanation, poltergeist activity is often attributed to psychokinesis, or the ability to affect physical objects with one’s mind.”

Speaking of a case that Schwartz was personally familiar with, Dreher said that globes jumped from place to place; detectives and, eventually, parapsychologists, came to investigate, but they never did find out what caused the bizarre activity, even after exploring the possibility that someone was playing a trick. “In this story, based on a true event that reportedly happened in a New York City suburb in 1958,” said Dreher, “a family, the Lombardos, is tormented by objects that seem to move on their own; caps pop off bottles, porcelain statues rise into the air, bowls and flowers (and other material)” are moved about.

“However, the final theory by the parapsychologists was that it was possibly due to psychokinesis, arising from the family’s teenage son, Tom.

“The only explanation they could not rule out,” wrote Schwartz, “was the possibility that a teenage poltergeist had been at work, moving objects with mental power. They did not have enough evidence to prove it, but it was the only answer they had.”

“I recall also a long, extremely creepy visit I had with a psychologist who treats multiple personality disorder, and who told me about an instance in which she treated a woman who had been raised in a Satanic cult, and ritually abused,” said Dreher. “I sat in this therapist’s plush office across the street from a hospital and heard her talk about the bizarre, Exorcist-type things that happened, and that she was not prepared for in her experience, or her religious background.

“I have been told over the years by Protestants and Catholics who have confronted this phenomenon that if you ever have to deal with it, you will become a believer,” said Dreher, “because you see and hear and feel things that cannot be explained materially.”


“I once asked a Baptist man who dealt with these things how he knew he wasn’t imagining them.   He looked at me and calmly, and evenly, said something close to, ‘When you are lying in your bed and the temperature drops 50 degrees instantly, and your things start hovering in the air, and you hear a voice calling out your secret sins, you know that’s not your imagination.’”

(Rod Dreher, October 31, 2013, The American Conservative, “The Unexorcisable Exorcist.”

Another typical case took place in November 1974 on Lindley Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut.   A small bungalow-style home owned by Gerard and Laura Goodin was reported to be under attack by poltergeists that could move furniture, break windows, levitate objects, make a cat talk and generally perplex and terrify everyone who stepped foot in the house. Police and firefighters were called in, as were news reporters, priests, paranormal investigators and of course, Ed and Lorraine Warren, with thousands gathered in the street, eventually causing crowd control worries.

“What made this case was so compelling and drew so much attention as compared to other ‘hauntings’ was the high number of reputedly reliable witnesses who reported experiencing the unusual activities firsthand,” said writer Ray Bendiciln:

“Beyond the Goodins and their friends, more than two dozen firefighters, police officers and other investigators on the scene saw all sorts of bizarre happenings, including couches and chairs spontaneously moving across the floor, tables and a refrigerator levitating, paintings and crucifixes fall off walls and even knives flying through the air. They also recounted hearing a range of audio phenomena, from inexplicable knocks and banging’s to disembodied voices; Sam the family cat was alleged to have said a number of things (including ‘Jingle Bells!’ and ‘Bye bye’), while the decorative swans in the front yard were also accused of making unearthly sounds.”


The situation became confused when a young ten-year-old girl, Marcia, was seen trying to tip over a TV with her foot, and the girl confessed to hoaxing some of the happenings (interestingly similar to the 1949 case in that hoax comments were also mentioned; Hunkeler was described as a prankster and an evil boy: details of the overall mix of an obsession/possession).   What is so perplexing is that some of the phenomena took place when she was not even in the house or in another room, and strange happenings continued for weeks afterwards of the main events until they stopped.

“But behind the scenes, the inquiry into the events at Lindley Street was far from over.   Police continued to offer the family protection from the phenomena even after the case was deemed closed by the police,” said investigator William J Hall. “The police captain also required officers, who had been on the scene, to assist in a scientific investigation conducted by two agencies: the Psychical Research Foundation, which got its start at Duke University in 1961, and the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship. It seems obvious that the authorities clearly didn’t believe their own ‘hoax’ explanation at the time.”

Hall continued: “In my mind, the investigation did not dare end there. I began retracing the steps of those involved also discovered numerous new witnesses.  There were children of the witnesses from all those years before.  I contacted several of the witnesses with whom I had interviews from 1974 and 1975.  I and electrical engineers, employees who worked in the records department of the Bridgeport Police, friends of the family, Jerry’s co-workers, and, whenever possible, surviving family members.”

Police and firefighters who witnessed these bizarre events stood by what they had reported.  It was speculated that Maria’s so-called ‘confession’ and hoaxing was the only way for the family to quell the growing instability the family was encountering.

See more at:

By Ray BendiciIn


Poltergeist accounts came in all shapes, sizes and realities. Perhaps one of the most notable, if not the most sensational, case was that of the Janet Hodgson family of August-September, 1977 at 284 Green Street in Enfield, North London. The line of paranormal activity included levitation, furniture moved through the air, flying objects aimed at witnesses, cold breezes, physical assaults, matches igniting into flame, a T-shirt racing off a table into another room, components in recording equipment were twisted, and a deceased man’s voice (Bill Wilkins) being projected out of the 11-year-old daughter’s mouth. The activity did not lessen until a priest was called in to help in autumn, 1978. Overall, there were about 30 witnesses.

Cracking the Demons Enfield 27EFC0F200000578-2054842-image-m-4_1429872253823

Levitation in the Enfield Poltergest

Once again, the children were suspected of pulling a few pranks, but the documentation of the phenomena was too prevailing and over-riding. They asked Janet Hodgson about this, and she said they in no way could have conducted the more extraordinary feats; she rejected any suggestion that the whole story was faked in pursuit of fame or money.

“I didn’t want to bring it up again while my mum was alive, but now I want to tell my story. I don’t care whether people believe me or not, I went through this, and it was true.”

Quoting reporter Zoe Brenan:

“Asked whether she believes the house is still haunted, she says:   ‘Years later, when Mum was alive, there was always a presence there — something watching over you.

“’As long as people don’t meddle the way we did with Ouija boards, it is quite settled. It is a lot calmer than when I was a child. It is at rest, but will always be there.’

“Janet reports that it was a priest’s visit to Green Street that resulted in the incidents ‘quietening down’ in autumn 1978, although the occurrences did not stop entirely, she says, with her mother continuing to hear noises in the house.

“Janet said she continues to believe in the poltergeist, saying:   ‘It lived off me, off my energy.   Call me mad if you like.   Those events did happen.   The poltergeist was with me and I feel that in a sense he always will be.’”

Read more:


The October 2005 to March 2007 poltergeist case of Susan Lewis family in Moreno Valley, California ran the whole gamut and collage of paranormal events, which included: spills, harassment of animals, electrical pranks, moving or floating of furniture, knives, pots and pans, locking of doors, destruction of screen doors, writing on walls, footprints, starting of fires, vandalism of paintings, feces on computer keyboards, and many other mysterious events. Many photos were taken in an endeavor to document these happenings.

The personal diary of Susan Lewis can be read in her copyrighted account at:

Cracking the Demon The_Poltergeist_3

Photograph of Mystery Footprint (Susan Lewis case)

“As in many cases of said poltergeist infestations there seems to be very little Evidence,” said publisher Steve Mera.”  It wouldn’t be the first time families have faked such incidents in hope of being re-housed by council or private landlords. However, in Susan Lewis’s case, which has been well documented, this does not seem to be evident. Clearly, the family was distraught and Susan did stand considerable financial loss not to mention her dissolve of her marriage. Witness reports and the submission of several interesting photographs supplied by the family help build credibility. For me… I have no reason to doubt Susan Lewis and her family. Clearly, something traumatic had taken place in their lives. Something they are reluctant to talk about or witness ever again.”  (Steve Mera, “Poltergeist: Fear Feeders at their Worst,” Phenomena Magazine, Issue 33, January, 2012.).

Cracking the Demon Colton_house-250x187

Home of Susan Lewis and the 2006 Poltergeist Case

What B and similar cynics have done by allowing their unbridled hatred of psychic, paranormal and religious philosophy is to disallow a train[1] of scientific study and a long line of scientists that have recognized poltergeist and other similar phenomena down to the rank of putrid bias and hatred. Victor Zammit spoke of this briefly in his book on the afterlife:

“That is why I keep on repeating that to validate beliefs one has to apply scientific method – empiricism. There is absolutely nothing objective about closed minded skepticism – in fact, technically, anti-psychic skepticism is a ‘belief.’ And any belief which cannot be independently substantiated is inevitably subject to complete invalidation.

“Example:  The closed minded skeptic says, ‘Nothing happens when we die …’ There is no objective authority to validate that statement.   Where’s the ‘independent’ objective evidence for that? Absolutely none! The skeptic is making a most heinous and egregious intellectual blunder when he cites ‘subjective authority’ for making that statement! That statement would be inadmissible at law and inadmissible in any informed debate.”

Chapter 2:

A Lawyer Presents The Evidence For The Afterlife


John Smith saw such cynics as very similar to “the same manner and fanaticism of a southern state preacher; they are far from the rational Spock-like scientist they believe themselves to be.”

Similar-type cynics often followed a Reductio ad absurdum logic that could extend to fallacy:

“…rejects an argument because its consequences are undesirable, or because accepting it could mean accepting something we would prefer not to acknowledge; this can become the moralistic fallacy.

“Reductio ad absurdum should also not be confused with appeal to ridicule, although both see extensive use in satire. Appeal to ridicule simply dismisses a position as ridiculous, without explaining or arguing why…”

Scientist Simon Baron-Cohen saw it as a result of “years of resentment and hurt”:

“When people are solely focused on the pursuit of their own interests, they have all the potential to be unempathic.   At best in this state, they are in a world of their own and their behavior will have little negative impact on others.   They might end up in this state of mind because of years of resentment and hurt (often the result of conflict) or, as we see, for more enduring, neurological reasons.”

Simon Baron-Cohen – June 6, 2011:


Troy Taylor’s attitude about the 1949 case, as well as possession in general, remained basically the same as it was in 2006, when he said:

“In closing, I will not ask again what the reader believes occurred in St. Louis in 1949. The case, whether you believe in possession, demons and exorcisms or not, remains unsolved. There is simply no way to adequately dismiss every unusual thing that was reported in this case without just saying that everyone involved was a liar, drunk or insane. For myself, I can’t say that young Robbie Doe was possessed, or not possessed, but what I can say is that this is one of the few cases of alleged ‘possession’ that has left me with many lingering questions.

“The reader, of course, is advised to judge for himself but as for this author, well, I think there are certainly more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies!”


Steve Erdmann. September, 2016, St. Louis, Mo.


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[1]  In the Roman Catholic Church, any Priest ordained prior to, or outside of, the changes made by the Second Vatican Council would have received the minor title of exorcist.    In the Old Catholic Church and independent Catholic jurisdictions, qualifications for the title of exorcist vary.   Some of those that have been publicly recognized for their exorcisms include:

Father Ernst Alt (1937-Present)

Father Candido Amantini (1914-1992)

Father Raymond J. Bishop (1906-1978)

Father William S. Bowdern (1897-1983)

Father Jeremy Davies (1935 to Present)

Father Joseph de Tonquedec (1868-1962)

Father Angelo Fantoni (1903-1992)

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Father Jose Antonio Fortea (1968-Present)

Father Walter Halloran (1921–2005)

Father Edward Hughes (1918-1980)

Father Lawrence Kenny (1896-1977)

Father Alfred Kunz (1931-1998)

Neal Lozano (1949-Present) Lay Catholic Deliverance Minister.

Father James J. LeBar (1936-2008)

Father Malachi Martin (1921–1999)

Emmanuel Milingo (1930-Present) No longer a Roman Catholic priest; excommunicated. A Roman Catholic priest; excommunicated in 2006.

Cardinal John O’Connor (1920–2000)

Father Rufus Pereira.

Padre Pio OFM Cap (1887–1968)

Father Theophilus Riesinger (1868-1941)

List of Orthodox exorcists:

Avvákum Petróv (1620 or 1621-1682)

List of Protestant exorcists and deliverance ministers:

Bishop Edir Macedo and other UCKG ministers [Pentecostal]

Rev. Christopher Neil-Smith [Anglican]

Rev. Brian Connor [Baptist]

Dr. Charles Johann Blumhardt (1805–80) [Lutheran]

Dr.  H. Kraft (1932-Present)


The reader  can also find a version of this article on Margie Kay’s highly recommended UN-X News –


This article has also appeared on:



The Exorcist

Left to right: Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil, Max von Sydow as Father Merrin, and Jason Miller (1939 – 2001) as Father Karras in ‘The Exorcist’, directed by William Friedkin, 1973. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Cracking the Dmons Bel Nor 56317bca10152.image

The St. Louis House in Bel Noir where Ronald came to visit

Cracking The Demon Anneliese-Michel


da Blair as Regan MacNeil, Max von Sydow as Father Merrin, and Jason Miller (1939 – 2001) as Father Karras in ‘The Exorcist’, directed by William Friedkin, 1973.   


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