The Exorcist Based on Terrifying Real Events in St. Louis in 1949
Many people consider "The Exorcist" the scariest movie of all time. While the creator admits that he changed some of the details, but the movie was truly based on real events that happened in St. Louis, Missouri in 1949 that are much more terrifying than the movie it inspired.
The exorcisms of a 14-year-old boy who was referred to by priests as "Roland Doe" happened at several locations in St. Louis, Missouri beginning in March of 1949. Some believe that Roland's real name was Robbie. When director William Friedkin began work on the screenplay for his movie in the early 1970's, it was Roland/Robbie's story that inspired his tale although he changed the name to "Regan" and made the victimized character a girl.
While the movie "The Exorcist" created by William Friedkin is now part of cinema legend, the real story of Roland Doe in St. Louis in 1949 is much more intense and in some ways horrific. According to accounts from eyewitnesses, Roland Doe was carried for as a child by his Aunt Harriet who was known to be a spiritualist who would dabble in strange arts. That led to her introducing Roland to a Ouija board and that's when the trouble began.
Roland Doe who had lived a normal childhood suddenly became unpredictable and violent. He would hear strange voices and broke furniture in his room that should have been impossible for a child his age. That led his family to take him to an exorcist in Washington, D.C. who failed in his efforts to help Roland.
That's when the story moves to St. Louis where multiple exorcisms by multiple priests occurred. On Marcy 20, 1949, Roland Doe had a large "X" appear on his chest and the voices resonating from him claimed it stood for 10 demons who had taken up residence in Roland.
Subsequent exorcisms reportedly included Roland breaking a priest's nose among other violent clashes. This standoff between forces of evil and the priests continued until April 18, 1949 when a priest informed the demonic presence that the archangel Michael would do battle with them. Exactly 7 minutes later, the priests heard the phrase "he's gone" and the violent behavior with Roland ceased. The demons had been defeated...again.
Reports say that Roland went on to live a normal life and never had a recurrence of the evil activity. But, the movie that inspired it just passed its 50th anniversary as one of the scariest movies in history.
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Gallery Credit: Kara Sheehan / Washington Fine Properties