The Exorcist has become a horror classic since it was released in 1973. For almost half a century, fans of the paranormal have loved watching little Regan speak in tongues and levitate through the air.
Of course, you may know that The Exorcist was very loosely based on a true story. Are there other true stories like The Exorcist? Let’s take a look at the film, and at other stories of possessions like Regan’s.
Was The Exorcist a True Story?
At risk of complicating things, The Exorcist is a movie which is based on a book which was based on an exorcism. The Exorcist was a novel written by William Peter Blatty in 1971, which explored the story and apparent possession of Ronald Hunkeler.
Ronald Hunkeler, also called Ronnie Doe, Roland Doe and Robbie Manheim, was a born in 1935. His parents were religious; Mom and Dad were Lutheran and Catholic, respectively. So it was interesting when, at the age of 14, his aunt presented Ronnie with a Ouija board.
Soon after receiving this gift, Ronald Hunkeler began to do some strange things. Claw marks appeared on his body, and he would speak in deep, unnatural voices.
To make a long and eerie story short, the boy underwent many exorcisms and it wasn’t until after he was committed to an asylum that the exorcisms worked.
Of course, The Exorcist film is a little different. It follows the possession of a 12 year old girl from Washington, D.C. and there are other differences between the stories of Ronnie Doe and of Regan MacNeill.
So, was Ronnie Doe really possessed? There’s no way to know for sure. What is very clear, though, is that the publication of his story sparked a lot of interest in possession and the paranormal. It could be said that stories like the Enfield haunting and even the Amityville story were created as a direct result of this newfound interest.
Let’s look at a few other stories like The Exorcist.
The Enfield Haunting
You knew we’d be including the Enfield haunting in this list. But we’ll keep it short.
There are many, many similarities between the “possession” of Janet Hodgson and that of Ronald Hunkeler. The kids were around the same age, both experienced furniture moving about the room on its own, and both claim to have spoken in voices which weren’t their own.
Both children also had psychiatric evaluations done. It’s unclear what Ronnie Doe’s diagnosis was. Janet’s doctors suspected that there were a few signs of mental illness. Ronald Hunkeler and Janet Hodgson also, of course, had exorcisms performed.
Whether you believe that either child was possessed by a demon or not, the similarities between the stories of Janet Hodgson and Ronald Hunkeler are very clear. Some would say they’re suspiciously similar.
The story of Latoya Ammons is a recent one. And it doesn’t just involve the 32 year old single mother in Gary, Indiana. It’s about her kids, too.
In January of 2014, Latoya Ammons made international news. She had called the “authorities,” claiming that her 9 year old boy had walked, backwards, up a wall in their Indiana home.
Child services were called, and the CPS investigator confirmed that yes, the boy did “glide” backwards on the wall, the floor and the ceiling. Ammons claimed that all three of her children were possessed by demons. And even she, herself, underwent exorcisms.
This investigation is so recent that it’s still underway. Law enforcement have refused to stay at the home after dark, and city officials also refuse to set foot on the property, as they’re too scared to do so.
Aside from the gliding and levitating children, the Ammons family say they have witnessed wet footprints across the floor where no one had walked. They say that flies swarm around the house in the dead of winter. And the kids have done strange things, wearing evil smiles on their faces and speaking in unnatural tones.
The Ammons still live in the rental home on Carolina Street in Gary. Miss Ammons says that it’s not financially feasible to seek other housing arrangements. The stories of evil presences in the home have been corroborated by public health officials as well as law enforcement.
The Exorcist: Real Life Tragedies
Whether you believe demonic possessions are real or not, it can’t be denied that sometimes there are innocent victims. As we pored over historical accounts of demonic possessions in kids, we found a few tragic stories of children who suffered in true stories like The Exorcist.
Many times kids’ social, emotional or intellectual differences are mistaken for demonic possession. For example, elsewhere on the Enfield Haunting site we explored the story of Anneliese Michel. This young girl was likely epileptic. However, she was so neglected by her parents that she died as a result of that neglect.
Similar stories have occurred, even recently. In 2014, Edward and Krystal D. Everett were arrested. They claimed that their son was possessed by demons. They fed him just one meal each day, and inflicted serious physical abuse on the boy. Fortunately, the boy survived the abuse.
Sometimes, kids aren’t so luck. In one true story like The Exorcist, two women moved in together. Zakieya Avery and Monifa Sanford lived together for a short time with Avery’s four children. Over the course of that time, the women somehow became convinced that the children were possessed by demons.
To “cleanse” the children and send them to heaven, the women performed a ritual. The eight year old and five year old kids survived the horrific ordeal. Unfortunately, the two year old and 18 month old babies were stabbed to death by the women.
Tragically, there are many stories like this one. Children have been abused and killed as their parents mistake medical and behavioral disorders for demonic possession. In comparison to these true stories like The Exorcist, Regan MacNeill had it pretty good.