Chilling, real-life exorcism stories


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The religious ceremony of casting out demons is something most of us have seen only in hair-raising horror flicks like “The Exorcist.”

However, the chilling truth is that this movie was actually based on a real-life exorcism. Yeah, if you didn’t already know, exorcisms are a real thing, and virtually all religions have practiced some form of exorcism throughout recorded history.

Here are 12 real-life exorcisms that may end up giving you the creeps.


The exorcism of George Lukins, 1778

Reverend Joseph Easterbrook, an Anglican vicar of Bristol, UK’s now-abandoned Temple Church, was called on May 31, 1778, for what would prove to be one of his most bizarre cases. In the nearby town of Yatton, a parish member had recently encountered a man who suffered from an unusual illness. The man in question was a 40-something former tailor named George Lukins, who earned his living as a singer and actor in Christmas mummeries (kind of like caroling, but incognito and with recitations, dancing, music and jokes).

Beginning in 1769, Lukin began experiencing “fits of an alarming nature” while performing. During these fits, Lukin sang and screamed in inhuman noises and sang hymns backward. Years passed without any explanation for these actions. The doctors proclaimed him incurable, and the town declared him bewitched. Lukin himself swore that seven demons possessed him, and only seven clergymen could drive them out.

Then in 1778, the good vicarJoseph Easterbrook, assisted by six other clergymen, performed an exorcism at Temple Church on Lukin. The demons were cast out using the “Trinitarian formula” (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit), and the clergymen instructed the demons to return to hell. Upon hearing that, George Lukins exclaimed, “Blessed Jesus!” and praised God.

It was later discovered that the fits were actually epilepsy attacks.

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The exorcism of Gottliebin Dittus, 1842

In 1842, the usually sleepy German village of Möttlingen witnessed a bizarre story unfold. The villagers started noticing odd behavior and strange noises coming from the home of Gottleibin Dittus, a 28-year-old woman. Dittus, who had an oppressively religious upbringing, claimed her house was haunted by the ghost of a woman holding a baby in her arms. The woman soon began drifting in and out of “trance-like” states, where she would black out for days.

This unfathomable behavior continued for two years. Meanwhile, the religious pastor Johann Christoph Blumhardt commenced several exorcisms on Dittus, during which the woman vomited nails, glass, and blood. The pastor claimed that Dittus was not only possessed by several demons but also by the spirit of a widow who had killed two children and buried them in a field. Finally, during one of the exorcism sessions, Dittus was freed from all her demonic possessions when the last demon to be cast out shouted, “Jesus is the victor!”


The exorcism of Clara Cele, 1906

In 1906, a young Catholic student at Marianhill mission school in Umzinto, South Africa, confessed to Father Erasmus Horner that she had made a deal with the devil. The student was Clara Germana Cele, a 16-year-old girl who had been orphaned as an infant. In the following weeks after the confession, Clara began engaging in erratic behavior: tearing at her clothes, growling like an animal, and conversing with seemingly invisible beings. The nuns reported that the girl’s skin would burn when sprinkled with holy water and that she would act disturbed and lash out violently whenever crosses and other sacred objects were present.

Father Hornerd determined that Clara met the criteria for demonic possession and performed an exorcism on her. The ritual lasted from the early morning hours until noon. During the rite, Clara allegedly knocked a Bible from one of the priests’ hands and attempted to strangle him with his stole. The rites were repeated the next day when the possessing demon was said to have left Clara’s body after telling the priests that he would leave via levitation in front of an audience of about 170 people.


The exorcism of Roland Doe, 1949

In the late 1940s, in the United States, several priests performed a series of exorcisms on an anonymous boy, referred to as “Roland Doe” in a harrowing ordeal that became the real-life inspiration for the 1974 horror flick “The Exorcist.”

It all started when the 13-year-old boy was grieving the loss of his beloved Aunt Harriet—a spiritualist who’d taught him how to use a Ouija board. Shortly after his aunt’s death, the boy began to experience bizarre things: water dripping from pipes, scratching sounds coming from the floors and walls of his room, and his mattress inexplicably moving.

His concerned parents summoned a local priest to perform exorcisms on the pre-teen. However, the priest was forced to call a “back up” after the rite had to be stopped when the boy became extremely violent and threw a mattress spring at him. After that, several priests performed a series of exorcisms on the boy and witnessed a number of bizarre events, most of which were dramatized and made into “The Exorcist.”

Objects mysteriously flew in the boy’s presence. A pitchfork-shaped scratch appeared on his body. The boy urinated on the bed, screamed, and cursed at the priests, saying Satan would always be with him. Finally, during one of the exorcisms, a “miracle,” according to the priests, led Roland out of his trance-like state. The boy simply stated: “He’s gone.”

Exorcist with a crucifix

The exorcism of Michael Taylor, 1974

This tale begins in Ossett, England, where Christine Taylor accused her husband, local butcher Michael Taylor, of adultery with a 21-year-old pastor, Marie Robinson. Michael reportedly became aggressive and blamed it on his inner demons.

The Christian Fellowship Group, of which Taylor was a part, agreed to help him cast the evil out and scheduled an exorcism on October 5, 1974. The rite was led by two ministers, who allegedly freed Taylor from 40 demons. During the exorcism, the man physically attacked the exorcists, spit, and screamed in “tongues.”

Shortly after, Taylor went home and brutally killed his wife. However, he was not convicted because the defense argued he had become insane as a result of the exorcism.

Demon possession

The exorcism of Anneliese Michel, 1976

When the young German woman Anneliese Michel had her first seizure at age 16, she was diagnosed with psychosis caused by temporal lobe epilepsy and depression. By age 20, Michel’s condition worsened to the point that she was hearing voices and couldn’t stay in a room with religious objects. This was an alarming sign for her ultra-religious parents, who linked this worrying behavior with demonic possession and turned to the Catholic Church for an exorcism.

While initially rejected, two local priests got permission in 1975 and began conducting the rites. Michel’s parents stopped consulting the doctors, and the young woman stopped eating food and drinking water. After 67 exorcism rites — each predictably unsuccessful — the 23-year-old died of malnourishment and dehydration. Her parents and the two priests were convicted of negligent homicide and were sentenced to six months in jail.

The tragic tale of the German woman was retold by Felicitas D. Goodman in his book “The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel,” which later became the basis of the 2005 horror film, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”


Possessed by devil
Filip Obr/iStock

The exorcism of Gina, 1990

On April 4, 1990, 29 million people tuned into the episode of ABC’s news magazine “20/20,” to witness what would be the first televised exorcism rite of the 16-year-old Florida girl identified only as “Gina.” Gina was introduced as being possessed by several demonic spirits, including ones named Zion and Minga. As the priest pressed a cross into Gina’s face and sternly told her supposed demons that if they wanted pain, he would give it to them, Gina roared and barked uncontrollably.

After the rite, Gina was hospitalized and was given antipsychotic drugs that eventually calmed her down.

The exorcism was described as “little more than the gratuitous torment of a deeply disturbed young girl.”


The exorcism of Terrance Cottrell, 2003

On Friday evening, Aug. 22, 2003, a group of Evangelical Christians met at Faith Temple Church of Apostolic Faith in northern Milwaukee.

There, led by Reverend Ray Hemphill, a group of churchgoers wrapped 8-year-old Terrance Cottrell, Jr., in a sheet, holding down his arms and legs.

While Terrance was lying on the floor as the pastor whispered to the demons, the boy’s unpredictable behavior reportedly ceased. After two hours, one of the parishioners noticed that the Terrance was no longer breathing. The boy died of mechanical asphyxia due to external chest compression, meaning he was crushed until he couldn’t breathe.


The exorcism of Maricica Irina Cornici

When 23-year-old Romanian nun Maricica Irina Cornici began giggling during Mass, claiming that Satan was whispering at her, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Despite her diagnosis and treatment, she relapsed soon after. A monk who claimed “one can’t take the Devil out of people with pills” decided to try a different method: exorcism.

After being imprisoned and gagged for three days without food in a dank convent basement, the nun died of dehydration and suffocation. However, in 2014, it was found that the cause of death was actually due to an overdose of adrenaline.

Soon after Cornici’s death, the monk was defrocked, and the monastery was closed.


The exorcism of Amy Stamatis, 2006

Amy Stamatis was the picture of a perfectly healthy nurse, mom, and wife. So, when she jumped from her second-story window in Searcy, Arkansas, in November 2006, nobody knew what caused her to do so.

Stamatis was paralyzed below the waist after her leap. When she was visited in the hospital by Pentecostal evangelist Cindy Lawson, the preacher claimed Stamatis was possessed and suggested that she could perform an exorcism, claiming she had successfully done this for 10 other people.

Then Stamatis revealed that months before the jump, she had been struggling with “dark thoughts” and had heard voices telling her to kill herself.

While Stamatis doesn’t remember her real-life exorcism, the people who attended all reported a change immediately afterward. Her exorcist believes that even though she remains paralyzed, God will eventually heal her.

Maori ritual

The exorcism of Janet Moses, 2007

In October 2007, Janet Moses, a 22-year-old mother of two in New Zealand, died during a mākutu lifting — the Maori’s version of exorcism.

An exorcism ritual was held because the woman’s relatives believed she had been cursed after another family member stole a taonga, a prized family heirloom.

To drive away the curse, Moses was held underwater while 40 family members looked on.

Moses’ extended family were all charged in 2009 in connection with the event.


The exorcism of Kristy Bamu, 2010

In 2010, 15-year-old Kristy Bamu, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and four of his siblings visited his sister Magalie and her boyfriend, Eric Bikubi, in east London for Christmas. What was supposed to be a family gathering quickly became a nightmare.

Bikubi, who had brain damage, was convinced Kristy had brought witchcraft into his home. The disturbed man took it upon himself to exorcise the boy.

In the following days, Bikubi and Magalie subjected Kristy to unimaginable abuse. Bikubi even reportedly beat other children and forced them to join in.

The children turned to their oldest sister for help, but she encouraged her boyfriend to beat Kristy until he confessed to witchcraft.

Kristy died on Christmas morning after being drowned in the bath in an attempt to perform a “ritual cleansing.”

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