I interviewed “The Missouri Strain” Director, Wes Kotansky Jr about his latest film and his inspirations.
Regardless if you think Roland Doe was possessed or not, he’s impacted pop culture in a big way. William Peter Blatty used Roland Doe as inspiration for his novel, “The Exorcist.” A few years later after, the blockbuster film was released in theaters. Of course there are some deviations from the story to the novel: the main one being the sex of the child in question. When the film opened, there were actual reports of people vomiting and getting sick in theater. At that point, audiences weren’t used to seeing such terror on screen.
In 1993, Thomas B. Allen’s book “POSSESSED” was released. This is said to be based off of a diary by one of the priests who performed the exorcism of Roland Doe. Both books were insanely popular for their time. The film was nominated for seven Golden Globes winning: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. It went on to win two Academy Awards, out of ten nominations. It was the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.
The residents of Cottage City let Mount Rainier take all the credit in this case for a long time. It’s such a quaint, small, town that I’m sure they’re afraid of tourists coming through and interrupting their flow.
Sooo who wants to go to Cottage City now? ::Raises hand::
Anyone who has seen “The Exorcist” was probably terrified. But is real? Residents suburban D.C. claim it really happened to a boy in Mt. Rainier, Maryland in 1949. The claims first appeared in The Washington Post on August 10, 1949, in article titled ” “Pastor Tells Eerie Tale of ‘Haunted’ Boy.”
Legend has it, that Roland Doe’s Aunt Harriet introduced him to the Ouija Board before she passed. They would “play” on it. Big no no. After Harriet’s death, strange things started to occur in the house. Things would levitate near the boy. They also heard dripping and scratching sounds. During one of the scratching fits, the boys mom asked the spirit “If you’re Harriet, knock three times!” And wouldn’t you know it..they heard three knocking sounds.
Things got worse rapidly. Objects would fly across the room, such as fruit, or bottles of holy water and not break. Huh? Markings started to appear on the boys chest and body. The family turned to a Lutheran pastor, who was also a parapsychologist. He wanted Roland to spend a night with him at his home to study him. That night, the pastor witnessed furniture moving on its own, as well as the boy levitating. The pastor then suggested his parents contact a Catholic priest.
The boy was exorcised several times at Georgetown University Hospital by Edward Hughes. During the exorcism, the boy allegedly broke off a bed spring, and sliced Hughes’ arm. The ritual was halted. The family traveled to St. Louis, where one of Doe’s cousins contacted a professor of his to help. Raymond J. Bishop and his colleague witnessed the boy speaking in deep gravely voices and foreign languages, as well as having aversions to anything sacred. Flying objects and shaking furniture also persisted. They were granted permission for another exorcism.
Two more priests were called in: Walter Halloran and William Van Roo. During this exorcism, “hell” and “evil” began appearing on the boys chest. Reportedly the boy broke Halloran’s nose during this exorcism. The demon revealed itself as “one of the fallen angels.” Shortly after 11pm, Roland interrupted the ritual in a new deep voice:
“Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now! Now! Now!”
Roland had one more spasm..and he proclaimed the demon was gone.
So was Roland really possessed? Maybe. Some experts and close friends say he was not. He was a spoiled brat, essentially who couldn’t get his way, so he started to act out. But some people believe he WAS possessed. ::Raises hand:: It should also be noted, that he was NOT from Mount Rainier. He was actually from Cottage City, Maryland. This was done to protect his and his family’s identity. However, over the years, his name and picture have been released. Regardless of if he was possessed or not, I will not be disclosing those details in this article.
Check back for Part 2: The Legacy of The Case Of Roland Doe tomorrow!