|photo courtesy Dare Design Studios|
The history of demon oppression and possession can be traced to the Persian and Assyrian empires that existed as far back as the 24th century B.C. "According to Morris Jastrow's Religion of Babylon and Assyria, these demons lurked in remote or hidden places like graves, mountain tops and in the shadows of ruins. They would go out at night, enter homes through holes and crevices, and torture their victims. They were responsible for anything bad that happened from destructive winds, pestilent fevers, and disease to headaches, petty quarrels, hatred and jealousy."
Over the centuries these demons became god-like in nature and were not only feared, but worshiped. It is in the nature of fallen angels to appear very powerful and it would seem to many that they have access to realms forbidden by God Himself, but coveted by demons. Throw in man's curious nature to the dark side and you have a concoction of activity which is able to spawn such books as The Necronomicon. Now I would not advise reading this book since it contains far too much information about the dark side and you can certainly lose your soul in the process. It is these kinds of attractions that can snare human beings to become possessed with the evil of Satan's world. Sometimes it can be easier than that. Jesus, as a good example, spent a period of his time here on Earth dealing with the various ways that the Devil can work within the naive and vulnerable human race.
"...in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 'Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God.' But Jesus rebuked him saying, 'Be silent and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm." -Luke 4:33-35
As we move closer to our modern time, it has been documented in the Bible that demon possession was an issue not only for Jesus to contend with, but also for his apostles. (Acts 16:16-18) As followers of the most revered man in history, they realized the power that Jesus' name had against Satan and his fallen angels. (Luke 10:17) However, there were various points where they needed to consult with the master exorcist to try and understand why some of their efforts to drive out the demons were unsuccessful. After failing to drive out a demon from an epileptic, they took the man to Jesus and He did so saying, "[t]his kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." (Matthew 17:21) And it would seem that it is prayer and fasting that is the key to a successful exorcism as we will see in the next local story about a boy who became possessed by a very nasty demon.
The Devil Comes to St. Louis
The Activity Grows Out of Control
"In January 1949, the family of 13-year-old 'Robbie Doe' began to be disturbed by scratching sounds that came from inside of the walls and ceilings of the house. Believing that the house was infested with mice, the parents called an exterminator but he could find no sign of rodents. To make matters worse, his efforts seemed to add to the problem. Noises that sounded like someone walking in the hallway could be heard and dishes and objects were often found to be moved without explanation."
"And while the noises were disturbing, they weren't nearly as frightening as when Robbie began to be attacked. His bed shook so hard that he couldn't sleep at night. His blankets and sheets were torn from the bed. When he tried to hold onto them, he was reportedly pulled off the bed and onto the floor with the sheets still gripped in his hands." (prairieghosts 2)
It is believed that Robbie became possessed after using a Ouija board that his Aunt Tillie had given hence to teach him how to use the device. (It is because of this story that I always warn people never to use them. They are not as harmless as we may think.) Because of this board Robbie was forever plagued with violent bed shakings, objects and even heavy furniture being thrown around rooms, and he was subject to constant deep and very painful scratchings all over his body. It has also been documented that Robbie at various points was able to speak in both the Hebrew and Aramaic tongues. How scary is that to think that it is possible some of the demons who lived during the Persian era are still around today to wreak havoc on susceptible humans?
Robbie's exorcism took many priests to perform and finally ended in the Alexian Brother's Hospital in South St. Louis. Here Father William Bowdern, after studying an exorcism case in 1870 that took place in Wisconsin, was finally able to cast out the demon in him. At this time "Robbie exploded in a rage. Five witnesses held him down while he screamed that he was a 'fallen angel' but Bowdern continued on with the [exorcism] ritual. He recited it incessantly for hours until Robbie suddenly interrupted in a loud, masculine voice, identifying himself as 'St. Michael the Archangel'. The voice ordered the demon to depart. Robbie's body then went into violent contortions and spasms. Then he fell quiet. A moment later, he sat up, smiled and then spoke in a normal voice. 'He's gone', Robbie said and then told the priests of a vision that he had of St. Michael holding a flaming sword." (prairieghosts 8) It was only through the intervention of God's strongest angel and through the prayer and fasting of Father Bowdern that this demon was able to be released. It was documented that Bowdern lost 40 pounds during this time.
The Devil Lives in Missouri
The events which unfolded in the Union House had some similarities as those that happened to Robbie. There were many very loud banging sounds which occurred upstairs and in the basement. Helen March, as Steven calls her in his book, was the tenant who lived in the house after he moved out. At various points she showed him bite marks that appeared on her body on several occasions which she was unable to explain. The difference with the Union house is that it was truly haunted with a very evil and malevolent spirit that attacked not only physically but also within Steven's and Helen's dreams. This is how the entity was first able to manifest itself and from there things just got way worse. Steven eventually became a victim of oppression, which is only one step away from full-blown possession.
In demon oppression the forces of evil work against a person to try and drive them out of their mind through sleeplessness, irrational anxiety, and chains of events which continuously go wrong. With Steven, the demons focused on his dreams, which were numerous and very very scary. The demon would visit him taking on various physical forms - from Jesus himself to a dark and foreboding entity that Steven would swear was lurking right outside his window when he was awake. The nightmares became so bad he sought out professional help through a doctor who submitted him to a sleep apnea study. The results of this study stated that Steve, because he held his breath nearly every other minute, should not have been able to enter REM sleep and therefore should not be able to dream. However, it is dreams like this one that totally contradicted the doctor's findings and left him a victim of demonic oppression:
"...I feel it lurking outside my window. I know he's there, I can sense his presence. The glass shatters and he climbs inside. He smiles and I can see his teeth, pointed and white. He is a demon imitation of a man. A scream begins to well up in my throat as he approaches the bed. Finally I do scream and jump up to flee the room. As I push him aside, I frantically race to the bedroom door. Something's holding me back. Oh my God, he has me. I can feel his breath on my neck...." (excerpt summary from The Uninvited)
Helen March, while living in this house, was subject to the same types of dreams. But in her case the entity took things to an all new level. After being exposed to several dreams, she awoke one night to find herself pinned to the bed and being raped by the demon. This happened on at least three different occasions. She also suddenly became jealous of her husband and eventually tried to stab him to death after luring him into her car at his job because the demon convinced her that he was cheating on her. At one point she traveled to Steve's parents house and tried to shoot him, but was unsuccessful. Her behavior continued to be very erratic and at points the demon would speak through her. She would transform many times in front of Steven especially when he tried to seek spiritual help for her. Unfortunately her two children as well experienced their mother on more than one occasion snapping at them in a low growling voice with her language being filled with profanity.
Helen was a sweet lady and the demon made her horribly evil. Eventually the entity was exorcised from her in much the same way that Robbie Doe had been freed from his tormentor - prayer and fasting by a priest. To this day the woman named Helen struggles fiercely with her experiences. She did not want to show up for a book signing and investigation this past summer because she felt that she would not be able to deal with bringing up all those terrible events again.
During the time Helen was in medical treatment, Steven made a visit to Alexian Brothers Hospital. Here he reflected on the events of Robbie Doe and the impact of being in the very room where Robbie's final exorcism occurred. Strange how he could relate to such a horrific experience that happened 50 years prior to Helen's. I'm sure he was hoping that Helen too would be freed from a demon even more dangerous than Robbie's entity.
Satan's fallen angels have been trapped on this planet for centuries and are doomed to an earthly and unsatisfying existence. The stench these demons exude can still be smelled in the Union house and the scars they leave on their victims - mentally, physically and spiritually - last a lifetime. So please...please be careful when toying or experimenting with the unknown...or you too may be contacting a priest begging him to go into prayer and fasting in order to save you from forces that have been in existence for over 4,000 years!