SLU exorcism: Local 'exorcist house' featured on "Ghost Adventures"

5:03 PM, Oct 6, 2013   |    comments
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BEL-RIDGE, Mo. (KSDK) - "Ghost Adventures" is at it again! One month ago they took on the Missouri State Penitentiary, and last week they visited the "exorcist house."

The home, located in the 8400 block of Roanoke Drive near the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus in north St. Louis County, was the subject of "Ghost Adventures'" 100th episode, which aired Friday night.

Zak, Nick, and Aaron visited the home to investigate what is said to be the site of the most famous possession in history.  The exorcism took place March 16, 1949, and was portrayed in a book and a 1973 movie, which many consider to be the scariest movie of all time.

STORY: SLU archivist talks about 1949 exorcism

This is a story that has captivated the nation, even after all of these years. It started in Maryland, and ended in St. Louis involving several Jesuits from Saint Louis University.

The story begins with a 13-year-old Maryland boy who started witnessing strange things.

"You know, scratching noises, drippings sounds, sounds of water dripping," said SLU archivist John Waide during a 2012 interview with NewsChannel 5's Pat McGonigle.

The boy, whose identity is a secret but is referred to as "Robbie," started experiencing the weird sounds which eventually escalated to welts and other strange marks on his body after the death of his aunt, who had previously introduced him to a Ouija board.

PDF: Read experts from a SLU priest's diary kept during exorcism

The word "Louis" appeared on the boy's body at one point, and because the boy had family here in St. Louis, his mother decided to bring him here for help.

"Before they agreed to perform the exorcism they made sure the boy had been examined by medical personnel, psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors. It's not something that's taken lightly," Waide said.

The 1949 exorcism of Robbie involved Jesuits from SLU, but also required approval of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It happened primarily in three locations: Robbie's relative's home on Roanoke Drive, the rectory behind the College Church on SLU's campus, and a now-demolished wing of the old Alexian Brothers Hospital in south St. Louis.  You can see video of Robbie's bedroom, which appears to still be used as a bedroom, in the embedded episode below this story.

STORY: Do exorcisms still happen today?

This episode of "Ghost Adventures," the crew says one of the reasons they decided to do a lockdown in the "exorcist house" is because of stories they've heard. One of those stories involves a paranormal investigator (whom they've deemed "very credible" and has received validation from the priest who performed the exorcism, Fr. William Bowdern), was walking down into the basement with gear, when he heard feet shuffling and felt a person's presence. He assumed it was the person who was helping him with his gear, but when he went back upstairs he learned that person had never followed him to the basement.

The crew seeks to determine if there are any "lingering, demonic, entities" still in the room the exorcist was performed in, or in any other parts of the house.

The current owner of the home on Roanoke Drive declined an interview in 2012 with NewsChannel 5, but some neighbors did talk about supernatural experiences.

STORY: Neighbors talk about living next door to 'exorcist house'

"Once in a while you might hear voices, but if you grew up with it all of the time, it's normal," said neighbor Jessica Bacchus. "Like you might think you hear things and you may or you may not, but I've been living here all of my life, so I guess that's a norm for me."

Another neighbor, Jean Kustura, was a student at Visitation Academy when the exorcism happened.

"The nuns, when I was in school, the nuns had us pray because we knew about the possible exorcism," said Kustura. "And I knew Fr. Bowdern and Fr. Halloran, and a few of the other Jesuits involved in all of this, and it didn't really make us feel uncomfortable at all. Of course, I do have holy water right next to my bed, just in case."

STORY: What became of exorcist boy 'Robbie'?

So what became of Robbie? Well, Waide says he's still alive and lives in the Washington D.C. area. He is believed to be 78-years-old and fathered several children. He was originally baptized Lutheran, but became a Catholic.

In 1952, Robbie returned to St. Louis to visit with the priests who performed the exorcism. In Fr. Bishop's diary that he kept throughout the exorcism, he wrote:
"Follow up: August 19, 1951. R and his father and mother visited the Brothers. R, now 16 is a fine young man. His father and mother also became Catholic, having received their first Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1950."

STORY: Pat McGonigle recalls spooky 'exorcist' phone call

After our initial series on the priests at SLU, NewsChannel 5's Pat McGonigle got a phone call from a woman who said she was a nursing student at Alexian Brothers Hospital in south St. Louis during the 1970s.

The woman was a first-year student when she says she started to hear incredibly loud noises from a floor above her during her overnight shift. She said it sounded like homeless people fighting. When she complained about it, a security guard said to her, "Don't you know what happened on that floor? That's the exorcism floor."

She didn't believe him, so the guard took her up on that floor, which was reserved for the criminally insane. It was locked down, shuttered, and iron gates were on either side of it, completely abandoned. He walked her down to the room where the exorcism is said to have taken place.

The woman could see through a tiny window on the door to the room, and says she can still remember clearly what she saw: a bed, a desk, and a chair, all with drop cloths on them. A large black hole was on the wall at the head of the bed. The guard told her that's where the evil spirits exited Robbie's body. The wall had been painted over dozens of times, but the black stain always came back.

A few days later she was on her usual floor when she says the lights flickered. She started walking down the hallway, and past 12 foot statues of angels and saints. When she looked up at one of the stone statues, she says she saw black eyes that went from looking straight ahead, down to her, and then straight ahead again. She threw her tray in the air, ran to the nurse's station, and quit her job.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, is now a highly-placed hospital administrator at a St. Louis area hospital.

Though nobody can verify the woman's claims, McGonigle says he believes she was telling the truth.

Click on the video player below to see the entire show.


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