Throughout recorded history, there have been stories told about people who trifled with demons and seriously regretted their decisions. Unfortunately, there have also been cases of perfectly innocent people being targeted by fiends from hell through no fault of their own. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most haunting cases of demonic possession in history.
10. Demonic Possession – Elisabeth de Ranfaing
In 1617, Elisabeth de Ranfaing’s husband sadly passed away. A local physician, who was later sentenced to death by burning for being a magician, took an interest in her and asked for her hand in marriage. Elisabeth turned him down, and the physician began slipping her concoctions meant to make her love him. These potions made her act strangely, and Elisabeth’s own doctors began to believe that she was possessed and recommended that she seek exorcism.
Several individuals participated in the exorcisms. During the rituals, Elisabeth began to speak in numerous languages including French, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Italian. She also revealed the inner thoughts of the various people working to expel the demon inside her. At one point, an exorcist reciting verses in Latin made a mistake in his recitation, and Elisabeth corrected him mockingly, displaying knowledge of arcane subjects that Elisabeth had no reason to know. Unfortunately, the exorcisms were never successful and Elisabeth suffered the torment of possession for seven years.
9. Clara Germana Cele
In 1906, a 16-year-old South African orphan named Clara Germana Cele was said to have been possessed by a demon. Although she had been baptized as a Christian when she was an infant, Clara told her priest that she had made a pact with the devil.
She began to exhibit signs of demonic possession, such as speaking previously unknown languages including Polish, French, and German. She also inexplicably knew the secrets of people around her that she didn’t previously know and abhorred the religious objects of the convent where she lived. Clara exhibited super-human strength, often throwing nuns around the convent, and had a scream that was described as animal-like and horrifying.
Two priests were assigned to exorcise Clara. At the start of the exorcism, Clara attempted to choke one priest to death with his own stole, but the ritual was eventually successful.
8. Demonic Possession – The Ammons Children
When the Ammons family moved into a new home in 2012, they soon got an ominous sign: swarms of flies plagued them even though it was the dead of winter. One day, one of the three children began to scream and her mother, Latoya, ran into the room to find her daughter allegedly levitating.
After that, things went from bad to worse. Her three children would smile evilly at her with bulging eyes and too-wide grins. Allegedly, at least once, her son bent over backward and climbed up a wall to the ceiling. Latoya reported seeing strange white shadows around the house and hearing unexplained footsteps.
The police came to the home to take the children away, suspecting that these stories were a cover for abuse. However, authorities witnessed the bizarre events themselves and corroborated the family’s stories. The family moved out of the house and underwent several exorcisms, eventually returning to normal.
7. Joseph Birch and Sotiris Charalambous
Joseph Birch and Sotiris Charalambous thought they had made a good find when they discovered a nice-looking mirror in a dumpster outside of their London home. They hung the mirror in the apartment, not realizing that there was a good reason that it had been discarded. Not long after bringing the mirror inside, they began having medical and financial problems. However, this was just the beginning.
Joseph and Sotiris eventually started to suffer even more ills because of the possibly cursed mirror. They would wake up screaming from nightmares they couldn’t remember, only to see strange shadows dancing across the mirror and dozens of red scratches on their bodies. The pair began to believe that a demon attached to the mirror was possessing them. They quickly decided to get rid of the mirror by selling it on eBay, fully disclosing the terrifying events they had experienced. A single person bid on the mirror. After it was gone, Joseph and Sotiris found their lives returning to normal, but no one knows for sure the fate of the mysterious buyer.
6. Demonic Possession – Robbie Mannheim
Most people know of a few cases of demonic possession depicted in films, but most of us don’t know the stories behind them. For example, you’ve probably heard of The Exorcist, but what about the film’s real-life inspiration: Robbie Mannheim, sometimes referred to as Roland Doe
In the 1930s, when Robbie was 13 years old, he made the regrettable decision to attempt to contact his deceased aunt using a Ouija board. Not long after, his family started experiencing frightening occurrences. Furniture in the house would move without explanation and religious art on the walls vibrated when Robbie walked past. Robbie’s classmates even reported seeing his desk suddenly fly across the room.
Priests agreed to perform a series of exorcisms on Robbie. The rituals ended up being violent and terrifying; throughout the process, Robbie exhibited super-human strength that he used to attack the priests. Eventually, one of the exorcisms successfully expelled the demon possessing the young boy.
5. John and Betsy Bell
In America’s pioneer days, the Bell family were the victims of one of history’s most controversial cases of demonic possession. The entire family was terrorized by the demon, but the father, John, and the youngest child, Betsy, bore the brunt of the horror.
The entity became known as the “Bell Witch.” The demon would regularly speak through John, claiming to predict future events. It tortured Betsy relentlessly by slapping her, pulling her hair, and leaving marks on her body. John eventually died, after the demon claimed that it was going to poison him. The family believed that the demon was responsible for John’s death. After John died, the family eventually stopped experiencing the presence of the entity.
The case of the Bell family is well-known because of the speculation as to the cause of the possession. Some say that the family was cursed or that the land on which they built their home was cursed. Others believe that a family member, perhaps John himself, had been sexually abusing Betsy and thus earned the demon’s wrath.
One of the most shocking aspects of the case of a girl known only as “Julia” is that she was not diagnosed with possession by a priest; rather, it was a psychiatrist that began to believe something supernatural was afoot.
Dr. Richard E. Gallagher claims that this patient would go into trances, during which time she would levitate in front of him and speak in voices that were certainly not her own. She knew secrets about others that she had no way of knowing and would spew hateful rants. During one session, a demonic voice told the doctor to leave the girl alone, because she belonged to it. After this, Julia was set to undergo exorcism.
During the exorcisms, Julia repulsed the holy water thrown at her, causing the room to grow unbearably hot. It is believed that she was eventually freed from the demon gripping her.
3. David Berkowitz
In the mid-1970s, the population of New York City was cowering in fear as more and more reports about the “Son of Sam” killer poured in. This mysterious murderer would leave cryptic and taunting notes to police at crime scenes, seeming to relish in his crimes. Eventually, the killer was discovered and apprehended; his name was David Berkowitz.
Berkowitz underwent numerous interviews by police. When asked to explain the motivations for his crimes, Berkowitz confessed that his neighbor’s dog was possessed by the devil. He stated that the canine would approach him and tell him what to do. Later, Berkowitz changed his story, stating that he killed as rituals for the Satanic cult he was a member of. This led many to believe that Berkowitz himself was the one in the grips of demonic possession.
2. Arne Johnson
The story of Arne Johnson is one of the more violent cases of demonic possession in recent years. It all started when the Glatzel family moved into a new home. Eleven-year-old David Glatzel began exhibiting signs of possession such as speaking in tongues and levitating. Priests performed an exorcism, but it did nothing to free David of the demons. Then, David’s sister’s fiance, Arne Johnson, made a terrible mistake: he began to taunt the demons possessing the young boy.
Soon after, Arne began acting violent and having strange trances. He was normally a very calm person, so the bouts of anger were frightening to his family and friends. Arne’s problems reached their bloody climax when he got into a fight with his landlord, Alan Bono, and stabbed the man to death. Later, he claimed that he had no memory of the cold-blooded murder.
1. Anneliese Michel
Cases of demonic possession are always tragic: none more so than the case of Anneliese Michele. In 1967, Anneliese began showing a multitude of disturbing symptoms: she couldn’t look at religious items, her body smelled foul, and she had violent convulsions. Her behavior eventually escalated to eating bugs, drinking her own urine, and even biting off the head off a bird. She told her family that she was being possessed to atone for the sins of the modern world.
Her parents and two priests began performing exorcisms. In total, Anneliese underwent 70 exorcisms, during which time she did not eat or drink. She eventually died of starvation and dehydration. At the time of her death, she weighed a mere 68 pounds.
Anneliese’s parents and the two priests were later found guilty of negligent manslaughter for allowing her to go so long without nourishment during the exorcisms. They have repeatedly protested their innocence, claiming that the demons were angered by the rituals and refused to allow the girl food and water.
Her case became the inspiration for the film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose.