Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Indiana Exorcism

In a story that seems to come straight out of a horror film, a family from Indiana claims to have been terrorized by demons that required several exorcisms performed by Father Mike Maginot, pictured above, to finally remove. What's remarkable about this case is that it has been massively documented by law enforcement and Child Services since 2011, and as such, the article outlines the entire series of events from beginning to end. Read the whole thing; it's a fascinating account.

Gary police Capt. Charles Austin said it was the strangest story he had ever heard.

Austin, a 36-year veteran of the Gary Police Department, said he initially thought Indianapolis resident Latoya Ammons and her family concocted an elaborate tale as a way to make money. But after several visits to their home and interviews with witnesses, Austin said simply, "I am a believer."

Not everyone involved with the family was inclined to believe its incredible story. And many readers will find Ammons' supernatural claims impossible to accept. But, whatever the cause of the creepy occurrences that befell the family — whether they were seized by a systematic delusion or demonic possession — it led to one of the most unusual cases ever handled by the Department of Child Services.

Many of the events are detailed in nearly 800 pages of official records obtained by The Indianapolis Star and recounted in more than a dozen interviews with police, DCS personnel, psychologists, family members and a Catholic priest.

Ammons, who swears by her story, has been unusually open. While she spoke on condition her children not be interviewed or named, she signed releases letting The Star review medical, psychological and official records that are not open to the public — and not always flattering.

Furthermore, the family's story is made only more bizarre because it involves a DCS intervention, a string of psychological evaluations, a police investigation and, ultimately, a series of exorcisms.

Even if certain accounts are exaggerated, it seems likely to me that something of a paranormal nature took place in Ammon's home. Many of the events sound like regular haunting phenomena, including the classic paranormal TV trope of things quieting down after the first exorcism attempt for a few days and then becoming worse after that. In this case, though, the family didn't leave - the priest involved performed additional exorcism rituals and was finally able to stop both the hauntings and the apparent possession phenomena.

This suggests that, contrary to a number of other paranormal accounts, exorcism can work through repetition even if it fails the first time. Commonly when the rite of exorcism fails to remove a haunting the residents of the home in question just pack up and leave, which in light of this case could very well be a bad idea. An exorcism is a magical ritual, not a guarantee, and the fact that such rituals don't always get the job done the first time is the norm for most other such ceremonial practices.

The possibility always remains that the whole series of events was some sort of hoax to drum up publicity - children can be coached and many of the paranormal events in question were only witnessed by members of the family. At the same time, some of them were observed by credible individuals outside the family and the long investigation makes the story's timeline easy to follow. This could very well be one of the best-documented cases of possession ever observed, and as such provide valuable insights into the process of exorcism.

UPDATE: This photo, included as part of the original story, has now been identified by Internet commenters as a fake, created with a popular "ghost photo" iPhone app.

Whether or not this family experienced paranormal events at the house, it certainly seems that they're making some of it up. It's not clear yet what their motivation might be, but it could be something as simple as enjoying all the notoriety.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: