The Exorcist House & Boy – 1949

Exorcism Ritual Book

Exorcism Ritual Book circa 1776

 

******Authors Note 10/13/2016 – If you are new to this website, chances are you found this page because Destination America aired a 6 year old mockumentary last night called The Haunted boy. Why, Shannon, what do you mean by “mockumentary”?  I’m so glad you asked! A mockumentary is a term I use for something that is presented as fact in the guise of a documentary but is full of misleading information or out right lies, as is the case with The Haunted Boy (and another shameful one by the same people called Spooked that is about Waverly Hills Sanitorium). Nothing gets me on my soap box faster than paranormal entertainment that is presented as fact. Please keep in mind that para entertainment does not have a goal to actually educate you with the truth about the paranormal and if you can find even one lie in something, it degrades the entire thing. Those of you that have heard me speak at various events or on radio/podcasts know my passion for haunted history to be factual because I believe it does a real disservice to those that have gone on before us.  If you are reading this article now because of last night airing, all I ask is that you take note of the misinformation presented in the show, read the documented facts here and then ask yourself, when are we going to start holding Para “Celebrities” accountable?  When are you going to start demanding that your entertainment be truthful?*****End Authors Rant

Ok, let’s see a show of hands of who watched Exorcism: Live! on October 30, 2015. You know, that three ring circus of incorrect information interrupted by commercials every five minutes that was presented on cable tv for our “Halloween” entertainment? It’s ok, you can admit it, I certainly did, but mainly because I wanted to see who had sold their souls (and any reputation they MAY have had before October 30th) for the sake of para-entertainment, to the devil parading as “factual tv” (please read that doing Dr. Evil’s air quote pantomime). We were led to believe we would not be lacking in experienced people participating in this event to rid the world of a horrible evil. We had a paranormal investigation team, a couple of mediums, a “documentary” filmmaker and a bishop just to name a few.

I have a VERY small circle of friends that are actually serious researchers when it comes to “haunted locations” and we were all of the same opinion beforehand: it was going to be crap. I don’t know why, but I was really surprised to see some of the people that were involved in this on one hand, and totally expectant of some of the other people because their screwed up version of the “truth” of this location has been making its way around the internet for years.

Now, if you can wipe that scripted and rehearsed (as stated by participant Michael Lynch on his facebook page after it aired) joke of a show with its multitude of commercials from your mind, I will be happy to give you some real facts about the “exorcist house” and what did and did not take place there in 1949. If you would rather live in your fantasy world dripping with a male southern drawls and tight t-shirts, stop reading now.

There are some things you should know about the “Exorcist House” if you want to talk about it factually and hopefully if you don’t get bored reading this, you will be a much more informed person on many fronts.

Now, keep in mind I am not saying whether the child was or was not possessed or if there are any evil spirits lurking in this home. I am not qualified to judge that, I was not there, although an in depth interview with a forensic psychiatrist mirrored my own belief that he was not and actually suffered from a form of Asperger’s Syndrome. Although, one would think if he WAS possessed and liberated there would be no evil spirit at all since the point of an exorcism is to send the demon back from whence it came. IF the evil did not go back to where it came from, wouldn’t it be at the Alexian Brothers hospital?

As a dedicated researcher my job is to track down the facts and weigh them against purported para-entertainment facts. If you study the priest’s diary (which I have read MANY times), it contradicts a lot of the stories that have been told via media treatments about the words and scratches that appeared on him and says several times that a lot of the “activity” was not witnessed, only the after effects were seen. Witnesses said the scratches that appeared on his skin, looked like lipstick and these marks did not resemble words nor clear images of anything. Extensive groundbreaking research done by Mark Opsasnick says the child was not described as a nice kid in the neighborhood. Peers tell stories of him being a “spoiled mean bastard” that fought with people all the time and even went so far as to sic his dog on a neighborhood child for fun and this was before “symptoms” started appearing in January 1949. He was a manipulative only child set on getting his way and my research shows his goal was to move to his aunt and uncles house in St. Louis. In the end, he didn’t get what he wanted and he returned home to finish 8th grade in Maryland and spent his high school years in DC.

I have read a lot of information over the years and a common theme seems to lay some blame on the grandmother. People have stated that she was a German full of old world spiritualism and some claim she didn’t speak much English. Now, I do not at all doubt she had a love of spiritualism. Anna Herbst Coppage was born in 1881 and would have been coming of age during the height of the Victorian Spiritualism movement. I am, however, confused about the “reports” that she was an old German woman that spoke no English. Birth and census records show Anna was born in St. Louis, Missouri to American born parents. Her mother was a 1st generation American, her grandmother having come from Germany, so I am sure there was some German spoken at family gatherings on her mother’s side but her father’s multi-generational American family would have definitely spoken English.

Coppage Census 1910

1910 Census showing the Coppage family (including the child’s mother)

 

Anna's birth records showing both parents born in the US (last line)

Anna’s birth records showing both parents born in the US (last line)

I would have been more impressed if they had looked towards his father, Leonard. He was a first generation American born of a father that emigrated here from Switzerland in 1870. His sister Mathilda H. Hendricks is the person reported by some as the one who taught the child to use an Ouija board. Mathilda lived in Missouri but did not live in the “exorcist” house, she lived in her own quaint little house in Richmond Heights. She passed away shortly before he began to exhibit “symptoms”. Séances were not conducted in St. Louis, this home was owned by a different aunt (Aunt Doris).

Aunt Tillie's House

Aunt Tillie’s House

 

Aunt Doris' House

Aunt Doris’ House

Contrary to para entertainment’s versions, a priest that witnessed the exorcisms later said that the child never spoke any languages other than mimicking back Latin that had been repeatedly thrown at him for weeks and pig latin. He did not show any kind of super human strength and his voice did not change when “speaking as the demon”. The “vulgar language” was that of an early teen, using the term “willy” and “pecker”. The same priest stated that he was not accustomed to filthy language in regular life, but interviews conducted by others with his childhood friends told a different story of a boy with a foul mouth. The priest also said none of the markings were recognizable as words or images and that while there was a lot of spitting (something the child had made a game of prior to these events) he could not recall vomiting or urination even though some was recorded in the “diary”. Of course this now deceased priest has been known to say things that are convenient for whatever camera was pointing at him, so his statements have to be taken with a grain of salt. I prefer his off camera comments, the ones he probably wasn’t getting paid for.  I find it fascinating that any time the child was at the Alexian Brothers hospital, a facility well equipped for handling troublesome people, the behavior recorded in the diary changed dramatically and was not as “theatrical”.

There are very classic “signs” taught in demonology courses. This is the list that was presented in the one I took:

  • Loss of consciousness, losing time
  • Speaking in languages the possessed has never learned
  • Exhibiting signs of unnatural strength
  • The ability to know what is hidden or unknown
  • Telekinesis
  • Aversion to holy objects and water
  • Speaking in a voice that is physically impossible
  • Inability to pray
  • Violence towards oneself and others
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Acts of self-humiliation
  • Nightmares
  • Destruction of religious objects
  • Swearing that is out of character

In reading the diary several things stand out very clearly

  • He was always hungry and ate well
  • The only time he spoke another language was when he mimicked latin phrases already said to him
  • Voice did not change to one that was physically impossible for him
  • No acts of self-humiliation
  • Did not destroy religious objects
  • He used bad language, but it has been found to be in his character
  • With the exception to a hidden treasure map (which is never indicated if it was looked for or not) there was no knowledge of the unknown exhibited

Much of the pre-show “hype” stated that the Bishop was going to exorcise the house. Many of us questioned that since a house cannot be exorcised but he continued to reiterate that is what he was doing. In an internet radio show he did after the event to “address concerns of viewers” he again stated multiple times that it was not a house blessing, it was an exorcism of the home. (This radio program has since disappeared from the internet, it wasn’t even up long up for archive.org to grab it, but it was originally here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/inspireradionetwork/2015/11/02/exorcism-live–bishop-longs-perspective)

The Haunted Boy

The Haunted Boy

In 2010 a “documentary” about this case was produced called the Haunted Boy. In the version of this that I was able to track down and watch, there is an interesting segment where the Bishop is being interviewed where he totally contradicts the pre-show hype:

Interviewer: Can you give a house an exorcism?

Bishop: You don’t exorcise homes, what you do is you go into the home and do the blessing of the of the home, the blessing of the rooms, you do the epiphany of the doors, and you bless every single room and basically what you do if there is a true demonic infestation you trap the demonic into one particular room and then the entity will manifest itself. You perform the exorcism on the entity.

This “documentary” also presented several other things that are suspect. They include a whole section about St. Vincent’s Asylum, making it look like part of the exorcism rites were performed there. There is not one single mention of this place in the diary. There is also an interview with the current homeowner where he states that the very first time he saw the house was June 6, 2006. This is definitely another fabrication of para entertainment as public tax records recorded in deed book #16963 page #1049 show he purchased the home December 13, 2005. And lets not forget the blurb that is put on the screen that says “actual exorcism audio archive”. While it is entirely possible the sounds they are playing ARE audio from an exorcism, it is worded in such a way to make your brain quickly think its from THIS exorcism and it is not.  There are no audio recordings from the 1949 case.  It sounds a lot like the audio I have heard from the Anneliese Michel case, but I don’t know that for a fact.

In another segment, a paranormal investigator talks about how he’s afraid of the house. On Ghost Adventures episode S08E07 (2013) this investigator claims he has not been back in the house since he were attacked in 2009 and that he is terrified of it, yet sources show this same investigator ran ticketed tours in that house in 2011.

Cover Letter of the Case Study (Diary)

Cover Letter of the Case Study (Diary)

The timeline of the rites of exorcism performed from 3/16/1949 to 4/18/1949 as recorded in the diary everyone says they get their information from shows the following (and please note there is absolutely no reference to St. Vincent’s Asylum):

3/16, 18, 19, 20 St. Louis House
3/21 Alexian Brothers Hospital
3/22 St. Louis House
3/23, 24, 25 College Church Rectory
4/1 St. Louis House
4/1 Catholic Baptism & Rite – College Church Rectory
4/3 St. Louis House
4/7, 8 Undisclosed location Maryland
4/10- 4/18 Alexian Brothers Hospital

That is 21 times the rite was performed (according to the diary) and it breaks down like this
7 were done in the St. Louis house
4 were done in the College Church Rectory
2 were done in Maryland
8 were done at the Alexian Brothers Hospital

That is 4 separate locations where the Rite was performed and he was pronounced demon free after the final one at the hospital.

It is interesting to note this diary entry on the day of liberation:

“Next Father O’Flaherty began teaching R the first half of the Ave Maria in Latin because R had expressed a real interest in Latin. In the space of fifteen minutes R could recite a good portion of the prayer unassisted. After the memory lesson Father O’Flaherty told R the complete story of Our Lady of Fatima to which R paid strict attention. A little later he asked for a Catholic reader containing eighth grade prose and poetry, and then thumbed through several stories as he sat in bed. Finally, in a boyish way he took to balancing the book on his knees and on his head.”

Personally I would love to get my hands on a copy of the reader that was given to him because his “story” at the end certainly sounds like it could have been culled from it. When the “devil” had been cast out he relayed this to the priests

“He said there was a brilliant white light and in that light stood a very beautiful man, with flowing wavy hair that blew in the breeze. He wore a white robe that fitted close to his body. The material gave the impression of scales. Only the upper half of the body of this man was visible to R. In his right hand he held up a wavy and fiery sword in front of him. With his left hand he pointed down to a pit or cave. R said he saw the devil standing in the cave. R felt the heat from the cave and saw the flames. First the devil fought, resisting the angel and laughing diabolically. Then the angel smiled at R and spoke, but R heard only the one word “Dominus”. As the angel spoke, the devil and about ten of his helpers ran back into the fire of the cave or pit. After the devil disappeared the letters “Spite” appeared on the bars of the cave.”

After that, all appeared normal with both the house and the child.  There were no reports of activity at the house in St. Louis, nor the house in Maryland.  The child grew up to be a noted (in his circles) productive member of society and claims to have no memories of that time in his turbulent teens. Life was normal, or at least as normal as it could have been for him. It was normal until the 1970s when The Exorcist was released upon the masses and because Mr. Blatty stated it was inspired by a true story the world set out on a mission to find the real story. A story which sadly has been fictionalized just as much as Mr. Blatty’s book all in the name of the “paranormal”.

As I stated earlier, it is not my job to convince you whether or not the child was possessed or if the house is “evil”. It is my job to provide you with factual information surrounding the case and let you make up your own mind. In the end, I think the one thing we can agree upon is that what can be said of the “exorcist” house is that it surely does seem to make a whole lot of people forget their acquaintance with the truth.

4 comments

  1. I feel that further study into this house will prove one way or the other that it’s haunted. Just because someone once stayed there for a short time and that had a mental break, doesn’t make the place filled with spirits.
    I also feel that these guys should have know better than to do a LIVE paranormal investigation. Anyone who is has been in the field for a long time can tell ya it’s a waiting game, Almost like fishing.
    There is no way to predict if a spirit will come through or not.
    As far as the clergy goes, he committed career suicide, he didn’t have even his licence to be a priest up to date, nor did his church. Even the Catholic church said this was a “no no” and never gave permission to even do this.
    Now for the “psychic medium what’s his face”.. should have seen this one coming..lol..
    end rant..~Ry

    1. I still can’t get past the fact that he said explicitly in the Booth Brothers documentary that you cannot exorcise a house and then turned around and said he was doing just that AND had the same Booth brother present. I wish you could have heard that radio show, he totally lost it and came unglued with the people calling in. I’m not surprised it got deleted. I *almost* feel sorry for the TWC, I’d love to know how they were convinced to perform in that circus.

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