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The Exorcist: Legacy of Ronald Edwin Hunkeler

By Edited Apr 8, 2016 1 7

Ronald Edwin Hunkeler

a/k/a: Robbie Mannheim; John Hoffman

The truth behind the real inspiration for the world’s most famous fictional exorcism is known but to a handful of people. 

And this “true story” of what should have been nothing more than an embarrassing footnote in Catholic Church history took on a life of its own thanks to the ingenuity and literary talents of author William Peter Blatty.

His controversial bestselling 1971 novel, The Exorcist, went on to become the basis for one of the world’s great cinematic efforts (regardless of genre): 1973’s iconic movie, The Exorcist.

Washinton Post headline (frontispiece)

Unfortunately, despite the hype (and the recognition today of the impact The Exorcist had on both popular culture and the collective human psyche), the exorcism case which formed the core of this cultural phenomena is almost certainly rooted in a sham.

It is the story of a spoiled mama’s boy who couldn’t get his way.

Street Cred
As with most cases involving people in unusual circumstances, names are changed, locales are altered, and circumstances are varied enough in detail to do two things: 1) lend an air of credibility to the tale; and 2) protect the privacy of the primary subject.

There is sensationalism in “true stories”—the more debauched, lurid, or explicit, the better.  And The need for credibility is critical.

Recently, author James Frey wrote an “autobiography” of his descent into drug addiction and later recovery.  The book was a lie: he had never been a drug addict, had never been in rehab, had never done the jail time he alleged in his book, and this fraud almost ruined his career.

Had Frey simply written a novel about a drug addict perhaps it would not have sold as well.  His lie is what sold copy; he was a frequent guest on talk shows whose topics were addiction recovery.  It was a complete sham and, when uncovered, Frey was belatedly apologetic and humbled. 

Similarly, about the same year Frey’s fraud was exposed, a book about a boy prisoner in a World War II Nazi concentration camp was published.  The story is of a little girl meeting this boy through the wire fence of the concentration camp, feeding him, befriending him, etc..  It is what the publishing industry usually calls “heartwarming” and “a triumph of the human spirit” or some such hyperbole.  The book was made into a successful film a few years ago—it is a complete and calculated fraud.  The author knew it was a fake, but played upon the contrived “based on a true story” angle so heavily the public believed the lie.

Finally, in the world of “truth” in art, there is the excellent 1996 Coen Brothers movie, Fargo.  This murder story (set in North Dakota) states on-screen in its opening moments that the film’s events were based on a true story.  On DVD, at the end of the movie, the Coen Brothers make it clear in discussing the film that the “true story” is a fake—they wrote the screen play themselves based solely upon their imaginations.  It even says as much in the credits on the packaging: “Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen”.  Authorship was also properly credited in the film’s end titles.  The “based on a true story” part was both an inside joke of theirs and lent an air of credibility to the story.

Unlike Frey, the Coens did not pretend otherwise—they had their fun, and dropped the matter.

Exorcisms & Myth Makers
Knowing the motives for fraud, hoaxes, pranks, or shams—call them whatever—is relevant.  In most cases, ego and money are on the line.  Just as any rapper who gets shot by another rapper—regardless of the superficiality of the bullet wound—is somehow raised in status (as a “gangsta”), credibility is essential for any purveyor of entertainment.

For Georgetown University college student William Peter Blatty (born 1928), the story of a lifetime (for him, anyway) appeared surprisingly as a headline in the August 20, 1949, edition of The Washington Post:

Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy
Reported Held in Devil’s Grip
By Bill Brinkley
Post Reporter

This headline gave a synopsis of the successful exorcism of a 14-year-old-boy from Mt. Rainier, Maryland, allegedly possessed by “the Devil”.

Mt. Rainier, Maryland, lies on the northeast border of

Washington Post article (Aug 20, 1949)
Maryland and Washington, DC.  At the time of the 1949 Post exposé, Mt. Rainier was a bedroom community of DC with grand old Victorian-era three-story homes on quiet tree-lined streets.

The newspaper reported the Catholic Church had released the story only the day before on August 19, 1949.

From the publication of this article the urban myth of the “Mt. Rainier Exorcism” grew.  In the article, the teenager is referred to as “the boy”.  Later accounts, picking up the thread of this first burst, would call him “John Doe”, then “Roland Doe” (the first name very similar to his real first name), and then “John Hoffman” (the fake last name carrying a Germanic tone as did the boy’s real last name). 

Finally, a more consistently used pseudonym was developed: “Robbie Mannheim”.  This name retained the German flavor of the boy’s real surname while also using a first name similar to his true one.

The story of Robbie Mannheim’s background and exorcism contained kernels of truth.  However, that truth was buried beneath layers of conflation, exaggerations, third-hand reports, rumors, and outright lies.  In short, however, the canonical story of Robbie Mannheim begins in mid January 1949. 

The family lived in Mt. Rainier, Maryland, and Robbie (an only child) apparently had displayed nothing other than stellar behavior in his past.  A favored aunt of his died recently, however; this devastated the teenager, and he sulked over her death.  In this story, the aunt’s name was Dorothy (a diary refers to her as Tillie, and another source gives her name as Harriet).  Robbie had lived with her for a time for unknown reasons.  It was Aunt Dorothy who bought him a Ouija board and taught him how to use it.

On the night of January 15, 1949, the home became subjected to poltergeist activity centered on Robbie.  The family heard skittering and scratching in the walls, mysterious spectral footsteps, objects hurled about indiscriminately, and finally Robbie’s bed shook uncontrollably while he was in it.  Through his Ouija board, Robbie “spoke” with the spirit in the home, and it allegedly identified itself as his dead Aunt Dorothy. 

The family was devoutly Lutheran.  In February 1949, instead of taking the boy to a psychiatrist or to a medical doctor they invited a Lutheran minister to their home.  [Another source records this as a single consultation at Saint James Church in Mount Ranier.]  The cleric allegedly observed some of the poltergeist activity, and offered to take the boy to his home for further observation and safer keeping.  In this clergyman’s home, the poltergeist activity continued with Robbie.

Old World exorcism (fantasy)
  Strange marks formed on his abdomen, looking like scratches, but interpreted as being words (such as “Hell”). 

This Lutheran minister knew he was out of his element but he tried an exorcism on Robbie nonetheless.  It did not work.  A Catholic priest was called in and after working with Robbie also concluded he was possessed.  He, too, did not have any experience with exorcism, but he tried, using guidelines handed down by the Catholic Church over the past 1500 years.  This failed.  The boy was then taken to the University Hospital in Georgetown for a medical exam in late February 1949.  Doctors there could find nothing wrong with him, so Robbie went home with his parents in early March.  The poltergeist activity worsened as did Robbie’s foul cursing.

Finally, he was removed from the Maryland home and taken to St. Louis where it was felt the Jesuits there were more qualified to handle his believed demonic possession.  The Archbishop of the St. Louis diocese authorized an exorcism upon petition on March 16, 1949. 

Sequestered for the duration, on the first night of the ritual the superficial scratches appeared on his abdomen again.  There were reportedly 30 instances of these eruptions.  Interpreters thought they saw the word “Hell” and a portrait of a Satanic image in the scratches.  Exorcism involves repetition, and during the first night the 45-minute ritual was repeated multiple times. 

This was done many times during the night for the next week.  As with the 1928 Earling, Iowa, exorcism of Emma Schmidt, the subject here, too, was violent.  He thrashed about, screamed profanities, shook with seizures, and allegedly urinated uncontrollably.  In the midst of the exorcism the boy was converted to Catholicism (with parental permission).  His condition worsened, however, but suddenly stopped on March 26.  The priest conducting the exorcism felt Robbie was cured.

Robbie relapsed back into his state of demonic possession on March 31, however.  His behavior grew more violent.  Devilish voices also began speaking through him.  As with Emma Schmidt, the voices came from behind the boy’s closed lips.  A demon reportedly rasped, “I am always in him.”  No progress was made over the next several days.  The exorcist researched an obscure, late 19th Century case that offered a possible solution.

For the next round of invocations on April 18 the priest forced the boy to wear a chain of religious medallions and to hold a crucifix during the ritual.  The proximity of the religious objects enraged Robbie whose physical response was so great five men had to hold him down while the priest continued.  Finally, at about 11:00 PM in a moment of grand hysteria Robbie interrupted the proceedings, and shouted, “Satan!  I am St. Michael.  I command you, Satan, to leave his body now!”  He then went into a spasmodic flailing, the worst yet, but then quieted.  He muttered, “He is gone.”  Smiling, he returned to normal.

The balance of the story is anti-climactic.  Robbie returned to Maryland, graduated from high school, and ostensibly went on to lead a normal life without further supernatural incident. The story would have remained there, a flash-in-the-pan, sinking into obscurity if not for the keen eye of college student William Peter Blatty.

The Robbie Mannheim exorcism story right from its very first public exposure in 1949 got the minutiae wrong.

The first newspaper report that had intrigued Blatty has a falsehood in its headline, either by design or bad reporting.  The town of Mt. Rainier, Maryland, was not the starting point for the saga.  Investigators later combed that community for the “exorcist” house where Robbie Mannheim first showed signs of alleged demonic possession.  All that was uncovered was a vacant lot (at 3210 Bunker Hill Road) where local urban myth claimed the house “once stood” but it burned down.

Map of

Sadly, the term “so close, yet so far away” applied here—a bit further, about four miles (a bit over 6 km) to the southeast of Mt. Rainier, is the working-class community of Cottage City, Maryland. 

Meet John Doe
At 3807 40th Avenue in Cottage City, Maryland, stands an unassuming bungalow now used as a rental property.  In the 1940s it was the home of a family named Hunkeler, who had moved into it in 1939

Cottage City bungalow
and who lived there until at 1958 when they sold it. 

The devoutly Lutheran family consisted of a father, Edwin E. Hunkeler, and his wife, Odell.  They had one child, an overindulged, overly protected, extremely spoiled boy born June 1, 1935.  His name was Ronald Edwin Hunkeler.

This Maryland branch of Hunkelers had relatives in St. Louis, Missouri.  These relatives lived at 8435 Roanoke Drive in an upper middle-class St. Louis neighborhood.  The Missouri house was built by its occupants, Leonard C. Hunkeler and his wife Doris, in 1942.  Leonard was the paternal uncle of Ronald Edwin Hunkeler, the 13-year-old who would be immortalized as a teen girl in The Exorcist in the early 1970s.

Ronald, the boy, apparently had been living with an aunt at some point in his life.  He did not like Cottage City, Maryland.  He particularly hated his school, Bladensburg Junior High School, for unknown reasons.  A classmate of his, who had been run to ground and interviewed, reported the following about the “angelic” Ronald Hunkeler:

“. . . We were playmates and classmates.  We were playing together from the time we first moved in here when I was three years old and we went all the way through school together . . . People ask what he was like back then and I can tell you that he was never what you would call a normal child.  He was an only child and kind of spoiled and he was a mean bastard.  We were together all the time and we used to fight all the time . . . ”

This same source recalled only one bizarre incident (hearing nothing of what allegedly happened later in the Hunkeler home):

“. . . We were in eighth grade, it was the ’48-’49 school year and we were in a class together . . . He was sitting in a chair and it was one of those deals with one arm attached and it looked like he was shaking the desk . . . I remember the teacher yelling at him to stop it and I remember he kind of yelled “I’m not doing it” and they took him out of class and that was the last I ever saw of him in school.  The desk certainly did not move around the room . . . ”

Thus, a picture of a malcontent, a mean-spirited prankster begins to emerge.  Combined with his spoiled nature, what happened next may have started as a lark, but like many hoaxes in history, it soon spiraled out of control.

Ronald Hunkeler was used to getting his way.  His Aunt Doris (not Dorothy) and his Uncle Leonard lived in a very nice two-story Colonial house in an affluent neighborhood in St. Louis. He wanted to move in with them and live well.  Ronald’s father, like many of that era, was an absentee dad.  He was also emotionally distant.  His mother doted on the boy and mollycoddled him.  All others interviewed reported the same—he was spoiled, indulged, and the word “no” was not to his liking. 

He was pulled from the Bladensburg school as his classmate reported, but not for “demonic possession”.  His histrionics at home had grown worse, and the parents simply felt it might be better to pack him off to St. Louis.  For these highly religious people, Ronald knew the proper buttons to push; suddenly, the house was under attack from a “poltergeist”.

By this time the senior Hunkelers had already consulted their Lutheran minister who, in turn, felt it would be better to call on a Catholic priest (as the Catholic Church had extensive experience in such matters).  He was taken to the University Hospital in Georgetown for an exam on February 28, 1949.  Nothing organic could be found wrong with him, and after an observation period Ronald was released and went home with his parents on March 3, 1949.

Unfortunately, the priests assigned to the case were young, impressionable, and with almost no experience with exorcism (unlike Emma Schmidt’s exorcist who not only had much experience in the field but also had exorcised her once before more than a decade earlier).  Ronald, in effect, played them like violins.

The Jesuit priests rounded up in St. Louis went to the Leonard and Doris Hunkeler home where Ronald was staying awaiting “treatment”.  Their charge went into action upon their arrival on March 9, 1949.  Ronald’s bed was shaking and at the mere mention of Scripture he shrieked like a wounded animal.  Allegedly, a bottle of holy water flew through the air. 

Scratches manifested on his abdomen; the Satanic image (referenced in the popular account) scratched into his skin appeared on his calf.  The exorcism ritual was conducted in the Leonard and Doris Hunkeler home in the guest bedroom Ronald had been assigned.  He was later removed from the house and taken to the Alexian Brothers Hospital (a Catholic-managed institution with a psych ward, since demolished).

There, he continued the screaming and acting out until the exorcism was successfully completed on April 19, 1949 (per the Church record).

The Scribe
William Peter Blatty was a New York City boy (of Lebanese parents).  His parents came to America from Lebanon on a cattle boat—when William was three his father abandoned the family.  Blatty described his upbringing as “comfortable destitution”; they did whatever they could to survive, and Blatty lived at 28 different addresses as a child since the fatherless family was constantly evicted for non-payment of rent.

He attended a Jesuit prep school (on scholarship) in the City.  He made his way to Georgetown University on scholarship.  It was there he read the 1949 headline about the Mt. Rainier boy that would change his life.  Before that happened, though, he went on to The George Washington University, getting his Master’s in English Literature.

He worked a series of menial jobs before joining the US Air Force where he was attached to its Psychological Warfare division (that branch responsible for things like dropping propaganda leaflets into villages from airplanes).  He did his hitch, and joined the United States Information Agency.  He was posted as an editor, stationed in Beirut, Lebanon.

On a three-month leave from this job he decided to pursue a writing career instead.  He found work in the late 1950s as a public relations director for Loyola University in Los Angeles.  In a strange and humorous twist, he appeared on the television game show emcee’d by Groucho Marx called You Bet Your Life.  Blatty won $10,000 (more than $75,000 US today) on the show; he was able to quit his job in 1960 and devote himself to writing full-time.

Blatty’s novels in the early years contained a wry humor and were critically well received.  He was feted as a rising literary star.  His works, however, did not sell well.  By 1964 he was a screen-play writer working on several of filmmaker Blake Edwards’ best known movies (one of which was in the Pink Panther series of films).

But he really wanted to be a successful novelist; having that one breakthrough was all he needed.

William Peter Blatty (1971 & 2010)

The story about the demon-possessed Maryland boy sprang to mind.  Blatty began digging; his research led him to one of the primary priests who had also kept a diary of the events (about 26 pages of notes).

Based upon his own efforts and using some passages from the priest’s diary for color and background Blatty created a sensation.  With some changes in setting and gender, 14-year-old Ronald Edwin Hunkeler of Cottage City, Maryland, earned an undeserved immortality as a pop culture icon in the guise of the fictional 12-year-old demon-possessed girl named Regan MacNeil.  And in 1971, The Exorcist was a controversial bestseller, spending 54 weeks on the New York Times “Bestseller List”, 17 of those weeks in the Number One spot.

The Exorcist (film image collage)

Readers are a different breed than movie goers.  The book was successful, but was not the blockbuster it was to become.

Film director William Friedkin attached himself to the idea of a movie, and Blatty was hired to write the screenplay.  Discussions about the “truth” of the “Robbie Mannheim Exorcism of Mt. Rainier, Maryland” (as it was still considered then) did not arise until later.  Blatty simply quoted the 1949 case as his catalyst.  People erroneously believed those events happened first in Mt. Rainier.  They also erroneously believed the events were true.

The resulting movie was a smash hit, though, which spurred renewed interest and sales in his book. It also spurred renewed interest in the Robbie Mannheim case once Blatty let it be known that was the source for his inspiration.

To their credit (and to the public’s great distress) the parties associated with the case were extremely tight-lipped and refused to give up Robbie Mannheim’s real name to preserve his privacy.  The Mt. Rainier locale fallacy was never corrected by those who knew the truth; people continued to stalk that town looking for the house that not only wasn’t there anymore, but was never a part of the story to begin with.

The clergy who had been involved in the exorcism were affronted by the film.  They claimed the behaviors (the vomiting, urinating, etc.) had never happened.  The boy’s bed shook, that was about it.  Scratches appeared on his skin, but one of the eyewitnesses said the marks “looked like lipstick”; these marks did not (contrary to later accounts) resemble either words or clear images of Satan.

When asked if anyone had bothered to examine the boy’s hands in the wake of the scratches’ appearance, the answer was “no”.  A good, objective, skeptical investigator would have done just that—Ronald could have had a lipstick fragment under a fingernail or he could have simply raked his own skin.  In that case he would have skin detritus and/or blood serum under his nails, both easily detectable to the naked eye if not through chemical testing.

The hurled objects always happened when backs were turned.  One priest related that Ronald had spoken but not in the dramatically different, and demonic, voices of the film.  In the end, the priests only supported what indeed was the only truth: this boy was presented to them for an exorcism, it was conducted over a period of non-consecutive days in St. Louis, and it was successful.

Ronald and his family later visited the Alexian Brothers in August 1951 on a family trip to St. Louis. He was noted to be a “fine young man” of 16 by then, and he told the Brothers his mother and father had both converted to Catholicism shortly after his exorcism.

All the exaggerations incorporated into the film had built up over the two decades since 1949.  The movie sparked its own rumor mill, and the old case took on an epic quality, a legendary greatness that it never had. 

Brilliant Deduction
In the late 1990s a brilliant bit of investigative journalism led finally to clearing the mists of mystery away from The Exorcist and the Robbie Mannheim case.

In one of those serendipitous moments all investigators have experienced, an inquisitive researcher found a contemporary St. Louis newspaper clipping from when Robbie Mannheim was exorcised in St. Louis.  This newspaper article gave the correct names of his St. Louis relatives (Leonard and Doris Hunkeler), where they lived, and Robbie’s year of birth.  It also named his home town: Cottage City, Maryland (how this information got twisted into Mt. Rainier for The Washington Post coverage remains a mystery). 

Continuing the search for truth in the Cottage City environs led to learning that a family named Hunkeler had occupied a little bungalow in Cottage City, Maryland.  As records showed them in residence until the late 1950s at that address it was safe to presume the boy had gone to high school nearby.

A search of the yearbooks for Gonzaga High School (extrapolating forward in time from Robbie’s 1936 birth year) revealed a rather interesting entrant.  The senior class section for 1954 had a picture of a graduating senior named Ronald Edwin Hunkeler.  His home address (the same as the Hunkelers in Cottage City, the only ones) and his parish affiliation (St. James, the Catholic Church where he was first seen by a priest) are also noted on his photo by-line.  In addition to that, he apparently was sociable enough to be actively engaged in several school clubs (also noted on his by-line).

The last “too-good-to-be-true” part is that the student in the book pictured next to Ronald Hunkeler in the year book is named John Thomas Hoffman (the surname of one of the pseudonyms assigned to “the boy”).


Ronald Edwin Hunkeler (high school photo)

picture of Hunkeler, early 1960s, working ceramics

Hunkeler was also photographed working ceramics in a magazine NASA printed, Goddard News, in 1964.

All that investigative work ended the mystery of “Who was Robbie Mannheim?” except to finally bring Ronald into the harsh light of day to make an accounting of himself.  Why the charade?  Why not tell the truth now?  Telephonic contact with him led to disappointment: he refused to talk, said to never call him again, and he hung up.  

Thanks to the curiosity of another intrepid skeptic, Hunkeler’s continued presence on the planet was established as late as 2006 when he was cited for a seatbelt violation.  He appeared in court in Ellicott City, Maryland, and paid a small fine.  Hunkeler will be 81 years old this year (2016) if he is still among the breathing. 

The End?
In March 2005, Father Walter Halloran, the last surviving Jesuit to participate in Ronald’s exorcism sessions, died at the age of 83. 

Halloran had debunked much of what had been exaggerated about the case.  A prime example (among many) is this statement:

When questioned about reports of the boy speaking other languages, Halloran stated, “Just Latin . . . I think he mimicked us.”  Halloran said there were no demonic changes in the boy’s voice and that when the boy struck him it wasn’t with extraordinary strength.

He noted only two odd occurrences for which he had no ready explanation:

“I saw a bottle slide from a dresser across the room—there was no one near it.  The bed moving . . . It was on rollers like any bed, but I was leaning on it when it moved one time.”

Hunkeler may have been spitting (to enhance his “possession” ruse/performance) but, according to the priest, it was not overly unusual.  There was none of the allegedly reported projectile vomiting or uncontrolled urination, either. While Fr. Halloran saw markings on Ronald’s skin, these were not discernible as letters, symbols, or anything else dechiperable.

In his defense, William Peter Blatty is a novelist, not the perpetrator of a fraud.  He was neither required to nor expected to run down the “truth” of the Hunkeler possession story when he decided to use it as a story idea.  His fictional book borrows heavily from that case, but it also borrows more (in terms of Regan’s possessed behaviors) from the Emma Schmidt case (the expectorating, blasphemies and lewdness, defecation, projectile vomiting, etc.).  And Blatty is no hack writer, either—The Exorcist is an engaging read, not just because of its sensational subject.  It is a unique work.  It is perhaps the quintessential novel of its genre, just as there is no other horror movie that had the social impact of its screen adaptation.  Blatty went on to write more novels (as recently as 2010).  He is 87 years old (in 2015).  

Finally, another interviewed denizen of Cottage City who was in school with, but a few years older than, Ronald Edwin Hunkeler stated:

“No, I don’t think he was ever possessed.  I think it was psychological.  As far as any real possession or anything like that, I don’t think so.  There are some interesting psychological aspects to it.  They were German Lutherans and he was an only child and I think the grandmother is actually the central figure.  She played a very influential role in all of this.  You had this old world religion superstition and the mother got caught up in it and the father just kind of stayed in the background—I think he could see what was going on which is why he is never mentioned.  The true story is much more intriguing from a psychological point of view.”

In other words, he was a spoiled boy throwing a temper tantrum, albeit an elaborate one.  Ronald Edwin Hunkeler was no more possessed by demons than William Peter Blatty was.  He did, however (through his petulant infantilism), unintentionally fire the creative kiln that gave the world a great novel and a great film.

Regan MacNeil (possessed, The Exorcist)


Author’s Note/Tubular Bells: To not disrupt the flow of the narrative, this section is included as an afterword about the iconic theme music for the film, The

'Tubular Bells' (cover, Mike Oldfield)

Mike Oldfield’s instrumental suite, Tubular Bells, was recorded in Autumn 1972 and Spring 1973.  The original material, released on 33-1/3-rpm vinyl LP, was expansive—the disc clocks in at just under 49 minutes and consists of only two tracks, one on each album side (LPs generally ran about 36 minutes long on average). 

The movement “Tubular Bells—Part One” was licensed as the film’s theme.  The repetitious, celestial piano melody in the piece’s introduction gained a life of its own.  That opening segment of the track became the basis for horror-movie soundtrack music in countless films later in the 1970s (give a close listen to John Carpenter’s soundtrack to the original Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis—the influence is clearly there, as it is in many other “slasher” movies).

Also, special thanks to Mike Madonna for contacting me personally in early November 2012, and providing some very greatly appreciated, updated information on Ronald Hunkeler.

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Jan 7, 2014 10:27am

I would enjoy speaking with Mr. Dillinger about the Cottage City/Mount Rainier, MD case. I thought I would share my insight and knowledge of this case. I was born in Mount Rainier, MD almost 9 years after the 1949 case. I lived 4 house down from where it was first thought that the boy had lived. I going to share with all of you information that perhaps Mr Dillinger is not aware of. There are several inaccuracies published by Mark Chorvinsky who did a rather extensive report on the 1949 case back in 2000.

For the sake of full disclosure, I am one who believes Mr Chorvinsky had an agenda, which is to rebuke any connection with the case to the paranormal, as does all his reporting on unexplained cases attempt to do.

There are two major pieces of information in Mark Chorvinsky report on the 1949 case, one which is factually incorrect and one he has left out. In fairness, the one fact he left out he may not have been aware of as I just learned about this in 2007.

Before I share these two items, let me say that I could write my own piece on this case that would exceed 200 pages about my experience with this case and living in Mount Rainier until 1967. If anyone is interested, please feel free to post back.

Prior to Mr Dillinger's post which shows the 1954 photo of the young man, the one thing I want to share is about the Gonzaga HS graduation photo. I live about 30 minutes from Gonzaga High School and when one of my sons visited the school, while I was waiting, I thought I would find out for myself if what a friend of mine, who had attended Gonzaga told me was true. He told me to ask for the 1954 year book and watch the reaction you will receive. I indeed did get a reaction from the admissions office and she smiled and said, you are probably the 1000 person to ask to see it and for the 1000 time, we do not make that year book available to any one, the year book is locked up at Catholic University to protect the boy 19s identity. In that 1954 year book, there was only two graduates from Cottage City that year and the boys identity would be revealed.

Let me get to the two points:

1) Mark Chorvinsky states that the house at 3210 Bunker Hill Road in Mount Rainier was burned to the ground in 1962 by the Mount Rainier Fire Department in a training drill. This is WRONG!!! when I pointed this out to Mr Chorvinsky he got defensive rather than accept the fact his date was 4 years to early and that the house stood until 1966. I told him the following, that I lived at 4100 33rd street in Mount Rainier which was 4 homes down from 3210 Bunker Hill Road, which was at the corner of 33rd Street and Bunker Hill. When I was in first grade in 1964, my class at Mount Rainier Elm walked to the Mount Rainier Fire Department on a field trip. On the way the back, our teacher stopped our group at the 3210 House which was burned a little on the inside (you could see the kitchen) but stood as a three story structure. The house was scary looking and I will never forget my teacher saying aloud that the Devil was once in that house. So indirectly, that was the first I ever heard about this case, well before the book and the movie. Of course, what she said made little sense back then and I suspect she stated that to get us rambunctious 1st graders to pay attention and walk in a single file line, which of course, all of us did. In terms of the house, in 1966, the fire department did burn it down as part of a training drill.

Point number two and I bet this will be new to everyone 26 Mark Chorvinsky and Mr Dillinger are correct, the boy did live in Cottage City, however, I have a source who is very high up in the Archdiocese of DC and he states that Archbishop O 19Boyle in 1949 was so convinced of demonic possession that he wanted to conceal the exorcism as best as possible. This meant, not conducting it at the Cottage City home or the DC Infirmary, which was being discussed at the time (the boy spent one night in the DC Infirmary during a swine flu breakout in DC before he as moved to St Louis, I have an incredible story about this that clearly, Mr Chorvinsky would not want to know about). Whatever connections the Archdiocese had at the time, they were able to secure the vacant house at 3210 Bunker Hill Rd for about 2 months. So, both accounts are correct, the boy lived in Cottage City but the exorcism began at 3210 Bunker Hill Rd, before the boy was moved to St Louis. This clearly explains the witnesses at the time who remember seeing activity in the house at 3210 Bunker Road. these people were never interviewed by Mark.

I am for full disclosure and have an open mind, however, when one gets a date incorrect by 4 years as is the case with when the house was burned down, or fails to interview people who saw activity in the home or at least recognize that some of those people who did, had either passed on and therefore could not be interviewed, I get suspect.

Jan 7, 2014 12:46pm
Thank you for the additional information. Comments such as these can add background in complex cases, such as the Hunkeler hoax, that tend to get confused or twisted in the retellings. And thanks for reading.
Jan 31, 2014 6:32am
Let me tell you what's really suspect- Your logic


This cult has all of the constituents of the believers of this whole situation.
There is some exploitable situation for a group leader to claim "supernatural". Others follow suit to support the claim. The public goes nuts and talks about it like its real.

Except it's not real. The cargos were from western planes, not some "God". But the public doesn't care. They talk about the visions that "other people" saw. They create meaningless rituals by imitating what they saw with no real value.

And this isn't simply a third-world problem.
Think not? Two words

Bob Larson.

In fact the human kind is a lot more exploitable than how the media portrays "free-will" and all that B.S. That's cus Most humans are content to simply go with the social context and flow without cross-examination of the source of that information. If the authorities and their neighbors believe it, they most likely will too.(Like you)

Yes, I mean your sources of "incredible" stories.
What do you have to prove that they didn't just talk about the numerous newspaper articles about the whole biz in "Mount Rainier"?
You just believe them as acquaintances? No cross examination of what so ever?

Your reasoning behind the whole "I get suspect" thing is that
1. Opsasnick(not Chorvinsky, who was the editor, not the researcher behind the article) missed a date on an event that happened as aftermath.
From a date he quotes from some one else.
Who gave a detailed description of how it actually went down(with the exception of the date, which the interviewee gave, not Opsasnick, and on an event that happened around 35~40years ago. Yes memory is fallible. Yes that date might be wrong. But so is the date that Thomas Allen gives, according to you.

Opsasnick gives sources for proof of residence of the Haas family, with PUBLIC library records AND taped interviews indicating that the Haas family lived there from at the LEAST 1926 to 1950.
And YOUR source? Archdiocese what? You actually think some "quote" from this person has more authority than public documents stored in a public library?

Even how you learned about the subject should obviously be in question.(To the truly open minded, of course.) News about the "exorcism of Roland Doe" came out as early as 1949.
How the hell did you find out your elementary school teacher didn't take that BS from the news? What's your evidence that these ghost stories weren't products of active imagination and willing believers in a social setting?(like the cargos?)

What the hell is Chorvinsky's agenda? What's he gonna gain? against what? complaints from angry Christians?

If you even bothered to read the original article, (which I doubt you did in detail) you would know that the whole point of the article was to delve deep past the media obsession, and to understand how the whole thing just spiraled out of control.

The original newspaper article was about some pastor who talked about exorcisms and ended up just calling up the family doctor.

People that Opsasnick DID interview were actually much more involved(friend, actual exorcists, family members) than your random "witnesses" whom you claim saw some events going on on a house that was never haunted to begin with.

Did it EVER cross your mind that it could be the CHURCH with an agenda?

It's the organized religions that's losing support base all 'round the world.

With less retards in the world who believe in some God who gave orders for systematic genocide and sexual slavery(No, I'm not exaggerating.), it's the CHURCH with something to lose when this turns out to be a hoax.

Which side is the one promoting EXORCISMs on 21st century? Who's the side desperately trying to hold on to power?

Ever heard of psychosis? OCD? Mental illness in general? (As indicated as was the case by Rob's friends, ex, and family members.)


Here is an interesting take on the conditions that drove the family to lie and deny.
The articles is jumping to conclusions on subjects he didn't quite delve deep enough, but it does reveal that the Doe family did indeed have a dysfunctional relationship.

Pathological liars aren't a fantasy. So is Narcicissistic PD. Although you might not have noticed in your group of "good people", but there are plenty of people who have abnormal need for attention. All they need to do is go with the flow on some big sensational event and the people give them attention and support. You really think a few haunted stories can't be "invented?" All you need is the first one to claim so and the society(community, religion) to support your claim.

And finally, let me paraphrase your last paragraph there.
"I believe in ghost stories told to me by neighbors because they made it sound convincing,(THE HAAS FAMILY, HELLO!), but when somebody misses a date from a quote he got from someone else, I ain't gonna believe that guy!"
Jan 31, 2014 6:59am
I'm not sure who you're talking to here, I'm guessing the other poster, since my article touched on none of the issues you raised. Bob Larson, to me, is a hysterical freak who sees demonic possession in everything from a colicky baby to a barking dog, so thanks for bringing him up. And thanks for reading!
May 17, 2014 9:34pm
in reply to lolwut whose comments are in quotes:

"Let me tell you what's really suspect- Your logic


You've automatically began your rant off with nonsense. Yet you babble about logic. You're no doubt a typical atheitard who thinks that because he read some snazzy logic-SOUNDING thing that now therefore you're a logical person who knows oh so much, including about religion. The wikipedia article on one specific type of cult HAS NO BEARING ON THIS ARTICLE YOU IDIOT. You're claiming that is a kind of non-sequitur, like me saying, "Let me tell u where ur atheist logic is going wrong: http://wikipedia.com/emperor-has-no-clothes"


"This cult has all of the constituents of the believers of this whole situation."

You talk like a typical narcissist too "contituents", as if using a high word makes you right, and like a typical narcissist and atheist you're starting your rant off with begging the question fallacies, making claims and without evidence and ending them with a period as if that's that.

"There is some exploitable situation"

Notice again the high word usage "exploitable"? Narcissism disorder.

And you finish the sentence with: "for a group leader to claim "supernatural". Others follow suit to support the claim."

First, notice again "follow suit", a pretentious high phrase, again, a sign of narcissistic personality disorder. And the claim is also, besides a begging the question fallacy, and another fallacy: an presumption, and another fallacy: stereotype. You're a typical atheist bashing religion in a sloppy way huffing and puffing with high words to make it sounds like you know what you are talking about. I'll dissect a few more lines to show what a fool this lowlife, I mean lowlut is:

"The public goes nuts and talks about it like its real."

Now he's talking like a highschool teen around 19, a teen who in his puffed mind thinks he's an expert on religion because he read some book or article by a skeptic that showed why "religion and belief in the supernatural is nonsense" after which lowlut's ranting takes after. In simply language lowlut and his kind say, "You're crazy, this is crazy, this is bad, this is illogical, you're unreasonable, I'm reasonable, you're not," and on and on and on like a stupid contentious child. A few more lines:

"Except it's not real."

Notice the reversion from the sentence before this and this to grammatically incorrect simpleton speak? That's a typical sign of narcissistic laziness: he goes from using high words and phrases as a smart sounding front to then quickly becoming weary and reverting back to his genuine simpleton mind. "Except it's not real" is not a grammatically correct sentence. At this point it's obvious lowlut is ranting like a shallow school girl teen.

"The cargos were from western planes, not some "God"."

Again, a begging the question fallacy and logical non sequitur: he's not logically linking what he's talking about to anything. It makes no more sense than if he posted a comment that said, "Now now you smarty pants, this is why oh indubidiblylyly you're wrong about how to best grow healthy bananas in an agriculturally correct way. First: you're harming the globe by promoting global warming, it's from man not from God." The hell are you talking about lowlut? The article you idiot is on an exorcism and witness testimony and you're babbling about a CARGO CULT? You stupid imbecile.

"But the public doesn't care."

Again, a grammaticaly wrong sentence, showing your lazy careless ranting illogical mind. Even if you'd joined that to the last sentence so that it made sense, IT WOULD STILL NOT MAKE LOGICAL SENSE. WHO DOESN'T CARE? "THE PUBLIC"? THEN WHY ARE YOU BABBLING YOU FOOL? And notice this arrogant fool is saying, "no one cares" ONLY HIM. So ONLY THIS NARCISSIST YALL, cares, lol! Only lowlut cares about the truth, NO ONE ELSE AT ALL CARES, everyone else is part of the "cargo cult", but not lowlut, he's not part of an atheism or skeptic cult... What an arrogant babbling assfool.

"They talk about the visions that "other people" saw."

Who is they you idiot? And WHAT IS YOUR POINT IDIOT? AGAIN: BEGGING THE QUESTION FALLACY = YOU'RE NOT MAKING A POINT, you child minded narcissist. And the narcissist lowlut is saying that no one who had the original vision every talked about it: well then lowlut, how would anyone know? lowlut's argument is a form of "you're copy pasting". There is nothing wrong with REPEATING something, idiot. See, in lowluts crazy illogical morally backwards and insane mind, he can do what he wants, he can repeat, those he agrees with can repeat things, they can talk about scientific articles and whatever, BUT IF HE DISAGREES, if you agree with GOD which his sinful self hates, uh oh you're a "copycat" a "copy paster" a person who is "just repeating" and "not thinking for yourself." These are all the cliche nanny nanny boo boo rantings and attacks of a typical mentally ill atheist. There's of course the theist types who run cults or are apart of them who do the same. They are the type Jesus mentioned who command others to do as they say but won't do it themselves: to study, be moral, to be logical, to be careful with what you say, to be humble, to not be quick to judge, to not judge by mere appearances. If no one repeated, you moron, there wouldn't be any oh so great "science" that you no doubt worship or atheist literature.

"They create meaningless rituals by imitating what they saw with no real value."

Yet another non sequitur: 1. What rituals? 2. What is it they saw that they created "meaningless rituals" on? 3. Are there any rituals that have meaning that have "real value", lowlut? I ask that because the point is lowlut is obviously in bias bashing anything to do with as his simplistic mind refers to it, "religion". Specifically however, a person like lowlut hates God, he doesn't actually hate "relgion" because if he did, he would hate his own life in which he fervently with passion worships himself and his airheaded verison of "logic" (which he may also call "science") which he seems to think he's a keeper of.

It's his babble has no real value, he's merely imitating what he heard and understood in a shallow way since in his laziness he'd rather get praise for being heard rather than actually making sense and saying something of value, in other words.

What are these meaningless rituals idiot? You don't say, because you're a vague basher.

"And this isn't simply a third-world problem."

Oh, it simply isn't lowlut, please do tell us 19 year old teacher of religion what we who are all apart of one giant cargo cult going nuts over "what we saw", set us straight oh Christopher Columbus.

"Think not?"

What is lowlut ranting about at this point? Who is he talking to?

"Two words"

Narcissistic haughtiness: he's going to give us cargo cult simpleton's two words that we can understand, everyone, he's going to elighten us ignorants, he's the Holy One.

"Bob Larson."

So now Mr. lowlut the anonymous has given us a comic book writer to look to for divine elightment, and his mere two words, yet more vague babble, yet another begging the question fallacy were supposed to he THEE TWO WORDS to correct the world, it's supposed to be, as a narcisssist will often say, "obvious". No moron, referring to an unknown person with a generic name, and even identified as the famous comic book writer now long a has been, is not "obvious" it's not "simple". You're a moron, you're an idiot, you're not logic, you're mentally ill and an ignorant hypocrite. Learn what logic fallacies are and instead of immediately thinking you're a genuis on logic, spend a few years studying them and study Bibles, then, then maybe you'll know something. The rest of your giant crazy rant is happily ignored.

"Avoid arguments of ignorance" - the apostle Paul.

Oh and fool who doesn't like to use google for anything of real value, here's something for your lazy anti-studying self: eternian.wordpress.c om/evidence

Get a clue.
May 17, 2014 9:35pm
And by the way, referring to one religion person doesn't refute every single one on the planet, even if you said, "theist". Simply pointing out a person doesn't do that, it's a begging the question fallacy to do that, and an obvious one. Two words: stop stereotyping.
May 17, 2014 9:42pm
Think atheists aren't all evil? Two words: Hitler, Stalin

Think atheists aren't all evil mass murderers? Three words: Mao, Hitler, Stalin.

Learn history, lowlife, and stop stereotyping, moron who throws the baby out with the bathwater. You're so massively super dumb you, like a typically severely illogical and extremely arrogant self righteous hypocritical person doesn't even bother testing your arguments on yourself to see if they make sense. A wise person imagines his own argument being used against himself and his way of life. Example, if an alien came to earth and saw a murderer kill someone, would it be logical for him to say, "Don't think humans are a problem for the universe? One word: "murderer"". And the alien's point is? You can't know, because one word and two words, lowlut, doesn't make a point, and even if the implication was he witnessed a human murder someone, that doesn't mean THE PERSON HE MURDERED, LIKE JESUS CHRIST, YOU GOD DAMNED FOOL, IS A MURDERER TOO, OR AN ABUSED CHILD OR A RAPED WOMAN AND ON AND ON, you deeply evil arrogant and insulting psychopath. Listen to this dumb lowlut atheist: if someone religious, a theist, does wrong: EVERY SINGLE THEIST SHOULD BE EXECUTED AND NONTHING HE EVER DID IS OF VALUE OR WORTH MENTIONING, ALL OF HISTORY CAN SAFELY BE IGNORED. What an oaf, a fool, idiot, imbecile, grossly insulting monster you are. Your avatar doesn't even come close to portraying what a monster you are. If you were a leader no doubt like Hitler, Stalin and the third atheist Mao, you're evil mouth would lead to the deaths of millions, even if by allowing abortions left and right to continue. Someone like you, like the atheists in China, would encourage them, or opposite: force people to have babies so you could grow your empire. TWO WORDS: EVIL IGNORAMUS.
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