Real exorcisms may not be an everyday occurrence, but they have happened all throughout history. Every religion and culture has their own belief system about what demons are and how to cast them out of a person. Unfortunately, in many situations, people assume someone is possessed and try to perform an exorcism on their own without assistance from medical and religious professionals.
The Catholic Church does acknowledge the existence and expulsion of demons; however, demonic possession cases are usually examined carefully and exorcisms are only performed with approval from the Vatican. Even then, there are no guarantees the victim will be saved and go on to live a normal life. Exorcisms can be physically and mentally dangerous and whether performed “correctly” or not, many of them have resulted in tragic deaths. This list contains some of the very real and devastating cases of exorcisms gone wrong.
Anneliese Michel was brought up Catholic, she did well in school, and lived as a happy, normal 16-year old. Then suddenly, she became increasingly withdrawn and slowly began exhibiting signs of epilepsy. Her family took her to a psychiatric hospital where they prescribed her anti-convulsion drugs - but that only made things worse. She began seeing things (possibly as a side effect from the drugs), and she claimed she saw “demon faces.”
Anna Michel’s mental state began to deteriorate, the hallucinations grew worse, and she was showing signs of schizophrenia and psychosis. She prayed intensely, but soon became terrified of holy objects; she was convinced that she was “damned” and “would rot in hell.” She had violent outbursts, ate insects, and drank her own urine. Her deeply religious parents felt it was time to bring in a priest. They began petitioning the Catholic Church to perform an exorcism, but were denied multiple times. It was 1973 and she just so happened to be exhibiting the same behavior as Regan in The Exorcist when the film was released.
Father Ernst Alt met with the young girl and felt she was suffering from demonic possession. He and another priest, Arnold Renz, were granted permission to perform exorcism rites. At that point, Anneliese stopped all medical treatment, which was extremely dangerous on its own. She had been on mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, and anti-seizure drugs, and just abruptly stopped taking all of them. The two priests spent 10 months performing a total of 67 ritual exorcisms over Anneliese, but she only got worse. Anneliese proclaimed the names of some of the demonic entities housed inside her were Nero, Hitler, Judas, Cain, and Lucifer.
Towards the end of her life, Anneliese refused to eat, stating she wanted to atone for the sins of her youth. On July 1, 1976, after two exorcisms a week for almost a year, Anneliese Michel was found dead of starvation and severe hydration in her parents' home. She only weighed 30 pounds, had pneumonia, and both her knees were broken. Both priests and Mr. and Mrs. Michel were charged with negligent homicide, but their charges were later reduced to manslaughter due to medical negligence - all parties were found guilty.
In 2010, 15-year-old Kristy Bamu traveled from London to Paris with his two brothers and two sisters. They were going to spend Christmas with their sister Magalie Bamu, 29, and her boyfriend Eric Bikubi, 28. Apparently, the couple had an obsession with kindoki witchcraft (a form of witchcraft practiced in the Democratic Republic of Congo), and Bikubi accused Kristy and two of his sisters of practicing sorcery, and putting black magic spells on the younger kids. Instead of sticking up for her younger siblings, Bamu believed her boyfriend’s claims and they both refused to let the children eat or drink in order to starve the demons out. They beat the children with metal pipes, ordering them to pray and chant.
The other siblings were forced to help beat Kristy or suffer the same fate. One of his sisters was caught pretending to beat him, so Bikubi forced a lightbulb into her mouth and threatened her with a knife. Over the course of four days, Kristy was forced to kneel and endure floor tiles smashed over his head. They smashed his teeth with a hammer and forced him to drink urine. Dozens of calls were made to their father Pierre, as Kristy begged his father to come get him before he was killed, but his father didn’t believe him. He thought Bikubi was kind and gentle and his son was exaggerating the situation. Kristy’s injuries were so bad that he begged to be allowed to die, saying he couldn’t handle any more of their idea of "deliverance from evil," but the increasingly violent exorcism continued.
Around noon on Christmas Day, Kristy and his siblings were thrown into the bath to be purified. The deranged couple hosed them all down and flooded the entire apartment, ignoring their screams and the sounds of neighbors beating on the door. Kristy had suffered 101 separate injuries and was too weak to keep his head above water. He drowned in the tub. Bikubi tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late, the boy was gone. Paramedics were greeted with a flooded, bloodied apartment; there were weapons, metal bars, and blood-stained chisels, pliers, and knives strewn everywhere. Magalie Bamu and her boyfriend Eric Bikubi have been jailed for life for Kristy’s murder.
Blaine Keith Milam somehow got it into his head that his girlfriend’s 13-month-old daughter Amora was possessed by demons. Jessica Carson, Amora’s mother, believed his claims and the couple began saving up money to pay for an exorcism to be performed. Unable to get the funds soon enough, the couple decided to take matters into their own hands and perform the exorcism themselves in 2009. Milam’s idea of an exorcism was actually brutal, disgusting torture that he inflicted on a helpless baby.
Milam and Carson blamed the death on everything they could think of. At first, they claimed they left her home while they went to the pawnshop (to pawn things for her exorcism money), then it became an alleged dog attack, and at one point a car accident was blamed for some of her injuries. When in reality, Milam was a registered sex offender and obvious psychopath who murdered (and sexually assaulted) a 13-month-old baby. Jessica Carson was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and Milam - the real demon - was given the death sentence.
Kyung Jae Chung co-ran a Christian school with her husband Jae Whoa Chung in Bangladesh. While traveling to Los Angeles in 1997, apparently Kyung Jae began acting "spiritually arrogant" and "disobedient" to her husband, so he decided she must be possessed. On July 4, 1997, Mr. Chung, an exorcist named Sung Soo Choi, and deacon Jin Hyun Choi of the Glendale Calvary Presbyterian Church began the exorcism on Kyung Jae.
Allegedly, the three men pinned her to the bed and prayed for two and a half hours, demanding to know who "she" was before she growled, “Gundae, Gundae,” which means “Legion" (a Biblical demon from the New Testament). The men tried to cast the demon out of Kyung Jae, but the beast inside her said, “I’ll get out when she’s dead" - so they spent the next four hours trying to squeeze it out of her.
They pressed hard on her stomach, punched her, and then began stomping on her chest. They broken 16 of her ribs before her entire chest collapsed, she had extensive internal injuries, and she died of blunt force trauma. The exorcist, Sung Soo Choi, was sentenced to four years in prison, and her husband was sentenced to two years. The deacon was only sentenced to three years probation for his role in the tragedy.