OK, so this one caught our attention — the first live exorcism on TV. Destination America (a Discovery-owned network) is returning to the house where a real-life exorcism was performed on Roland Doe in 1949, an event which inspired the book and the film The Exorcist. Their goal: Ridding the home of lurking spirits and demons that inhabit it. The event, Exorcism: Live!, will be televised on Friday, Oct. 30 beginning at 9pmET.
“If you want to know what the show is, we’re telling the real story, the real exorcist story from the most haunted house in America,” says Jodi Tovay, the show’s creator and producer.
The network’s bringing their whole entourage to the St. Louis suburb, too. The cast of Ghost Asylum and psychic medium Chip Coffey will descend on Roanoke Drive on the 66th anniversary of the original Doe exorcism.
“The point is to do three things. No. 1: using the Ghost Asylum team to confirm the house is haunted, to confirm that that location really is active. No. 2: to contact the spirit, so we’re actually going to have a séance and talk to them using our psychic medium, Chip Coffey. Then the last piece is to cleanse the house, so actually exorcise the house of the spirits.”
OK, so this house still has these spirits and people still want to live in it? I don’t know about you, but that piece of real estate would be a “no go” for me.
“There’s two people who live in the house. Right now, it’s a man and a woman, and they’ve lived there for a couple of years now,” she says. “Before that, there was a guy who was living in it prior. There’s always been homeowners who have been living in the home. It’s a really lovely residential neighborhood right outside of St. Louis. The current homeowners are really interested in the history of the area, and also on what happened in the house. … It’s Delano, Missouri. They’re big fans of the genre overall, and so I think that they were very kind and willing to open their home to us to do this event.”
What kind of paranormal, if anything, are they seeing or hearing, today, Tovay explains.
“There’s still a lot of paranormal activity, I will say that, in the house and the area, to this day. It’s something that’s been lingering around on Roanoke Drive for some time. … I think right now what we’re doing is we’re actually trying to dig into that specifically and find out more about recent activity, but I can tell you former activity in the house. One of the owners of the home, previously, had a really horrible time. His life was great when he moved into the house, and then the moment that he moved into the house, his life fell apart. He got really ill. Other people that went into the home also got very ill, so his friends that he would invite over would get very sick. He ended up getting a divorce from his wife. … His dog passed away unexpectedly. The dog was really healthy. There was a lot of really terrible things that happened. People would say, ‘Well, that might just be his life,’ but he really claims that it was the house, related to the house specifically.’”
As odd as it sounds, exorcisms are actually a personal passion of Tovay’s, as she’s personally witnessed one.
“I actually witnessed an exorcism when I was really young, so I’ve always been very interested in it, and very interested in this story. … I think I was probably 14 or 15, and I was actually on a mission trip in Mexico with my church. One of the chaperons that was on the trip was having a really hard time. We were singing and we were praying, and all of a sudden we were forced to get out of the room because there was all this crazy activity that was happening in the back with this one guy. We prayed over him, and I got to see some of it. At one point it got too heavy, and it was just the adults. They let all the kids (the youth group) go, but it’s something that I’ve always been really, personally fascinated by, after having that experience myself. … This real story of the exorcism is so, so much more compelling, and so much more interesting even than what I saw. It was a different denomination, so there’s different umbrellas of the Christian faith. The exorcist story that we’re telling here is actually, it was a Jesuit priest that exorcised the boy.”
So how do they determine if they are successful? “If we’re successful in actually cleansing the house, and exorcising it, we’ll be able to see it immediately,” Tovay says. “There are symptoms that you feel heavy, people get sick to their stomachs, people pass out. It’s the most haunted house in America, and there’s a great weight around it. When it’s cleansed, the physical evidence in talking to the people will be revealed instantly. It’s really compelling stuff.
“If you’re a real fan of the genre, or just a fan of history, or just curious around Halloween, I think the authenticity of what we’ll be showing in the live event is something that people will watch, and be really excited about.”
Let us know what you think of the show in the comments field below.