January 15, 1949 A dripping noise was heard in his grandmother’s bedroom by the boy and his grandmother. A picture of Christ on the wall shook and scratching noises were heard under the floor boards. From that night on scratching was heard every night from 7 p.m. until midnight. This continued for ten consecutive days. After three days of silence, the boy heard nighttime “squeaking shoes” on his bed that continued for six consecutive nights.
January 26, 1949 “Aunt Tillie,” who had a deep interest in spiritualism and had introduced Roland to the Ouija Board, died of multiple sclerosis at the age of 54. Mrs. Doe suspected there may have been some connection between her death and the seemingly strange events that continued to take place. At one point during the manifestations Mrs. Doe asked, “If you are Tillie, knock three times.” Waves of air began striking the grandmother, Mrs. Doe, and Roland and three knocks were heard on the floor. Mrs. Doe again queried, “If you are Tillie, tell me positively by knocking four times.” Four knocks were heard, followed by claw scratchings on Roland’s mattress.
February 17, 1949 On this night a local Lutheran minister named Reverend Shultz [sic] arranged to have the boy spend the night at his parsonage. Roland arrived at 9:20 p.m. and stayed until 9:20 a.m. the next morning. The Reverend reportedly heard scratching noises, and witnessed the following: bed vibrations; a chair in which Roland sat tipping over; and the movement of a pallet of blankets upon which Roland sat.
February 26, 1949 Beginning on this night scratches or markings appeared on the boy’s body for four consecutive nights. After the fourth night words began to appear and seemed to be scratched on by claws.
Excerpt from http://www.godscare.net/Skeptic/exorcisms/The%20Exorcist.htm
A Movie Based on a True Story
On August 10, 1949, The Washington Post ran an article titled, “Pastor Tells Eerie Tale of ‘Haunted’ Boy.” The same day, The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) ran an article titled, “Minister Tells Parapsychologists Noisy ‘Ghost’ Plagued Family.” The family was referred to as “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe” and their 13-year-old son “Roland.” The article quoted Richard C. Darnell [president of the Society of Parapsychology] and Dr. J. B. Rhine [director of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University], as saying the so-called haunting was the “most impressive manifestation studied in the poltergeist field.”
Then on August 11,The Times-Herald ran an article titled, “‘Haunted’ Boy’s Parents Tell Of Ghost Messages,” giving the story immense credibility in several publications.The Evening Star follow-up article a week later was titled, “Priest Freed Boy of Possession By Devil, Church Sources Say.” The article recapped events and disclosed that the boy was in good condition and free from all troubles.
Because of the articles and reports, many began to inquire for more information about the “Exorcism of Roland Doe.” One of which years later was an author by the name of William Peter Blatty. Through his own thorough investigation, Blatty obtained a diary of the exorcism that belonged to one of the two priests involved at the scene; and in 1971 Blatty released his novel “The Exorcist”, based on the events of the Roland Doe case, and it became a nation wide best-seller spending 55 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.Due to the books success, he wrote a screenplay adaptation to produce a movie of the same name. Blatty’s screenplay was fictional, replacing the Roland boy with a girl named Regan, and including many events that were not part of the original story. For further help, he sought the senior priest involved in the Roland Doe case. Author Blatty communicated with the Jesuit exorcist Fr. William Bowdern before he passed away.
Fr. William Bowdern
When Fr. William Bowdern was asked if he would help with the movie, he replied,”I’m sorry. But I want to help you. I think a lot of good could be done for a lot of people if they knew what happened. But I can’t… I can tell you one thing… The case I was involved with was the real thing. I had no doubt about it then. I have no doubt about it now. Good luck with your apostolic pursuits.” Having already obtained Fr. Bowdern’s diary, Blatty asked if it was proper to visit the family and connect them to the film. Fr. Bowdern answered,”No. No. No. We have sworn secrecy and confidentiality to the family of this boy. They STRICTLY do not want any kind of publicity over being connected. Please be careful. Don’t ever say anything ever to connect your book, the movie, with this boy. Don’t go on television and do this now or you hurt somebody connected to it. Please. Please don’t do it.”
It began in January 1949 and involved not a little girl [as the movie portrays], but a 13-year-old boy named Roland [called Robbie in many accounts to protect identity] who lived with his parents and grandmother in Mt. Rainier, Maryland. Roland was very close to his aunt who visited the family frequently from St. Louis, Missouri. She was a medium and attempted to communicate with the spirit world. Not only did she spark Robbie’s interest in this practice, she also taught him how to use the Ouija board.
After the aunt died suddenly on Jan. 26, Roland continued to use the Ouija board to communicate with her and others. Strange phenomena began to happen. The family heard bangs and scratching on the walls, but exterminators found no evidence of pests. Then stranger things began to happen. Items would move around the room, the mattress the boy was on would shake slowly and then violently. Tables would turn over and chairs would move across the room. A vase would toss through the air, and a picture of Christ would visibly shake, and many other like things.At first everyone thought these were pranks, but they started to become convinced otherwise after the events continued for some time. The family thought the dead aunt was attempting to contact them. They spoke to her and asked for signs. At night Roland felt scratching in his bed and suffered nightmares frequently. Moreover his disposition changed and he became unsettled, agitated, and angry. Because his personality was changing,the family called in Reverend Luther Schultze, a Lutheran minister, because they now believed there was a poltergeist tormenting their son.
Rev. Schultze witnessed that the boy was having awful nightmares where he would tear at the sheets and thrash in agony all night. Being a Lutheran, Pastor Schulze was very skeptical. Upon his recommendation, the family took Roland to the Mental Hygiene Clinic of the University of Maryland for testing. After two rounds of testing, nothing abnormal was discovered. Night after night, the thrashing in agony continued. Scratches started to appear on the boy’s body, and that’s when Schultze decided it was more of a job for the Catholics.
Roland and his parents visited Father Albert Hughes of St. James Catholic Church in Mt. Rainier. While interviewing Roland, the boy cast obscene and blasphemous remarks at the Father in a strange diabolical voice. The room became eerily frigid. Father Hughes was skeptical and reluctant to get involved in the matter, but during the visit Roland addressed the priest in Latin, a language that he did not know. Shaken, Hughes applied to his archbishop for permission to conduct an exorcism. Father Hughes was convinced that Roland was possessed. After reviewing the facts of the case and the medical evidence, Cardinal O’Boyle authorized an exorcism.