|A photomontage of images and symbols representative of these two cases|
If you have been following my blog for some time, you may recall a post on demonic investigations by former New York City Police Sergeant Ralph Sarchie. That post was about one man's quest to help deliver people from the clutches of the demonic and based on the book he co-wrote, Beware The Night, a very candid recounting of his demonic investigations. I published it in November'2014 to coincide with the release of the movie version, Deliver Us From Evil, on my local cable provider's "on demand" movie listing. Today's post continues with two cases of demonic investigation; one from Beware The Night and the other, a recent case from Sarchie's new television series, The Demon Files.
The first case, The Halloween Horror, is also the first case in Beware The Night and it revealed how the demonic deceived a young teenage girl into "playing" with the ouija board at a party. As a consequence, several demons were unleashed upon her and her family terrorizing everyone in the process. It was a scenario where the initial diabolic activity of infestation was completely bypassed and the demons moved into the second stage, oppression. There was also an attempted possession on one member of the family.
The second case, The Mirror, is the first case from The Demon Files. In this case the demonic entered into a family's life as a direct result from the daughter's Satanic worship; the making of a pact with the devil. Add to this her involvement with witchcraft and others aspects of the occult and it secured her and her family as targets for the demonic.
The cases in Beware The Night and The Demon Files are a first hand look into how the demonic entices and deceives many into their dark world, horrifying their victims in the process and making life so unbearable that it eventually prompts many reach out to Sarchie and his team. Both the book and the television series are key learning resources for anyone seeking to understand this subject matter and how to prevent such influences from coming into your life. At the core of both cases in today's post, as in all cases where the demonic were expelled and peace was restored, is God's love and mercy given not only to Sarchie and his team, to those innocent family members, but also to those who intentionally rebelled against Him with their involvement in the occult.
Beware The Night - The Halloween Horror
This case was about the investigation of a haunted house, the Villanova residence in Westchester County, New York. Sarchie described it as one of the most "harrowing supernatural investigations" that began on October 31, 1991, at the request of Father Hayes, an exorcist from another diocese. Sarchie and his partner in "the work" Joe Forrester, arrived at the residence, a modest two-family house in Yonkers, a couple of days later on All Souls Day.
Sarchie noticed a few things right from the very beginning. The first was that the Villanova residence was not far from a Catholic chapel. The significance being that the devil likes to operate in the shadows of the Church. If any type of satanic ritual was performed in the area, drawing the demonic to it as a result, the demonic's hatred and fury would be heightened by the presence of a holy place so near by.
The second thing that caught Sarchie's attention was the first meeting at the front door with Dominick Villanova and his young son, Dominick Jr. The shellshocked demeanour of Dominick coupled with the look of bewilderment from Dominick Jr., was a key indication that this family had been living in horror for quite some time.
The initial investigation's purpose was to obtain a video interview for Father Hayes. Unaware of the danger they were about to enter into, Ralph and Joe arrived with a minimal amount of holy water, sacramentals and without their usual investigative team. Sarchie later described the situation as synonymous to "...[P]atrolling a high crime area with a gun loaded with only one bullet." (5) In the spirit of brotherly love and with a desire to help this family, Ralph and Joe proceeded with the investigation.
After they were led into the living room, both Ralph and Joe realized there was something terribly wrong with this family. The living room resembled a refugee camp; amongst the sad and exhausted faces were piles of clothing and rolled-up bedding. This was the result of the demons' torment, which had so unnerved the Villanovas that they were unable to sleep alone.
After establishing a rapport with Dominick, his wife Gabby and their four children, Ralph and Joe began their inquiry. It was during this time that Joe's background in law enforcement as a polygraph examiner was particularly useful. He had the gift of knowing when to interject, end any unnecessary rambling and get to the pertinent facts of the matter; the truthful details needed to ascertain what had happened to this family.
It was during this initial discussion that the most powerful demon (amongst the other demons in the home) made its presence known. The incident occurred after everyone had been given a Saint Benedict medal to wear around their neck. Immediately after Dominick Jr. placed the medal around his neck, the demon had flung it off. It was an incident that served to identify what they were dealing with. As Sarchie noted, most demons flee from holy water, religious medals and relics; only the most powerful demons can manipulate objects.
It did not take long in the investigation for Sarchie and Forrester to discover the demonic strategy and accelerated efforts for possession. Initially the demon (the most powerful one) appeared in stealth mode in Gabby and Dominick's bedroom in a "hellishly inspired Halloween disguise," deceiving Gabby as a woman named Virginia Taylor. Dominick was not fooled and understood it to be a demonic presence in the home. As the investigation progressed, it was clear to Ralph and Joe that this family was deceived by a demon mimicking a human spirit.
The purpose of these initial stealth appearances was part of a typical demonic strategy of divide and conquer. It took effect by sowing seeds of panic, confusion and self doubt. As Sarchie noted, victims in such circumstances often wonder, "Is this really happening---or am I just imagining it?" (8) From such doubts, victims are reluctant to tell others, fearing that they will be regarded as someone who has lost their mind. What typically results is a withdrawal into self and a feeling of being more alone in dealing with the ongoing "bizarre" incidents. This is exactly the goal of the demonic as it weakens the will and paves the way for possession.
Sarchie noted that up to that point of the investigation, it was all standard operating procedure for the demonic, but he and Joe soon discovered that instead of rattling Gabby's nerves with infestation (midnight knockings, peculiar phone calls or tormenting animal cries), the first stage of diabolic activity, this demon plunged right into full blow oppression (terrifying mental and physical attacks) from the very beginning.
Under the disguise of Virginia Taylor and the use of a basement mirror, the demon had developed a relationship with Gabby, where it appeared in the mirror, and had lengthy conversations with her. The more Gabby spoke with Virginia, the more intrigued she became by the details of the conversation. After hearing all this, Ralph and Joe quickly understood the ploy of the demon, trying to create an intricate tale, "...[L]ike a spider spinning a web to catch unwary prey." (9)
After further investigating the matter, Ralph and Joe had to "clue these people in" as to what was happening. They identified VIrginia for what she truly was, a demonic spirit. Joe explained the nature of demonic spirits and debunked the entire tale told to Gabby about Virginia's supposed life on earth.
One of the most interesting aspects of the investigation was Sarchie's walk through the home. This is standard procedure for Sarchie and he does this to form an impression of the people that live there, what religious articles are present, how the home is kept and discover any signs or reasons for the demonic presence, such as occult items. Here in Sarchie's own words is what he discovered during his walk through:
With my tour of the house, I can sometimes pick up vibrations about the situation. I'm not psychic, so I can't rely on my intuitions 100 percent, but every human being is born with some degree of a sixth sense, as a gift from God. My big mistake, in this case, was walking through the house alone. I started with the upstairs, where there was a recently vacated apartment the family had been renting out. As I walked into the apartment, a doorknob in one of the rooms started rattling. I've run across this kind of low-level bullshit from the demonic in other homes, so I noted the location for further investigation.
The rooms inside were unusually dark. When I found the light switch, I saw why: Everything was painted a deep, vivid black. Even the windows were so thickly coated that no light from the outside could penetrate. I searched the place, but the former occupant had left absolutely nothing behind. I would have loved to get a look at his possessions, because I was ready to bet my next paycheck that this guy, whoever he was, sure as hell didn't spend his spare time praying the rosary! I made a mental note to ask the family about their ex-tenant. (17)Sarchie eventually made his way to the basement where he had an encounter with the demon, one that further revealed just how powerful this demon was:
...I resumed checking the house. The remaining rooms were normal enough, though the kitchen was rather messy and the sink was piled with dirty dishes, I headed downstairs. I didn't have any sense of evil when I first entered the basement, but when I got to a storage room with double doors, I could feel menace from eight feet away. The feeling was so powerful that I stopped dead in my tracks, so afraid that I couldn't move. I've been a cop for a long time and have been scared plenty of times before, but I always have acted aggressively---that's how I trained myself. This was different: I couldn't take my eyes off those doors, my heart started racing one hundred miles a minute, and I couldn't catch my breath. Then the pain started in my head---it wasn't like a headache, but a piercing pain in my right temple that I've sometimes experienced on other cases or during exorcisms.
As the pain in my head got stronger, my stomach churned and I felt like I was going to vomit. There was no outward sign of anything I could see---just a felling of hellish terror and absolute evil. I was too frozen to move my lips or speak, so in my mind I commanded the demon to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. It released its hold on me just enough so I could reach the bottle of holy water in my pocket. I threw holy water at at the doors and was able to back away to the stairs---not daring to take my eyes off those dreadful doors.
Once I reached the living room, where the family was waiting, the pain and sick feeling disappeared. I took Joe aside and told him what had happened...(18)To make matters worse, Ralph was informed by Joe that on the previous night that the same demon had dictated a message to Gabby, "Harm will come to those below. Beware the night!" (19)
Sarchie dedicated a second chapter to this case, Nightmare's End, where he not only detailed the increased suffering this family had to endure, but the successful expulsion of all demonic spirits from the Villanova residence. Here is just some of the horrific experiences the Villanovas endured: increased agitation especially at night; Gabby's daughter, Luciana, experiencing the scratching of images on her stomach such as a pentagram and the word "Beast 666" written on her arm in huge red welts; an unsuccessful incubus attack (the raping of a woman by a demon); items were thrown around; books flying off bookshelves; heavy furniture moving on its own, sometimes shaking up and down and at other times levitating off the floor; entire beds smashed against walls; the blaring of the television or stereo in the middle of the night; horrible moans and growls coming from the basement; and messages in the bathroom mirror.
At times, family members experienced a temporary reprieve that came to a quick end with the sudden drop in temperature (cold spots), alerting them to the demons' presence amongst them. So terrified was this family in the end that they did not even go to the bathroom alone. Sleep was virtually non-existent. Add to this the discord amongst the family, which piqued when one of the two teenage daughters admitted to using the ouija board. It was "played" at a party and upon hearing this, Luciana who was targeted for many of the attacks, flew into a rage, blaming her younger sister in the process for all the horror they experienced.
After gathering all the facts and assessing the information from the interview, both Ralph and Joe felt that the family was not totally to blame for the demonic nightmare they experienced. The former tenant in that black painted apartment was rumoured to be into a lot of strange stuff including the occult. This together with what Sarchie described as a "brazen attack," a red gash down one of Luciana's cheeks, right in front of him and Joe, prompted them to begin the ritual to expel the demons.
The ritual began with the recitation of Pope Leo XIII Minor Exorcism Prayer. Immediately upon its recitation, sounds of howling and barking occurred, so deafening that the family was asked if this had ever happened before; the answer was no. Upon hearing the answer, both Ralph and Joe realized that this was the sound of demons fleeing the house; there were several demons terrorizing the family, but the most powerful demon would not go.
This most powerful demon was close to fully possessing Gabby and so, it decided to stay and fight, while the lesser demons ran from the presence of holy water and relics. The dramatic attempt to possess Gabby occurred right in front of Ralph and Joe, even with the holy water present and the recitation of the Minor Exorcism Prayer. Sarchie remarked that they knew they "...[W]ere in the presence of one of Hell's more dangerous devils." (34) Ralph and Joe held up relics of the True Cross, touched Gabby's head and commanded the demon, in the name of Jesus Christ, to depart and leave Gaby in peace. As powerful as the demon was, it could not withstand this ultimate torment and released its grasp on Gabby.
Although Ralph and Joe had halted Gabby's possession, weakening the demon in the process, their efforts were not enough to completely rid it from the Villanova residence. In order to accomplish this, they needed either a trained exorcist or their investigative team.
Reluctant to leave the family, Ralph and Joe remained with them until Fr. Williams, the parish priest arrived. After a briefing of the case, he took the family under his care until Fr. Hayes performed the exorcism. Ralph and Joe eventually left, but it would not be the last time they would be placed at the service of the Villanova family.
Several months later, the Villanovas contact Ralph for his help once again; they were still besieged by the demon. It was not due to any lack of care from the parish priest or any neglect from the exorcist whose health did not permit him to perform the exorcism. To get this family the immediate help they so desperately needed, Ralph, Joe and their investigative team returned to the Villanova residence to expel the demon. This time they came fully prepared for a major battle. Here is how Sarchie described it, "Joe and I had learned a lesson or two from our first visit, and after intense spiritual preparations, we returned on a Saturday afternoon with three investigators and enough supplies to exorcise an entire city block." (35)
Before beginning the exorcism, the women and children were placed in a church nearby for their safety. Below is Sarchie recounting the climax of this case; the successful expulsion of the last demon:
We worked in pairs, so one person could focus on the conducting the ritual, while the other was alert for any sign of demonic activity. And more important still, the backup investigator kept a close watch on his partner---to make sure that the person doing the exorcism wasn't being attacked himself. External phenomena don't need to be taking place: The attack also can be psychological, like the stark terror that seized me in the basement of this house on our previous visit. If an investigator has any psychic abilities, he or she could be assailed through those powers. Since an attack could come at any time, to either partner, everyone must be constantly on guard.
We began by opening every closet, cabinet, and drawer in the room we were exorcising, leaving no dark, enclosed space for the demonic to hide. Because they are spirit and have no physical bodies, malignant beings can conceal themselves anywhere. Next, we lit blessed incense, which helps dispel negative vibrations and repel evil spirits, since they are tormented by anything holy or blessed. As always, we started the ritual with the St. Michael prayer...Pope Leo XIII's second prayer, 'Exorcism Against Satan and the Rebellious Angels,"...is extremely powerful against the demonic. The Holy Father [Pope Leo XIII] exhorted priests to say this prayer as often as possible to curb the Devil's power and prevent him from doing harm. He gave the faithful permission to say it in their own name, as they would any approved prayer, 'whenever action of the Devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations, and even storms and various calamities.' That is exactly what we did in the Villanovas' home, moving from room to room as we prayed. We sprinkled all four corners of each room and the interior of every closet with holy water to consecrate the area, then repeated the process with blessed salt, which has the same effect, except that it has the virtue of lasting longer.
As we performed the ritual, we burned so much blessed incense that the place looked like it was on fire...sweet-smelling fumes of holy incense and the sound of fervent prayers, which made the house so hostile to the demonic that 'the lady' [Virginia Taylor] was forced to disappear, this time for good. A feeling of peace pervaded the home, signalling that we'd succeeded in evicting the spirit. (39)
After having completed the ritual, the women and children returned to their home and all rejoiced that the nightmare was over. Sarchie noted that the family's gratitude was a humbling experience because he and his team knew that it was not them, but God who granted them the authority over the demon in His name. To honour God, all gathered together in prayer to praise and thank God who is, "above all."
The Demon Files - The Mirror
This case was about a family from Fayette City, Pennsylvania, who experienced "darkness" for reasons unbeknownst to them. After the teenager daughter made a pact with the devil, their lives spiralled out of control. Demonic infestation began this family's horrific experiences that quickly intensified with the second stage of diabolic activity, oppression. The family was so terrified that by the time they contacted Ralph Sarchie, they were all at their wits end.
Sarchie's investigations always begin by attempting to establish a rapport with victims, that has the dual purpose of getting to know them better and putting them at ease with the investigative process. As the team "invades" the home and sets up their monitoring equipment (camera and audio recorders and sensors), Sarchie walks around the home to get his impressions, and tries to discover what may have brought the demonic into victims' lives, such as contact objects (objects that the demonic are connected to), occult items or something blatantly Satanic.
During Sarchie's "walk through" of this family's home, he became intrigued by the Halloween decor, which as Bonnie (the mother) explained, existed as an accommodation to Leigh-Ann's fondness for Halloween. It was ironic that the family had so many Halloween decorations and trinkets because as Sarchie soon discovered, this family's troubles became more severe close to Halloween and it was at this same time of the year, that Leigh-Ann tried to take her life.
One of the many things that really stands out about Sarchie and his team, is their thoroughness and professionalism as they go about their investigations; equally matched by their compassion and desire to help people who are victimized by the demonic. The "work" as it is referred to, not only involves identifying the problem, but providing the solution. It is another aspect of Sarchie and his team's work that really impresses me; what is the point of identifying a problem if you don't provide a solution. Sarchie and his team take care of both!
In many cases, the solution is the expulsion of the demonic from someone's home; at other times the matter is of the worst case scenario, possession, where an official Catholic exorcist is called in to perform the exorcism ritual on a person. This differs from what Sarchie and his team do, in that they also perform an exorcism ritual, but it is an "exorcism of place." In simpler terms, if demonic spirits have taken residence in someone's home, Sarchie and his team drive them out. This is always accomplished in the name of Jesus Christ and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Add to this their arsenal of spiritual weapons: holy water, blessed incense, relics, blessed salt and St. Benedict medals, and the demons don't stand a chance. Some stay and fight, but in the end they lose the battle and are expelled.
Part of the compassionate help that Sarchie provides involves educating the victims as to why the demonic had enter into their lives. It is a process that brings new awareness and understanding as to the causes of the horrific circumstances that many have endured for several months. This coupled with the team's presence and overall encouragement, provides the necessary support for victims to endure the final hours of their ordeal with the demonic.
At the center of this case is the twenty six year old daughter, Leigh-Ann whose facial expression clearly indicated that she was living in a state of terror. Referring to the demon as "the entity," here is what Leigh-Ann revealed to Sarchie about some of the horrifying experiences she had to endure: shadowy figures making themselves known to her, scratching noises, big bangs that rattled the wall or the floor; all of which left her constantly fearful wondering what would happen next. Add to this the discord that occurred amongst the family, a typical strategy of the demonic, and it eventually drove Leigh-Ann to an attempted suicide.
Prior to this family's move into the home, a teenage boy had committed suicide. Was it just a coincidence that Leigh-Ann attempted to do the same thing. For Sarchie, this was definitely a sign of demonic influence. To be certain, he and his team set out to determine if the problem stemmed from the spirit of a teenage boy or a demonic spirit.
Part of the investigation revealed that a mirror left in the house from the previous family, used to hang in the second storey bathroom and it was suspected of having something to do with the phenomena that occurred in the house. After the tech set up by the mirror, the team attempted to contact the deceased teenage boy.
Successful communications with the teenage boy's spirit occurred, convincing Sarchie that the mirror was in fact a "contact object" which the demon used to influence Leigh-Ann to commit suicide. The teenage boy's spirit could have been a demon mimicking a human spirit, which is similar to what happened in the previous case (Virginia Taylor at the Villanova residence), but audio recordings seemed to suggest that it was in fact a human spirit. This wasn't Sarchie's main concern because he suspected the problem in the home was due to a demonic spirit.
Before proceeding with the exorcism ritual," Sarchie questioned the family further to find out what they may have done to invite the demon into their lives. The session quickly focussed on Leigh-Ann as Sarchie began probing for any involvement in witchcraft or any form of the occult. Sarchie soon discovered that Leigh-Ann had made a pact with the Devil, deceived into thinking that by doing so, life would be "easier" under the Devi's rules, which as Sarchie quickly pointed out, there are no rules for the Devil.
Part of the problem also stemmed from the fact that Leigh-Ann had drawn an Anarchy A "anti-government" symbol (see image published with this post) on a wall in her room, which Sarchie quickly pointed out again, that this was a symbol used by Satanists, much to the astonishment of Leigh-Ann.
It didn't end there. Leigh-Ann had been involved in the occult for a few months where she admitted to Sarchie of drawing blood from her finger with a girlfriend who did likewise and dripping it upon a pentagram (another Satanic symbol). Some in her close circle of friends also happened to be Wiccans (people involved in witchcraft) and Leigh-Ann in the past had verbalized rebellious expressions against God, something to the effect of, "I hate you, I don't believe in you."
Sarchie then inquired about the old mirror in the house, left by the previous residents. Leigh-Ann revealed that she spent a lot of time in front of that mirror, looking at it while thoughts of hatred about her life streamed through her mind. It was during one of those "mirror sessions," that Leigh-Ann attempted to take her own life by swallowing a bunch of painkillers, which is exactly what happened to the teenage boy that previously lived there.
After acquiring the information that revealed why the demonic entered into this family's life, Sarchie and his team immediately proceeded with the ritual to expel the demon. What continued to impress me about Sarchie was his consistent compassionate approach amongst the discovery of all the ugly details that caused this demonic influence. It was abundantly clear just by watching Sarchie that he understood Leigh-Ann had struggled and coupled with her vulnerability led him to conclude that she was probably confused and had made mistakes, unaware of the consequences.
By the end of the inquiry Leigh-Ann understood her mistakes and accepted Sarchie's offer to "take her words back," an opportunity to renounce Satan and reestablish her relationship with God. Fundamental to this was for Leigh-Ann to have the intention of no longer belonging to the devil and to consciously decide for God. The video—no longer available—captured this moment that together with the successful expulsion of the demon, finally put closure to this nightmare.
The ritual was captured in dramatic fashion with the lighting of two candles; the kissing of a crucifix; the recitation of exorcism ritual; and the burning of blessed incense at all levels of the home. Sarchie made it clear that the ritual would send the demon back to hell, but he didn't know if this would happen quietly or if it would put up a fight. Sarchie made it known that during the ritual everyone is in danger: physically, psychologically and spiritually, because the demon will try to destroy everyone. Thankfully, no harm came to Sarchie, his team, or the family.
Afterward, Sarchie recommended that the family should praise and thank God on their knees. He also gently admonished them to never get involved in witchcraft or any aspect of the occult or Satanism. He then expressed the long awaited for words of comfort, letting the family clearly know "...[Y]ou own this house, walk around this house like you own it, and you are children of God."
Perhaps a most fitting end to this case; Leigh-Ann's mom had walked around the house and gathered all the Halloween decor items for their permanent removal.
May God's blessings and mercy be granted in abundance to Ralph Sarchie, his team and to all victims of the demonic.