In addition to being a NASA engineer who is credited for creating a special technology that helped put astronauts on the moon, Ronald Edwin Hunkeler is also known to be the real-life inspiration behind "The Exorcist," a cult classic horror movie.
The onscreen depiction of a young girl possessed by evil spirits is said to have caused at least one moviegoer to faint in terror.
The 1971 movie was based on a novel written by William Peter Blatty who heard about the demonic possession of a 14-year-old boy while in college as this excerpt explains: "Eugene Gallagher, one of his professors and a priest at the Jesuit college, told Blatty, a New York native, about the extraordinary story of the boy who was believed to be in the throes of demonic possession but had been saved through a series of exorcisms."
It is said that Hunkeler was introduced to the Ouija board by his aunt Tillie, an occult aficionado where a sinister force was waiting to prey on his innocence. Following her death, Hunkeler complained of hearing scratching sounds from underneath the floorboards. His personality also changed drastically enough to make his concerned parents seek professional help for him. However, the psychiatrists could not find anything wrong with him.
Per reports, it was only after his family sought the help of Jesuit priest William Bowden that Hunkeler was finally freed of the evil spirit that possessed him following a series of 20 exorcisms that were conducted over a 3 month period.
After the ordeal, Hunkeler and his family opted to keep a low profile away from the limelight.
The family's pastor described in chilling detail the paranormal activities he witnessed in a letter he wrote to the Parapsychology Lab at Duke University: “Chairs moved with him and one threw him out [of it]. His bed shook whenever he was in it.” The reverend also cited the family’s stories of tables overturning, their floors being “scarred from the sliding of heavy furniture” and, in one, how a “picture of Christ on the wall shook” when Hunkeler was nearby."
Hunkeler passed away in 2021 in his Baltimore home.
Not only were 13 million copies of "The Exorcist" in the US but the movie of the same name was the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture Oscar.
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