Happy Halloween: 3 "True" St. Louis Ghost Stories

3. The True Story of The Exorcism
The real-life story behind the best-selling novel and famous movie The Exorcist starts in St. Louis.

Jennifer Silverberg
A devil of a deal: The exorcism was performed in this very bedroom.
Legend tells of an ill thirteen-year-old boy who, in the late winter of 1949, traveled to St. Louis from suburban Washington, D.C. Convinced the child was possessed by the Devil, Jesuit priests from Saint Louis University performed a grueling month-long exorcism on the boy, at last freeing the teen from Satan's grasp in the psych ward at Alexian Brothers Hospital.

The identity of the boy is closely guarded, but the home where he lived still stands -- a two-story brick colonial in a tidy Bel-Nor neighborhood north of St. Louis.

The home was for sale eight years ago, and the realtor worried its possessed past would make it hard to sell. But Mark Willingham, the home's owner from 1991 to 1999, brushes that off:

"Way I see it, the place was blessed so many times during the exorcism, it's probably the safest home in all St. Louis."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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