October 5, 1974
Gawber, Barnsley, England
Michael Taylor (30) begins an exorcism and kills his wife hours after its completion

Michael, according to his friends, had had very little interest in religion until he met 22-year-old Marie Robinson in July 1974. Robinson and a handful of others were part of a “splinter movement” of a larger Christian fellowship. During his time with the splinter group, Michael reportedly began to act strangely, speaking in tongues (a phenomena involving a person seemingly talking in a language not known to the speaker), attacking a reverend resulting in a black eye, kicking the vicar’s black cat from his home claiming the pet was the reincarnation of Satan, and telling people he had seen the Devil.

The most concerning of his behaviors occurred on October 2, when Michael suddenly kissed Robinson on the mouth in front of his wife Christine Taylor (29) and other members of the fellowship before announcing a “victory over passion.” Robinson began to scream at Michael who, in turn, shouted back. “I suddenly glanced at Mike and his whole features changed,” Robinson later testified. “He looked almost bestial.” Michael slapped Robinson and attacked her as he “crouched over her like a lion about to devour its prey.” After the incident, Michael told the group they had appeared to be fully clothed while he and Robinson were completely nude. He further accused Robinson of seducing him in front of his wife. Robinson escaped physical injury and it was decided an exorcism would be performed on Michael.

The ritual began late on October 5 and lasted until early October 6. Seven people were in attendance, including members of the congregation as well as priests. The spirits and demons supposedly possessing Michael were asked to identify themselves; some were named as incest, bestiality, blasphemy, and lewdness. Around 40 demons were expelled from Michael, according to the group of exorcists, though three remained: violence, murder, and insanity.

Hours later, Michael was found walking down the street, naked and covered in blood.

When police questioned Michael about his condition, he explained, “It is the blood of Satan.” Police soon found Christine’s mutilated body in her home. Her face had been “torn apart,” with her tongue and eyes ripped from her head. “He killed her with his bare hands,” prosecutor Geoffrey Baker later told the court. “He also killed his mother-in-law’s poodle, with a violent blow of the hand and foot, and by wringing its neck.” The couple’s five young sons were with a relative at the time of the attack.

Dr. Patrick McGrath, superintendent of Broadmoor Hospital, believed Michael had been “brainwashed” during the exorcism, a sentiment echoed by psychiatrist Dr. Hugo Milne who believed Michael had been placed in a hypnotic or dissociated state during the ritual. Due to the experts’ opinions, Michael was found not guilty by reason of insanity and detained at Broadmoor. There he remained for two years until his transfer to the Bradford Royal Infirmary where he spent a further two years before he was released from the system entirely.

Philadelphia Inquirer. March 28, 1975 (image source, via newspapers.com)

Meisfjord, Tom. “The Truth Behind The Exorcism Of Michael Taylor.” Grunge. July 20, 2020. Accessed: October 5, 2020. https://www.grunge.com/228121/the-truth-behind-the-exorcism-of-michael-taylor/
Ellis, Bill. Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2000
“Coroner warns on devil-killer.” The Age [Melbourne, Victoria]. April 25, 1975
“Chant to Jesus saved me, says girl.” The Age. April 24, 1975
Deeley, Peter. “Exorcised man was ‘brainwashed’.” The Observer [London, England]. March 30, 1975
Trimborn, Harry. “Evil Spirits ‘Exorcised’, Then Briton Kills Wife.” Philadelphia Inquirer. March 28, 1975 (image source, via newspapers.com)

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