UPDATE (2-Nov 2015) The verdict is in. McGee was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. No parole. The argument from his attorney that “He did not believe that he was mentally ill; he believes he’s doing God’s work,” did not wash with the jury who concluded it was premeditated.
Originally published Oct 16, 2015
In Clearwater, FL, Bobby McGee is facing trial for first-degree murder in what his defense is calling a failed exorcism. 17 years ago he hid in a closet and stabbed his wife to death. Was he mental impaired or overly religious? That would be ‘yes’.
The Orlando Sentinel has the story: Failed-exorcism defense raised in 1998 stabbing death of Florida woman
Helene Ball McGee was found murdered in 1998 when her husband Bobby (let’s not sing, OK?) was pretty much caught red-handed (or footed as it were). According to the timeline presented in the article, they meet in December of 1997, were married by January 1998, and by mid-January were separated pending divorce. On March 11, 1998, she was dead. There is something to be said about getting to know more about a person before you enter into a serious relationship with them; it’s not clear if both were disturbed since Bobby’s diary notes that Helene, who changed her name to Celene because Helene invoked hell, had mood swings. But Bobby was later found to be mentally incompetent and suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
The defense claims that Bobby performed an exorcism on Helene. “It was poorly planned; he didn’t know how to do one, and he tried anyhow,” Public Defender John Swisher said. “Obviously it didn’t go well.”
Indeed, it almost NEVER does, certainly not when knives are involved.
Such a tale is NOT unique. Here are two recent stories where mental condition and probably drugs were at play in fatal exorcisms:
There are dozens of similar stories of exorcism deaths.
The jury has been told to decide if McGee thought he was trying to save his wife or kill her where neither is the correct answer. McGee appears to still maintain strong religious convictions as he was calling out Bible verses during the proceedings.
Guns or drugs or religion can easily become deadly when utilized by unstable and irrational people who may be suffering from various forms of stress in addition to these volatile components. The unreasonable mindset allowed for the religious belief in devils and violent exorcism to take over and be used as a course of deliberate action.
Should churches be promoting exorcism? No. But, to be fair, no Catholic exorcist would condone either doing an exorcism yourself or attempting to stab or strangle a demon out of the afflicted. But there is a slippery slope lubricated even more by mental instability. Such extreme and perverse religious beliefs can play a role, even as scapegoat.
Meanwhile, the sensational promotion of exorcism continues unabated ensuring that the public will be exposed to ever more stupidity and irresponsible attempts to “remove demons”. The latest upcoming ill-conceived example of “entertainment” is the idiostuperific Halloween special Exorcism: Live! to be broadcast on Destination America starring “psychic” medium Chip Coffey and the cast of Ghost Asylum. Apparently they will exorcise a house in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri that supposedly inspired the Exorcist novel and film. Sounds like a silly circus. But once again, it does make us pause and reflect on why in the 21st century we are not only still talking about demons and exorcisms but that too many people see them as a genuine activity. The crack(ed) PR team from Destination America tell us the demons KNOW they are coming. They want you to Tweet your support. Smooth. As Vinnie Mancuso of The Observer writes: The Power of Christ Retweets You. This could be one of the dumbest shows ever aired.