Sunday, July 24, 2011
One of the most interesting things about doing a blog such as MIKE'S BIG BLOG O' RAINY DAY FUN - EXORCIST KID! is that people stumble across it periodically and are so moved by what they've read that they contact me via the site.
I am most grateful to hear from folks on this issue. As I've contended before, it's interesting to see that even today the subject of whether Ronnie Hunkeler "was" or "wasn't" is still discussed over 60 years after the event(s) occurred.
Jim Richardson was kind enough to allow me permission to re-post his letter here. I did, however, leave off his e-mail address for obvious reasons.
Dear Mike, Jim Richardson here,
A big HELL – o from, the buckle on the Bible belt, where Southern Baptists keep alive the image of/fear of The Devil in their everyday lives. I am writing because I just did (for the hundredth time) an internet search on the name Ronald Hunkeler, NASA’s favorite possessed boy, which led me to your most fascinating blog from last year. I have to say it’s the best thing I’ve read on the case in ages (and trust me, I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about it), and I will be earmarking it so I can come back to read it again and again. Well done!
My roots of interest go all the way back to the time of the release of The Exorcist, which (when I did get brave enough to see it) scared the bejesus out of me, whereas you found it ridiculous, and I’m convinced that that has to do with my Southern Baptist upbringing and the fear of Satan (for the record, I no longer believe in him) instilled in us (former) Baptists . I have had a love/hate relationship with the film, and only at almost 50 yrs old do I count it as one of my favorite movies of all time, and only now can I watch it without being disturbed for two weeks afterward. I read the Thomas Allen book in the early nineties and was stoked and determined to find out all I could about the original case. Then came the intriguing and insightful Mark Opsasnik (sp?) article, and, while it kind of trampled my meadow, I forged ahead with my interest, so much so that on a visit toI took the time to brave “The Hood” and seek out the Alexian Brothers Hospital on Broadway so I could add the exorcism site to Jim’s Morbid Tour of America. Had I known at the time the whereabouts of Aunt Tillie’s place and the Hunkeler house in , I would have made them my as well. That’s another trip.
Having long believed that the case had psychological bearings rather than supernatural ones, I’m inclined to agree with almost everything you’ve put forth. Almost! From a seed planted in the Thomas Allen book as well as an interview he did on TV fingering Aunt Tillie (sorry) as the culprit who molested Ronald, I have long believed molestation (by psychological accounts, invariably present in cases claiming demonic possession) was behind the mysterious meltdown the kid had, leading up to the most famous exorcism in history, and until your wondrous blog I believed, like everyone else, that the aunt was the villain. I never dreamed the grandmother might have had a hand in it! I know you based that on private information given, but where did you get the idea that the mother (Odell) was complicit? Was that private, family related info as well? Curious.
The only part I might take issue with you on is the claim that the diary is so totally unreliable. Exaggerated maybe, but I can’t believe that all the priests and witnesses would be so willing to lie about what they saw, or thought they saw. I also think Ronald, troubled though he clearly was, wasn’t just playing a prank, as Mark Opsasnik claims – a prank that got him out of a year of school. I have never known a single kid that wanted to engage in something that would cause him to be put back a year, into a class behind his own with a bunch of strangers. I think he had some severe psychological problems that led to him acting all this out, and I’ve often wondered if there wasn’t some of the rare instances of telekinesis that is supposedly present in troubled youths going on that might have made Ronald THINK he had something inside of him that could cause weird shit to happen. Far fetched, I know. Whatever happened to him sounds like it colored his adult life, brilliant though he must be as a NASA scientist. I find it particularly interesting that he still displays a volatile temperament and that he has on obsession with spackling holes in the walls that aren’t there – holes that perhaps remind him of when he was a kid and heard scratching sounds coming from the walls and floorboards?
Anyway, this is my longwinded way of saying I LOVED your blog and hope you’ll do a sequel. I think you’re probably better at sequels tham William Peter Blatty.