Nine months after the release of the film The Exorcist an Ossett West Yorkshire man named Michael Taylor underwent a 7 hour exorcism. The following morning Michael killed and mutilated his wife along with their family dog. In part 1 of “The Worst Exorcism Ever,” we discuss the release of the The Exorcist and the impact that the movie had on its mid-1970s audience. We also speak with a new friend and genuine Englishman who was very close to some key players in this story and who shared with us a previously unconsidered perspective on who was really behind this now infamous exorcism.
Prior to 1974 Michael Taylor seemingly led a rather normal life. He and his wife Christine had 5 children, all boys, and all aged between 6-12 at the time of these events. The family seemed firmly among the middle class. They were by no means wealthy, but they had gotten by reasonably well until early in 1974 when Michael developed back problems that often prevented him from working. This ailment put some financial strain on the Taylors. Michael’s sporadic employment coupled with persistent pain seems to have led to a period of depression for Michael.
A friend of the family suggested to the Taylors that attendance at a local Christian fellowship group might help to tug Michael from his funk. The Taylors had not previously been particularly religious and did not belong to any religious organizations. This family friend though managed to persuade the Taylors to attend this fellowship meeting by assuring them that the fellowship’s gatherings differed considerably from the stuffy and drudging services offered by traditional churches. The Charismatic Christians to whom this friend was referring focused heavily on the more supernatural aspects of the bible. They believed in and practiced faith healing, they sang upbeat Christian music as opposed to droning church hymns, and they felt that their gatherings were generally more energetic and exciting than those of other surrounding Christian organizations.
So, the Taylors agreed to visit the Charismatic Christian Fellowship where Michael Taylor, for the first time, met Marie Robinson. Marie Robinson was an engaging, magnetic, and rather alluring 22 year old who was the de facto leader of the fellowship. Michael immediately became enamored with Marie, and quickly and possibly somewhat suspiciously developed the ability to speak in tongues. Much to the chagrin of his wife, Michael and Marie began spending an inordinate amount of time in each other’s company. Michael’s apparent mental state degraded rapidly after meeting Marie, and it appears that the time that Marie Robinson devoted to Michael was inversely proportional to fluctuations in Michael’s sanity. At one point, Marie even spent the night with Michael in the Taylor home to help remedy his fear of the moon. As that bears repeating, Michael Taylor claimed at one point to be afraid of the moon.
Michael’s wife, Christine, became vocally concerned about the amount of time that her husband was spending with this attractive 22 year old blonde and, during one of the fellowship meetings, she publicly accused Michael and Marie of having a sexual relationship. Marie Robinson however managed to ease Christine’s concerns enough that Marie continued to be granted access to the Taylor home though sleepover’s were, from that point forward, forbidden. According to Marie Robinson, her relationship with Michael was not sexual in nature. She did however state during the eventual murder trial that Michael had attempted to kiss her once, but that she had rejected his advances. Immediately following this humiliating rejection, Michael is said to have attacked Marie Robinson. This altercation ended without serious injury to anyone involved, and by the next day Marie had forgiven Michael and continued to meet with him.
Stories of Michael’s erratic behavior made their way to the local vicar and his wife. This couple, Peter and Sally Vincent, invited the Taylors to their home to assess Michael’s condition. After Michael shattered some dinnerware and threw a cat out of the window, the Vincents decided that Michael was in immediate need of an exorcism. The Vincents assembled several acquaintances to form an exorcism dream team, and on the night of October 5th, 1974 they conducted a 7 hour exorcism on Michael Taylor. Over the course of the night, the exorcists burned Michael’s own crucifix, shoved wooden crosses into his mouth, and continually doused him with holy water. By 7am all parties involved were exhausted. The exorcists claimed to have successfully exorcized 40 demons from Michael and were apparently quite proud of this accomplishment. There were however, the exorcists claimed, 43 demons residing inside of Michael Taylor. The 3 demons that the group failed to remove during the proceeding were the demons of insanity, violence, and murder. Presumably, for the purposes of extraction, demons do not allow themselves to be ordered in terms of priority. The participants in this exorcism agreed amongst themselves that, before attempting to cast out these remaining 3 demons, a break was in order. They had intended to each return to their homes, rest for a bit, and return to their task shortly thereafter. They would not get the opportunity to do so.
About an hour after the Taylors returned to their home, the Ossett police began receiving calls concerning a naked man who was wandering the streets covered in red paint. Upon arrival the police quickly found that Michael was not covered in paint, but in blood. As the officers were attempting to formulate in their minds what scenario might have lead this man to be wandering about naked and blood-covered, Michael Taylor was softly repeating the phrase, “It is the blood of Satan.”
In part 2 of “The Worst Exorcism Ever,” we’ll discuss the murder itself, and the aftermath of this brutal incident that shook the small town of Ossett. We’ll also check back in with Phil from the UK to learn more about his relationship with the Vincent family.
In researching the Ossett Exorcism Murder, we came across the blog of a man who was once closely connected to the Vincent family. After a few weeks of email contact, Phil from the UK and myself had a phone conversation, parts of which appear in this episode. According to Phil, Sally Vincent was the clear leader of the Vincent household, controlling most aspects of the family’s lives. This coupled with Sally’s preexisting obsession with demon possession led Phil to believe that Sally, not Peter, was the troop leader of these exorcists who attempted to expel Michael Taylor’s demons. This revelation is quite interesting when taking into consideration that all reports and articles concerning this case mention Sally only as a spectator to the exorcism and consistently name Peter Vincent as being primarily at fault for much of what eventually happened.
Phil, our new friend from across the pond, is a very talented writer and a freelance journalist. If you would like to view the blog that led us to him, click here.
The research and most of the recording for part 2 have already been completed. As such, the next episode should be released within a week or two. I sincerely apologize for the bullshit Walking Dead-esque ending of part 1.
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