If you haven’t yet listened to the podcast or read the article for part 1, you may want to click here before continuing.
One of the first policemen to find Michael Taylor wandering the street naked and blood covered recognized Michael and requested that officers be sent to the Taylor home. The first officer who entered the home quickly ran back outside and is reported to have began dry-heaving. What this policeman saw would later be described as “a scene of appalling depravity.” The walls were covered not only in blood, but in bits of flesh. Christine Taylor lay dead on the floor. Here eyes had been removed, her face was almost entirely torn away leaving her unrecognizable, and her tongue had been extracted. Next to her was the family dog, a small poodle, dead, and with its limbs ripped from their sockets. The police began searching in and around the home for the weapon that was used to commit this crime, but they were unable to locate one. The medical examiner would later suggest that there may have been no weapon used in the attack. The wounds to Christine Taylor and to the dog did not display the characteristics of wounds inflicted by knives or by any other sharp objects. It appeared, in the examiner’s opinion, that the features of Christine’s face and the limbs of the poodle were not cut off, but torn off. It is generally believed that Michael Taylor carried out these acts using only his hands. There are some though who maintain doubts as to if a person of average height and weight would be capable of creating this scene without the use of tools or weaponry. This is worth some consideration because Michael would eventually be declared insane at the time of the attack. Would someone suffering from a detachment from reality so severe as to create the above described scene have the wherewithal to clean and/or dispose of items used in the attack?
“There was a large cross at the top of the stairs in the vicarage. Maria said it had started to melt during the night of the exorcism.”
During this period in 1974, Sally Vincent was a teacher at Highfield Grammar School. Our podcast interviewee, Phil, was not only in Sally Vincents’ class, he was also dating the Vincents’ daughter, Maria. While much of the world was being kept up at night and occasionally vomiting or passing out from the release of the movie The Exorcist 9 months earlier, the Vincents’ 15 year old daughter, Maria, was living in a home where events similar to those in the film were playing out in real life. Maria was present when Michael Taylor began seeking help from Rev. Peter Vincent. She often wrote letters to Phil, to whom it became apparent that Maria was becoming disturbed by what was happening around her. In one of her letters to Phil, Maria claimed that on the night of Michael Taylor’s exorcism, a metal cross in the Vincents’ home began to melt, and the features of the cross where thereafter distorted. Phil readily admitted to bearing no witness to this melting of the cross nor to having seen the cross afterwards. However, as Maria was known to be a studious and well-behaved teenager, this claim at the very least may suggest something about how these events affected her emotionally. Maria would eventually begin smoking which was, even in the 1970s, frowned upon by many, and considered to be especially bad form for the daughter of an Anglican priest. Maria was soon afterward sent to a boarding school and she and Phil never spoke again.
“They primed me for it. They tried to bring me peace of mind, but instead they filled me with the Devil.”
Once Michael Taylor was in custody, he began speaking with police about the exorcism that had been performed on him during the previous night. He said during questioning, “They primed me for it. They tried to bring me peace of mind, but instead they filled me with the Devil.”
In the UK, Michael Taylor’s exorcism and the subsequent murder became a media sensation. The details of Michael’s exorcism and of his acts following the exorcism were released over the course of his trial. People began learning about Marie Robinson, Peter Vincent, and others involved in the events leading up to Michael’s savaging of his own wife. On March 25th, 1975 the court recorded a verdict of “misadventure” and Michael Taylor was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Michael spent 2 years in Broadmoor psychiatric facility and then another two years in Bradford Royal Infirmary in West Yorkshire. After a total of 4 years in custody where he underwent psychiatric treatment, Michael Taylor was allowed to move back to Ossett, the same town where he killed and mutilated his wife.
In the years following his release from the Bradford Royal Infirmary, Michael Taylor attempted suicide 4 times. During one of these attempts, Michael threw himself from a bridge and suffered severe injuries to his back and to his legs. In another attempt, Michael cut his wrists.
Apart from these occasional suicide attempts, Michael Taylor kept a very low profile for about 30 years. In 2005 however, he was arrested for indecent conduct with a minor. He spent one week in custody, during which, for the first time since the 70s, Michael began exhibiting symptoms similar to those that he displayed during his supposed demonic possession. These indicators of demonic influence remarkably dissipated once he was bailed. During the trial for this incident, Michael Taylor plead guilty to two counts of sexual assault. Demonic forces once again started to take hold of Michael and he was again ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment, this time on an outpatient basis. He received no additional jail time. Michael has not reemerged in the news since this incident and his current whereabouts are not known, though it is quite possible that he still resides in Ossett, West Yorkshire.
After Michael Taylor’s trial, Sally Vincent was released from her position at Highfield Grammar School and never taught again. The church defended Rev. Peter Vincent during the Taylor trial though they did shortly thereafter alter their rules regarding the execution of exorcisms. Peter Vincent was relocated to another congregation where he continued his work as a vicar. He and Sally eventually moved to a retirement home in the beautiful town of Chichester in Southeast England. Peter Vincent passed away in his sleep on March 18th 2017.
Finally, as promised, here is the photo of Phil in his very fine underpants. Enjoy it while you can. Should Phil change his mind about our use of the photo, it will be immediately removed. In all seriousness though, I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Phil and we are very thankful to him for speaking with us.
In addition to being a freelance journalist and a wonderful storyteller, Phil is also a very fine poet. To learn more about Phil, check out his website, and you might also take a look at some of his work here.
“1974 Exorcist ‘Killer’ Back before Court.”, https://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/1974-exorcist-killer-back-before-court-1-931236.
“Academics Say Church must Disown Exorcism.” The Times, May 15, 1975, pp. 4.
Baelz, P. R. “Responsible use of Christian Exorcism.” The Times, Apr 3, 1975, pp. 15.
“Dangers of Amateurs Dabbling in Exorcism.” The Times, Mar 27, 1975, pp. 6.
“Demons and Death: The Strange Case of Michael Taylor.”, https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/12/demons-and-death-the-strange-case-of-michael-taylor/.
“The Devil we Know: An Objective Look at the Prince of Darkness.” , directed by Anonymous , produced by Parthenon Entertainment. , Films Media Group, 2011. Films On Demand; Films Media Group, https://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=105189&xtid=49442.
Ellis, Bill. Raising the Devil. The University Press of Kentucky, 2015, http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=690835.
“Exorcism Death Inquest to be Reopened.” The Times, Apr 2, 1975, pp. 2.
“Exorcism Man “Feared Full Moon”.” The Times, Apr. 22, 1975, pp. 2, https://www.gale.com/uk/c/the-times-digital-archive.
“Exorcism Turned Loving Husband into Killer.” The Glasgow Herald, Mar 26, 1975, pp. 1, https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ZJFAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-qQMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5071%2C5628732.
“Exorcism Turned Man into Brutal Killer.” The Times, Mar 26, 1975, pp. 4.
“Exorcism Warning After Misadventure Verdict.” The Times, Apr 24, 1975, pp. 2.
Heal, Marc. The Sussex Devils. Random House UK, 2015.
historycomestolife. “Cultural Impact of the Exorcist 1973.”, Jan 19, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSVHpX1CDN8.
Longley, Clifford. “Bishop’s Support for “Misguided” Vicar Who Tried Exorcism.” The Times, Apr 03, 1975a, pp. 15.
“Exorcism for Man Who Later Killed Wife was Unwise, Bishop Says as Church Bodies Seek Full Report.” The Times, Mar 27, 1975b, pp. 18.
“Look of Murder was in Man’s Eyes during Exorcism Ceremony, Vicar Tells Inquest.” The Times, Apr 23, 1975, pp. 2.
Medway, Gareth J. Lure of the Sinister. New York Univ. Press, New York [u.a.], 2001.
“Michael Taylor – Murder – 1974 – Murder Havercroft, Ossett, West Yorkshire.”, http://www.blackkalendar.nl/content.php?key=6308&termRef=MichaelTaylor.
The Michael Taylor Exorcism – Top found Footage Films. , http://topfoundfootagefilms.com/the-michael-taylor-exorcism.
The Michael Taylor Possession – Real Unexplained Mysteries. , http://realunexplainedmysteries.com/the-michael-taylor-possession.
Nossiter, Bernard D. “Exorcism Approval Rocks Anglicans.” St. Petersburg Times, May 31, 1975, https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ukFSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=VnkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5847%2C5747797.
“Not to be Trifled With.” The Times, Apr 3, 1975, pp. 15.