[Via Cult of the Weird] I’ve lived in Wisconsin my entire life, researching its fascinating and unexpected ties to the weird, dark corners of history for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it seems this state exists in some kind of anomalous vortex of the bizarre, with a unique concentration of ghost stories, murderous cannibals, circus history, world-famous hoaxes, and incredibly eccentric (or just plain mad) individuals. We have Ed Gein, Goatman, the Beast of Bray Road, pancake-serving aliens, and…famous exorcists.
Last fall I discovered Father Walter Halloran, who assisted in the exorcism of Roland Doe in 1949, was buried in Milwaukee. Having weird history like that so close to home is exciting, but it turns out that Wisconsin was the stomping grounds of another even more legendary exorcist, one who participated in a case that shocked the world.
In the first episode of a new podcast called Wisconsinology, historian Frank L. Anderson tells the story of Theophilus Riesinger, a Capuchin friar from Appleton, Wisconsin who became America’s foremost exorcist. Riesinger performed at least 22 exorcisms in his lifetime, but it was the harrowing case of demonic possession in 1928 that became the most publicized case of exorcism in American history.