Guest: John Whitman
While working for ten years as a Department of Defense Research Librarian at the Presidio Military Base of San Francisco, one of Douglas Dietrich’s major duties was document destruction. During this time he came upon some very unusual information in the files that were due to...
The year is 1865. The town is Watseka. A young woman, Mary Roff, dies a mysterious death after a lifetime of fits and seizures that robbed her of her youth, her personality, and her soul. Many thought she was mentally ill. However, some thought her illness was something other than natural.
In the years following her death, her family - the Roff family - came to be convinced of the latter. They became Spiritualists, and they believed that the spirits of the dead were alive, and that under given circumstances they could bring messages to the living and even temporarily inhabit another body, dwelling for a time in an earthly home.
In 1877, twelve years after the death of Mary Roff, in the same town another girl, Lurancy Vennum, begins showing symptoms very similar to those of the deceased Mary. She has fits and seizures. She talks in strange languages and garbled speech. She claims to see people around her and takes on different personalities, as if possessed by the spirit of another.
For 100 days in the spring of 1878, Lurancy takes on the personality of Mary Roff, moves in with the Roff family, and has family members and townspeople convinced that she is the deceased Mary Roff. Was this a case of multiple personality disorder? A hoax? Or a case of spiritual possession?
The current owner of the Roff Home, John Whitman, joined us to discuss the case of the Watseka Wonder, which is the subject of a SyFy documentary called "The Possessed," set to air on Thursday, October 8, at 9 pm EST / 8 pm CST.
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