Welcome to Dread: The Unsolved. Michael Taylor. 31 years old. Father to 5 children and husband to Christine Taylor. It was 1974, and Michael was living what appeared to be an idyllic life. The Taylor family lived in a small home in Ossett, West Yorkshire. Neighbors described Michael as mild-mannered and generally kind.
Occasionally, Michael Taylor would suffer from depressive episodes. He would become withdrawn and refuse to interact with family and friends. Family would later say a back injury earlier in life, which caused issues with Michael finding full-time employment, was to blame. Nevertheless, Michael was by all accounts a caring father and husband.
The Taylor family was not devout. They lived with a few miles of multiple churches, but never really found the time to attend. In a highly religious town like Ossett, this behavior just wouldn’t stand. A friend of Michael’s, who had decided his depression was caused by spiritual forces, convinced him to start attending a weekly prayer meeting.
The group was run by one Marie Robinson. Her soft-spoken form of old time religion seemed to appeal to Michael. At least that’s what everyone thought in the beginning. As time went on, Michael began spending a ludicrous amount of time with Marie. At first he just threw himself into the prayer group. Going to every meeting and all functions they held. He quickly fell deeper in Marie’s teachings; attending meetings where group members were exorcised and demons were cast out with what they called, “the power of god”.
Marie began offering private meetings to Michael. During these meetings, Michael and Marie would sit across from each other and make the sign of the cross over and over, sometimes for 8 plus hours. They believed that doing this would nullify the evil power of the full moon. To the other members of the prayer group, it was clear that Michael had fallen head over heels in love with Marie.
His time away at church and private prayer meetings were starting to be noticed in his home life. When he wasn’t around Marie, he became withdrawn, slipping into deep depressions. He had become sullen and argumentative, and would lash out at his family.
Christine had a suspicion that the prayer group wasn’t doing Michael any favors, and that his private meetings with Marie may have been less than pious. During the next prayer meeting they attended, Christine openly confronted Michael about his time with Marie.
Something broke inside of Michael Taylor. He stood up, and instead of addressing his wife, he began to attack Marie, both verbally and physically. He was still shouting at her in tongues when the rest of the congregation restrained him. Later, Marie would have this to say:
“I suddenly glanced at Mike and his whole features changed. He looked almost bestial. He kept looking at me and there was a really wild look in his eyes. I started screaming at him out of fear. I started speaking in tongues. Mike also screamed at me in tongues. I was on the verge of death and I seemed to come to my senses. I knew that only the name of Jesus would save me and I just started saying over and over again ‘Jesus’. When Christine heard me calling on the name of jeses she started saying it too, and I believe firmly that I was only by calling on his name that I was not killed”.
Michael claimed he had no memory of this happening. At the next meeting, Michael would receive full absolution from Marie. Still, his outburst had not gone unrecognized. People were talking, and none of it was good. A local vicar called on a group of ministers, and declared that Michael was currently suffering from a demonic possession, and would need an exorcism.
October 5th, 1974 Father Peter Vincent and Reverend Raymond Smith met Michael at the St. Thomas’s Church in Gawber. The prayer group was also in attendance. Over the next 8 hours, they would perform the sacred rite of exorcism. Michael began thrashing, convulsing, and spitting, and had to be tied to the floor of the church.
A crucifix was jammed into his mouth, and he was completely soaked with holy water. At 8 a.m. October 6th, the priests couldn’t continue. They were exhausted, and by their admission, had cast out more than 40 demons from Michael. The priests said the exorcism would have to be finished at a later date, and advised Michael not to worry. They had only left but 3 demons to be exorcised: Murder, madness, and violence.
Michael and Christine were told to go home and prepare for part two of the exorcism. At 9:45, just an hour and forty five minutes after the exorcism, police patrolling the area where the Taylors lived discovered a gruesome sight: A man, shambling through the streets completely naked and covered with blood.
It was, of course, no other than Michael Taylor. The officer that had found Taylor rushed to his home, only to find more police officers were already there. Neighbors had heard noises, and the police were called. The officer approached the house but was waved off by an exiting criminal inspector.
“ You don’t want to see this one son. I’ve seen nothing like it before and I’ve seen a few. It’s the wife. She’s got no…He’s ripped at her son. It’s a right mess in there. There’s not much of her left. You don’t want to see it, eh?”
After saying this, he doubled over and vomited in the yard.
Upon entering the house, officers were met with what some would later call the worst crime scene they’ve ever worked. Michael had brutally attacked Christine, removing her eyes and tongue, before ripping her face off of her skull. He then strangled the family dog. After the dog was dead, he ripped out it’s eyes and tore it limb from limb, throwing them around the house. The house was covered wall to ceiling in blood.
Michael, who was at that time receiving care in a nearby hospital, was arrested. He never provided a motive for killing Christine beyond,
“Released. I am released. It is done. The evil in her has been destroyed”
So what happened? Was Michael Taylor possessed? The defense didn’t think so. He laid blame squarely at the feet of the prayer group and the priests who did the exorcism. He stated that the group exacerbated an already cracking mind. He cast doubt on the possession theory by calling it, “neurotics, feeding neurosis, to a neurotic.”
At trial, Michael was acquitted by reason of insanity. He received psychiatric care for 4 years before being released back into the public.
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