Chapter 1 Bitten by Demons
"Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him."Mark 9:17,18
On May 12, 1953, the Daily Mirror in Manila carried a highly unusual story under the headline "Police Medic Explodes Biting Demons Yarn." A city jail inmate puzzled police and medical examiners with her tale about two devils biting her.... Sergeant Guillermo Abad, detailed with the city jail last night, said the girl claimed she was bitten twenty times and she shouted every time she was hurt. In the jail last night she talked and answered questions weakly, but sensibly, before a crowd of observers. Suddenly her facial expressions would change to anguish and horror as if she were confronted with "The Thing." She would look around wildly and then scream and struggle and hit her arms and shoulders.... Then her strenuous resistance would cease and she would collapse into the arms of those holding her, weak and half-conscious. After regaining her senses, she said that one of the devils was big and dark with curly hair on his head, chest and arms. He had large, sharp eyes and two fangs. His voice was a deep-echoing sound. He was shrouded in black.... She was bitten for the last time on the right knee. That was the first bite on the lower part of her anatomy. Other bite marks appear on her neck, arms and shoulders. Observers insist that they are within sight all the time. The following day the Manila Chronicle reported further news of the young woman, Clarita Villanueva: At least twenty-five competent persons, including Manila's chief of police, Col. Cesar Lucero, say that it is a very realistic example of a horrified woman being bitten to insanity by "invisible persons." She displayed several bite marks all over her body, inflicted by nobody as far as the twenty-five witnesses could see. Villanueva writhed in pain, shouted and screamed in anguish whenever the "invisible demons" attacked her.
Fr. Benito Vargas (Roman Catholic) ... who witnessed Villanueva in her fits said it was not his to conclude any verdict. But he said the fact remains that I saw her bitten three times. Villanueva was perfectly normal between fits. After talking for a while, she would shout, have convulsions and hysterics, all the time screaming, and her eyes flashing with fire. Then she would point to a part of her body being attacked, then fall almost senseless into the hands of investigators. Teeth marks wet with saliva marked the spots she pointed at. At the time, I was founding a church in Manila. The newspaper accounts had not caught my attention, but a forty-five-minute radio program over station DZFM drew me into it personally. The radio announcer dramatically opened the broadcast: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. If you have a weak heart, please turn your radio off!"
I turned the volume of our radio higher. Instantly, I heard piercing screams followed by pandemonium. Doctors spoke out of the confusion: "This can all be explained! ... Our records show that this phenomenon has been known before.... This is epilepsy.... It is extreme hysteria."
Others were excitedly saying, "Look, the marks of teeth appear!" Another said, "The girl is being choked by some unseen thing. She is blue in the face and there are marks on her neck." Then Clarita would scream again.Listening to this in the comfort of our bedroom, I turned to my wife and said, "The girl is not sick and the doctors are helpless before such an enemy. Her cry is the cry of the damned and doomed; that girl is demon possessed." It was impossible for me to sleep after listening to the program. I walked the floor, crying to God to deliver the poor girl in the city jail. But the longer I prayed, the heavier the load became upon my soul. I said, "Oh God, if the devil is in that girl, You can cast him out! Please do it!" After praying until morning, God spoke to my heart: "If you will go to the jail and pray for her, I will deliver her." But I didn't want to go. I found myself answering, "No, God. I can never go to that place. Scientists, professors, legal experts, and even spiritualists have been trying to help that girl. They all have had adverse publicity in the newspapers. I cannot go." The Lord replied, "If you will go and pray for her, I will deliver her." "No," was my reply.
But I found I could no longer pray for her. When I cried for her deliverance my conscience stopped me, saying, "You are not sincere, for you refuse to go and see her." Finally I decided to go to Bilibid prison and pray for the girl.
In a city of several million, and in a mammoth prison such as Bilibid, it would not be easy to get an interview -with such a highly publicized person. On my way to town the following morning I stopped at the home of the architect who had designed our church, Leopoldo Coronel, a personal friend of the Manila mayor. At my request, we visited Mayor Lacson and gained permission for me to pray for Clarita, but on one condition. Dr. Mariano Lara, chief medical adviser of the police department, must also grant permission. Mr. Coronel did not know Dr. Lara, but through another friend an interview was arranged.
Mr. Coronel and I arrived at Bilibid prison and were escorted to the morgue to see Dr. Lara. The surroundings were eerie. The first thing I noticed was a cadaver on the table. Another corpse lay wrapped in a blanket on a stretcher awaiting attention. On a table were a dozen or more jars of alcohol containing parts of human beings. We found out later that these were for student demonstrations.
Sitting on a bench in this drab place, Dr. Lara told us about himself. He was a professor and the head of pathology and legal medicine at the Manila Central University and professorial lecturer of legal medicine at the University of Santo Tomas. In his thirty-eight years of medical practice he had performed more than eight thousand autopsies, and he had never accepted the theory of a nonmaterial force existing in the universe. Dr. Lara had not intended to be drawn into the Clarita Villanueva affair. On May 12, upon entering the office of one of his medical assistants, he first observed the young woman prisoner. Noticing the reddish, human-like bite impressions on her arms, both physicians believed Clarita had bitten herself. Considering her "abnormal," they agreed to recommend her for treatment in the national psychopathic hospital.
The following day, however, at the insistence of visitors who wanted to know Dr. Lara's medical opinion, he had her brought to the medical examiner's office in the police department. A class of interns was also there. According to the doctor, Clarita was unconscious when she was carried to the room. This is what he told me:
Her arms lifted by me would fall without resistance. Pointed needles and pins touching her skin gave no response throughout her body surface. After several minutes in this condition, Clarita began to come out of this state of insensibility and trance.
Meanwhile, I was like Sherlock Holmes of the detective stories, or Dr. Cyclops, the film character. Equipped with magnifying lens and with an unbelieving mind about this biting phenomenon, I scrutinized carefully the exposed parts of her body, the arms, hands, and neck to find out whether they had the biting impressions ... She was still weak in her entire body and could not stand up by herself. One of my assistants, a cadaver technician, Alfonso by name, helped carry her to a bed for her to rest during this state of partial trance. Alfonso got hold of her body and deposited her on the prepared bed, placing both her hands over her in order that they would not hang downward.
At that very instant, this girl in a semi-trance loudly screamed repeatedly the word "aruy" [a scream of pain in Tagalog), and when I removed Alfonso's hand from Clarita's I saw with my unbelieving eyes the clear marks or impressions of human-like teeth from both the upper and lower jaws. It was a little moist in the area bitten on the dorsal aspect of the left hand, and the teeth impressions were mostly from the form of the front or incisor teeth....
I could not understand or explain how the bites were produced, as her hand had all the time been held away from the reach of her mouth. The place where the bite impressions occurred, on the dorsal of the left hand, was the very place held by my assistant Alfonso. I knew she could not bite herself nor could Alfonso, who does not possess a single tooth, having recently had them extracted. And I am sure I did not bite the girl! Not finding any possible explanation insofar as my human experience in medical training is concerned, I kept my mouth shut, but not my mind.
Clarita kept on screaming for about fifteen minutes with this bite on her left hand, and she turned bluish in the face and legs as if being choked. There were also a few reddish whelps in the front of the neck.... After about twenty minutes of this attack, accompanied by stiffness and screaming, her body became soft and in a trance like condition-a repetition of the observation made when she was first brought into the room. After about ten minutes of this trance and softness of the entire body, she gradually recovered consciousness and, shortly thereafter, became normal again.
In this normal condition she sat on a chair and the group of interns talked with her. She answered all the questions they asked her sanely and intelligently, and she told us the following: She was born in Bacolod City in the province of Negros Occidental. She has several brothers but is not interested in them as they have been unkind to her. Her parents died several years ago.
I asked her who was causing her to suffer from the bites. She answered that there were two who were alternately biting her; one big, black, hairy humanlike fellow, very tall and with two sharp eyes, two sharp canine teeth, a long beard like a Hindu, hairy extremities and chest, wearing a black garment, with a little whitish piece on the back resembling a hood. His feet were about three times the size of normal feet. The other fellow was a very small one about two or three feet tall, allegedly also black, hairy, and ugly. This baffling Filipino girl had changed Dr. Lara's philosophy of life. He turned to me and said, "Reverend, I am humble enough to admit that I am a frightened man."
I realized that my first objective was to convince Dr. Lara that I knew what I was doing and that I knew how to help this girl. I began slowly. "There are only three powers in the universe," I said. "There is the 'Positive Power,' or the power of a creative and benevolent God. There is the 'Human Power,' or the power of men here on the earth. And there is the 'Negative Power,' or the malevolent and sinister power of the devil. These powers are real and evident around us. Now, do you think Clarita is acting under God's power?" He shook his head slowly and replied, "No, not God's power." "Then do you feel that, with your experience with human beings, she is acting like any human being?" "No, the actions of this girl are not related to human beings," he said. "Then there is only one power left," I told him. "She must be acting under demon power." Dr. Lara explained that his broad experiences as a medical man had not prepared him for an encounter with something that was beyond doubt "supernatural."
I continued, "Dr. Lara, if there is a negative force in the universe over which a positive force has no control, our universe would go to pieces. If there is an evil which no right can correct, then evil is mightier than right. This cannot be. If this girl has demon power in her, then Jesus Christ can deliver her from that power."
I turned to the Gospel of Mark and read, "'And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils' [Mark 16:17]. Do you believe this?" I asked. Dr. Lara looked at me and said, "I believe, but who will help us?" He thought spiritual assistance was out of the question. The Roman Catholic chaplain of Bilibid prison, the Catholic archbishop of the Philippines, and priests of the Roman Catholic healing center at Baclaran had all refused to pray for her. I told him I would be glad to go and pray for the girl if he would permit it. He said I would be welcome. I requested that no medication be given her during the time I would be praying for her and that no other groups be permitted to pray for her or offer assistance in any way. If Jesus healed her, He must have all the glory. He agreed, and an appointment was made for me to return the following morning. I fasted the rest of the day, spending the time in prayer and reading the Word of God.
Upon entering the dreary walls of Bilibid prison the following morning, I felt there was going to be a contest between the God of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Ancient Bilibid, with its centuries of bloody history., was to witness a new kind of battle. Here the Spaniards had imprisoned their victims. Here the Japanese had conducted uncounted atrocities. Here American missionaries had almost starved until the day of liberation. And now there were hundreds of lawbreakers behind its stockades. It was an uninviting place to pray the prayer of deliverance.
On this first morning, Leopoldo Coronel accompanied me. We met Dr. Lara and a professor from the Far Eastern University and started walking toward the women's cell block. Upon seeing the police officers, newspapermen, and photographers who were gathered, I could almost hear the devil whispering, "Just as I told you! Now you have made a fool of yourself!"
Following behind us was a motley crowd without the slightest idea of what they were going to see. By the time we had assembled in a small chapel for women prisoners, there must have been a hundred spectators, including prisoners. At first I felt that my greatest battle would be with the spectators, but they were friendly and even sympathetic. Most of them had already seen the teeth bites on the girl. They had observed the failure of the doctors and psychiatrists and spiritualists. But they had never heard prayer for the diseased and demon possessed. Steel bars covered the windows of the small chapel. A primitive Catholic altar stood at one end of the dreary room. The only other furnishings were a wooden bunk and a couple of small handmade chairs.
After we all gathered in the chapel, Dr. Lara asked that Clarita be brought in. She observed each person slowly and closely as she entered the room. When she came to me at the end of the line, her eyes widened and she glared at me saying, "I don't like you!"
These were the first words the devil spoke through her lips to me. The demons used her lips constantly to curse me, to curse God, and to curse the blood of Christ. She did this in English, yet after she was delivered I had to converse with her through an interpreter, as she could not speak English. I had her sit on a wooden bench, and I drew up chair in front of her.
"Clarita," I said, "I have come to deliver you from the power of these devils in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
Suddenly she went into a fit of rage, screaming, "No, no! They will kill me!" Her body became rigid and she became unconscious. This had baffled the doctors when they had tried to analyze her case, but I had dealt with devils before and understood some of their antics. Taking hold of her head with both hands I cried, "Come out of her, you evil and wicked spirit of hell. Come out of her in Jesus' name!"
Immediately she began to rage again. This was the first time she had instantly come back from one of the trances. With tears flowing down her cheeks she begged me to leave her alone; she showed me terrible marks on her arms and neck where she had been bitten that moment. I was shocked. The teeth marks were so severe that some of the small blood vessels beneath the skin were broken. Rather than feeling like quitting, I simply forgot that I was surrounded with unbelievers and went into the greatest battle of my life.
The devils would curse God and I would demand them to quit and tell them God is holy. Then they would curse the blood of Jesus and I rebuked them, reminding them that he is the Master over every evil power and that His blood is holy. Then they cursed me in the vilest language. They declared they would never leave. It seemed that the powers of darkness and the powers of righteousness were in deadly conflict. I was just the mouthpiece for righteousness. Clarita was the mouthpiece of the devil. Undoubtedly the noise could be heard for some distance in the prison.
Finally it seemed that the girl was relieved. The devils refused to talk to me or to bite her. Some of those present thought she was delivered, but I told them she was not. It was nearly noon and I was soaked with perspiration and nearly exhausted. When I looked around I saw several of the people with tears in their eyes, moved by the things they had seen.
I told Dr. Lara that I desired to go home and fast and pray for another day, and then return the following morning. That day was spent in communion with God. It was precious. I could feel God's presence hovering over me, urging me not to be afraid. However, I felt almost defeated because the evening newspapers had my picture on the front page, three columns wide, and a headline saying, "'The Thing' Defies Pastor." But God kept urging me to return. That night, Rev. Arthur Ahlberg and Rev. Robert McAlister visited us at home and offered to go with me the following day. They would stand between me and the crowd and keep them from getting too close during prayer.
Upon our arrival at Bilibid the following morning, the captain of the prison said Clarita had not been bitten since the prayer. But I knew she was not yet delivered. This became evident as soon as the devils saw me. Through her lips they cried, "Go away! Go away!" I sat on the same small chair in front of her and spoke back with a thrilling feeling of authority. "No, I am not going away, but you are going away! This girl will be delivered today!"
Then I requested every person present to kneel there were as many present as the day before, or more. Doctors, newspapermen, police officers, and professors humbly knelt as I prayed. The battle began again. The devils realized it was their last struggle. They cursed and held on to their victim, begging permission to stay in her. Then they cursed her for not responding, but it was different on this day. The additional time of fasting and prayer had made a difference. I felt the release and knew they had departed. Clarita relaxed. The demon look departed from her eyes. She smiled.
I looked around and noticed that reporters were weeping; there were tears in the eyes of doctors; hardboiled jailers were also weeping. I could now see how terrific the battle had been. Softly I began to sing with brothers Ahlberg and McAlister: Oh, the blood of Jesus Oh, the blood of Jesus Oh, the blood of Jesus That washes white as snow!* On the second time around the Filipinos joined in. The atmosphere seemed clean inside that prison. I asked Clarita if the devils were gone and she answered in her own language, "Yes." "Where did they go?" "Out that window," she replied. We were ready to leave when suddenly, like a flash of lightning, the devils reappeared. The girl screamed and her eyes changed. I said to them, "Why have you returned? You know you must go and not return." Speaking in English through her lips they replied, "But she is unclean. We have a right to live in her."
I answered them in a determined voice. "Mary Magdalene was unclean with seven like you and Jesus came into her life and she became clean by His mighty power. Therefore, I command you now to depart and Jesus will make her clean."
They had no power to resist. They left, and she became normal again. I explained to her what had happened and
got her to pray with me for the forgiveness of her sins. As we were preparing to leave, the same thing was repeated. The unconverted newspapermen could not understand what was happening. Again I questioned the demons why they had returned and they said, "She has not asked us to go. She wants us. It is only you who desires for us to leave."
Again I demanded that they leave her and again they left immediately. I explained to her why they had returned and demanded her to tell them to leave and not return. This she did. Then I taught her to pray and plead the blood of Jesus against them.
It was now about noon, and Clarita was weak from the ordeal. I told the prison officers to give her rest and, after that, food.
As I was leaving I told Clarita that I was sure these devils would return. "After I am gone," I said, "they will come. Then you must demand them to leave without my being present. You must say, 'Go, in Jesus' name,' and they will obey." With this I left the compound.
We asked the newsmen not to write about the morning's events, but they said they were obliged to. The story had run for two weeks and it must be concluded. Since the Methodist Church is the oldest Protestant denomination in the islands, they presumed I was a Methodist, and it was in the papers that way. They did not know how to write of such an experience; therefore, some of what they said was not correct. But I feel mostly responsible for this, as I gave them no interview and left the city to get away from publicity.
The devils did return to attack Clarita, and a strange thing happened when she called on them to leave. She was engaged in a mortal struggle and went into a coma, her fists clenched. The doctor pried her hands open and to his astonishment, there lay some long, black, coarse hair. Dr. Lara placed this hair in an envelope and put it in a guarded place. Under the microscope he found that the hair was not from any part of the human body. The doctor has no answer to this mystery-how an invisible being, presumably a devil, could have lost hair by a visible being pulling it out. This phenomenon we must leave unanswered at the present.
On May 28, a headline in the Manila Chronicle read: "Victim of 'The Thing' Says Torturer Has Disappeared." The Thing is dead! This every believer can now proclaim as Clarita Villanueva ... claimed yesterday that "The Thing" has finally been exorcised. Clarita told of her deliverance from her attackers as she pleaded for mercy before Judge Natividad Almeda-Lopez, who was to have tried her on vagrancy and prostitution charges.
The girl said the prayers of an American minister, Dr. Lester F. Sumrall, who purposely visited her to purge the devil, did it. Since Friday, May 22, when the minister prayed with her at the city jail chapel for women, "The Thing" had never appeared again, Clarita added.
Judge Almeda-Lopez placed Clarita in Welfareville, an institution for wayward girls, for observation. With Dr. Lara, I went to visit her twice and found her overjoyed at our coming. She rushed to us, saying she had feared she would never see us again. She hurried to bring us chairs and sat and talked with us at length. She did not seem like the same girl we had known in Bilibid prison, tormented by devils, her face distorted, screaming at the top of her voice. This was a perfectly normal Filipino girl who had recovered from the nightmare of demon possession.
Let the enemies of the Cross say what they will; Christ had conquered and she who was bound was now set free!
Clarita was soon granted parole and placed in the home of a Christian family. After a time, in order to escape the curious people who wished to see her, she went to the north of Luzon and settled in a small town there.
It is not easy to give a detailed report of such sensational story as this. In my travels in more than on hundred countries and more than one thousand cities of the world, I have not heard anything so amazing. Th following facts are indisputable and unassailable she was bitten and choked by unseen adversaries Her case could not be solved by medical or psychological science. She was delivered by the power of simple prayer to Christ. The glory and praise for this miracle we unreservedly give to God and the Lord Jesus Christ.