Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Werewolf Syndrome: Compulsive Bestial Slaughterers

Serial Beasts

Michael Lupo
Michael Lupo

Not all serial killers who get the moniker "werewolf" or "wolf" actually behave in a wolf-like manner.  Michael Lupo of London liked that his name meant wolf — he was even referred to as "The Wolf Man" - but his murders involved strangulation.  Likewise, the "Werewolf of San Francisco," William Johnston, used a straight razor on his three victims during the 1930s, rather than ripping them apart in a frenzy.  Since he'd dragged it along their bodies several times, the results had the appearance of claw marks.  Two victims had been prostitutes and one had been his wife.

And not all "werewolves" actually killed.  In London, Bill Ramsey first experienced a strange sensation and its accompanying foul odor when he was nine years old.  He began to think of himself as a wolf and to experience rage-filled compulsions in the form of seizures that made him snap and bite.  This pain dogged him into adulthood, but he kept it under control until one night in 1983.  He went to a hospital, and as he was being treated, he lunged out and bit a nurse.  He then ran to a corner and crouched on all fours, like a wolf, growling at anyone who came near him.

The police arrived to take him into custody.  Several people grabbed and restrained him on a gurney until a sedative could be administered.  From there, he was taken to a psychiatric institution.  It was not clear what should be done for him.

Steiger describes how demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren soon got involved with the case.  They proposed that Ramsey was possessed by a "werewolf demon" that needed to be exorcised.  With the family's permission, they invited Bishop Robert McKenna to perform it.  They all gathered in Connecticut for the ritual, along with four police officers, just in case things got out of hand.  It was said that Ramsey possessed great strength and they feared what could happen should he become possessed, break free and escape.  During the ceremony, a crucifix was applied to parts of Ramsey's body while Latin incantations were said.

Ramsey apparently thought the ritual was bogus before it began, but supposedly the bishop recognized the demon spirit inside the man.  The ritual lasted for half an hour, as the bishop commanded the demon to leave Ramsey's body.  The officers restrained Ramsey when he tried to attack McKenna, but eventually, as described in the Warren's book, Werewolf, he experienced a force leaving his body.  Supposedly, he found peace from the demons and was free thereafter from any further possession. 

It's not clear whether there was much follow-up, so as to note whether Ramsey was genuinely "cured."  Even so, the ceremony might merely have had a powerful psychological effect on him.  As such, he might have come to believe strongly enough in his religious purification that he was able to go on with his life.

The same cannot be said for one of the most monstrous beast-like serial killers in world history.  It took a bullet to finally end his "curse."

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