Author Topic: Case study: Exorcism of Beatrix Rutherford  (Read 965 times)

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Case study: Exorcism of Beatrix Rutherford
« on: January 21, 2012, 05:07:03 AM »
Those I like to call "enthusiastic amateurs" probably make up the greatest number of exorcists currently practicing, and account for almost all such procedures performed. I don’t have a reliable source to link for this, but anecdotal evidence suggests most belong to the charismatic/pentecostal movements. Often they use the less evocative term “deliverance” instead of exorcism – although they are by no means shy of performing dramatic and theatrical exorcisms with all the bells, bangs and whistles short of revolving heads. There may even be a few of them in the Monstrous community...

Some would object to being called amateurs, despite the fact that they have never formally studied theology, eschatology, apologetics, etc. – while some state that they are “ordained” clergy and even use prefixes such as Reverend – although ordination can be carried out online in under a minute… They have no formal qualification for diagnosing mental illness, are not bound by any rules or conventions and are not operating under episcopalian oversight.  Deliverance is surprisingly lucrative, and the gifts, donations and fees can support quite a comfortable lifestyle. However, that aside, this case deals with clueless amateurs in the truest meaning of the word.

On the night of 17th March 1980, at her home in Park Road, London, 31-year-old Beatrix Mary Rutherford,  put herself at the mercy of two budding exorcists – a 30-year old itinerant (that's the posh word for hobo or tramp) named John Sherwood, and 25-year-old Anthony Strover, an unemployed man from Shepherd’s Bush, London. Sherwood was a pentecostalist, and had previously worked as some kind of actor. He was well-known locally as a “bible thumper” – indeed, his nickname was “John Preacher”.

Beatrix had been in a relationship with Valerie Bott for a number of years, and the two had lived together in Swindon, Wiltshire. The relationship had broken down at the beginning of 1979 although they remained in contact. She seemed to have taken the break up badly, and had started visiting hospital on a voluntary basis for help with her mental “instability.” She met Sherwood while he was preaching at a bus stop in Victoria, London, and the two became friendly, with Sherwood often staying at her home to help her.

On the day of her death, Bott called at Beatrix’s home and the door was answered by Sherwood and Strover. Beatrix was “in a poor mental state” and was crying. Bott said later in court that it appeared to her that she had interrupted some form of interrogation. Sherwood and Strover had placed two chairs side-by-side at the foot of the bed, where Beatrix lay, “huddled on the edge of the bed, mumbling.” Bott said that she asked “What are you doing to her? You are screwing up her mind and will drive her into a mental home!” Distressed, she was escorted out by Sherwood, who “poked her with a Bible” and advised her to go away “and read the scripture.”

Sherwood would later relate that Beatrix had woken that morning “in a trance” and he and Strover had started calling the name of Jesus and praying over her. After Bott left, Beatrix accompanied Sherwood and Strover to the nearby pentecostal church where the three prayed. They then returned to Park Road. A few hours later, Beatrix was dead from internal injuries, having been kicked to death by the two men as they attempted to “exorcise” her.

We only have the testimony of Sherwood and Strover to establish what occurred that night. Notwithstanding their apparent religious zeal, both, strangely, declined to swear on the Bible when put on the witness stand. Sherwood said that when they returned home, he began “calling out to Satan and for the name of the devil [possessing Beatrix]“. Then, he said, he saw “another body over Beatrix’s body which I had not previously seen. I cannot describe it to you, I cannot describe what an evil spirit looks like. This was my first experience; I had never actually seen a demon myself. My  own strength seemed to have been taken over. I became filled with hatred for this evil spirit.” He remembered the demon telling him its name: Jack The Ripper. “The voice was in Beatrix, but a deeper voice.”

At his trial Sherwood claimed that he did not remember hitting Beatrix and said he did not intend any violence towards her. In his initial police statement, however, he said that he had hit and kicked her in the stomach and that both men had jumped on her stomach. Strover first said to police “It started with John hitting her. She was thrown on the bed. I told him to hold her legs and started hitting her in the stomach. I seemed to go berserk and just carried on.” At trial, he said he had slapped her face but not punched her. “I used quite a lot of force when I hit her. I was exhausted in the end because I had been striking her for so long.”

Post mortem examination revealed Beatrix had seven broken ribs and her liver was split open. She had been consistently and deliberately kicked and stamped upon. On the witness stand Sherwood said he thought the injuries were caused by the “great force of the devils leaving her. The last one was Judas Iscariot. I have a memory of being engaged in a struggle with the devil and I may well have struck her, but at the end I could not believe what had happened.”

Strover said “I did not believe that exorcising a person could hurt them, but just the spirit would be cast out. I trusted John to know what to do.” When they realised she was dead, they said that they prayed over her throughout the night in the hope that she would be resurrected. They turned themselves into Enfield Police Station the following evening. They were both found guilty of manslaughter at the Old Bailey and – appallingly – only sentenced to three years imprisonment.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 05:12:08 AM by Jake »

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Re: Case study: Exorcism of Beatrix Rutherford
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2012, 12:10:14 PM »
3 years? Is that how London courts usually are? Or are they just getting soft when it comes to stupid overzealous religious people? How did that guy think the stuff they did to her wouldn't physically hurt?
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Re: Case study: Exorcism of Beatrix Rutherford
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 05:10:24 AM »
Here's the clipped report from microfilm:

The sentences appear - certainly to you and I - to be shockingly lenient. The Offences Against The Person Act 1861 allows for a sentence up to life imprisonment ("Whosoever shall be convicted of manslaughter shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be kept in penal servitude for life") or any lesser term. As you can see, the judge decided that the killers were "upright Christian men" (even though they would not give their evidence on oath) and felt this was grounds to reduce their sentence to a mere trifle.

Clearly, the law is an ass.

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Re: Case study: Exorcism of Beatrix Rutherford
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 04:21:40 AM »
I used to know John Sherwood, the name mentioned in this exorcism.

We lived in the same country village in central UK.

He went to a top fee paying boarding school, his father was a retired Colonel in the army, they had a beautiful house and John was an exceptionally polite boy.

We went on a working holiday in Spain and another in Gibraltar. He was very good looking and very appealing to the ladies.

There was no one more shocked and surprised than me when I first read about his involvement in this dark moment, occuring about 10 or so years after last seeing him.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 04:41:42 AM by john_g »

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Re: Case study: Exorcism of Beatrix Rutherford
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 03:16:25 AM »
upright christian men huh? clearly the judge should be disbarred.
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