Hysteria High

Hysteria High
Illustration: Butcher Billy

Miami suited the Devil. He arrived in Magic City in the 1960s on the lips of Caribbean exiles, who believed that evil spirits and demons invade the weak of heart. Among the pink-colored homes of Miami’s Cuban district, Little Havana, children played among the residues of dark rituals — little piles of cigar stubs, apples and severed chickens’ heads. By 1973, the year “The Exorcist” horrified theatergoers, it appeared the Devil had decided to settle down, like so many retirees, in Florida. In 1974, according to the Sarasota-Tribune, Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital treated 700 demonic possessions a month. That year, a 9-year-old girl stood up in a nearby church and said, “I am satan” in a voice that wasn’t hers. Then, just before Halloween in 1979, emergency dispatchers answered a chilling 9-1-1 call from a local school.

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Jamie Larson