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Destination America's 'Exorcism Live' (Oct. 30) has Atlanta ties

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By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Friday, October 30, 2015

On Halloween Eve, Destination America is tapping into the appeal of big "live" events by holding a live exorcism of an infamous St. Louis home that was has been supposedly haunted for decades.

Called (of course) "Exorcism Live," the show will be overseen by Marietta native and Lassiter High School graduate Jodi Tovay, development & production of network television and documentary film for Destination America.

And Atlanta psychic Chip Coffey ("Paranormal State," "Psychic Kids") will help out.

Tovay said she witnessed an exorcism live on a church mission trip to Mexico when she was 16. "A chaperone was having a hard time with praise and worship," she said. "It turned out he was possessed. We did it on the spot. After I saw that, I've always been obsessed with exorcisms."

In the late 1940s, priests of the Roman Catholic Church did a series of exorcisms on a young boy in St. Louis allegedly possessed by a demon. The events that followed inspired a 1971 novel "The Exorcist" and a 1973 film of the same name.

The newest exorcism is going to happen in the same home where the boy lived 66 years after the original exorcism.

"It's something we've been working on for the past year," Tovay said. "It's been in my head since I was a young kid."

She is promoting this as "the most dangerous night on TV. It's a suburban home in a residential tree-lined street. We'll do a ghost investigation to confirm it's haunted with our 'Ghost Asylum' team. We'll do a seance with Chip Coffey. He's world class. He's really good."

Coffey said he hasn't done live TV in a long time. "I feel some trepidation," he said. "I really do. I want to go in as spiritually prepared as I can and as protective as I can." A priest, he said, will be on hand.

He said he knows the risk of doing a seance to contact the "negative entities."

"There's no way even as a psychic to predict what will happen," Coffey said. "We're dealing with some pretty heavy subject matter here."

He has already staked out the unassuming house and says "it's not clean."

The current occupants are allowing them to do the exorcism but do not want to show up on camera or be identified. "I can't blame them," Tovay said. "Nobody wants to look crazy."

The ultimate goal is get rid of those negative spirits.

"People think it's driving out the spirit," Tovay said. "Actually, it's a negotiation with the spirit. We convince them that they are no longer welcome. The creepy thing is the negative energy will just move somewhere else. It's dangerous."

And she said they are prepared for anything: "We will have EMTs and medics. Everyone is signing a waiver."

Tovay admits she is sounding like a believer but says she considers herself a "curious skeptic. I feel like most of our viewers are like that. Everyone has a logical or rational mind and think we are in control of our lives. But there are things you can't explain away. People can still hate watch this and decide for themselves."


"Exorcism Live," 9 p.m. Friday, October 30, Destination America


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.