Missionaries. Knives. Demonic Possession?

Throughout this blog, I’ll share some stories from the time I was a Mormon missionary in Las Vegas.  I’ll discuss when I was propositioned by prostitutes, had fully naked people answer doors, taught half dressed TV stars and even some of the extremely manipulative tactics I used to baptize people.  Today I’ll be sharing the most frightening experience I had.  It involves me serving with a missionary who was obviously mentally ill, to the point that he pulled a knife on me.  I’ll tell it as if I was still a believing Mormon, then at the end I’ll give my view of it now; having no belief in demons or evil spirits508ed4334d20d.image.

For those who don’t know, Mormon missionaries are put in companionships of two and instructed to never leave the presence of their companion, thus they are not tempted by Satan.  It’s a safety in numbers type thing.  You eat, sleep, and work with this other missionary.  24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Imagine having a 15 foot string attached to you and your college roommate and for a period of months, you can never break that string, minus showers and bathroom breaks.  Plus, you don’t get to choose your roommate….  Sounds like a potential hell?  Well, at times it definitely was.

We called him Sid and I was made his companion when I was a little over half way through my mission.  Prior to being teamed up with me, he had broken a previous companion’s nose, threatened missionaries and other heinous deeds.  The reality is, he should have been sent home long before I got him but our mission president said I was his last chance.  Sid was 6’5″ and weighed a little over 200 lbs.  He wore thick black rimmed glasses and had a quiet, introverted demeanor.  He also had a temper and would lash out at the oddest times.  Behind his dark brown eyes laid something restless, begging to get out; his true self hidden, craving exposure and freedom.

The day I was assigned to Sid, his previous companion, Elder Williams, walked up to me and said, “Elder Mills, Sid works off intimidation.  I told him you were a boxer because if he’s scared of you, he’s less likely to provoke or try to fight you.”

I was confused and said, “A boxer?  I’m 6’4, 165 lbs.  Skinny as hell.  You couldn’t think of something better than a boxer?”

He shrugged his shoulders, slapped me on the back and said, “Good luck.”  Little did Elder Williams know Sid would later admit to me that he peed in his shampoo bottle because it was the only way he felt he could hurt him.  He wasn’t fond of Elder Williams. This caused me to washed my hair with my bar of soap the entire time I was with Sid.

Sid and I arrive at our apartment and the first thing he does is walk up to me, look me up and down and say, “So you’re a boxer, huh?”  His grin told me he didn’t believe that for a second.

“A boxer?  Who told you that?  They might have gotten confused, as I’m a black belt in Karate.”  I had to think of something and I figured martial arts was the best bet, given my frame.  Reality is I had never been in a fight my entire life.  Well, I got jumped once in 6th grade by a 5 foot nothing 8th grader and got my ass kicked.  That was it.  I had no fighting skills whatsoever and I prayed Sid never called my bluff, as he had size and experience on me.  Plus, rage.  Damn, this kid had rage.

He seemed to accept my lie and moved on.  Throughout the first couple months, he would challenge me quite a bit, trying to get me to fight him.  One time he had his bike chain and was swinging it towards my face because he didn’t want to go work that day.  I just stood there, staring at the chain, as it got closer and closer to my face.  I told him he didn’t want to hit me, as I would have to hurt him.  He responded with, “You don’t know Karate.  You’re bluffing.”

“Try me.  Hit me and you’ll quickly find out.”  Hey, the only thing I had was this bluff.  I was going to live or die by it.  Couldn’t show him any signs of weakness.  Right then, he swung the bike chain so hard, it flew past my face and hit him in the head.  Luckily he was wearing his bike helmet.  We proceeded to go to work.

We had experiences like this through out our time together.  He would threaten to kick my ass and I would call his bluff, him never calling mine.  Thank God.

Sid also had a fondness for knives.  Putting a target on our kitchen wall.  Constantly throwing them.  His aim was horrible, as we had holes in our wall and dings in our counter and cabinets but this didn’t deter him at all.  “Knives are my friends,” he’d like to tell me.

Eventually, we began to get along and he started to confide in me as a friend.  This made for an interesting three weeks, as I got to know him and discovered how disturbed he really was.  He told me stories about dreaming of hurting people and how he had everyone back home fooled.  They thought he was a nice quiet perfect Mormon but inside he was “dark and had horrible thoughts.”  I began to realize this kid never should have been allowed to go on a mission and needed serious psychiatric help but here he was… with me.  So I would make the most of it.

Understand that when you are a missionary, you feel invincible, as you have God’s protection; as foolish as this thought may be, it seemed very real at the time.

Suddenly his attitude changed and he became aggressive and antagonistic again.  I’m not sure what provoked him but it was like turning on a light switch.  He began threatening me almost daily, as I forced him to leave the apartment to work.  He frequently talked about pornography and disturbing violent images.  During this time we were flashed by two women on the road one day.  This particularly pleased him.  It was very unsettling watching him unravel.

Then came the last night I would ever see Sid.  It was 10:30, which was bedtime for Missionaries.  I laid down in bed and he pushed play on a tape he liked to listen too from time to time.  It was pearl jam but it was screwed and sounded demonic.  I asked him to turn it off, so we could go to sleep, to which he denied my request.  Next, he did a series of things that began to creep me out, to say the least:

First, he got up, walked over to my bed and began taking pictures of me with the flash turned on.  He took about 10 pictures until finally stopping.

Second, he picked up one of my hats and standing over me, started to drool on it, as if he was a rabid dog.  The foamy saliva landing on my blanket.  You’d think this would be enough for me to do something but No, I was an invincible missionary, remember.  I simply asked him to stop and waited until he went back to his bed.

Third, he took out a metal rod from his drawer and held it to my chest.  Threatening to beat me up.  This whole time I thought he was just screwing around with me and I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction, so I calmly asked him to remove the club so I could get some sleep.  After he finished with the threats he went back to his drawer and pulled out a large butcher knife.

“Where the hell did he get the knife?”  I thought to myself.  This should have sent me running out of the room but I was determined to beat him at his game, so I just laid there.  He slowly walks up to me and puts the knife against my cheek.  He doesn’t say anything, just keeps the knife slightly pressed on me.

I slowly said, with each word getting louder, “Get. That. Knife. Off. My…. FACE!”  I’m amazed it didn’t cut me.  I jerk quickly to face him and he removes the knife.  I’d finally had a enough and I walked over to the phone in our kitchen.  He quickly unplugs the phone from the jack and I say, “Plug the cord back in or I’ll walk downstairs to the members house and call our Mission President from their phone and everyone will know how crazy you really are.  Otherwise, I’ll just call out Zone Leader (ZL).” (ZL is a fellow missionary who was put in charge of our area)  He plugs the phone back in and I call our ZL.  I’m not sure what he did with the knife but he didn’t have it in his hands, so I felt better.

I tell the ZL that Sid is just acting out and we’ll be fine but I had to call him as a threat to get him to calm down, then I went back to bed.  Seems stupid?  Well, this whole story has a lot of stupid, so sit back and enjoy.

Upon entering my room, I turn off the lights, get under my covers and tell Sid to go to sleep.  He responds by saying the following phrase in what seemed like someone else’s deep raspy voice, “Pray to Satan.  You’re fucking ass is gone!”

OK, NOW I’M FREAKING OUT!!!!  I felt cold and scared for the first time, since being partnered up with Sid.  I get up, tell Sid to stay there and I call our ZL.

After hearing everything that happened, the ZL he-man power of greyskulltells me he must be possessed and to raise my arm to the square and cast the demon out of him.  You see, Mormons believe that they have the priesthood, which is the power to act in the name of God.  To cast out a demon you simply raise your right arm to the square and say, “By the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood, I command you Demon to leave in the name of Jesus Christ.”

NO!  Not “By the power of Grey Skull!”  We aren’t He-Man, as much as I must have thought I was during this story.  Actually, it would have been great I just yelled that instead.

Now that I was armed with the power of the Priesthood and knowing I can cast our demons far better than any Catholic Priest, as I had the “True Priesthood.” I went to the room to do my priestly duty and save Sid from what could only be demonic possession.

He was standing in our bedroom doorway when I reached the hallway.  He was staring me down, looking like he could attack at any moment.  I raised my hand to the square and said, “Elder Sid W….., by the Power of the Melchizedek Priesthood, I command thee Demon to leave in the name of Jesus Christ!”

Jesus heals the man with unclean spirits named Legion Luke 8:29-30Instantly, Sid’s head bent down and he seemed submissive.  I told him to pack his bags, as we are going to the ZL’s house.  He did I said without word for a few minutes but slowly he began to get aggressive and I felt that creepy sensation once again.  He poured cherry coke on my chest when I was walking past him once and I raised my arm to the square to case the demons out yet again.  I did this two more times, as he would be calm after I did it but then a few minutes later he seemed to invite the demon back in and would cause me to use my Priesthood.  I started to tire of this routine.

Finally, I was standing in the living room, waiting for our ZL to arrive, when Sid walked right up to me.  He had a mouth full of cherry coke, got within two inches of my nose and spewed it all over my face.  After wiping the soda out of my eyes, I looked into his and all I saw was darkness.  He seemed to be begging me to hit him.  I refused to give into this extremely strong desire to fight back and simply walked downstairs, when our ZL pulled up in his car.

My ZL went upstairs to get Sid and I imagine he also cast the demon out of him yet again.  It’s starting to be a full-time job, casting demons out of this boy.  We got in the car, with Sid directly behind me and we drove off to the ZL’s apartment.  Sid tried to choke me during the drive, as we weren’t very bright in putting him directly behind me.  Once we got to the apartment, the ZL and I decided it wasn’t good for me to be there but we couldn’t leave Sid alone…. so…. we left the ZL’s rookie companion at the apartment to deal with Sid, while we went to the AP’s apartment.  (AP stands for Assistant to the President and they are the missionaries who help the President run the mission.  The top of the missionary food chain, so to speak).  Now, this might seem mean of us to leave a mentally unbalanced, possessed 6’4″, 200 lbs person with a kid who had been in the mission field a total of 6 weeks and was a stout 5’8″ 135 lbs…. but hey, we were all Missionaries and thought the Good Lord would protect us, including this young kid, so out we ran for safety.

This new missionary would spend the rest of the night calling the AP’s apartment, as he locked himself in the room.  He told us Sid was in the kitchen, playing with knives and talking gibberish to himself all night.  Sometimes banging on the walls and yelling.  I feel a little bad for the kid but I was mainly worried about my well being, to be honest.

The next day was our Zone Conference and Sid was immediately sent home by the Mission President.  I was his last straw and I guess threatening my life qualifies as breaking to the point of going home.

That day I was promoted to Zone Leader.  I thought that proved I had endured this challenge from Satan well.  My Mission President would ask me why I didn’t hit him and I would say, “Because he wanted me too.”  But that’s not the truth.  I was scared shitless and I knew he’d whoop my ass, so I ran; but I couldn’t actually say that to anyone.

The worst part of the story is less than 5 months later I got a letter from Sid.  He apologized for what he did to me, which was nice.  Then he said he was “cured” and his Bishop had authorized him to go back out to the mission field.  My heart sunk, as I knew there was no way he could be “cured” in five months.  I felt sorry for the missionaries he would be companions with, in the new mission he got assigned too.  I’ve never heard from him again.

Now, some may be asking what I think of this story now that I’m an Atheist and don’t believe in Demons or Satan.  It’s simple.  I think Sid had a serious mental illness that went unchecked.  I think he was very disturbed and channeled his energy into what he was taught as evil.  Others might ask, “But the raising your arm to the square worked on him?”  Did it?  Did it really?  Even if it seemed to work for a few moments, I believe it was programmed in his head by his religious indoctrination that raising the arm meant casting out a demon.  His mind was trying to act like a demon, so when I did that particular action, his mind registered it and reacted accordingly.  It obviously didn’t take.

Now, that is my very amateur, no psychology education or experience at all, opinion and merely what makes logical sense to me.  I hope you enjoyed the story, as all facts laid out are 100% accurate and not at all embellished for your reading enjoyment.  Seriously, this shit was true.  Next time I’ll share the stories of naked people, prostitutes and minor TV stars.

9 Comments

  1. How frightening! And how shameful the leaders in the church didn’t send him home the first time he acted up! But it doesn’t surprise me because bishops, missionary presidents, etc are not trained how to take care of people who need psychological assistance. I don’t have a psychology background either. But I have a lot of experience with mental illness. I have a close family member who is schizophrenic. When he is talking about his delusions or acting them out I just tell him that it’s not true and he can’t tell people things that are dishonest and I don’t want to hear about it. He will immediately stop talking until time has passed and it begins again. I think people in these type of situations like to live in their own head and when they are confronted they temporarily back down.

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  2. This is a crazy and sad story. I’m sorry you and others went though this on your mission. However, you make it sound like mormons believe in demonic possession, and specifically link this to mental illness. That simply is not true! I”ve been mormon for 17 years and have never heard members believe this concept or for this to have been taught. Yes, we believe in Staten and his followers as real spirits on this earth who tempt us and try to make our lives miserable. But possession? No. And it being the cause of mental illness? NO! Maybe they teach that in the west coast but not here in the east! (just joking.) I think readers should keep in mind the zone leader who suggested the demonic possession approach was a 19 to 21 yr old boy who was way over his head in this situation! American Mormons are well…American when it comes to mental illness. Some might be ignorant, ashamed, think its a weakness, or maybe a lack of faith. But mostly my peers and I view it as like having diabetes or high blood pressure. An illness- brain\biological based, not your fault- give me a pill for that, please and thank you very much!!

    Yes, Yes, the mission president should have sent this elder home way sooner. That boy needed some help! (And maybe 911 should have been called too!) I’m wondering, in an attempt to be good companions and in trying to “bare a trail well” if you and his previous companions were not 100% forth coming with how bad, weird, and scary his behavior really was up until this point? Another factor could also have been the cycle nature of many mental illnesses (how it ebbs and flows. You feel better and normal for a while and then boom- you aren’t!) . I do hope mission presidents are getting more training and education in mental health now. They need it. I think its getting better at least on a local level. In my local area we had this topic come up 2x in the past year. One was a Relief Society meeting about mental illness. The presenter specifically pointed out that parents need to be watchful for mental health issues in their mission age kids, as young adulthood is a common time for problems to first manifest or previous ones get worse. The second meeting was another RS one with the mission president and his wife. They specifically said don’t send your kid with a mental illness on a mission unless its very well controlled with medications/appropriate treatment. They went on to say they have had to send missionaries home and it is “cruel” to send a person on a mission with unmanaged mental illness….missions are hard….and they aren’t mental health professionals! (Apparently some people think everything will be OK because the spirit can heal them to do the Lords work. But obviously there is faulty thinking in that! ) I think the church has also made it clear in the last 5-10 yrs that they want missionaries who really are ready, truly live the gospel standards, who want to be in the field-not those who just feel obligated but don’t want to be there. You know the whole “raising the bar” expressions. Its still viewed as a duty for the ym but I feel like its not as much pressure. That pressure to go even if you don’t want to, just doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Hopefully that is helping to prevent others from going through what you and Sid went through.

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    1. I agree with almost everything you’ve said. My wife has bipolar and we are very aware of mental illness. In fact, today we are posting about how it initially changed our lives.

      We were most definitely 20 year old kids and had no understanding of mental illness. We looked at everything in the spiritual realm. This was 14 years ago. I’d like to believe the LDS church has made great improvements in this area.

      I will correct you on one point. You might not believe in demonic possession, which is commendable, but plenty of Mormons do. Raising your arm to the square is real doctrine, that is taught. Albeit not frequently.

      Does it relate to mental illness??? Hell No! Again, we were ignorant boys. Although, I shared this story with my Mission President and countless leaders over the years and not one has corrected me. I came to realize he was mentally ill on my own years ago.

      The fact is, the LDS church and many other religions are far behind the 8 ball in terms of understanding mental illness, for largely the reasons you discuss above.

      Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoyed other stories. Come back later this morning and read our posts about Bipolar Disorder.

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  3. I just have to put in my 2 cents. I have a father with a severe mental illness. As a 12 year old I didn’t understand what it was. I went to a bishop and told him what was happening.in my family in great detail concerning delusions and hallucinations my father was having. The Bishop was a very intelligent man with a great deal of education. He was a former mission president. He believed what was happening with my father was a result of Satan’s influence. I went to my seminary teacher and told him the same things. He also thought it was Satan who was taking over my father. No one ever mentioned to me that it was a mental illness! I believe times have changed and we are aware of such circumstances. I believe if this were to happen today the bishop would direct people to LDS social workers. But back then (20 years ago) it was not mental illness but demonic possession or Satan.

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  4. Barry you were doing it all wrong. If you kick out a demon of course he is just going to go get his friends and attack with even greater force. You weren’t the only LDS missionary to have this problem. I remember a story about the first missionaries to England being tormented by demons who wanted to stop the Lord’s one true church from spreading across the earth. Maybe the prophet should ask God and perhaps he would reveal a spell of protection you could do to totally keep the demons away from the area after you cast one out.

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  5. Its sad to hear you say your an atheist. It leaves you vulnerable to evil influence you cant see. Ive been a Morman all my life went down some dark roads and thank heavens made my way back. Im also a nurse worked at a psychiatric hospital for 5 yrs and have seen all types of schizophrenia, bipolar you name it. In that 5 yrs I can say I witnessed 2 people I absolutely know where possessed. There was a different feeling about them then the others. One targeted me knowing when I was walking into the room and making eye contact with me not taking her eyes off me with a smirk on her face as soon as I turned the corner to come in. The woman finally stopped glaring at me and turned her back twords us. My tech folded her arms bowed her head and said a silent prayer while her back was turned. The woman swings around and yells Jesus get out of here! But when the dr walked in she seemed to be just fine and was released the same day. Come to find out it was an atheist dr and just as it says in the scriptures Satan will hide himself. If he was to make himself known to this dr. She could cause many to folow Jesus who looked up to her. My family and I have seen many other evil things after buying and living in an old hospital for yrs. One thing I witnessed over and over is that Satan will and has to listen to the Lords command. The Lord has complete control and he lets things happen for the benefit of man. And I have no doubt there was a lesson for you in that experience whatever it be and the Lord did keep you safe. That story was crazy cool thx for that.

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    1. Don’t be sad that I’m an agnostic atheist. I love it. I’m much happier and a far better person now, with these beliefs. I wish you the best and thank you for your work with the mentally ill. That’s a tough job. Extremely tough. You do good work!

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