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Long shrouded in mystery, the identity of the boy who served as the inspiration for the legendary story 'The Exorcist' has been revealed to be a former NASA engineer who passed away last year. By way of an investigation by JD Sword from the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, it has been determined that Ronald Edwin Hunkeler was the then-14-year-old individual who underwent a series of exorcisms back in 1949 at his home in Cottage City, Maryland. Word of the strange case of purported demonic possession captivated writer William Peter Blatty, who subsequently penned a fictionalized version of the account titled The Exorcist, which then went on to become a hit Hollywood film of the same name.

Although Hunkeler's identity was known to the Jesuit priests and medical professionals who tended to him more than seven decades ago, his name was kept secret from the general public since he was just a boy when the strange case occurred and the teenager was dubbed simply 'Roland Doe.' By connecting various clues which came to light over the years, such as the boy's date of birth and a high school yearbook for Cottage City, Sword was able to pinpoint a particularly promising suspect. Upon bringing the information to journalist Mark Opsasnick, who had previously thoroughly investigated the case, his findings were confirmed when he was told "the Haunted Boy is Ronald Hunkeler. That’s a fact."

With Hunkeler's central role in the 'Exorcist' story finally being revealed, an unnamed friend spoke to the New York Post about how the experience shaped his subsequent years and the remarkable life he led after the events of 1949. According to the woman, he was quite literally haunted by the legendary story and the notoriety that surrounded it. Plagued with fears that it would someday be revealed to be that he was the 'haunted boy," she lamented that "he had a terrible life from worry, worry, worry" and that Hunkeler always left the house on Halloween because he was concerned that someone would show up on that evening to blow his proverbial cover.

However, Hunkeler did not appear to have been diminished by the dark cloud which hung over him due to his connection to 'The Exorcist' story as he actually went on to have a distinguished career as an engineer with NASA and even worked on the famed Apollo program. As for the events of 1949, his friend recalled that "he said he wasn't possessed, it was all concocted. He said, 'I was just a bad boy.'" While that very well may be the case, Hunkeler's passing last May produced one last uncanny and rather eerie moment when, a few days earlier, a Catholic priest showed up out of the blue at his home to perform the last rites. "I have no idea how the Father knew to come," his friend marveled, "but he got Ron to heaven."

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