The Pennsylvania Rain Man – Possession By The Devil Himself?First Published: January 12, 2018 Last updated: July 28th, 2018 Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes
Cases of alleged demonic possession are aplenty, and have been throughout history. Few accounts though, if any, can match the chilling and outright bizarre events that surround Don Decker.
Aside from Decker, nine other witnesses would go on record regarding the events – these included four police officers and a prison warden. By the time the story gained national and international attention, Decker’s account would appear on various television shows. In short, the incidents of February 1983 are arguably some of the most credible paranormal accounts on record, and certainly one of the most corroborated cases of demonic possession in recent history. In fact, so powerful were the events witnessed, many believed to be in the presence of the Devil himself.
Others state, that while the incident was almost certainly something of a paranormal nature, it is more likely to be a result of psychokinetic energy – an energy that was dark and twisted, and had been building up over a lifetime due, as we shall see, to a childhood of abuse. That something happened however, is beyond any reasonable doubt.
Paranormal investigator, Peter Jordan, who along with his fellow investigator, Chip Decker (no relation) would state, “The Donald Decker case is by far the singularly most fascinating and important case I have ever personally been involved in!”
Before we look at the case of Don Decker in detail, check out the short video below. It looks at five of most chilling cases of demonic possession.
The Dark and Distressing World of Don Decker
On the grey, cold morning of 26th February 1983, in the sleepy town of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, while on compassionate leave from Monroe County Correctional Facility, Don Decker would bid farewell to his late grandfather, James Kishaugh, while at his funeral. It wasn’t a fond farewell however. It was one full of angst, hate, and revenge. And it was easy to understand why. Kishaugh had abused Decker since he had been seven years old. Now, it was all he could do to keep those dark feelings hidden beneath mock grief.
Decker was in the middle of a twelve month sentence for receiving stolen goods. Hardly the stuff of career criminals, but all the same, his family (and in particular, his mother) had all but disowned him. In part, this was the reason he visited the home of family friends close to him, Bob and Jeannie Keiffer, after he had taken all he could stomach at the funeral. He would spend the rest of his leave here until his escorted return to the prison.
It was here, at some point in the evening, that “something” happened to Don Decker. Something strange, life-changing, and beyond terrifying.
Strange Events Escalate
What unfolded is surely some of the most surreal events on record. What’s more, they were largely kept out of the larger public arena for almost a decade.
At some point during the evening, Decker would visit the bathroom. While there, he would suddenly feel a “profound chill” begin to overtake him. Feeling faint, he fell to the floor. Disorientated and feeling as though he was in some kind of trance, he lay on the tiled floor trying to refocus his mind. Before he could, his grandfather appeared above him. At the same time, in front of his own eyes, cuts and scratches would appear on his arm from out of nowhere.
He managed to tear himself out of the secluded bathroom, hurtling down the stairs to his hosts. Both arms were bleeding heavily from the wounds inflicted from assailants unknown, and unseen.
He rattled out what happened in the bathroom to Bob, himself now confused as to just what was going on. Before he could finish relaying his account, loud, frantic bangs sounded throughout the Keiffer’s property.
And with the noises, came the water.
Water “Bubbling Up Through The Floor!”
The water came down so hard it appeared as though it were raining right there in the Kieffer’s living room. Decker himself again appeared glazed and as though he had gone back into a strange trance.
At a loss as to what to do, and fearing damage to the property, Bob telephoned the landlord, Ron Van Why. By the time he arrived, the situation intensified further. The water continued to pour from above, but even appeared to be “bubbling up through the floor!” Van Why would state years later as various television shows looked to document the case, “There was no basic direction that it was coming from. It could come from anywhere!”
Unable to locate the source of the leak, and given the still trance-like state that Decker was in, a call went out to local police. Officers, Richard Wolbert and John Baujan, arrived shortly after to a scene unlike any they had previously seen. Baujan would state later in television interviews, “I literally had a chill going up my spine. This was a situation where things were happening that I never, ever dreamed could possibly happen. And there was no way of explaining what was going on!”
The officers would suggest removing Decker from the house and taking him to a pizzeria over the road from the property, hoping this at least might pull him from the trance he was seemingly under. The two police sought out their superiors, and Van Why persisted in trying to find the source of the leaks.
As he did, over the road in the pizzeria where Decker now sat, water began to pour down from the ceiling.
The Burning Crucifix
By now, others in the pizzeria were not only aware of the water that was suddenly gushing down upon them, but it was clear to all in eyesight, that Decker was in a surreal and zombie-like state.
As the pizzeria owner, Pam, watched events unfold, and in particular Decker himself, she suddenly had the thought that he was perhaps possessed by something demonic. According to reports from those at the scene, she placed a small crucifix she kept in the cash register onto Decker’s flesh. Instantly, a burn mark appeared on his skin where the cross had been, and Decker screeched in pain before seemingly snapping out from whatever influence he was under.
Pam would say of the incident with the crucifix, “There was no way anybody could have played a joke like that. This was real. Donny was doing it himself. He was doing it without realizing he was doing it!”
With Decker now seemingly fully aware and back to his own self, the Keiffers escorted him back to their home. Almost as soon as he left the pizzeria, did the water cease to fall. At the same time, upon entering the Keiffer’s home, the water began again to flow from all directions. Even stranger, crockery and pans began to rattle and clash loudly from inside the kitchen.
Van Why, now equally frustrated and suspicious, would accuse Bob and Decker of pulling some kind of prank. The arguing became increasingly heated. Only when Decker rose up from the floor by some oversized and unseen hand, and thrown squarely against the wall of the kitchen did they stop.
Back at the Keiffer’s Home
The following day, Officers Baujan and Wolbert would return to the Keiffer’s property where Decker was still staying. They would bring with them fellow officers, Bill Davies and John Rundle. Their superior, Gary Roberts, was not at all convinced of anything out of the ordinary, and would order the two officers to forget the affair. They couldn’t.
Everything had seemingly returned to normal in the Keiffer’s household however. No water ran, and Decker was no longer under any type of demonic spell.
When Davies asked Decker to humor him and hold a gold crucifix he possessed however, things began to change. Decker, obviously in discomfort, stated the cross was hot and burning his skin. Eyeing him suspiciously, Davis went to retrieve the gold cross. It was then that Decker would levitate several feet from the ground, before some excessively strong and unseen force flung him across the room as if he was a discarded toy. As had happened the previous day, strange wounds began to appear on Decker’s body in front of the officers present.
What made all four witnesses recoil in horror, is these wounds appeared to come courtesy of something with razor sharp claws. One in particular would appear right across Decker’s neck, which was lucky not to severe an artery. Officer Rundell would later assert “I have no answer for it whatsoever!”
Events Continue Upon Return To Prison
Upon his return to prison several days later, any hope that the strange incidents would end vanished. Instead, they increased and transferred their abode to Decker’s prison cell. This time however, it would appear that Decker himself was able to control this power. The first few days back at the correctional facility had come and gone without incident. Decker though, began to wonder if he could make the water come and go at will.
Not knowing what he was doing, he would state years later that he would “concentrate” on the water appearing. To his utter shock, it did. Seeing the affect his new found ability seemingly had on the prison guards, Decker would almost goad them with his “gift”, stating to them he had “made it rain in his cell!”
By the time the incident, and the reports of Decker’s experience while on leave from the facility came to the attention of the prison warden, David Keenhold, he became quickly convinced Decker’s case to be one of demonic possession. He would waste little time in bringing the incident to the prison minister, Reverend William Blackburn.
Blackburn was more than skeptical of Decker, and bluntly told him that “it was all in his head!” It was then that Decker went into the trance-like state he was under in the Keiffer’s home. An unknown but vile odor permeated the room where the two men sat. Then the water began to pour again.
The reverend would later state unreservedly that “he was in the presence of evil!” He began to read hastily from his bible, which he noticed, despite the entire room soaking in water, remained completely dry throughout. The exorcism appeared to work, and Decker returned to his normal demeanor, the abhorrent odor disappeared and the drenching stopped. Blackburn would later state, “There was no doubt in my mind (of possession). There’s no way a human could do what he did in that room!”
The episode would mark the last (known) time of any such incidents involving Decker. He would serve out the remainder of his sentence, and then, aside from the telling of his story to several paranormal television shows, would live a relatively quiet life.
Until recently that is.
Hoax or Possession?
Decker would be arrested again in 2012. The charge on this occasion was arson of a restaurant. He would eventually be released on bail but to some, the incident would hurt his credibility. Some sources claim the fire was part of an insurance scam, and while Decker was involved, the restaurant owner also faced the same (and further) charges.
Of course to others, such an incident connected to fire, particularly given his apparent power to “summon water”, a power many thought given to him from the Devil himself, only lent Decker another layer of mystique.
Given the amount of witnesses, many of them in “trustworthy” positions of employment, as well as the multiple locations the bizarre incidents unfolded, it is hard to see how even the most ardent skeptic can dismiss Decker’s encounters as simple hoax. Even an elaborate one would have taken some doing. Incidentally, Decker himself firmly believes the spirit of his grandfather was behind the incidents – one last attempt to abuse his life-long victim.
One paranormal researcher however, Robert Bartholomew, is one such skeptic, who among other things, looks to the lack of any photographic or video evidence of the incidents. This is perhaps a fair point in that following the confusion of the initial events, there were ample opportunities to capture such evidence.
The cold fact is though, we will never know for sure just who, or what, was behind the events of early-1983.
Check out the video below – a quick recap of the Don Decker incidents.