Warner Bros.’ 1973 horror film The Exorcist has remained one of the most famous movies in its genre for close to half a century, and for good reason. At the time of its release, the special effects were the best the world had seen, and the shock value of certain scenes had the ability to stick with viewers long after they watched. However, the film unknowingly featured something even more terrifying than any special effect: a real-life murderer. Here is the story of Paul Bateson.
How Bateson Scored The Role
Paul Bateson was born in Pennsylvania on August 24, 1940. In his early twenties, he served in the Army and moved to New York City upon discharge. Bateson then trained to become a radiological technician and scored a job at New York University Medical Center (NYUMC), where it is reported that he was popular among his coworkers.
After several years, in 1972, director William Friedkin visited NYUMC to conduct some research about various medical procedures he was considering showcasing in an upcoming film: you guessed it, The Exorcist. Friedkin was so impressed with Bateson’s extensive knowledge that he asked him to be an extra in the movie.
Sure enough, Bateson made an appearance in one of The Exorcist’s most memorable scenes. Bateson plays a medical technician who is prepping Regan, the film’s main character, for a series of tests to determine if any of her troubling behavior can be explained medically. Bateson is heard giving Regan instructions and providing bedside care as she prepares to undergo the tests.
The scene was later praised by medical professionals for its accuracy and remains one of the most famous scenes from the film.
The Murder Of Addison Verrill
Film reporter Addison Verrill was found dead in his New York apartment on September 14, 1977. It appeared that Verrill had been brutally stabbed and while he had put up a fight, there were no signs of forced entry into the home and nothing of value was stolen. At the time, it was speculated that Verrill may have been targeted due to his identity as a gay man.
Bateson’s ego and desire to set the record straight ended up leading to his arrest, as he called a journalist multiple times to give details pertaining to the crime. Eventually, a friend of Bateson’s called the same journalist to identify Bateson as the killer, and he was brought into custody and later confessed. Bateson was convicted of the murder in 1979 and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Suspected Serial Killer?
While the murder of Verrill was the only crime for which Bateson was convicted, police had some sneaking suspicions that it may not have been the only violent crime he had committed. A total of six dismembered bodies had been found in the Hudson River over the previous two years, and all wore clothing traced back to a store that catered to the gay community.
Additionally, it was reported that the bags that the bodies were disposed of had writing on them connecting them to NYUMC, Bateson’s place of employment. Lastly, the wounds on the bodies indicated that whoever committed the crime was skilled with a knife.
However, there was never any physical evidence to connect Bateson to the crimes, so therefore he was never charged, tried, or convicted. It is interesting to note, however, that Bateson’s implication in these crimes so intrigued The Exorcist director William Friedkin that he went to visit Bateson in prison and was inspired to create his movie Cruisers as a result of the visit.
Where Is Paul Bateson Now?
Bateson was released from prison in 2003 at the age of 62. While not much is known about his whereabouts since his release, a Paul Bateson with the same social security number as the killer is reported by the Social Security Administration to have died in 2012 at the age of 80. Whether Bateson is still alive or not, he has been immortalized through one of Hollywood’s most famous horror films.
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