DRESSED head-to-toe in black and wielding a box of crosses, tribal African knives and “possessed” antique forks, the exorcist holds out his icy cold hand and nods to indicate a ghostly presence.
Standing in the bathroom where an elderly woman died, Ralph Keeton has come to the aid of 83-year-old Emily Sparks from Writtle, Essex, who believes she been haunted by a woman’s ghost for months – and even booked into the Travelodge to try and escape her.
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Emily says Joyce had caused her immense pain and grief over the last few months, pulling her hair, smashing her belongings and making her afraid
Emily told the Sun Online that she felt the presence of Joyce, who died in her one-bedroom flat eight years ago, as soon as she moved in.
Frightened that an evil spirit might be at hand, Emily went to a neighbour to confirm that Joyce had both lived in and died in the flat – and it was soon after this that the spirit became a problem.
“She repeatedly flushes the toilet, she’s broken glasses, she’s thrown things off walls and taken my things,” Emily claimed. “She pulls out my hair at night and has given me an awful earache.
“I feel her next to me and she’s so cold – it leaves me with a sharp pain in my hip and my head. I just can’t take it anymore. I need her to be gone from here and moved on to somewhere better.”
After Emily claimed she had been forced to move out, The Sun Online called in Hull-based exorcist Ralph to help, and stuck around to watch the spooky series of events.
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Exorcist Ralph Keeton came to visit Emily Sparks, who has been haunted by the ghost of a woman who died in her flat
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Ralph explained to a worried Emily that the spirit she was dealing with was not an evil one
‘She pulls my hair and hits me on the head’
Emily moved into her Chelmsford flat seven years ago and, at first, she noticed items were moved around the house.
Then she started to feel an icy sensation in her leg when she sat on the sofa, as if someone cold was sitting next to her.
But, she claims, the strange activity didn’t become a nuisance until she started sitting in a different chair in the evening.
“After that she started acting differently,” she adds. “She upped the ante and one day when I was in the bathroom, where I believe Joyce died, she flushed the toilet over and over again. She now does that a lot.
“She’s smashed cups on the kitchen floor and thrown things about. She’s taken ornaments, including the beautiful angel wings that hang on the wall which she tried to flush down the toilet.
“I had to start going to bed in a hat to stop her from pulling my hair out and hitting my ears. She’s caused pain in my hip and head, and stolen things from my flat never to be seen again.”
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun During the exorcism, Ralph calls upon Joyce and commands her to leave the house
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Ralph and Emily worked together to help rid of the spirit that was haunting her house
Emily, a practising Christian, called in local a priest to help by performing an exorcism, but Joyce continued to terrorise her. At her wits’ end, she move away to the Travelodge only for the spirit to follow.
“I could feel her presence in the room,” she says. “It felt like I just couldn’t escape her.
“Now whatever I have to do to make her go I will do it – I just want her out.
“I want her to leave and go onto the next place, wherever that may be. I trust Ralph and will do whatever needs to happen.”
While Emily thought she was going to be stuck with the “horrible” ghost for life, exorcist Ralph had come to assure her that this spirit was far from evil, and wouldn’t be difficult to sort out.
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Ralph had come prepared to deal with the spirit, carrying crosses, holy water and other exorcism instruments
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Emily previously called in a priest to help her with the ghost, but the exorcism was unsuccessful
‘I’ve had walls caving in with demons’
Preferring the term “negotiator” to exorcist, Ralph claims he communicates with spirits in order to perform a “soul collection” – moving spirits on to whatever lies beyond the grave.
He performs exorcisms, a spiritual practice often associated with the Catholic Church, that sees spirits removed from homes, areas and even people by commanding them to move on.
“I started seeing spirits and energies when I was a boy, as early as six years old,” Ralph explains. “So I’m very much able to clear energies, ghosts and evil spirits from homes or people.
“I’ve worked with people who have contorted like in The Exorcist, dealt with walls caving in due to demons and I’ve been thrown across rooms by powerful evil forces. But that isn’t the case here.”
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Ralph is a medium and performs exorcisms around the world, from low level spirits to evil forces causing serious harm
And despite being in demand to deal with exorcisms up and down the country, Ralph normally charges no more than £150 for his services, paying for his petrol to and from Hull out of this payment.
Ralph explains that Emily’s pesky spirit is low level, known in his profession as a “level four”, and is more like an annoying child, who may be pulling her hair and smashing items in order to get attention rather than instil fear or pain.
Cases like this are common for Ralph – who reveals he turns ice cold when he senses Joyce’s presence.
“The spirit will be as frightened as we are,” Ralph assures. “We just have to give her time and a gentle persuasion – and we all need to just accept she is here and relax to help her on her way.”
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Ralph’s hands grow increasingly colder as the exorcism begins, which he says is due to the presence of spirits
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Emily says the spirit started causing her problems after she moved from sitting on the sofa to an armchair
‘I heard her leave the room’
Standing in the bathroom, Ralph places his hands on the wall and his knuckles start turning white as he says the spirit is getting closer to him.
He asks for complete silence while Emily calls Joyce forward.
“Joyce, please come forward and meet us,” she confidently asks the spirit, beginning the exorcism. “We want to help you. Come on, don’t hide. Say something, don’t be afraid.”
Silence – apart from a bird chirping, which in itself seems spooky in the middle of the night, and a slow clunking from the shower.
Ralph commands Joyce to move with him to the bedroom.
Asking Emily to sit down on the bed, he closes his eyes and waves his hands through the air.
He recognises another spirit in the room, Emily’s Irish father, who is apparently overlooking the process.
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Once the spirits have moved into the bedroom, Ralph says he slowly moves them out until they are gone
The news is reassuring to Emily, who says she feels safer in his presence.
“I call Joyce and her family to step forward,” continues Ralph. “Let all the spirits unite as one energy form, moving her out of the house as one. By the use of higher authority, I ask you to move forward.”
Emily continues: “I’m asking you to move forward, Joyce. There will be peace for both of us, we will be happier. This is what I want – and we send our love with you on your way.”
Ralph points to the hallway with an expression of shock, but there’s no ghost when we all turn around. Instead, he calmly explains that the suffering is finally over for Emily. Joyce is gone.
“I could hear her footsteps going out of this room,” Ralph says with a smile as the exorcism concludes. He hands Emily a small vial of holy water, the pair hug and he leaves.
Guilhem Baker/ The Sun Joyce was overjoyed to be free of Joyce’s spirit – and shared a hug with Ralph following their emotional experience
‘I can’t wait to sing like I used to’
Slightly disoriented and still shaking from the experience, a genuine smile appears on Emily’s face for the first time in months – she feels that Joyce’s presence is gone at last.
Now sleeping again without her protective hat, and getting her first full nights since her horrifying first encounter with the spirit, Emily says she is a testament to Ralph’s work as an exorcist.
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“When all this started I stopped singing – but now I can sing again,” she says.
“I can’t wait to start singing and dancing around my home now that she’s gone. It’s such a relief. Finally I’ve got closure.
“Ralph has truly done something amazing – I trusted him fully and I could never thank him enough. I never thought I’d get my life back, but it was all down to the exorcist.”
Sadly, a week after the exorcism Emily revealed that Joyce was back.
“She’s not in the flat but in another part of the building, which I think is the hallway,” she told us. “And she’s very angry. I’m wearing the hat again and I can’t sleep.”