Was the rage behind Southend’s Bill Ramsey werewolf-like antics really lycanthropy, asks LES HEWITT
Bill Ramsey was just one more Essex child for almost the first decade of his life. Back on one Saturday afternoon sometime during 1952, the Southend born and bred lad was occupied in play in his parent’s back garden when an icy wind swept through. It had a major effect upon him.
Not only did he feel nauseous, but he also felt peculiar sensations too. Perspiration froze on his very skin and a foul stench swept all over him. Two things stuck in his mind though. One was an overwhelming temptation to head towards the closest beach, boarding a ship. The other was more primal and, in some ways, easier to digest: wolves.
By the time the voice of his mother had managed to reach his subconscious, he had found himself close to the garden fence without no real recollection of getting there. Some external force had took over his mobility and took complete control of the youngster. Ramsey had managed to uproot a heft fence post that even his father would have had problems with and was swinging it around him wildly.
That alone may have convinced his parents to take a step back, but what he did next would get anyone to recoil. Bill lunged at the meshing bordering the garden and sank his teeth into it. This was not a subtle nibble however, it was a fully fledged gnawing similar to what an animal may have been capable of. His parents could only watch on in horror until their son eventually appeared to calm down sufficiently.
This took quite some time but eventually it did happen. Once he had become his regular self – and whatever took hold of him had disappeared – both his parents emerged from the house. For the next 15 years, nothing more happened of any note. It likely goes without saying that precautions and examinations will have been made and/or taken place.
By the time that Ramsey had entered maturity and was half way through his 20s, he had married and fathered some children of his own. The initial couple of years of his marriage had a similar theme. He would have regular nightmares about feelings of dread and unease. A common image would see him several steps behind her. When she turned to face him, she would flee in terror. About 18 months after he suffered the last of these nightmares, he awoke during one night and thought that he heard the sounds of something panting somewhere in the bedroom. Turns out it was Bill himself.
For another 15 years, the life of Bill Ramsey fell into obscurity. That would all change dramatically as the 1980s rolled onwards. During one evening out socialising with friends in 1983, Bill began to feel the onset of the same senses that he experienced decades before in his parents back garden. He made his excuses and headed into the toilets. Once there, he saw a reflection of a werewolf staring back at him in the mirror there.
This was just a mere precursor of what was about to happen on their way home. The taxi ride should have been uneventful. Some point during the trip, and without any prior warning, Bill’s hands curled into claws and he bit the leg of his fellow passenger. The driver kept his cool, stopped the car in the middle of the street and tried to haul Bill off. For several minutes, the struggle took place until whatever took control had vanished once again.
As Christmas of the same year approached, Ramsey began to feel pains inside his chest. Fearful of a potential cardiac arrest, he immediately checked himself into the local hospital. Ramsey was tested for his blood pressure. During this exam, and without any real warning, Ramsey sank his teeth into the arm of the nurse.
Ramsey then sprinted through the Emergency Room and wards. Those who witnessed this bizarre act believed that he was like a man possessed and ran with both shoulders hunched and fingers curled into talons. Ramsey bared his lips like a rabid animal. As he moved, Ramsey was not prepared to stop for no-one. Anyone unfortunate enough to have been in his way was knocked over with ‘superhuman strength’
It took a team of several orderlies to put a stop to this rampage. A police officer did manage to snap some handcuffs onto Ramsey’s wrists, but even this threatened to be insufficient. Only the use of a tranquiliser brought the episode to a close.
The following morning, all the effects had worn off and doctors were more receptive to the version of events from Bill himself. It was decided that the best thing to do was to keep him for observation. However, sa he was a voluntary patient, there was no legal requirement to do so. Bill decided against this.
Within the space of two months, he was back. He had been spending time with his mother when he began to feel the same urges and senses. The lone nurse that attended Ramsey on this occasion felt her life was at risk and departed to find a doctor. Ramsey’s rage spilled over once more. Four attending police officers overheard the commotion and managed to surround Ramsey. He resisted for several seconds, snarling and growling at each of them. It took all four to finally restrain the man. One of the officers suffered wounds that required a hospital stay for several days.
When they arrived at the local constabulary, the police surgeon was called in. Ramsey was offered the chance to admit himself into an mental care facility in order to undergo dedicated testing and possible treatment. This suggestion was given some serious consideration, but ultimately it was rejected. Since he was in charge of his faculties, Ramsey was released from custody.
Another normal three years passed before Ramsey found himself back at the same station. This time, he was there doing civic duty, having brought in a teenager for solicitation. As soon as the car was parked, his passenger fled into the station. Ramsey began to develop more of the urges that he likely dreaded.
A single lone policeman, far bigger than Ramsey was, approached and took hold his arm. Ramsey snapped. He lunged at the officer and threw him to the ground with ease. The lone officer was not lone for long. The ensuing melee took a grip and a dozen officers – including two inspectors – plus two injections were needed to bring him under control.
Over the next couple of weeks, Ramsey was sent for numerous testing. MRIs and X–Rays could not find anything wrong with him. How could a mild mannered man descend into a raging berserker fit with an apparent click of the fingers?
Renowned American Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren were actually in London at this time and heard about the series of events that had transpired… a solution that local law enforcement did not actively pursue – that Ramsey was in fact possessed by a malevolent spirit – was foremost of the minds of the Warrens. They asked for and received permission to talk to the Ramseys. The Warrens convinced Ramsey that it was in his best interests to visit them in their church in Connecticut. One tabloid newspaper, The People, bankrolled the trip and served as a sponsor.
It was about this time that Ramsey’s story had begun to filter into the mainstream press on a global scale. When Bill turned up at the church, the Warren’s own specialist, Bishop McKenna, perhaps an exorcism. The process was not something that immediately convinced Ramsey. It was performed using Latin and for half an hour, nothing really happened. The first moment of drama occurred when Bill contorted his face and clenched both hands into claw-like appendages. McKenna commanded that the spirit or demon leave the vessel of Ramsey for good. The entire exorcism was recorded onto video.
Bill Ramsey made his last known public appearance in 1992. Appearing on the Fox TV show Sightings, he offered an update on his outbursts and revealed that immediately prior to his visit to the United States, his problems were increasing. In the last few decades, there have been no reported rampages through the streets of Southend.