Just in time for Halloween, a jail nurse in Oklahoma is accused of trying an exorcism on a combative inmate.
Here in my home state of Oklahoma, a longtime investigative reporter for The Oklahoman reports the story.
Just to be clear, this news actually has nothing to do with Tuesday's holiday.
But it did break today:
A nurse has been banned from working at the Oklahoma County jail after witnesses reported she began an exorcism rather than help a combative inmate.
The inmate died the next day.
The nurse, Linda Herlong Jackson, 67, of Oklahoma City, denies the accusation.
"Oh, brother," she told The Oklahoman. "No. ... I didn't do an exorcism."
Detention officers reported the nurse said, "I revoke you demons,'' as the inmate thrashed around and screamed, a sheriff's investigator said. One witness reported the nurse had asked first if anyone would mind if she performed an exorcism.
A sheriff's lieutenant stopped the exorcism after arriving and being told what was going on, the investigator said.
Sheriff P.D. Taylor banned the nurse Oct. 20.
Hmmmm. Would she have said "revoke you demons" or "rebuke you demons?" Of course, she denies doing either. Anyway, I digress.
At the end of the story, readers hear from the nurse again:
Jackson spoke to a reporter by phone for almost 40 minutes Thursday, mostly about her concerns a boss is setting her up to get rid of her.
She said in the phone interview that she is an excellent nurse who loved her job and was liked by the inmates under her care. She called her nursing work "a form of serving God."
"The patient didn't die by the way, on my shift," she said of [Amanda Lynette] Freeman. "I would appreciate if you wouldn't try to sensationalize something that's already been settled — or so I thought."
Jackson agreed to meet in person Friday to discuss the incident further but then abruptly canceled the second interview.
The journalist who produced the piece is known for his accurate and meticulous reporting. So I trust what he's written.
I do wish, though, that The Oklahoman had devoted a little space to nitpicky religious details.
For example, what is an exorcism? Are all readers supposed to be familiar with that term? The Religion News Association's religion stylebook defines exorcism this way:
The ritual of ridding a supposedly possessed person or thing of demons. Popularly associated with the Roman Catholic Church, which has a formal exorcism ritual, with each diocese allowed to designate a priest as an exorcist. However, the church’s use of the ritual has diminished due to a greater understanding of medicine and psychology. Some Christian churches, such as Pentecostals, also perform exorcisms, although the rituals are not as elaborate and formal as the Roman Catholic ritual. Islam also has traditions that speak of exorcisms.
Also, I'm curious about the nurse's specific religious affiliation. I want to know if she believes in exorcisms. I want her to explain in more detail how her nursing work is a "form of serving God."
Alas, these may be questions the reporter intended to ask in the abruptly canceled interview.
How strange. And fascinating.