Case 128

Joan Vollmer

*** Content Warning: Mental illness, ableism ***

When 49-year-old Joan Vollmer begins acting strangely, her husband Ralph blames spiritual problems and turns to religion for answers. Rather than seeking help for Joan’s obvious mental health issues, Ralph consults with other members of the couple’s church, who believe they know the truth – that Joan has fallen victim to demonic possession. 

Members of the church gather at the couple’s farmhouse in the country Victoria town of Antwerp. What follows is a modern-day exorcism with disturbing and tragic consequences.



Casefile Presents



Research & writing – Erin Munro 

Creative direction – Milly Raso

Narration – Anonymous Host



‘Flatline intro’ and ‘Come play with me’ intro and outro –

Audio production – Mike Migas 

Scoring – Mike Migas and Andrew Joslyn



Logo and website design – Paulina Szymanska



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Writing on Gravestones. Chapter: Exorcism in Antwerp – Gary Tippet and Ian Munro.



R v Vollmer and Ors [1996] VicRp 9; [1996] 1 VR 95 (7 September 1995)

Notice of application for leave to appeal against sentence for David Klingner

Notice of application for leave to appeal against sentence for Matthew Nuske

Notice of application for leave to appeal against sentence for Leanne Reichenbach

Notice of application for leave to appeal against sentence for Ralph Vollmer



Delivering demons, punishing wives: False imprisonment, exorcism and other matrimonial duties in a late 20th-century manslaughter case – Punishment & Society, April 2005



Devil took my wife – Herald Sun, February 3, 1993

Woman: I suffered exorcism – Herald Sun, February 5, 1993

Friends lay a spirit to rest – Herald Sun, February 6, 1993

Some strange goings-on in Antwerp – The Sunday Age, February 7, 1993

How Joan died in torment – Herald Sun, February 7, 1993

Pressure on exorcism woman’s neck: doctor – The Age, September 14, 1993

God influencing my answers, woman tells court – The Age, September 15 1993

Court clears four after exorcism death – The Canberra Times, September 17, 1993

Husband concerned over exorcism pain – The Age, September 16 1993

Community’s trial by exorcism – The Age, September 18 1993

Exorcism husband: it was God’s will – The Sunday Age, September 19, 1993

The demons within – The Age, September 20, 1993

In the will of the Lord – Herald Sun, October 18, 1994

A typical country town hears of the evil spirits in our midst -The Age, October 18 1994

Exorcist had vision woman would rise, court told – The Age, October 18 1994

Plea to God to forgive death – Herald Sun, October 19, 1994

Possessed by 10 devils – Herald Sun, October 20, 1994

God’s power in court – Herald Sun, October 21, 1994

Media told couple of death – Herald Sun, October 22, 1994

Witness tells of exorcism strength – Herald Sun, October 26, 1994

The devil on trial in a country town – Herald Sun, October 27, 1994

Evil altar in greenhouse – Herald Sun, October 27, 1994

Dead woman seen in vision at Lazarus’s tomb, court told – The Age, November 4 1994

Satan was in control – accused – Herald Sun, November 3, 1994

Songs of victory over dead woman – Herald Sun, November 4, 1994

Man clear on exorcism count – Herald Sun, November 17, 1994

Vigil of exorcism man – Herald Sun, November 19, 1994

Exorcism man ought to have known wife was ill – Herald Sun, November 22, 1994

Straight six blast over link to God – Herald Sun, November 23, 1994

Exorcism labelled a frolic – Herald Sun, November 24, 1994

Lethal ritual: ‘exorcists’ found guilty – The Canberra Times, December 1, 1994

Quiet couple bound by love of god – Herald Sun, December 1, 1994

Exorcism 2 convicted of manslaughter – Herald Sun, December 1, 1994

Battle with demons that led to death on a lonely Victorian farm – The Canberra Times, December 3, 1994

Locals upset as ritual death puts town on the map – Herald Sun, December 3, 1994

When war with the Devil ended in death – The Sunday Age, December 4, 1994




Australian woman dies after 4-day exorcism – Associated Press, February 3, 1993

The creepy Australian country house abandoned after Joan Vollmer’s terrifying death when an exorcist tried to rid her of ‘demons’ – The Herald Sun, September 28, 2016

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