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Man who appeared in horror movie was a real murderer – but how many did he kill

With its tale of the demonic possession of a 12 year old girl, the film The Exorcist has terrified audiences for nearly 50 years.

One of its most disturbing scenes shows a version of a real life medical procedure where the possessed child's body begins spurting blood.

The man who can be performing the operation on screen would later be covered in someone's blood, having stabbed a man to death. And questions still exist over whether he was, in fact, a serial killer.

Paul Bateson was as a radiographer in New York and when the film's director, William Friedkin, was researching medical scenes for the movie, he saw him at work.

He was so impressed with Bateson's skill and calm manner he asked him to act out the same operation as part of the film.

His performance received critical acclaim but things started to go downhill fast for Bateson. Within five years he had lost his job for alcoholism and could frequently be found in gay leather bars in some of the seedier parts of the city.

Another regular there was film industry journalist Addison Verrill, and one day he was found beaten and stabbed to death in his flat.

It was not the first gay killing to have taken place in the area with the torses of six dismembered men having been found floating in bags in the Hudson River.

A journalist wrote a story for Village Voice magazine about the crimes, encouraging anyone with information to contact police. But it was his phone which rang.

The caller said he was the killer and wanted to correct the journalist's claim Verrill's murderer was a psychopath who targeted gay men.

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He said: "I like your story and I like your writing but I'm not a psychopath… I'm gay and I needed money and I'm an alcoholic."

He told the reporter after a night of drinking and drug taking the two men had gone to Mr Verrill's flat and had sex. The caller said Mr Verrill then made it plain he should leave and the killer then confessed: "I needed money and I hated the rejection so I decided to do something I'd never done before".

He said he had battered him with a frying pan from the kitchen and then stabbed with a knife.

He also gave other details of the crime known only to the police and spoke about his own past.

The reporter told police about the call and they waited with him in case the killer called again.

But when the phone rang it was another man who said the killer was Paul Bateson who had confessed to the crime to him.

Police went to Bateson's home he was very drunk. When he was asked if he knew why he was being arrested, he pointed to an open copy of the magazine article.

Bateson was charged with second degree murder and eventually sentenced to 20 years in jail, despite claiming he had never made the call and a supposed confession he had made to police were just drunken ramblings.

But had Bateson killed those dismembered men?

The unidentified victims' clothing all had links to a gay fetish shop, and they had been dismembered by someone skilled with a knife.

The Exorcist director William Friedkin had visited Bateman in prison and suggested he might have carried them out, while another man claimed Bateman had also confessed to him.

However, Bateman denied this and there was no proof.

He was eventually released from prison in 1997 having served 24 years and 3 months. It is not known if he is dead or alive.

The bodies in the bag killings remain unsolved.

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