Man Convicted After Father Drowned In 'Baptism' To Exorcise His Demons

A 22-year-old Massachusetts man who repeatedly dunked his father’s head underwater in what he described to authorities as a baptism-style exorcism was found guilty Thursday of involuntary manslaughter in his death.

Jack Callahan had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2021 drowning death of Scott Callahan, 57, in a pond in Duxbury, about 35 miles southeast of Boston. After an eight-day trial, the jury twice told the judge it was deadlocked, The Patriot Ledger reported, but it ultimately reached a verdict on the lesser charge.

On the night of June 27, 2021, Jack Callahan picked up his father at a Boston bar after Scott Callahan, who had a history of substance abuse, checked himself out of an alcohol treatment facility.

Scott Callahan, pictured here in an undated photo, drowned in 2021.
Scott Callahan, pictured here in an undated photo, drowned in 2021. McNamara-Sparrell Funeral Home

The pair took an Uber ride at around midnight to Island Creek Pond, where they got in a fight, prosecutors said at Jack Callahan’s arraignment on June 29, 2021.

Callahan, who was then 19, told police that after his father hit him several times at the pond, he decided to try “baptizing” his father to exorcise the “demon” that the teen saw in his eyes, prosecutors said.

“He believed he was baptizing his father,” then-Assistant District Attorney Shanan Buckingham said at the arraignment, Boston ABC affiliate WCVB reported. “He described holding him on his back like a baby, that he continually dunked the father’s head in the water four to eight times,” until he stopped struggling, Buckingham said.

Callahan’s mother called the police when the teen returned home in soaking wet clothes at around 2 a.m. He was acting erratically and said his father was missing near the pond, prosecutors said. Police officers found the teen “distraught and hyperventilating” when they arrived, authorities said.

At about the same time, Scott Callahan was discovered floating in the pond along with his luggage, The Patriot Ledger reported. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Jack Callahan’s belief that his father was possessed and needed to be baptized and exorcised of his demons was not shared with the jury in the trial, The Patriot Ledger reported, and he did not testify in his own defense.

Callahan could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, the Boston Globe reported. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 3.