Would you ever, in a sane state of mind, believe a murderer when he says that he has killed people because the devil made him do it? Most murderers have an intention and a guilty mind. Usually, there’s a logical explanation to their deeds, but imagine being really driven by paranormal forces to do something like that.
The United States usually stirs up some of the whackiest cases ever—from freaky Florida men who are up to no good to some ghastly murderers on the run. But here’s is a fascinating case that shook the whole country and became one of the most unforgettable cases to ever have existed in history.
The third instalment of ‘The Conjuring’ takes inspiration from the 1981 case of Arne Johnson which gained notoriety as the ‘Devil Made Me Do It” case. The Conjuring anthology has always brought something new to the table and has upped its horror game in the industry. The anthology is said to follow the real-life paranormal investigator Ed and Lorraine Warren and their rattling horror files.
It was the novel case in the USA where the defendant used possession as a defence to prove innocence. As strange as it may sound, this is a true story and there is evidence to prove it too!
THTexclusively brings to you all the details that you need to know about the truth behind Johnson’s story.
Mind you, the events you’re going to read about are going to give you shivers down the spine.
Circa 1981, the clean streak of zero homicides abruptly ended when a small town of Brookfield, Connecticut reported its first case in 193 years.
On a quiet evening of February 16, 1981, 19-year-old Arne Johnson stabbed his landlord Alan Bono’s chest with a five-inch pocket knife till he died. Johnson fled the scene and he was arrested by the police a two miles away from the crime scene.
A month later during the court trials, he pleaded not guilty by using demonic possession as an excuse for manslaughter. The fact that his attorney Martin Minella claimed that there was evidence to prove Johnson’s innocence, was going to shake up the entire case.
“The courts have dealt with the existence of God. Now they’re going to have to deal with the existence of the Devil,” Minella told the New York Times in 1981.
Anyhow, this isn’t where the murders began, so we take you a few years behind when Johnson moved to his girlfriend— Debbie Glatzel’s family home.
Where It All Began:
While the defence team was arguing to prove Arne’s innocence, it brought forth Debbie’s 11-year-old cousin David, who claimed to be possessed.
“When I was putting up curtains in the house, I saw David suddenly fall on the bed” recalls David’s mother as she gave her statement. Further, David informs his mother that somebody pushed him down and he saw an old man with burnt skin, claws for nails, big black hollow eyes, sharp ears and horns and hoofs appear before him. The dark figure pointed a finger at him as it said, “BEWARE”.
That moment onwards, David’s health began deteriorating and he gained 60 pounds. His behaviour grew wild as he cussed, spat, kicked, hissed, growled and spoke in strange voices.
To prove her claim she had photographic evidence that showed a morbidly obese boy with a strange expression on his face. The next picture was about to bring a massive twist in the prosecution and nobody saw this coming.
It was Johnson holding the boy down with all his might. There were broken chains and a crucifix lying on the floor next to them. Evidently, an exorcism was in the process.
David has also claimed to be strangled on multiple occasions by the same old man with jiggered teeth. When he would go to sleep, he would wake up to scratches all over his body.
The boy was known to not lie and had never watched horror movies before. There were strange noises in the attic and for some reason, the family could never find anything. Soon David began seeing the ghastly figure when he was awake too.
Triggered by His Holiness:
Now, that the family was convinced of some paranormal activity in their house, they head to a Catholic Church for help. A priest comes to their residence and ends up triggering the beast.
A little 11-year-old boy with barely any knowledge about the word is now reciting pages from Milton’s Paradise Lost and The Bible. On some days some forces within him make him throw himself head to toe and get dragged around like a rag-doll.
The sounds in the attic grew louder and David started getting seizures more often now. The demon was growing onto David and drawing the life out of him.
The family seeks help from the self-proclaimed paranormal investigator— Ed and Lorraine Warren. When the duo arrives at the scene, they reveal some horrifying insights.
Things get real nasty:
In an interview with People’s Magazine, Lorraine claimed to see a black mist form next to Ed while he was interviewing the boy. It struck to her that something evil has taken over and is going to bring doom.
Soon after this, the boy began complaining about being choked and there were visible red marks of a person’s hand around his neck. “David would be doodling and he’d be concentrating, then he’d look up and it was no longer a little 11-year-old boy,” Lorraine said.
Three exorcisms later, the Warrens said that they saw the boy levitate, cuss, stop breathing and “demonstrated a pre-cognition, and predicted a murder that Johnson would commit in the future.”
The boy was possessed by 43 demons and shockingly he gave names to every demon that infested his body.
Johnson’s faux pas:
The October of 1980, the warrens issued a warning to the cops that the situation has escalated and a lot of lives were at stake now. While performing one of the exorcisms, Johnson cried out loud and said, “leave the little guy alone, take on me!”. This fatal mistake was about to change Arne’s life forever.
A few days after the exorcism, a spirit possessed Arne’s car, took control of it and rammed it into a tree. Shockingly, he got out without a scratch. A few demons that were released from David’s body were now infesting in Johnsons’ body.
Soon, Johnson started behaving oddly. He would hallucinate, go into a trance and growl. Debbie confirmed that his behaviour was similar to David’s and became concerned. As David’s conditioned got worse, she and Johnson decided to move out. Meanwhile, Debbie was hired as a dog groomer by Alan Bono.
Circling back to the day of the murder:
After a luncheon and drinking, Bono looked agitated and heavily intoxicated. He grabbed Mary (Debbie’s 9-year-old cousin) and refused to let her go. While Debbie tried to calm the situation down, something got into Johnson and he growled and ran towards Bono with a knife.
He plunged a five-inch pocket knife and stabbed Alan over and over till he dropped dead. Autopsy reports said that Bono suffered grave injuries and out of them one stretched from the pit of his stomach to the bottom of his heart.
The Epic Demon Murder Trial:
When Lorraine revealed that Johnson was possessed at the time of the murder, the judge rejected the unusualness of the case and said that it does not hold substantial evidence. Due to the unscientific nature of the pieces of evidence, the court did not allow any related testimonies and called them “irrelevant”.
Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder and had to serve 10-20 years of jail time.
The third instalment of the horror anthology is said to follow the case and a major chunk of the film will be drawn from this case. But we are still wondering with what level of closeness will they be attempting to do the film as it still remains a mystery till we see the official trailer.
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