Arne Cheyenne Johnson(19 years old as at then) and his fiancé, Debbie Glatzel had just acquired a rental property. On the day they had decided to clean up the property before moving in, 11 year old David Glatzel(Debbie’s younger brother) claimed to have been stalked by an old man who shoved him around in a terrifying way. According to David, the old man had threatened to harm the Glatzels if they encroached on the property. Johnson and Debbie viewed his claim as baseless and just a ruse to avoid helping out in cleaning. Later on, David began seeing manifestations of the old man more often usually as a demonic beast and began behaving rather strangely. David described the Beast as “a man with big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns and hoofs.” Things came to a head when strange noises were regularly heard in the attic and David started having bruises and marks all over his body mysteriously. The now horrified family could take it no longer. They decided to move as soon as possible.
The Glatzels also tried enlisting the services of spiritualists and demonologists to exorcise whatever supernatural force was tormenting David. One of such demonologists, Lorraine Warren and her husband Ed Warren claimed to have seen a black mist appear beside David indicating the presence of a malevolent spirit. They performed an exorcism during which David howled and growled in an otherworldly manner and begun to recite passages from texts such as the Bible and Paradise lost in strange voices. They performed two other exorcisms, during one of which David levitated and showed foresight on a crime Johnson was going to commit. One of the demonic entities had also “made Johnson it’s new host”. Despite all that happened, David worsened daily.
Johnson and Debbie soon rented a new apartment which was close to Debbie’s workplace. Here, David’s condition improved but Johnson had began to behave in rather odd manner. He would often enter a trance, growling and hallucinating, but afterwards would have no recollection of what happened.
On February 16, 1981, Johnson called in sick to his job at Wright Tree Service and joined Debbie at the kennel where she worked, along with his sister Wanda and Debbie’s nine-year-old cousin Mary. Bono, the couple’s landlord and Debbie’s employer at the kennel, bought the group lunch at a local bar and proceeded to have a drink. After lunch, the group returned to the kennel. Debbie then took the girls to get pizza. She insisted they return quickly because she sensed trouble brewing up. On their return, Bono who was now heavily under the influence of alcohol, became very agitated. He then grabbed Mary while everyone was leaving the room. Johnson rushed back to the apartment and shouted at Bono, ordering him to release Mary. Mary, now free ran out towards the car, leaving the two men who were now furious and at each other’s necks. Debbie tried in vain to pull Johnson away. Johnson begun growling and proceeded to draw out a pocket knife and began stabbing Bono repeatedly. Bono died several hours later. Bono had suffered “four or five tremendous wounds”, mostly to his chest, and one that stretched from his stomach to the base of his heart. Johnson was discovered two miles away from the murder scene and was arrested. This was the first unlawful killing in the history of Brookfield, Connecticut.
After the incident, Lorraine Warren alleged to the police that Johnson was unaware of his actions due to his being possessed by a demonic spirit. The police dismissed her claims and proceeded to charge Johnson to court. However, the story gathered media attention and soon sparked up a frenzy. Novels, lectures and movie adaptations of the incidents were put into works.
On October 28, 1981, what is now known as the Demon trial began at Connecticut’s Superior Court in Danbury. Martin Minella, Johnson’s lawyer attempted to submit a ‘not guilty plea’ based possession. Her client, Johnson’s defense was that his actions were influenced by the devil. However, his defense was rejected. According to the presiding judge, Robert Callahan, such a defense can never exist in a court of law due to lack of evidence and such a testimony is irrelative and unscientific. Minnella was forced to plea that Johnson acted in self defense since the jury could not consider the claims of demonic possession as logical explanation for the murder.
After 3 days of deliberation, Johnson was found guilty of first degree murder and got a sentence of 10-20 years though he served only 5.
Arne Johnson’s case is what inspired horror movie, The Conjuring: The devil made me do it.



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