On February 16, 1981, Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a law-abiding citizen who earned a living by tending trees in the small town of Brookfield, stabbed his girlfriend's employer, Alan Bono, five times with a knife, which proved fatal.
However, the crime itself did not shock the public and the media. When he appeared in court, the accused said that the devil who took possession of his body forced him to commit this murder. That's when things got interesting.
Months of investigation, engagement of church representatives and exorcists, construction of a line of defense according to the occult version - investigating one of the most mysterious cases of the last century.
The Presence Of A Dark Force
The story, which took place in Brookfield, Connecticut, began harmlessly - a young man named Arne Cheyenne Johnson met Debbie Glatzel, and soon a relationship formed between them. According to eyewitnesses, the couple was no different from the others - the lovers spent a lot of time together, walking and talking with relatives and friends.
However, all that changed on July 3, 1980, when Debbie's younger brother David, who was only eleven, began to complain about the presence of some dark force, and soon his complaints found real evidence.
According to Debbie Glatzel and her mother, David Glatzel started to see a demon in the form of a specific beast day and night. During the day, he suddenly began to speak Latin or read passages from the Bible by heart, and traces of strangulation appeared on his door (although none of the family members saw the attack process).
The boy complained that it seemed to him that an evil entity had entered his body and completely taken control of him, and at night he fell into a trance and struggled in convulsions. In addition, according to David, the demon threatened him and his family.
He asked the family to leave the house, regularly whispering the exact phrase:
Concerned about the child's behavior, the parents invited a priest from the nearest Catholic church to the house, but his visit did not yield results - David's condition continued to deteriorate. Then the Glatzel family invited Ed and Lorraine Warren - famous exorcists and demonologists whose talent was legendary.
The couple became interested in the case of David Glatzel and soon arrived at the scene. After talking to the boy, Lorraine said she saw a black fog behind him, which could only mean one thing - the presence of demons. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the exorcists decided to perform the rite of exile. With the consent of David's parents, Ed and Lorraine began to prepare.
The Warrens later said that David was entirely at the mercy of the dark entity in the last days before the ceremony. He almost lost consciousness, constantly bursting to family members, and then showed the audience the gift of foresight, saying that the beloved of his sister Debbie would soon do some terrible crime and no one could stop it.
David's words seemed meaningless at the time, but Ed and Lorraine Warren took them seriously and declared a possible danger to the police. They also understood that the demon had rightly mentioned Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Debbie's beloved) - he was supposed to be his next victim, so the couple hurried to warn him of the risk.
The Devil In Disguise
Johnson was skeptical of such prophecies but chose to be present during one of the exorcism ceremonies.
As Arne Cheyenne Johnson himself later said, he felt something unusual at the time of the ceremony. Still, he did not attribute any importance to it. But now, looking back, he thinks "the entity" already made it clear that he had left David's body and chose a new victim.
In the following days, while traveling by car, Johnson suddenly lost control and crashed into a tree. He said he felt the presence of an alien being in his body but could not resist. After that, he decided to go to Debbie's house to look at the old well. This was the same house the demon warned David to move out of. According to Ed and Lorraine, the demon lived there.
It's hard to say why Arne Cheyenne Johnson decided precisely to go to that well. Still, there he came across the face of an evil entity. In the Discovery Channel series Haunting Arne Cheyenne Johnson, he said that he saw the eyes of demons, which was the last thing he remembered.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson then met up with Debbie Glatzel, and the girlfriend noticed a change in his behavior. Frightened for the fate of her lover, she decided to change her place of residence, and soon the couple moved into a rented apartment near her workplace.
At that time, Debbie worked as a dog groomer for Alan Bono, the victim of Arne Cheyenne Johnson's murder.
However, moving out did not help Johnson avoid a terrible fate, and his condition worsened every day /his behavior was utterly like the obsession of Debbie's brother David. After hallucinations or attacks of aggression, Arne Cheyenne Johnson could not remember what happened to him.
The Devil Made Me Do It
On February 16, 1981, in the peaceful city of Brookfield, the first unlawful murder in its history took place.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson, his younger sister Wanda, his girlfriend Debbie, and her cousin Mary arrived at Debbie's workplace. Then Alan Bono, Debbie's employer, invited the whole company to dinner at one of the local eateries. The unfortunate events began when he took too much alcohol and suddenly started showing aggression and harassing young Mary.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson stood up for the girl, and after she managed to get out, Johnson went into a trance. Johnson started growling and threatened Alan with a knife. According to Wanda, Arne's sister, he was not alone and behaved like a wild animal. Johnson then took a knife from his jacket and stabbed Bono five times in the chest and abdomen, after which he died on the spot.
Police, who arrived at the crime scene, immediately found the alleged criminal not far from the bar. Arne Johnson was not even hiding. He was in a trance and could not explain what had happened to him.
The entire city went insane the very next day - Brookfield residents and the press surrounded the police station and asked the authorities for details regarding the murder. Ed and Lorraine Warren said Arne Cheyenne Johnson was possessed by a demon and committed the crime unconscious.
Already at the time, Johnson's case began to gain notoriety and rumors. Indeed, it was hard to believe that the always calm and sensible Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who performed in the church choir and enjoyed sports, could kill a person, and most of the city's residents sided with him.
Still, all that changed after the lawyer Martin Minella took over Arne's defense. The human rights activist confirmed that Arne Cheyenne Johnson was possessed by a demon at the time of the murder and insisted on the court's leniency.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson In The Courtroom
This was the third case in world judicial history and the first in American judicial practice when a lawyer chose obsession with the devil as a line of defense, and this case gained unprecedented fame.
Martin Minella received calls from around the world to advise extrasensory perceptions and the process of learning details. The human rights activist himself actively involved exorcists, psychics, and the media as defense witnesses. In an interview with The New York Times, he said:
"The courts considered the existence of God. Now they have to deal with the existence of the devil. "
However, Judge Robert Callahan did not accept the lawyer's evidence and said Minella's defense was based on "mystical and unscientific facts that have nothing to do with the truth."
Having no choice, Minella slightly adjusted the course and presented Johnson's murder of Alan Bono as necessary self-defense. After that, the jury could consider the issue of the defendant's guilt in the context of demon possession, which led to the murder committed within the norm of self-defense.
This remarkable case shocked the people of America, and the jury took a full three days to reach a verdict - on November 24, 1981. Arne Cheyenne Johnson was found guilty and sentenced to ten to twenty years. Still, Alan Bon's killer spent only five years in prison, after which he was released, and most experts believe all high-court participants believed in Johnson's obsession, and his early release is proof of that.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson Today
After the release of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, he returned to everyday life. He married his longtime girlfriend Debbie Glatzel and never broke the law again. However, his mysterious story continued to haunt him even after his release. In 1983, the film The Demon Murder Case was released, which tells about the events that preceded the murder.
A few years later, the book The Devil in Connecticut by Gerald Brittle was published. Along with Lorraine Warren's media, the writer spoke in detail about the events of those years, including the obsession of Debbie Glatzel's brother, David.
David was not happy that this work was published, and in 2006 he even sued the author for violating privacy and defamation. According to prosecutors, Ed and Lorraine deliberately fabricated the whole story to make money and attract attention and later exploited the tale to justify Johnson.
In response to the defamation allegations, Gerald Brittle said all members of the Glatzel family consented to publish the book and participated in dozens of interviews in preparation for the work.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson and his wife Debbie did not shy away from the scandal - the couple said that David, whose life and career was not very successful, wanted to make money, so he accused the writer and the Warren couple of fraud.
One way or another, it is unlikely today that we will find out what really happened in Brookfield in 1981 - and this case, like many others related to the interference of otherworldly forces in the lives of ordinary people, is shrouded in secrets and mystery.
However, this story still excites the minds of ordinary people and researchers (including the activities of Ed and Lorraine Warren), who do not lose hope of reaching the bottom of the truth. Journalists and filmmakers continue to tell their versions of what happened. In 2021, the continuation of the acclaimed saga about the life of famous exorcists The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It was released.