In October 1981, a Connecticut court heard the case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who was charged with the murder of his landlord. It was a unique case in American jurisprudence in that the attorney for the accused entered a plea of not guilty based on #demonic #possession.
Among the many high profile cases involving demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, this is regarded as one of the more notorious.
The "Demon Murder Trial" begins not with Johnson but rather with a young boy, David, son of Debbie Glatzel, of Brookfield, Connecticut. In July 1980, she reported that David was awakened in the night by a beast with pointed ears and hooves. St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Brookfield performed a blessing for the family, but the manifestations did not end. The appearances escalated and took place day and night with the beast taking on different forms. After hearing about the occurrences, a priest from St. Joseph's contacted demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren so that they could investigate. According to the Warrens, David exhibited strange behavior, including fits, shaking, levitation, and uttering obscenities. In the course of the encounters, Lorraine saw a dark figure near the boy, and red marks appeared on his body as a result. The #Warrens interpreted these manifestations as proof of demonic possession.
Debbie Glatzel's fiancé, Arne Johnson, was concerned about young David. During this time, Johnson supposedly taunted the possessing entity and challenged it to enter him, in hopes of alleviating the boy's suffering. In the aftermath of the encounter, Johnson was said to have become a different person, and he also claimed to have seen David's beast. Johnson suffered from trances and memory problems, according to Glatzel. A heated exchange ensued later between Johnson and his landlord, Alan Bono. During the altercation, Bono was stabbed multiple times and died. A short distance from the crime scene, Johnson was arrested and charged with murder. However, he claimed he had no memory of what took place.
Martin Minella, the attorney for Johnson, decided to claim that his client was not guilty based on his claims of possession supported by the Warrens' belief that he was possessed at the time of the murder. Minella was aware that similar defenses had been made on two previous occasions in British courts and attempted to implement this strategy as well. Johnson was tried in Connecticut Superior Court in October 1981, and after three days of deliberation, the jury convicted him of first-degree manslaughter. In 1986, he was released from prison on good behavior after serving only five years of a 20-year sentence. While in prison, Johnson married Debbie Glatzel. He also earned his high school diploma while inside. The couple later had two children together.
This case was made into a book, The Devil in Connecticut, by Gerald Brittle, and a television movie, The Demon Murder Case, which aired on NBC in 1983. Carl Glatzel Jr. and David Glatzel Jr. filed a lawsuit in 2006 for invasion of privacy, libel, and emotional distress. They allege the book is full of false claims. "The Warrens concocted a phony story about demons in an attempt to get rich and famous at our expense." Carl alleges the Warrens promised the family they'd be millionaires. The family was confirmed to have received $2,000 in cash. Carl claims that David suffered from mental health issues and recovered on his own.
Michael Chaves' 2021 movie The #Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It also explores the Arne Cheyenne Johnson case. Debbie Glatzel and Arne Johnson were both involved with the movie and support the Warrens' version of events. Debbie has sadly passed away since the film was made. Arne keeps a low profile.