Ghost Stories Day 7

The Devil Made Me Do It

Wrapping up our 7 days of ghost story is the famous case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the first case in American history where a defendant had claimed their actions on “The Devil” let’s take a close look at the story of Arne and his claims that “The devil made me do it”

On February 16, 1981, Arne Cheyenne Johnson fatally stabbed his landlord Alan Bono and then he said the Devil made him do it. To the police, it was clear that the 40-year-old landlord had been killed by his tenant Arne Cheyenne Johnson during a violent argument. But after his arrest, Johnson made an incredible claim, The Devil made him do it. Aided with the help of two paranormal investigators the 19-year-old’s attorneys presented their client’s claim of demonic possession as a potential defence for his murder of Bono. “The courts have dealt with the existence of God,” said Johnson’s attorney Martin Minnella. “Now they’re going to have to deal with the existence of the Devil.” It was the first time in history that a defence like this one was used in an American courtroom. Nearly 40 years later, Johnson’s case is still shrouded in controversy and unsettling speculation. Arne committed the first murder ever recorded in the 193-year history of Brookfield. Before the murder, Johnson was by all accounts a regular teenager with no criminal record. But the strange occurrences that ended in the murder allegedly began months earlier. In Johnson’s courtroom defence, he claimed that the source of all this suffering started with the 11-year-old brother of his fiancée, Debbie Glatzel. In the summer of 1980, Debbie’s brother David claimed that he’d repeatedly encountered an old man who would taunt him. At first, Johnson and Glatzel thought David was just trying to get out of doing chores, and dismissed the story entirely. Nonetheless, the encounters continued, growing both more frequent and more violent. David would wake up crying hysterically, describing visions of a “man with big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns and hoofs.” Before long, the family asked a priest from a church nearby to bless their home which unfortunately was to no avail. So they hoped that paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren help them!

“He would kick, bite, spit, swear — terrible words,” David’s family members said of his possession. “He experienced strangling attempts by invisible hands, which he tried to pull from his neck, and powerful forces would flop him rapidly head-to-toe like a rag doll.” Johnson stayed with the family to help however he could. But disturbingly, the child’s nightly terrors began to seep into the daytime as well. David described seeing “an old man with a white beard, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans.” And as the child’s visions continued, suspicious noises began emanating from the attic. Meanwhile, David started hissing, having seizures, and speaking in strange voices, quoting John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Bible. Reviewing the case, the Warrens concluded that this was clearly a case of Demonic possession, However, psychiatrists who investigated the case after the fact claimed that David merely had a learning disability. The Warrens claimed that over the course of three subsequent exorcisms (oversaw by priests) David levitated, cursed, and even stopped breathing. Perhaps even more astonishingly, David allegedly predicted the murder that Arne Cheyenne Johnson would eventually commit. By October 1980, Johnson started taunting the demon telling it to stop bothering his fiancée’s brother. “Take me on, leave my little buddy alone,” he cried. Arne Cheyenne Johnson, The Killer? As a source of income, Johnson worked for a tree surgeon. Meanwhile Bono managed a kennel. The two were purportedly friendly and often met up near the kennel, with Johnson sometimes even calling in sick to work in order to do so. But on Feb. 16, 1981, a vicious argument broke out between them. At around 6:30 p.m., Johnson suddenly drew out a pocket knife and aimed it at Bono. Bono was stabbed multiple times in the chest and stomach, and then was left to bleed to death. Police arrested Johnson an hour later, and they said that the two men had simply been fighting over Johnson’s fiancée, Debbie. But the Warrens insisted there was more to the story. At some point prior to the murder, Johnson had allegedly investigated a well, in the same area where his fiancée’s brother claimed to experience his first encounter with the malicious presence wreaking havoc on their lives. The Warrens warned Johnson not to go near the same well, but he did anyway, perhaps to see if the demons truly took over his body after he had taunted them. Johnson later claimed that he saw a demon hiding within the well, who possessed him until after the murder. Though authorities investigated the Warrens’ claims of a possession they stuck with the story that Bono was simply killed during an altercation with Johnson over his fiancée. The Trial Of Arne Cheyenne Johnson Johnson’s attorney Martin Minnella tried his best to enter a plea of “not guilty by reason of demonic possession.” He even planned to subpoena the priests who allegedly attended the exorcisms, urging them to break tradition by speaking about their controversial rites. Over the course of the trial, Minnella and the Warrens were routinely mocked by their peers, who saw them as profiteers of tragedy. “They have an excellent vaudeville act, a good road show,” said mentalist George Kresge. “It’s just that this case more involves clinical psychologists than it does them.” Judge Robert Callahan ultimately rejected Minnella’s plea. Judge Callahan argued such a defense would be impossible to prove, and that any testimony on the matter was unscientific and thus irrelevant. The collaboration of four priests during the three exorcisms was never confirmed, but the Diocese of Bridgeport acknowledged that priests worked on helping David Glatzel during a difficult time. The priests in question, meanwhile, were ordered not to speak on the matter publicly. “No one from the church has said one way or the other what was involved,” said Rev. Nicholas V. Grieco, a diocese spokesman. “And we decline to say.” But Johnson’s lawyers were permitted to examine Bono’s clothing. The lack of any blood, rips, or tears, they argued, could help support the claim of demonic involvement. However, no one in the court was convinced. So Johnson’s legal team opted for a self-defense plea. Ultimately, Johnson was convicted of first-degree manslaughter on Nov. 24, 1981 and sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. He only served 5 years! After serving about five years in prison, Johnson was released in 1986. He married his fiancée while he was still behind bars, and as of 2014, they are still together. As for Debbie, she maintains an interest in the supernatural, and claims that Arne’s biggest mistake was challenging “the beast” that possessed her younger brother. You never take that step,” she said “You never challenge the Devil. Arne started showing the same signs my brother did when he was under possession!


This is one of the most interesting cases I’ve ever looked into and the pure fact that the police and detective team had to consider the thought of a paranormal influence (even if they didn’t believe it) was such an interesting story I thought you all should read about! Of course I can’t give a final yes or no answer to this case. But of we have heard countless stories of demonic possession and I for one DO believe that they are possible. Who knows the truth about this fascinating case, but either way it is a haunting story and deservingly appears on our Ghost Stories list!

Thank you for reading our articles over the past week! We hope you have enjoyed them, and we shall be investigating more spooky stories soon!

Jordan Knight



Ghost Stories

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