How teenager who brutally stabbed friend to death claimed he did it after being ‘possessed by the devil’ at an exorcism

WHEN Arne Cheyenne Johnson was arrested two hours after stabbing his pal Alan Bono to death, it looked like an open and shut case.

But it resulted in a sensational trial that made headlines around the world and inspired a hit movie — after the 19-year-old killer claimed he was possessed by the Devil.

8

Judy Glatzel with her son David, who was said to be possessed after an eerie encounter in a ‘weird’ house
A police mugshot of Arne Cheyenne Johnson

8

A police mugshot of Arne Cheyenne Johnson

Johnson — the first person to put forward a defence of demonic possession in a US court case — claimed an evil entity had taken over his body during the exorcism of his girlfriend’s 11-year-old brother David five months earlier.

He was backed by celebrity ghosthunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, who investigated the boy’s “possession” and helped the family stage an exorcism.

Johnson’s partner Debbie Glatzel stood by him, protesting his innocence and even marrying him in jail after his 1981 manslaughter conviction.

Her family also backed the Warrens’ version of events, even contributing to a book — which led to a 2021 movie about the case, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.

Now a new Netflix documentary, The Devil On Trial, delves into the story through exclusive interviews with Johnson, David Glatzel and his older brothers, Alan and Carl.

In the programme, available from today, David says his childhood possession has been a dark secret he has never talked about.

And Johnson, who served just five years for killing 40-year-old Bono, says: “This whole case affected the entire family.

“It scarred everybody.”

Youngest of four David, now 54, says his early childhood was “normal”.

Then in July 1980, older sister Debbie, 26, rented a house near the family home in Brookfield, Connecticut, with her fiancé, Johnson, and her brothers helped them move in.

David says: “It was a weird house.

“There was just something off about it.”

He was sent to sweep one of the bedrooms, and claims: “I was pushed backwards on to the bed.

“I’ve seen this image — it looked like the Devil from a Halloween costume.

“His eyes were solid black, like a chunk of coal, and it scared me.”

David told his family the figure told him to beware, and said it wanted his soul.

His mum Judy, a staunch Catholic, initially dismissed his story as a bad dream, but when he claimed to have seen a dark figure in the woods outside, she called in a priest to bless the house.

The following night David woke at 3am, screaming: “He’s coming for me, he’s going to punish me.”

The family rushed into his bedroom and his brother Alan claims: “The house rumbled like somebody drove a truck into it.

Weird house

“Lights began to flash on and off.

“You could hear glass breaking and falling.”

Convinced there was a supernatural force in the house, Judy turned to ghosthunters Ed and Lorraine.

They attempted to contact the “demonic entity” by asking it to bang on the table three times.

Alan says: “All of a sudden, ‘bang, bang, bang’.

“It sounded like someone took a sledgehammer to the kitchen floor.

“The whole kitchen started to shake.”

Lorraine told her husband: “I can see a large, dark mass standing next to that little boy. It’s evil.”

They told Judy the demon was intent on possessing her son and that his behaviour would change as the spirit took over his mind.

In chilling recordings played in the documentary, David is heard growling like a rabid dog, shouting streams of expletives at his family, with agonised wails and a demonic laugh.

Alan recalls: “It was mentally draining for everyone but it just kept getting progressively worse.

“He was physically violent and he tried choking my mother and my sister.”

Johnson with his fiancée Debbie

8

Johnson with his fiancée Debbie
Young David with ghosthunters Ed and Lorraine Warren

8

Young David with ghosthunters Ed and Lorraine Warren

With the Warrens’ help, the family arranged an exorcism at St Joseph’s Catholic Church.

David only remembers the prayers at the start of the exorcism but older brother Alan recalls: “Suddenly the temperature in the church dropped and within minutes David’s behaviour started to change.

“He shook and shuddered, his features changed, his body was jerking from side to side.

“His body was bending in ways a body shouldn’t be able to bend.

“He broke free and tried to attack us.

“We had to pin him down.”

Johnson claims he placed a crucifix on the struggling boy’s forehead and asked the demon to transfer to him.

He says: “At one point David’s tongue swelled up so much that he couldn’t breathe.

“He turned blue.

“I yelled at the top of my lungs, ‘Leave this little kid alone. Take me on’.

“I felt this coldness come over me, ice cold.

“Lorraine said, ‘Oh my God, what did you do?’”

Local detective Glen Cooper claims Lorraine Warren walked into the police station soon afterwards and told her Johnson had taken on the demon, telling him she had a premonition of a “death with a knife”.

Five months later, on February 16, 1981, Debbie and Johnson picked up his sisters Wanda, 15, and Janice, 13, and nine-year-old cousin Mary, then met Bono, Debbie’s landlord and boss, for lunch.

Start of the exorcism

Later they went back to Bono’s apartment, where an argument broke out between the two men.

Debbie and Wanda later told police that as they left, Bono grabbed Mary and wouldn’t let her go, leading to an argument with Johnson — who began to “growl like an animal”.

He then pulled out a knife and stabbed Bono five times, before walking into the woods towards the Glatzel family home.

Moments later Judy Glatzel took a call from her hysterical daughter, and David says: “Before she could say anything I had a vision of a man, dead.

“I had an image of Arne and he was heading to our house.

“I knew right away Arne was possessed by the Devil.”

An ambulance driver taking the dying victim to hospital saw Johnson before he reached the Glatzels and called the police, who arrested him.

Johnson claims his next memory was finding himself in the police station, exhausted and unaware he had stabbed his friend.

The next day, Lorraine Warren went on record to claim Johnson had been possessed by the Devil when he killed Bono.

Killer Arne Johnson was the first person to put forward a defence of demonic possession in a US court case

8

Killer Arne Johnson was the first person to put forward a defence of demonic possession in a US court case
Johnson claimed an evil entity had taken over his body during the exorcism of his girlfriend’s 11-year-old brother David

8

Johnson claimed an evil entity had taken over his body during the exorcism of his girlfriend’s 11-year-old brother David
David's brother Alan recalls: 'Suddenly the temperature in the church dropped and within minutes David’s behaviour started to change'

8

David’s brother Alan recalls: ‘Suddenly the temperature in the church dropped and within minutes David’s behaviour started to change’
David’s other brother Carl Jr says he never believed David was possessed

8

David’s other brother Carl Jr says he never believed David was possessed

Johnson’s lawyer, Martin Minella, tells the show he did not believe in the paranormal but after meeting the Warrens, and hearing David’s tapes, he backed the claim.

He says: “I believed in the defence — and I also believed there probably wasn’t another lawyer that would take this case.”

The unique defence caused a media sensation.

When the trial opened, in October 1981, Minella filed a plea of not guilty by virtue of possession.

Yet judge Robert Callahan rejected it, arguing it was impossible to prove and it would be “unscientific” to allow related testimony.

Johnson was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to ten to 20 years, serving five.

Debbie stood by him, marrying him in jail in 1985, and they stayed together until her death from cancer in 2021.

After the trial, Judy, whose husband Carl Sr never believed his son was possessed, collaborated on a book, The Devil In Connecticut, with Lorraine Warren and writer Gerald Brittle.

The Warrens cashed in on the story with lectures and TV interviews.

Like their father, David’s older brother Carl Jr, who was 15 at the time, says he too never believed David was possessed — and claims the Warrens beefed up the incidents to exploit his family for money.

He says: “The Warrens had an agenda.

“They put things in the book to make it more scary.”

He also claims his family earned less than £4,000, while the Warrens — now both dead — made more than £66,000.

In 2007, he and David unsuccessfully tried to sue Lorraine Warren and Gerald Brittle for invasion of privacy, libel and “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.

David is still haunted by his experience as he looks at the photos his family took to record his “episodes”.

He says: “Seeing the pictures, they make me scared again and very sad.

“I was a normal boy having a good childhood until this happened.

“Now I have to live with it every day.”

  • The Devil On Trial is available on Netflix now.


Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *