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The Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson

The Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson

The Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, also known as the Devil Made Me Do It Case, is the first known court case in the United States in which the defense sought to prove innocence based upon the defendant’s claim of demonic possession and denial of personal responsibility for the crime

In this landmark trial, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were called to testify on behalf of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the first known case in the U.S. to use “The Devil Made Me Do It” defense. On the evening of February 16, 1981, 19-year-old Johnson—engaged to Debbie Glatzel and out for dinner with her, their landlord Alan Bono and others—stabbed Bono multiple times using a pocket knife. Johnson would plead not guilty by possession, a defense founded on Johnson’s relationship with his soon-to-be wife’s younger brother, David.

In the summer of 1980, David woke to what he described as “a man with big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns, and hoofs.” The demon’s description mirrors the creature from horror hit Insidious and apparently scared David so much that Debbie turned to Arne for help. Johnson couldn’t find a reasonable explanation for David’s bruises or scratches, so the family pivoted to a priest. That supposedly only angered the entity more, causing it to make David hiss, speak in multiple voices, and quote Paradise Lost.

The Warrens were brought in. In an interview with People Magazine, Lorraine stated that “While Ed interviewed the boy, I saw a black, misty form next to him, which told me we were dealing with something of a negative nature. Soon the child was complaining that invisible hands were choking him—and there were red marks on him. He said that he had the feeling of being hit.”

The Warrens supposedly worked with the diocese of Bridgeport and four priests who were brought in to exorcise more than 40 demons from David. The diocese has only admitted to investigating the Glatzel case, but allegedly the event saw David return to normal. Arne, however, became their alleged new target. After moving in with Debbie and going to dinner at a bar with Bono, a fight between the two older men broke out, and Johnson stabbed Bono. Johnson’s defense didn’t hold up in court, and he was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, serving out only five years of his initially longer sentence.

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