Arne Johnson’s ‘Devilish’ Story: A Man Convicted Of Manslaughter

The trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, infamously known as the “Devil Made Me Do It” case, remains the first known case in the United States wherein the defense sought to prove innocence based on Arne’s claim of demonic possession. The real-life story of Arne Johnson was also the subject matter of the famous movie, The […]

Arne Cheyenne Johnson’s trial, dubbed the “Devil Made Me Do It” case, is the first known case in the United States in which the defence attempted to show innocence based on Arne’s allegation of demonic possession. The real-life tale of Arne Johnson inspired the film The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, part of the “The Conjuring” trilogy.


The Possessed Man Takes The Plea…


On February 16, 1981, Arne Cheyenne Johnson brutally stabbed his landlord Alan Bono and stated, “The Devil Made Me Do It.” For the first time in history, a court of law was dealing with a matter about the devil rather than a question about God. But that was Arne Johnson’s narrative.

Until Arne Johnson testified before the authorities, the Alan Bono murder was thought to be an open and close case in Brookfield, Connecticut. The police were persuaded that the 40-year-old landlord was murdered by his tenant Arne Cheyenne Johnson after a violent altercation, but it was later revealed that the man possessed by the devil finally spoke up.

Arne Cheyenne Johnson was convicted of first-degree manslaughter for the death of his landlord, Alan Bono, during the trial. Following his detention, he made several surprising statements. During the court, Arne stated, “The Devil had me do it,” and his counsel fiercely offered this claim of demonic possession as a viable defence for Alan Bono’s murder. Two paranormal investigators who were present during an exorcism session backed up such statements.

First-Hand Account By Arne and Debbie…


The origins of this case may be traced back to the convict, Arne, and the Glatzel family, who supplied a first-hand account of the circumstances leading up to Arne’s possession. These incidents were dramatised in the episode “Were Demons Dwell” of Discovery’s “A Haunting.” Arne and Debbie’s father saw demonic possession, and the two brothers were vehement in supporting their father’s story.

So the issue is, how did Arne get possessed? According to the Glatzel family’s account, 11-year-old David Glatzel was possessed by a demon. Following a series of strange happenings involving David, his family decided to enlist the help of two well-known private paranormal investigators, Rd and Lorraine Warren.


Multiple priests marched forward, petitioning the Church to execute a formal exorcism on David. The procedure lasted many days, but the purported eyewitnesses made an astounding assertion. They said that the demond escaped David’s body and entered Arne during the exorcism. If you are unaware, these assertions are also mentioned in Gerald Brittle’s book “The Devil in Connecticut,” which later became a source of contention.

The Evil House…


Arne and Debbie described how paranormal activity began when they went to clean up a rental home they had purchased. David claimed that an old guy appeared to scare him. His family felt David was deceiving them in order to avoid contributing to their household responsibilities, but David subsequently revealed that it was the demon that warned him that moving into the rental property would hurt the Glatzels.

David’s visions became more apparent over time, and he said during a conversation that the devil appeared in the shape of an elderly man who murmured Latin and threatened to steal his family’s soul. Even though his family admitted to hearing unusual noises, only David saw the demon. Arne Johnson, according to eyewitness evidence, compelled one of the demons reportedly within David to possess him while participating in David’s exorcisms.

According to the dramatised version and Arne’s own story, this was his last meeting with the monster while still conscious. During the time when Arne made eye contact with the demon, he got possessed. We may not believe it, yet this is something that even David’s family has stated.

The Murder Of Alan Bono…


Alan Bono, Arne and Debbie’s landlord, was acquainted with him and the two often met at the kennel. The persons involved in this narrative will never forget the sad day of February 16, 1981, when a furious quarrel broke out between the two and Arne Johnson ended up stabbing Bono many times in the chest and stomach. This caused him to bleed to death. Police later detained him, claiming that the two men had a dispute about Arne’s fiancée, Debbie.

However, there was much more to this story. Arne Johnson went on to explore a well in the same place where Debbie’s brother claimed to have his first meeting with the devil, according to the Warrens. That was it; Arne couldn’t escape the disaster that was about to consume him.

The Warrens also stated that they did not want Arne to go to that well and advised him not to. Arne, being the obstinate man that he is, went there to check whether demons could genuinely take over his body. Arne stated during his trial that he saw a demon lurking within the well, which eventually possessed him until after the crime.

Authorities originally attempted to investigate the haunting allegation, but eventually maintained that Bono was slain as a result of a disagreement between them over his fiancée.

What Happened At The Trial?


The trial began on October 28, 1981, in Connecticut’s Superior Court in Danbury. Martin Minnella, Arne Johnson’s attorney, coerced him into pleading “not guilty by reason of demonic possession.” He also planned to “subpoena the priests who purportedly attended the exorcisms,” asking them to defy tradition and testify about their controversial procedures in court.

Throughout the trial, Arne’s attorney Minnella and Warrens were constantly insulted by the audience, who referred to them as “profiteers of tragedy.” “They have a fantastic roadshow and a great vaudeville performance,” observed mentalist George Kresge. “It’s simply that this case includes clinical psychologists more than they do.”

Judge Robert Callahan presided over Arne Johnson’s trial. He rejected Arne’s plea after hearing horrifying testimonials and the plea, arguing that such a defence of demonic possession would be very hard to prove in a court of law. He further argued that any evidence on the subject would be “unscientific and so irrelevant.” Not only that but the existence of those three priests and their participation in David’s exorcism was never established.


But something strange happened. The Diocese of Bridgeport recognised that priests assisted David Glatzel at a trying period. Meanwhile, the priests in issue have been ordered not to make any public statements about the situation. “No one from the church has acknowledged one way or the other what was involved,” diocesan spokesperson Rev. Nicholas V. Grieco said. “And we refuse to say.”

Johnson’s attorneys, on the other hand, were allowed to examine the deceased’s clothes. It was discovered that the absence of blood, rips, or tears might assist corroborate the assertion of demonic activity. However, the court was not persuaded.

Arne’s legal team ultimately chose a self-defence plea, and he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison, but he only spent five years. Arne Johnson’s strange case has inspired several TV dramas and movies, including The Demon Murder Case, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and the book The Devil in Connecticut. The movies and television broadcasts give a firsthand perspective of such incidents.

Where Is Arne Johnson Now?


After completing five years of his sentence, Arne Johnson was released on good behaviour in 1986. Arne married Debbie Glatzel while still in jail and even received a high school certificate from the institution. The couple ended up having two children.

Fans of “The Conjuring 3” may be aware that the film expertly describes Arne Johnson’s odd trip and offers information about his court case in which he alleged demonic possession. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, directed by Michael Chaves, delves into the Arne Cheyenne Johnson case, showing glimpses of the real-life murder trial. The trick here is that this film takes a different approach than the typical Conjuring film.


The film altered the genuine plot of Conjuring 3, yet it remained reasonably accurate to real-life occurrences. Debbie died of cancer when the film was released, in case you didn’t know. Little is known about Arne Johnson since his release from jail; however, Lorraine Warren claims he was able to find work as a gardener following his release.

When we talk about Arne Johnson, we can’t help but think about “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” which takes viewers through his life before and throughout the trial. In an interview, Director Michael said, “This is the tale of Arne and also his lover who became his wife, Debbie Glatzel.” She was present for the exorcism and the murder, and she testified for him and believed. She stood by it, and they’ve been married for the remainder of her life; she died of cancer recently.”

Aside from that, Lorraine’s book “The Devil in Connecticut,” co-written with Gerald Brittle, presents a first-hand account of troubling happenings in Arne, Glatzel’s family, and the people around them. Carl Glatzel, David’s brother, has spoken out against the book once it was released (in 2006). He called it a “total falsehood.” He further stated that the Warrens made up a bogus narrative about demons in order to become wealthy and famous at their expense.

As a result, David and Carl sued Brittle and the Warrens in 2007 for ‘unspecified pecuniary damages.’ They sued the writers and publishers for invasion of privacy, libel, and “intentional infliction of mental distress.” Brittle, on the other hand, claimed that the book was based on more than 100 hours of interviews with the Glazel family.

Loraine Warren even asserts that the six priests who performed exorcisms on Glatzel were unanimous in their belief that he was possessed. Debbie Glatzel and Arne Johnson, on the other hand, have always claimed that Arne was possessed by a demon. David’s father, on the other hand, denies any such occurrence.

The narrative of Arne Johnson helps us believe in what goes beyond the reasoning mind. This account has shocked many people, especially those who witnessed Arne’s condition. But, once again, the court was perplexed since this case made them rethink everything. However, even the judge concurred with his reasonable reasoning and sentenced Arne, albeit for five years.

The question of whether Arne was possessed or not may never be answered. But, undoubtedly, there are some facts that go beyond the system’s, authority’, and society’s conventional assumptions. This is the account of Arne Johnson, who yelled in court that the Devil forced him to do it. This was one of the most strange situations in which a plea of demonic possession was entered for the first time. While the truth may be difficult to find, there is some truth to what Arne described. What are your thoughts?


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