The Real Haunted History Of 'The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It'
The third movie in 'The Conjuring' series tells a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The movie is based around the true crime case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a Connecticut man who tried to avoid a murder charge by using the defence "the Devil made me do it" for the first time in US history.
The 2021 movie, 'The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It', is the latest supernatural horror in the popular 'Conjuring' franchise. As with the first two films, the plot is loosely based around one of the Warrens' most sensational cases.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga returned as Ed and Lorraine Warren, who attempt to help a family who believe their young son is a victim of demonic possession, but the case takes an unexpected turn when a demon leaps into the body of Arne Johnson, and forces him to commit murder.
The Warrens were a husband-and-wife paranormal investigation team who specialised in demonology. Ed, who passed away in 2006, was the director of the New England Society For Psychic Research, spurred on by his experiences living in a haunted house as a child where he'd regularly see objects flying around.
Ed met Lorraine, a practicing medium, during the Second World War and together they went on to become world-renowned investigators and devoted decades of their lives to exploring, authenticating, and documenting some of the most famous paranormal incidents ever reported. The pair shared their work in six published books, as well as through lecture tours and media appearances.
The trial of Arne, also known as the "Devil Made Me Do It" case, was documented in the Warrens' 1983 book, 'The Devil in Connecticut', which was co-written by Gerald Brittle. As well as being re-told in the third 'Conjuring' movie, the story was also examined in a Discovery+ documentary, and a 2006 episode of 'A Haunting', a paranormal anthology series where real victims share the stories of their real-life encounters with the paranormal.
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Just like in the movie, it all began in the summer of 1980, when 11-year-old David Glatzel was helping his older sister, Debbie, and her boyfriend, Arne, move in to the house they just rented.
David reported seeing a ghostly apparition that he called "the old man". According to David, he was thrown onto a waterbed that was left behind by the previous tenants.
This incident is mirrored in the movie, albeit with a little creative license to increase the scares. It should also be noted that the movie adaptation features a female apparition instead of an old man.
Eventually, the ghostly man transformed into something more sinister. At night he became a demonic beast that threatened to steal David's soul. David began to growl, screamed repulsive things, speak in a strange demonic voice and started to experience violent outbursts.
Things took a drastic turn when inexplicable scratches and bruises appeared all over the young child's body, which led to his concerned mother, Judy Glatzel, asking a local priest and the Warrens for help having previously seen the couple lecture on hauntings.
Over the next few weeks, a battle between good and evil ensued. Both the family and the Warrens claim to have witnessed David levitate, cease breathing and ultimately predict a murder.
The Warrens eventually got approval from the Catholic Church to perform three exorcisms with the help of a priest. It was during the final exorcism that Arne put himself between the demon and David. He challenged the demon to leave his girlfriend's little brother's body and enter his own. While Arne's intentions were pure, the results were disastrous.
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Five months later in early-1981, Arne found himself in the middle of a violent confrontation with his landlord, Alan Bono. Arne fatally stabbed Alan multiple times with a pocket knife. He later claimed no recollection of the incident, but told the arresting officer, "I think I hurt someone."
The day after Arne was arrested, Lorraine called the police station where he was being held and spoke to his defence attorney, Martin Minnella, and told him that the killing was the result of demonic possession. Although Arne never actually made this claim himself, he maintained that he didn't remember stabbing his landlord.
Martin decided to proceed with this now-famous defence for the first time in American legal history. "The devil made me do it," was seen as an unprecedented twist on the more common notion of pleading not guilty by insanity.
Martin's evidence for the demonic possession plea, which included witness testimonies from Catholic priests and paranormal investigators, was rejected by the court before the trial.
Arne was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to at least ten years in prison. Arne and Debbie's relationship continues to this day and they were married while he was still in prison. Arne ended up serving less than five years and was released early on parole due to good behaviour.
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