The Terrifying Story Of The Possession of Clara Germana Cele

Most people are familiar with the movie “The Exorcism” and perhaps you are familiar with the story that inspired the movie itself. But the story of Clara Germana Cele has been seemingly forgotten in the over 100 years since it happened. I believe, though this is speculation, that this story also played quite the role in The “Exorcist” movie.

Clara was born in South Africa in either 1889 or 1890, and we don’t know much about her life before she reached the age of 16. What we do know is that she attended St. Michael’s Mission in Umzinto in the region of Natal, South Africa and that she had been adopted by the Mission at the age of 4 due to being an orphan. But she was always seen as a well behaved and good child.

What is tragic, and puzzling, was what happened on her 16th birthday. She began to cry out for help and was erratic and confused. Her words were as follows, “Get the priest! I have to confess something. Get him quickly! I’m afraid Satan will kill me before I have a chance to confess!” Father Erasmus came to hear her confession where she told him she had made a pact with Satan.

Even before this, most at first noticed the drastic change in the young girl. Some think she may have been a rebellious teenager or overly curious but really, we’ve never found out why a young Christian schoolgirl decided to do such a thing. Supposedly, many of the locals overheard her making said pact and word spread quickly.

After the pact, it didn’t take long for the consequences to manifest themselves. Her mental health rapidly deteriorated. She became angry, unstable, and regularly began to spout blasphemies and vulgar things at random. She also often acted like an animal around her family with hissing and barking and aggression. But she also demonstrated the ability to speak in languages she had absolutely no knowledge of. A nun claimed that Clara could understand any languages pushed on her such as Polish or German. This was also observed by others than just the nun. The nuns and priests tried to pray for her and give her religious items, but Clara was just not responsive. It seemed that only the demons possessing her were in charge.

But this went beyond merely speaking in tongues. She also allegedly began to manifest the ability to read people’s minds and showed immense knowledge of secrets of both strangers and those close to her. Almost as if she could see their sins… It goes without saying that it should not be possible.

But it gets worse, the presence of blessed objects seemed to drive her insane and for a crazed 16-year-old girl, she should not have been able to manhandle the nuns and beat them up. This is also common in Demonic possessions, strength beyond what the body can normally exert. The nuns also were horrified by her cries which were supposedly extremely bestial and unlike the girl. As one Nun wrote, “No animal had ever made such sounds. Neither the lions of East Africa nor the angry bulls. At times, it sounded like a veritable herd of wild beasts orchestrated by Satan had formed a hellish choir. No animal had ever made such sounds. Neither the lions of East Africa nor the angry bulls. At times, it sounded like a veritable herd of wild beasts orchestrated by Satan had formed a hellish choir.”

Father Erasmus, the one who heard her confession and who had been called initially thought this was merely the consequences of a young mind rebelling against authority. So for 6 months later in August 1906. Two nuns found her curled up and much of her room ransacked and her bedframe ruined. She explained she had thrown away all of her crucifixes, rosaries, and other holy items. She was now vulnerable. She also began to attack the nuns and threw things around the room. She also allegedly said something close to the following to presumably the demon or demons possessing her, “You betrayed me! You promised me glory, but now you torture me.”

Several nuns and older sisters were made to watch over her. Many still believed her claims were false and for attention. According to one book, it was during this that she questioned the faith the nuns had in God and it turned into a very violent event. Clara reportedly beat several of them severely, tore off their clothes, and left a few of them unconscious. It was after this that the people at the Mission began to test her.

Her skin also reportedly burned when in contact with holy water even when Clara had moments of lucidity. Fire also apparently transfigured out of nothing around her, burning her room but not herself. Many of the people began to congregate around Clara to try and get rid of the demons and to help her, but she revealed the impure thoughts of those around her and the congregations quickly left. She also spoke about Father Erasmus’ travel to Rome at the time and knew details the Priest couldn’t even remember well.

It was during Erasmus’ travel to Rome that a younger priest took over the congregation and attempted to perform an exorcism on Clara. But she taunted him and revealed impure thoughts and he eventually cracked emotionally and slapped the girl. She proceeded to rip part of his vestments and beat him and choke him afterwards. She then sat in a corner and wept as the priest fled the scene. Clara was then put in a private room.

Many of the doors around the Mission including Clara’s began to shake and be beat upon with tremendous force like that of thunder and one priest even patrolled the hallways with a gun. Clara mocked him and told him the demon inside of her only took pleasure in the ordeal.

One can only imagine the horror it must have been to see demons defile and use such a young girl. But her foolishness had clearly played a part…

It was around this time she also began to physically change. Her neck would stretch and extend so harshly that visible bumps would form from the damage to her body. She also began to got to the ground and wiggle around like a snake and even bit a nun severely who was knelt praying for her. This left puncture wounds like that of a snake bite..

Finally, an exorcism was arranged for Clara with Reverend Mansueti who by this time was the director of St. Michael’s Mission and Father Erasmus, her personal confessor. The exorcism began in the morning and went on until noon then was again carried on with at 3pm and carried on until night. Clara began the exorcism by ripping off one of the priest’s collar and attempting to strangle him with it. But the priest continued un-phased.

Well over 100 people were said to have witnessed the event, specifically when Clara began to levitate.

She allegedly levitated both horizontally and vertically and her strange animalistic noises were heard by all. They put her through extreme pressure trying to exorcise the demon and finally, after hours the following day, the demon agreed to leave after levitating her 6 feet in the air and dropping her. Though the exorcism seemed to have worked.

What is truly mind boggling is that after all of that, she made another pact with Satan in 1907. She had to be exorcised a second time which was again, a success and not many details are known about it except for the room apparently being filled with a truly foul smell after the demon left.

Many still believe this was just a case of mental illness, but as far as all the sources indicate, she lived a normal life after the exorcisms. Had she been just mentally ill, this never would have happened, and she would have lived the same way for the rest of her life. Likely she would have ended up in a sanitorium or asylum. Sadly, she died of heart failure at the age of 22 in 1912. There have been speculations about whether the pacts shortened her life, but such ideas are just conjecture as far as we know.

What do you think? Was Clara Germane Cele truly possessed by a demon or even multiple demons? Or was it just a lie and bad behavior from a mentally ill orphan? I’ll leave that to you to decide.]

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Indrid Cold | The Smiling Man

Things always seem mysterious on chilly fall nights in the country. For Woodrow Derenberger, his mysterious encounter with an almost human grinning man on the backroads of West Virginia one November night would affect him and his family for almost a quarter of a century. In 1966, Woodrow Derenberger was a sewing machine salesman living… Continue Reading →

The True Story Behind The Legendary Mothman Said To Terrorize West Virginia

As legend has it, the flying Mothman mortified countless Point Pleasant residents in the late 1960s. And when a bridge collapsed, the creature was blamed for the deaths of 46 people. On November 12, 1966, in Clendenin, West Virginia, a group of gravediggers working in a cemetery spotted something strange. They glanced up from their… Continue Reading →

The Secret Of Skinwalker Ranch

Some have called it a supernatural place. Others have deemed it “cursed.” Terry Sherman got so spooked by the happenings on his new cattle ranch that 18 months after moving his family of four to the property now known by many as “Skinwalker Ranch” in northeastern Utah, he sold the 512-acre parcel away. He and… Continue Reading →

The Ghostly Screams Of Slaughter House Canyon

Though America’s deserts are vast, empty expanses, they are filled with a brutal and bloody history that has stained not only the earth but the communities surrounded by the strange and mysterious. One such event to this day still draws the attention of those seeking adventure and the thrill of the unknown. That place, is Slaughter House Canyon, Arizona.

In the early 1800’s while the great American gold rush was taking place to the west, many families uprooted themselves in search of riches beyond their possible imaginations only to find sand a frustration. Also known as Luana’s Canyon, just southeast of Kingman county, the place in question is named after the woman who killed her children as she and what was left of her family nearly starved to death in their small wooden shack.

As I am sure many of our readers and listeners probably already know how the story goes, this could be a fun story to tell your own children by the campfire to spook them a little before bedtime. It was said that one day Luana’s husband, whom provided the food and worked for the family had gone out hunting as he always had but this time he had not returned when he was expected to be back. It wasn’t long after that hunger and insanity began to set in as Luana’s screams along with her children’s could be heard coming from within the shack. One day, Luana could no longer watch as her children suffered and out of an act of cruel mercy, ended their lives and tossed their body parts into a near by river.

What makes this story even stranger is that while she committed this atrocious act, Luana wore her wedding dress, staining its pure white fabric red with the blood of her own children. Luana, sitting by the riverbank where she had dumped her child screamed and screamed until she herself had succumbed to starvation. Though not much more information is available, there are some circles who believe that this story is the combination of other dreadful tales, such as the “ Lady in white” and other happenings of the time.

Even more interesting, It has been said that travels in search of the truth have gone to visited the supposed shack in Slaughter House Canyons and have reported hearing Luana’s and her children’s harrowing screams echoing throughout the valley.

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The Mystery Of The Lost Cosmonauts

In 1961, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. However, some conspiracy theorists speculate that the Soviets reached the cosmos on an earlier mission but covered it up because they lost cosmonauts. Luckily for everyone who didn’t want to see the human race destroyed in an ocean of nuclear fire, the Cold War… Continue Reading →

The Mystery Of The 1942 Battle Of Los Angeles

On the evening of February 24, 1942, an anti-aircraft barrage of more than 1,440 rounds is launched at what is initially thought to be a Japanese aerial attack on the City of Angels. Five civilians die – three from traffic accidents spawned by the chaos and two from heart attacks. What, if anything, is being… Continue Reading →

The Mystery Of The Dyatlov Pass Incident

In January of 1959, ten hikers, all but one students at the Urals Polytechnic Institute in Sverdlovsk, began a hike into the Ural Mountains. They were led by Igor Dyatlov. All ten were experienced hikers. They planned a three week trip with a return planned for February 12th. One hiker, Yuri Yudin, left early in the trip, on January 28th, due to a flare up of sciatica. He had made it to the final leg of the trip getting out to the Ural mountains by sled, but had to ride back on the sled to return home. By this time, he’d already taken two train rides, a bus ride, and then the sled ride with the other hikers to get to the place where they would begin their treacherous journey through the mountains in the winter. He was disappointed to leave, but this decision would ultimately save his life.

Blue Stray Dogs Found Roaming Near Abandoned Chemical Plant In Russia

Photographs of a stray pack of bright blue dogs on a snowy road in Russia have gone viral online over the last couple days.

The photos of the dogs seem to show the pack all with varying degrees of the cobalt tinge to their coats.

The pictures were taken in the city of Dzershinsk, about 230 miles east of Moscow and posted to the Russian social media site vk.com, according to The Moscow Times.

While some of the dogs are a dark-colored blue, others are less pigmented.

It is thought the dogs could have picked up the distinctive coloring after being exposed to chemicals at a nearby abandoned factory, according to reports.

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The Legend Of The Sallie House (The Heartland Ghost)

The Sallie House is a small, two-story brick house on the bluffs of the Missouri River, widely considered to be one of the most haunted houses in the United States. Reportedly the house is haunted by a demonic spirit which disguises itself as a young girl called Sallie.

Was The Interstellar Object Known As “Oumuamua” An Extraterrestrial Ship? One Harvard Scientist Thinks So

In November 2017, an object passed by our planet that was unlike anything astronomers had ever seen. Spotted by a telescope in Hawaii, this strange thing was dubbed ‘Oumuamua. It moved too fast for it to have come from our solar system, its orbit was unusual, and it didn’t have any of the traditional markings of an asteroid or comet. All this led Dr. Avi Loeb to hypothesize that ‘Oumuamua was artificially made, perhaps a piece of technology or some debris from a faraway alien civilization. Before you discount Loeb, you should know that he isn’t the average UFO-spotting kook you might see on a rerun of Unsolved Mysteries. He’s an astrophysicist who has been teaching astronomy at Harvard since 1993, and chaired its astronomy department for nine years. In his new book, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, which comes out on January 26, Loeb makes a persuasive scientific argument about ‘Oumuamua’s otherworldly origins, and delves into why his peers have been so hostile to the idea of life outside of Earth.

“Overall, about a quarter of our galaxy’s 200 billion stars are orbited by planets that are habitable the way Earth is, with surface conditions that allow liquid water and the chemistry of life as we know it,” he writes. “Given so many worlds … with similar life-friendly conditions, it’s very likely that intelligent organisms have evolved elsewhere.” The opposition to even the mere concept of extraterrestrial life, Loeb contends, “boils down to conservatism, which many scientists adopt in order to minimize the number of mistakes they make during their careers.”

The object was discovered by the Pan-STARRS [Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System] telescope in Hawaii and was given the name ‘Oumuamua, which means a scout or a messenger from far away in the Hawaiian language. It was the very first object spotted near the earth that came from outside our solar system. It moved too fast to be bound to the sun. It was clearly coming from interstellar space. When this object was analyzed, it looked like there was an extra push on it, in addition to the force of gravity from the sun. Usually with comets, you get this extra push from the cometary tail, the rocket effect. When gases evaporate, and go in one direction, they push the object in the opposite direction, just like a jet plane. The only problem is this extra push was not accompanied by a cometary tail. So what gave it this push remains a mystery.

In September 2020, there was another object that exhibited an extra push without the cometary tail. It was found that the object is actually a rocket booster from a launch of a lunar lander in 1966. Here is an object that we can identify as artificially made, that we produced it, and it behaves in a similar way to ‘Oumuamua.

Oumuamua was tumbling and spinning, and the brightness varied by a factor of ten as it was tumbling every eight hours. That means that it has an extreme geometry that is at least ten times longer than it is wide, because as it’s spinning around, you’re seeing the area that reflects sunlight changing by a factor of ten. The best fit for the light curve we saw was a flat object, pancake-like.

These are the facts: A pancake-like object the size of a football field seems to be pushed by a force that is not related to a cometary tail. So we suggested that it’s a light sail, like the sail on a boat that is being pushed by wind. It is a very thin surface that is pushed by reflecting sunlight. We are actually developing light-sail technology for space exploration because it offers the advantage of not needing to carry fuel with the spacecraft. It’s just being pushed by light.

So it seems that ‘Oumuamua is shaped like a disc, which is the stereotypical shape that we associate with UFOs. Is that a coincidence?
It could be a coincidence. It could be just the surface layer of a spaceship or something else that was torn apart. It could be something like a sort of space junk. It’s just like walking on the beach. Most of the time you see rocks or seashells, but every now and then you see a plastic bottle that is artificially made. This could be junk like that. Even if it’s not functional, the significance of ‘Oumuamua is that it implies, perhaps, that we are not alone, that it was not naturally produced, that it was produced by a technological civilization.

It’s a very different type of evidence than in the past. We searched for radio signals. This is very different. It’s like a message in a bottle, a physical object that we trace that is artificially produced. The moral of the story is that even though we didn’t get enough evidence on this object to get an image of it, or be sure that it’s artificial, it is sufficiently intriguing. We should continue to search the sky for similar objects.

The Ghostly Screams Of Slaughter House Canyon

Though America’s deserts are vast, empty expanses, they are filled with a brutal and bloody history that has stained not only the earth but the communities surrounded by the strange and mysterious. One such event to this day still draws the attention of those seeking adventure and the thrill of the unknown. That place, is Slaughter House Canyon, Arizona.

Houska Castle – A Gateway To Hell

The mere mention of its name conjures images of fire, demons, torture, and the devil himself. But does the underworld really exist? Or is it simply myth and superstition? There is a castle in the forests of the Czech Republic where is it said that a portal to hell itself lies beneath its foundations. Join us as we discuss the spine-chilling mystery of Houska Castle, here on Mystery Archives.

During Court He Said “The Devil Made Me Do It” | Another Strange Case By Ed & Lorraine Warren

“The Devil made me do it.”

This has long been the plea of those who have been caught doing something wicked that is uncharacteristic of their usual behavior. Most of the time, we take it only as a figure of speech to brush off an aberrant deviation from the norm. However, sometimes the meaning can become all too literal. In 1981, a brutal murder occurred in a tranquil town on the East Coast of the United States; a vicious crime that the perpetrator claimed was not carried out by his own hand, but rather that of demons that had taken him over. It was a defense that would carry over into an actual court of law to become the nation’s first case of a court defense seeking to blame a crime on demonic possession, and would trigger a media blitz of this spectacular tale of menacing supernatural evil on trial.

The whole strange tale begins in the quite, affluent, and peaceful neighborhood of Brookfield, Connecticut, where an unassuming family, the Glatzels, had arrived in order to clean and put in order a rental property they had recently acquired in this scenic town of 13,000. Shortly after they arrived, a series of bizarre events began to unfurl that would mark the beginning of the madness that was about to spiral out of control. One day, about a month after they had arrived, Mrs. Judy Glatzel reported that her youngest son, 11 year-old David, had suddenly and inexplicably fallen down rather forcefully onto the bed as if he had been shoved. When questioned about the occurrence later, David told his mother that he had in fact been pushed by what he described as an old man with “burnt-looking skin,” who had pointed a finger at him and growled the word “Beware” before throwing him onto the bed.

It was a strange story to be sure, and at first the Glatzels wrote it off as the overactive imagination of a young boy, but David had always been a very honest boy, and his situation would get progressively worse. He began to wake up at all hours of the night sobbing uncontrollably, and when asked what had happened he would describe how he was being visited in the darkness by an old man with soulless black eyes, animalistic features, sharp, jagged teeth, pointed ears, and hooves. David claimed that the intimidating entity was continuously warning him that if they moved into the rental house they would be harmed. These visitations continued and before long were even occurring in the daytime, when David claimed the beast took on the appearance of an old man with a white beard dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans. David said that sometimes the apparition would snarl in some foreign language or threaten to steal his soul. The spooky visitations also began to be accompanied by various unexplained phenomena throughout the house, such as inexplicable footsteps, slamming doors, and disembodied voices.

The weirdness would not end there. David began to exhibit strange wounds such as scratches, cuts, and bruises on his body for no discernible reason, and his night terrors gradually worsened to the point that he would wake up howling in terror practically every night. The mother even claimed to at one point have seen her son being choked by unseen hands, or flopping about on his bed like “a rag doll.” David had also put on a large amount of weight in a short period of time, allegedly becoming extremely fat and putting on 60 pounds in only a few months. In light of the strange, seemingly paranormal events that were unfolding around them, the alarmed Glatzels took notice and became convinced that this was not a simple case of their kid trying to get out of household chores or school. They enlisted the assistance of a local Catholic priest from St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Brookfield, for guidance. The priest performed a ritual cleansing of the house, but it seemed to have no effect, as the ominous phenomena continued.

The increasingly desperate Glatzel family pleaded with the church for help, and were referred to two demonologists and exorcists by the name of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens’ arrival seemed to mark an increase in bizarre events and aberrant behavior on the part of David. He began to have sudden seizures and fits or convulsions that required him to be restrained at times. He also would occasionally snarl, hiss, or spit at people, and it got to the point where one person was always awake as David slept, in case he should experience one of his bizarre tantrums or seizures. The boy was also known to suddenly begin quoting passages from the Bible and Milton’s Paradise Lost, or speaking in voices that were not his own. It was even reported that he would speak passages in Latin, a language with which he had no experience. Lorraine Warren, a self professed psychic, would later report that on at least one occasion she had seen a strange black mist congeal next to David. The boy also continued to repeatedly complain of being hit, shoved, or choked by unseen hands. After some time of these escalating bizarre events, the Warrens came to the conclusion that there was a malevolent presence in the house, and that David was most likely subject to multiple possessions.

It was around this time that the Glatzel’s 26 year-old daughter, Deborah, implored her fiancée, Arne Cheyenne Johnson, to move in with them in order to make them feel safer. In light of what they saw as demonic possession, the Warrens went about conducting a series of exorcisms in an effort to rid the boy of whatever malignant entities were residing within him. Three exorcisms involving the help of no fewer than four Catholic priests were conducted, during which time David would growl, snarl, curse, spit, kick, and scratch like a madman, all to no ultimate effect. The Warrens also claimed that during the exorcisms David would cease breathing for long periods of time, do rapid series of sit-ups despite his obesity, contort his body into unnatural positions normally not possible, and even levitate. The normally quiet and peaceful boy was also said to start talking of murder and stabbings, which further alarmed both the family and the Warrens. Eventually, the exorcists learned that there were 43 demons supposedly residing within David when they asked him who was there during one of his episodes and the boy gave 43 different names.

The exorcisms did not seem to be having any effect, and the evil presence within David garnered the nicknames “The Beast” and “The Master.” The family contacted Brookfield police in October of 1980 to report that they felt the situation was becoming dangerous and that the boy posed a potential threat, but at the time they were largely ignored. Debbie’s fiancée, Arne Johnson, was becoming exhausted by the whole ordeal, and started taunting the demons that were tormenting David. He is said to have shouted at them on several occasions and to have challenged and commanded them to enter him instead. Johnson was reported to have repeatedly said on numerous occasions “Come into me! Leave the little lad alone!” During one of these times he became terrified when he claimed to have seen the demons and even made eye contact with them as he looked into David’s eyes, something the Warrens has strictly warned him not to ever do. Not long after this, Johnson crashed his car into a tree, and while he was unharmed in the accident, he would later claim that the demons had taken control of him and caused him to crash.

In November of 1980, Judy and Carl Glatzel took their son to a psychiatrist to see if there was anything that could be done to help the increasingly disturbed boy or if any answers for his condition could be gleaned from the scientific community. The psychiatrist informed the family that David was normal, exhibiting only a minor learning disability, certainly nothing to account for his escalating bizarre behavior. Nevertheless, they enrolled their son in a special school for disturbed children, hoping that this would somehow cure him after all else had failed.

In the meantime, Debbie and Johnson moved out of the house to live in an apartment near the Brookfield Pet Motel, where Debbie had gotten a job as a dog groomer. The manager and owner of the pet motel, as well as the landlord of the apartment, was Alan Bono, who would become friends with the couple. In the ensuing weeks, Debbie Glatzel became increasingly concerned, as Johnson started to display strange, uncharacteristic behavior. The normally polite and even tempered Johnson would become highly irritated at the smallest things, and would suddenly go into bizarre trances during which he would growl, snarl, or convulse, and which he claimed to have no memory of. During several of these episodes he would shout out in despair that he could see “The Beast” staring at him, after which he would once again claim he could not remember such a thing happening. These weird trances became more frequent, and his behavior more erratic, until Debbie started to fear that perhaps her fiancée had been possessed by the same demons that had been inhabiting her brother, despite the fact that none of Johnson’s co-workers reported anything out of the ordinary.

On February 16, 1981, tragedy struck. Johnson called in sick to his job as a tree surgeon and joined Debbie and Bono for a lunch party, during which they all reportedly drank heavily. After the party, they returned to the apartment to hang out, and at some point during the conversation, Johnson and Bono got into a heated argument. During the confrontation, Johnson allegedly went into one of his trances, after which he started growling like an animal and pulled out a folding 5-inch knife and proceeded to viciously and repeatedly stab Bono, who would die at a hospital from his wounds several hours later. Johnson, who had no previous criminal record of any kind and had fled the scene, was apprehended several miles from the scene of the crime and charged with first degree murder. He claimed at the time that he could not remember anything of the incident.

The case was already exceptional, as it was the first murder ever recorded in the history of Brookfield, but things would take a turn for the bizarre rather quickly. A mere day after the murder, Lorraine Warren made the claim that Johnson had been possessed by demons when the murder was committed, and that David Glatzel had said he had seen the demons go from him into Johnson’s body. This was further given fuel when the family supported these claims, saying that the murder had been the “Devil’s work,” and that the beast had transferred to Johnson’s body during the exorcisms when he had taunted them to do so. These claims of demonic possession and murder in this quiet, sleepy town drove the media into a frenzy, and the story was covered extensively in various outlets.

Making the whole affair even more mysterious was that although the the Glatzels and Warrens talked about the exorcisms that had been conducted on David, the church itself went through great lengths to distance itself from these claims. The diocese officially stated that although a Father Virgulak and three other priests had indeed been involved in helping the boy through his affliction, it adamantly denied that any actual exorcisms had been performed. The spokesman for the diocese, Rev. Nicholas V. Grieco, explained that the bishop’s approval would have been required to carry out an exorcism and that no such approval had ever been sought. This sat squarely opposite from what the Glatzels and Warrens were saying, and they claimed that such approval in fact had been granted after two of the younger priests had approached the bishop personally. Making matters more complicated was that none of the priests who had allegedly been directly involved in the exorcisms were permitted to comment on the incident to reporters nor investigators, and all of them were mysteriously transferred to other parishes.

Things would get even more bizarre still. When Johnson’s trial came, his defense attorney, Martin Minnella, decided to use the alleged demonic possession as an actual legal defense for his client. It would be the first time in United States history in which the defense sought to prove innocence by arguing demonic possession and therefore a lack of personal responsibility. Media attention to the case reached a fever pitch, and the trial came to be known as the “Demon Murder Trial” and the “Devil Made Me Do It Trial.” Attorney Minella for his part extensively researched the feasibility of such an argument and found that such a defense was not unprecedented in the world. Minella put forth two cases from England in which the defense of possession had been allowed; one in which an arsonist was acquitted on grounds of demonic possession and another in which a rapist had received a suspended sentence for the same reason. The lawyer even made arrangements to have exorcists from Europe flown in for the trial. In addition, he was prepared to subpoena the priests that had allegedly performed the exorcisms on David Glatzel if they didn’t cooperate. Minella vowed:

I’m going to show the guy isn’t insane and that it’s not a delusion. The courts have dealt with the existence of God, and now they’ll be asked to deal with the existence of the demonic spirit.

The trial commenced on October 28, 1981, at Connecticut’s Superior Court in Danbury. As expected, Minella entered a plea of innocence on the grounds that his client had been possessed by demons that had passed into him from David and as such had not been in control of himself, therefore releasing him from the responsibility of any wrongdoing. During the proceedings, alleged taped evidence of the priests confirming approval for an exorcism was presented, as well as lurid photographs depicting scenes such as Johnson kneeling over David on the floor with a crucifix pressed to his forehead, and another in which Johnson is holding the boy down as the crucifix lies broken on the floor next to him. Despite this, presiding judge Robert Callahan was not convinced, and he disallowed this argument, stating that none of it could be objectively or scientifically verified through the available evidence. As a result, all of the testimony related to the demon possession defense was thrown out, the jury not permitted to consider it as a viable reason for the murder, and Minella was forced to change his tactic, changing his stance to that of self defense. After 3 days of deliberations, the jury came to the conclusion that Johnson was guilty of first-degree manslaughter, and he was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison, of which he would ultimately serve only 5.

In the aftermath of the trial, media interest in the case waned, but the story was not over yet. In 1983, Lorraine Warren helped Gerald Brittle write a book about the incident titled The Devil in Connecticut, which many saw as a cheap attempt to make a profit off of the Gratzel family’s suffering, but Warren insisted that proceeds from the book would be donated to the family. The book was re-released in 2006, by which time David Glatzel, now an adult, and his brother Carl Glatzel Jr. sued the publisher on the grounds that they claimed it gave the family emotional distress, violated their privacy, and contained a good amount of libel. Carl further said that the Warrens had lied about the events that had taken place and that the exorcism story was a hoax; a tall tale they had weaved to take advantage of and make profit off of David’s mental illness. Carl also complained that the book had made him out to be the villain of the story because he had never subscribed to the supernatural explanations for what had transpired.

For their part, the Warrens have stuck to their version of events. Lorraine Warren has repeatedly insisted that the supernatural phenomena that occurred were real and that all of the priests involved had agreed that the boy had been possessed by demons. Additionally, Debbie Glatzel and Arne Cheyenne Johnson himself have to this day continued to assert that the Warrens’ version of the events is true, further saying that the Glatzel family is suing purely for monetary gain. The priests involved with the supposed exorcisms have never come forward to officially support either side of the story, and continue to remain silent on the matter.

So what do we make of this story? Did the Devil in fact really make Johnson do it? Considering the myriad versions of the events and the conflicting claims of all involved, it is difficult to say. However, is there the potential that some dark force can compel a rational person to commit evil deeds that they would never imagine committing otherwise, and if so should they be held accountable for it? Or is this all just some wicked element of the human soul which occasionally bubbles and froths forth from some murky recess of our psyche to drive us to these atrocities, and in the end it is only us to blame for failing to be the gatekeeper that keeps the beast from getting out? Law has always had to deal with the fine line between sanity and insanity, accountability and absolution. Is there perhaps another line on which we teeter; the line between the deeds of our own mind and those of something “other”? It is unlikely that the defense tried during the Arne Cheyenne Johnson Trial will ever be admissible in court, but it can perhaps cause us to reflect upon the nature of an evil that potentially resides within every one of us, supernatural or not.

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