Monday, 16 February 2015

EVERYDAY STRANGE - The Brookfield Demon Murder

[Image source]
Brookfield, CT - On February 16, 1981 the 193-year old town of Brookfield, CT experienced its first murder when 19-year old Arne Johnson stabbed his landlord Alan Bono five times in the chest with a pocket knife. But that wasn’t the only precedent the act would set. In late October, facing a charge of manslaughter Johnson’s defense entered the plea of Not Guilty - by reason of demonic possession.

Roughly a year earlier, Ed and Lorraine Warren came to visit. You might remember them as the subjects of the recent film The Conjuring or nearly any made-for-TV program about ghosts or the paranormal in the late 1980’s / early 1990’s. Johnson’s girlfriend (Debbie Glatzel)’s 11-year old brother David Glatzel was being looked at for demonic possession. The Warrens swore it was a genuine case, though it seems they never met a paranormal case they didn’t love. But, it seemed the exorcism didn’t take. After Catholic priests presided over the boy, the infernal infection apparently remained. Arne, never particularly close to David, took the initiative to call upon the demons to leave the boy’s body and enter his own. Martin Minnella, Johnson’s lawyer argued that they did just that.

That decision turned the case into a national sideshow.

Minnella had “tapes” (audio or video is unrevealed) of the exorcism. Minnella still claims 34 years later that young David Glatzel spoke “the names of 42 demons in Latin, and that the Brookfield Police Chief was going to testify that he saw the child levitate”.

Minnella claimed that ‘demonic possession’ wasn’t synonymous with ‘insanity’, he was out to prove that demons exist. The Warrens also never seem to have met a camera they didn’t love and embraced their potential role as star witnesses. Minnella was prepared to have the Warrens testify to the existence of demons, and to produce the recordings of the exorcism including Johnson’s “challenge” to the demons but the plea was rejected by the court and the more conventional plea of self-defence was entered in its place.

The entire stabbing incident was found to be due to Bono’s having made an obscene remark about Debbie Glatzel’s dress, which Johnson took exception to. The two argued, things escalated, Bono wound up dead. Johnson was found guilty and served five years in prison.

The event gained colossal levels of media attention at the time and became known as “the devil made me do it case”. It even spawned a 1983 made-for-TV movie starring Kevin Bacon called The Demon Murder Case. It isn’t great. It’s no ‘The Exorcist’ that’s for sure, but tune in tomorrow for the real-life story that inspired the novel that the film was based on …

Take a look at this My Life of Crime article for reams and reams of links

Post-Script: This story has a happy ending, Johnson married Glatzel while still in prison and the two remain together, today they are grandparents to two boys.

And here's The Demon Murder Case movie for your viewing pleasure. It also stars Andy Griffith and was directed by William Hale.

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