Episode 14: Murder comes to town

The Mountain Mysteries

Episode 14

Murder Comes to Town

The Mountain Mystery of Arne Cheyenne Johnson

The cases they worked have captivated people in practically every corner of the world and inspired made for TV films, and now cinematic block busters. The Conjuring universe has been based on their cases from the Perrons to the Hodgson family in Enfield, London England and now the third in the series will take its roots in Connecticut. It too, is alleged to be based on real events.

Around 18,000 call it home. It seems quiet and peaceful for the most part, the kind of place most would be happy to call home. The last twelve years or so there’s been a virtually nonexistence of murder. Not a lot of places with that many people living within its city can claim that. That is something that makes this episode so intriguing.

It was a first in many regards. The first time a defense in an American court system that claimed the defendant was not guilty, because the devil made him do it, also the first time a murder had occurred in the small and quiet community of Brookville. It was their first murder in the history of the town. And it’s said that it all began with a challenge, a challenge of a young man who had cursed demonic entities to take him on, instead of his fiancé’s younger brother, whom it’s said was in the midst of becoming demonically possessed. There’s so much to this story that books have been written about it, and perhaps some should have been published under the fictional genre, but many say that this tale is true. There’s been television films about it and now, this story appears as the latest film in the Conjuring cinematic universe, which was released June 4th, 2021 entitled, the devil made me do it. These are the Mountain Mysteries, Episode 14. Murder comes to town, The Mountain Mystery of Arne Cheyenne Johnson.

It was in the summer of 1980 when our story begins, an 11-year-old boy, David Glatzel, who was by all accounts mild natured, sweet, and kind was helping his older sister, Debbie, and her boyfriend, Arne Johnson, fix up a house they had just rented. Shortly after they moved in, David began seeing a mysterious “ghost man,” who frightened him beyond any words. Eventually, the ghost man transformed into something more menacing; at night he became a demonic monster that threatened to steal David’s very soul. Lorraine and Ed Warren explained how the events unfolded that day and into the evening hours during a television program conducted as they discussed the events of this unique case.

(Ed and Lorraine 001_TMM_14)

Things took a desperate turn when inexplicable scratches and bruises appeared all over the young boy. He began to growl and to speak with a diabolical voice. Then, after his family witnessed him being attacked by invisible hands, they decided to seek help from a priest and famed demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who concluded he needed an exorcism.

(Ed and Lorraine 002_TMM_14)

Over the next several weeks, a struggle between good and evil follows. Both the family and the Warrens witness David levitate cease breathing and ultimately predict a murder. It’s during the final exorcism that Debbie Glatzel’s boyfriend, Arne Johnson, puts himself between the devil and the young boy. He challenged the demon to leave David’s body and enter his own. While Johnson’s intentions were pure – the results were disastrous. Five months later, in the midst of a heated confrontation with his landlord, Johnson pulled a knife and stabbed him to death. He later said no remembrance of the confrontation.

Was Arne Johnson behaving upon his own violent impulses? Or was he, as the defense later argued, possessed by the devil? The case captured the public’s imagination and became an international topic of discussion. As a believer, attorney Martin Minnella became the first lawyer to try to prove the devil’s existence. And for the first time in U.S. history, the devil was put on trial and the world held its breath in anxious expectation.

(Ed and Lorraine 003_TMM_14)

A CBS news poll about 12 years ago indicated that over half of all American’s believe what Ed had just stated, that ghosts, demons, as well as angels do indeed exist.

“The courts have dealt with the existence of God,” said Johnson’s attorney Martin Minnella. “Now they’re going to have to deal with the existence of the Devil.”

On Feb. 16, 1981, Arne Cheyenne Johnson called in sick to his job at a tree service company. He went to a kennel where his fiancé worked and Alan Bono, their landlord and her employer was there. Also with them was Debbie’s 9-year-old cousin Mary, and Arne’s sister Wanda. Bono took them out to lunch at a local bar and began to drink heavily. It was after lunch they then are said to have went back to a kennel. Debbie went to get the girls a pizza and insisted they get back as quickly as possible, anticipating trouble. Bono was apparently drunk by this point and was agitated, grabbing the young Mary, and refusing to let her go. Arne had left for a few minutes’ prior, and when he came back, it’s said he was completely different. At some point, a heated exchange ensued between Arnie and Alan, and Arne then committed the first murder ever recorded in the 193-year history of Brookfield, by stabbing Bono with a five-inch pocket knife several times.

Wanda recounted the following events to the police. Mary ran for the car as Debbie attempted to mitigate the situation by standing between the two men. Wanda tried in unsuccessfully to pull Johnson away. Johnson, growling like an animal, then drew a 5-inch pocket knife and stabbed Bono repeatedly.[5] Bono died several hours later. According to Johnson's lawyer, Bono had suffered "four or five tremendous wounds", mostly to his chest, and one that stretched from his stomach to the base of his heart. Johnson was discovered two miles from the site of the murder and was held at the Bridgeport Correctional Center on bail of $125,000. This was the first murder in the history of Brookfield, Connecticut.

Before the murder, Johnson was by all accounts a regular teenager with no criminal record. He loved sports, had received awards for his participation in baseball, Ed called him an all-American kind of guy, saying that if you were going to have a son, he’s the kind of boy you’d want. He showed a great deal of respect and courtesy to those around him.

As a matter of fact, people who knew Johnson described him as a hard-working landscaper, who was a selfless and caring person that would give all he had to his family and friends without a thought. Many times he would arrive home around 5, eat and go to sleep only to get back up around 11 to assist the family with David, who would by accounts, begin thrashing, kicking, spitting, and cursing his mother, and father as well as anyone else who came near him. These actions would continue until the sun came up according to Ed Warren. The Warrens believed the physic hours to be between approximately between the hours of nine pm and six am.

The day after the murder, Lorraine Warren told the Brookfield Police that Johnson was possessed when the crime was committed. Martin Minnella, who was Johnson's lawyer, received calls from all over the world about what was being called the Demon Murder Trial. Minnella went to England to meet with lawyers who had been involved in two similar cases (though neither went to trial). He planned to fly in exorcism specialists from Europe and threatened to subpoena the priests who oversaw David Glatzel's exorcisms if they did not assist with the defense.

The trial took place in Connecticut's Superior Court in Danbury, beginning on October 28, 1981. Minnella tried to submit a plea of not guilty by virtue of possession, but the presiding judge, Robert Callahan, promptly rejected that defense. Callahan argued that no such defense could ever exist in a court of law due to lack of evidence and that it would be "irrelative and unscientific" to allow related testimony. The defense chose to imply that Johnson acted in self-defense. Because of this, the jury was not legally allowed to consider demonic possession as a viable explanation for the murder. The jury deliberated for 15 hours over three days before convicting Johnson on November 24, 1981, of first- degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 10–20 years in prison, though he served only five.

While in prison, Johnson married, received a high-school degree, earned several other educational certificates, and took a number of college courses, according to Hans Fjelman, chief of parole for the state corrections department. Fjelman said ″He was an exemplary inmate; His mental condition was carefully examined. They found no negative factors. ″

The chairman of the state parole board, Richard Reddington, said the board voted unanimously after a hearing in December to allow Johnson’s release early. Fjelman said Johnson was released under a program in which he remains under state supervision until 1991. Fjelman said Johnson, a tree surgeon before his arrest, had been offered a job, but he would not say from whom; nor would he say where Johnson would live. Friends, however, said Johnson would live in Brookfield with the parents of Deborah Glatzel, whom he married in January 1984 at the prison. Ms. Glatzel’s brother, David, was the child on whom the exorcism was performed. She worked at Bono’s Brookfield kennel.

But maybe the biggest question is this, how and why did an eleven-year boy have to undergo a possession n to start with? What the hell could he have done that would warrant such circumstances?

It’s said that someone had dabbled in witchcraft while in upstate New York, and it allegedly wasn’t David.

It’s been accepted by most religious clergy that there’s three stages when dealing what the Warrens phrased as diabolical possession. Those are infestation, oppression and then, possession. David had experienced two and was into the third when Arne challenged the spirit. We can not ever emphasize this enough, NEVER, under any means or circumstances challenge an entity. This could never end well. Granted, in many cases of possession however, the victims did not challenge the entities in this way, and maybe not at all. It seems to be the case of these beings praying on weakened individuals.

The Glatzel’s telephone number is unlisted and efforts to reach Johnson were unsuccessful. However, Ed and Lorraine Warren of Monroe, demonologists who worked on the case and attended the exorcism, said Wednesday that Johnson and his wife ″were very happy. ″

″Arne’s ready to work for a landscaper in town and he’s coming home to live in very good family atmosphere, ″ Lorraine Warren said.

Both said Johnson shows no signs of being possessed.

″Possession doesn’t last 24 hours a day, ″ Ed Warren said. ″It comes quickly and leaves quickly. Arne understands what happened to him. He now knows if something happens how to ward it off and he won’t be stupid enough to take on the devil again.


The reason Arne only served five years of the sentence was due to good behavior. Before he was released in 1986, he married Debbie Glatzel while in prison in January 1984.Although the titles at the end of the film suggest they are still married, Digital Spy highlights that the director says Debbie passed away shortly before the film made it to cinemas. Speaking on this in May, he said Debbie was there during the exorcism, she was there at the murder, and she testified for him, and she believed. She stood by that, and they’ve been married the rest of her life, she actually just passed away from cancer.”

Despite little being known about his life since the trial, Lorraine Warren suggested he was going to “work for a landscaper” upon his release. More recently, both Arne and Debbie were involved in the marketing for The Devil Made Me Do It, and they have stood by the Warrens’ account of events. On the other hand, Carl – one of the other Glatzel children – claimed in 2007 that the Warrens made the story up.

Made up or not, the story continues to intrigue people the world over and is without a doubt, a true mystery and serves as a warning about what not to do in events such as these.

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