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Before you cower in your seat watching the latest 'Conjuring' movie, delve into the scary, real story of the murder that inspired it. Read on if you dare!

‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’: These real stories inspired the film

The Conjuring is undoubtedly one of the best horror franchises of recent years. However, numerous spinoffs like Annabelle & The Nun have fans fiendishly waiting for the Warrens to return to the big screen. That’s why The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It has been causing some serious buzz leading up to its June 4th release date.

Similar to the previous films in The Conjuring series, the third installment will also be based on a real story. Ed & Lorraine Warren take us back to 1981, where the excuse of “the Devil made me do it” was first used in a murder trial. Let’s take a look at the grisly real life story behind the upcoming film The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.

The possession of David Glatzel

In order to learn about the 1981 murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, you’ve got to start with the supposed demonic possession of Johnson’s fiance’s little brother, David. David was only eleven years old when he told his mother, Judy Glatzel, and his older sister, Debbie Glatzel, that he was having terrifying visions. 

Judy spoke with People magazine, stating that these visions consisted of a horrific creature with “big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns and hoofs”. The Glatzel family was so thoroughly terrified that they asked Johnson to move in for his help and protection. 


As David’s condition only got worse, the Glatzels decided to seek help from famous paranormal experts Ed & Lorraine Warren. As expected, they performed a series of exorcisms on performed on David during which he spoke of murder & stabbings, according to Debbie Glatzel.

During one of these exorcisms, Johnson had taunted the demon and even demanded it to leave David and take him instead. At the time, this statement seemed to have no effect or impact on the suffering child. The couple decided to move out due to the stress from David’s condition. 

The murder of Alan Bono

Arne & Debbie moved into an apartment adjacent to her new job as a pet groomer for her boss Alan Bono, who was also their landlord. Debbie states that after moving out, she noticed a strange change in Johnson. Debbie told People: “Cheyenne would go into a trance. He would growl and say he saw the beast. Later he would have no memory of it. It was just like David.”

On February 16th, 1981, the day had seemed like any other day. Bono had decided to take Debbie, Arne, Arne’s two sisters, and Debbie’s young cousin Mary who was nine years old out to lunch. 

Bono apparently drank a bit too much wine for the afternoon family occasion. The tension began to grow as Bono became increasingly agitated & aggressive. As Debbie & Arne decided it was time to leave, Bono grabbed hold of Debbie’s young cousin Mary. Bono had refused to let go of the child.

Debbie described that what occurred next passed too quickly for anyone to even recognize what had truly happened. Johnson’s sister Wanda stated that she heard her brother, “growling like an animal”. Debbie told People, “She saw something shiny flash in the air. And then, she says, ‘It just stopped.’ And when it was over, Cheyenne walked into the woods, staring straight ahead, and Alan Bono just stood there . . . ”

Debbie Glatzel continued, “Stood there, that is, for a long moment or two, before he fell on his face and lay there on the ground. Not far from him was the knife with the five-inch blade that Johnson always carried.” Bono had been stabbed by Johnson four to five times, mostly in the chest, and died from his fatal wounds.

Arne Johnson’s trial

Johnson was found & arrested two miles away from the scene of the crime. Johnson had blood dripping from his hands and was uncertain as to what just occurred. This moment was seen in the trailer for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. 

Arne Johnson’s defense that he was possessed by the Devil was rejected by the judge. The jury would never even go on to hear of his excuse. As a result, Johnson was convicted of manslaughter on November 24th, 1981, and served five years of his ten-to-twenty-year sentence. 

Head to theaters on June 4th to watch The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, or watch it exclusively on HBO Max! Have you heard of this real horror story before? Let us know in the comments below your favorite horror films based on real stories! 

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