The Murder That Inspired The Conjuring III

The story of Arne Johnson: The Devil made me do it.

Josie Klakström
8 min readJun 9, 2021


Photo by Magne on Unsplash

The town of Brookfield, Connecticut, sits close to the New York state border, around an hour’s drive from Hartford. Despite the University of Connecticut’s population projections, the town grew faster than anticipated, and by the early 1980s, nearly 13,000 people were living in the area.

One of these was 19-year-old Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who tried to convince a jury that the Devil made him do it when he killed Alan Bono.

Debbie Glatzel and Arne met in a supermarket in Bridgeport when he was 12, and she was 19. When Arne was 16, he asked Debbie on a date, and they soon fell in love and were engaged to be married.

In July 1980, Debbie’s family had inherited a property that was in disrepair, but their plan was to move into it. Knowing it would take a while to clean up, even her little brother David was asked to get involved but he refused.

He claimed a man with dark eyes had physically pushed him and taunted him.


11-year-old David started to have night terrors and would wake up crying and shaking, telling whoever had come to aid him that the “man with the big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns and hooves” was after him. These weren’t normal dreams; the family was convinced that David was possessed.

A priest from the local church was brought in to bless the property and David, but this did nothing to stop the terrors the child was experiencing and instead, the family took it in turns to sit with the little boy and comfort him when he awoke from his nightmares throughout the night.

Arne and Debbie helped out with David as much as possible, protecting him as he slept, but they needed to move out of the house. So instead, they rented a property owned by Debbie’s boss at the dog kennels she worked to pay the bills. Arne found employment as a tree surgeon.

David’s behaviour became more erratic, and throughout the day, the boy would hiss and speak in odd voices, meanwhile quoting books and scripture he didn’t know. He claimed the Beast Man was appearing during the day now, and not…



Josie Klakström

Josie is a freelance journo who writes about writing, true crime, culture and marketing.