Friday, November 2, 2018

The Devil Made Me Do It by Catherine Cavendish

In my novel – Damned by the Ancients – a young girl with acute vision is able to see what others cannot and becomes possessed by an evil spirit. My book is, of course, fiction, but in real life there are numerous documented cases of demonic possession. One infamous one led to the first time being possessed by the devil was entered as a serious defense in a murder trial. The judge dismissed the plea but the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson will forever remain in history as a unique case. As well as a media circus.

The trial became known as ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ case and involved the killing of a landlord, Alan Bono in Connecticut.

Eleven year old David Glatzel lived with his family, mother, father, brother Carl and sister Debbie, who soon became joined by her fiancé, nineteen year old Arne Johnson, in a rented home.

According to accounts, David Glatzel recalled that, on his first visit to the rental property that was to become their home, an old man appeared to him warning him of dire events that would happen to them should they move in. His sister and her fiancé had initially thought David was using his assertions as a way of getting out of cleaning the place up prior to their move, but David insisted bad things would happen to the couple if they set foot over the threshold and moved in.
David began to experience terrible nightmares from which he would awaken, screaming about a ‘Beast Man’ with jagged teeth, pointed ears, and horns, and also claimed to see a terrible demon who spoke to him in Latin and threatened to steal his soul. David remained the only one who could see the ghost although the rest of the family did hear strange noises coming from the attic.

As David’s nightmares became worse, he began suffering from terrible visions during the day as well as at night. Gone was the happy-go-lucky young boy he had been. He developed unexplained scratches and bruises. Debbie and her mother claimed they had seen him choking as if invisible hands were throttling him. Meanwhile the boy began to growl, hiss, bark and recite passages from Milton’s Paradise Lost and the bible. He also spoke in unfamiliar languages. 

After twelve days, renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (of Amityville and The Conjuring fame) were summoned and they witnessed a black mist forming around David – evidence of an evil presence. It was alleged that he was possessed by 43 demons. During the multiple exorcisms which followed – each performed by a Catholic priest – David levitated, convulsed, and even stopped breathing for a time. He also predicted what would happen to Alan Bono. In October 1980, the Warrens contacted the local Brookfield police to warn them of a dangerous situation developing around David Glatzel.
Meanwhile the exorcisms had resulted in an unfortunate turn of events for Arne Johnson. Normally mild-mannered and personable, he was attacked by one of the demons that fled from David’s body. It proceeded to cause him to behave in outlandish and increasingly dangerous ways, even wrecking his car by forcing it into a tree. Fortunately, Johnson was uninjured and he returned to the rented home. Here he examined an old well which was supposed to house the demon. Sure enough, the demon appeared and this is the last time Johnson claims he was lucid. The demon took possession of him at this point and from then on, his behaviour became increasingly more unstable and frightening. 

Debbie continued to stand by him although the couple decided to move out of the house into a flat owned by Alan Bono. (Debbie had recently gone to work for him as a dog groomer.) Soon after they moved in, Johnson’s behaviour started to deteriorate until it mirrored that of David’s before the exorcisms. Debbie witnessed her fiancé falling into a trance-like state, barking and hallucinating, yet having no recollection of anything untoward when he returned to normality.

Then on February 16th, 1981, Alan Bono took his sister Wanda, employee Debbie, Arne and Debbie’s nine year old cousin Mary to lunch. Bono drank heavily. The group returned to the dog kennels after lunch but Bono had become irrational. He grabbed Mary and refused to let her go. This angered Johnson whose behaviour became wild, animal-like. He growled, spat and set upon Bono with a five inch pocket knife, stabbing him repeatedly.  Bono died of his injuries a short time afterwards. 

Lorraine Warren stated to police on the day following the killing, that Johnson had been possessed by a demon at the time of the stabbing. Once the media got hold of the story, they went wild. All roads led to Brookfield, Connecticut – a town which had never before experienced a murder.

Johnson’s lawyer, Martin Minnella decided to go with a plea of demonic possession and consulted with lawyers and exorcism specialists all over the world. He even threated to subpoena the priests who conducted David’s exorcisms if they refused to co-operate with the defence of his client. Meanwhile, the Warrens insisted every word was true, resulting in a movie deal, books, interviews and other coverage.

The trial began on October 28th 1981 in The Superior Court in Danbury, Connecticut where the plea of not guilty by virtue of possession was summarily dismissed by Judge Robert Callahan who asserted that such a claim could never be proved. The jury were instructed to not even consider it.
On November 24 1981, the jury convicted Johnson of first degree manslaughter and he was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison. He served five.
All these years later David Glatzel and his brother Carl have denounced the Warrens’ version of events and even sued authors and publishers of books about the alleged possession.
Arne and Debbie, however, take a different line. Debbie stood by Arne and the couple married. They support the Warrens’ version of events and say that Debbie’s brothers are merely looking to cash in.

Whatever the truth of it, David appears not to be troubled by any demons now.

In Damned by the Ancients, the Mortimers’ happy life is about to be turned upside down when little Heidi sees something in the cellar…


Vienna, 1908

Gabriele Ziegler is a young art student who becomes infatuated with charismatic archeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus. Only too late does she realize his true designs on her. He is obsessed with resurrecting Cleopatra and has retained the famed artist Gustav Klimt to render Gabriele as the Queen of the Nile, using ashes from Cleopatra’s mummy mixed with the paint. The result is a lifelike portrait emitting an aura of unholy evil . . .

Vienna, 2018

The Mortimer family has moved into Quintillus’s former home, Villa Dürnstein. In its basement they find an original Klimt masterpiece—a portrait of Cleopatra art scholars never knew existed. But that’s not all that resides within the villa’s vault. Nine-year-old Heidi Mortimer tells her parents that a strange man lives there.

Quintillus’s desire to be with Cleopatra transcends death. His spirit will not rest until he has brought her back from the netherworld. Even if he has to sacrifice the soul of a child . . .

Damned by the Ancients is available from:

About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy - Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here:


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Stuart!

    1. The best reigning gothic horror author is always welcome on my blog. I bow down to you, Queen Kat.