Welcome or welcome back to Twisted Minds. My name’s James, and today we’re going to be talking about the trial of Arna Cheyenne Johnson. And to put it lightly, it’s a doozy of a case. By all means. This is one of the most bizarre and concerning court cases in American history and it was the first criminal case in the United States in which the defendant claimed his innocence based on the belief that he was possessed by a demon.
Here on this channel, we rarely explore paranormal cases. However, the trial for this case was taken seriously and this story is so crazy that it’s going to be the primary focus of the Conjuring Three, one of the most highly anticipated horror films of 2021. Let’s just get straight into it, shall we?
The Glacial Family were, for the most part, your average American family, the type of family you’d expect from the house next door. Judy Glaisel, the mother of the young family, led a normal life while raising her many children, including Debbie and David Glaisel in 1980. Seeking change, they decided to move homes and found a nice rental property in Connecticut. As they were cleaning up the property and getting ready to move in, David, being the youngest of the family, took it upon himself to wander around the home and get familiar with the property before settling in. While roaming through the house, David claims to have met the spirit of an angry old man who didn’t approve of the family moving in.
David says that the spirit became abusive toward him and pushed him, warning him that if the family were to move in, bad things would begin to happen. David, being a young and naive boy, took this warning to heart and immediately ran to tell his parents, begging for them to come out of their rental contract and move somewhere else. However, as you could imagine, the parents completely brushed it off and continued with the move.
At this point, you’re probably thinking this all sounds like the wild imagination of a young boy who simply didn’t want to move into a new home. As it would turn out, David’s parents thought the same thing and felt as though David had been making up these stories about the ghost, though, they would soon learn just how serious David really was and how he truly believed that he made contact with a demon that day.
After moving into the new home, it didn’t take long for David’s health to rapidly decline. However, his parents refused to acknowledge that his new strange behaviors could be the result of demonic possession, his family reported. In the weeks after moving into the home, David would continue speaking about the old man’s ghost and his parents witnessed him having conversations with the old man on multiple occasions. It was then that his parents began to wonder if there could be some truth to their son’s ridiculous stories. As they saw David begin to speak in strange tones and even began speaking Latin at one point.
I don’t know about you, but if my son suddenly learned a foreign language on his own and began speaking in a sick and twisted tone of voice I’d be seeking help immediately. It wouldn’t be long before David’s behavior began to change in a real way and he began to suffer from seizures. He would also show up with odd injuries that no one in his family could explain. We’re talking randomly waking up with bruises and scratches after horrifying nightmares from the quote, beast-man. On top of this, his communication skills began to decline very quickly and he started speaking to his family through growls and hisses referencing specific biblical passages and even speaking quotes from John Milton’s book, paradise lost.
By all means, these were quotes that young David should not have even been aware of. Yet somehow he had memorized several of these passages and excerpts and would quote them seemingly random times during ordinary conversations.
By this point, David’s family began to take his claims much more seriously and they, too, believed that their son had truly contracted a spirit from another realm and had become possessed by a demon. His mother, Judy described David’s paranormal abuser as a man with big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns, and hoofs. If you think about it, his mother essentially just described a man who bears the spitting image of the devil himself. At least according to several illustrations that have been drawn up throughout the years. David’s family turned to the Catholic Church for help.
They were begging their local Church to choose to perform an exorcism on the young boy but none of the Church leaders in the area would approve of it.
Such a thing. After all, exorcisms had not been performed for several decades at this point and certainly had never been performed on children. The Church insisted that David’s family asked for help from someone else and ended all of their discussions right then and there. With nowhere else to turn, the Glat souls turned their attention to two people who knew demons better than anyone else in the world, Ed and Lorraine Warren.
You may know of Ed and Lorraine as the paranormal investigators in both The Conjuring movies. However, they were very much real people and they took Glatzel’s request very seriously. When the Warrens finally arrived at the family home, they knew straight away that David was possessed. However, Ed Warren made a bold claim that the family had never even considered when examining David. He claimed that the boy was not possessed by just one demon.
Rather, he suspected the boy was possessed by more than 40 individual spirits, each of whom was fighting to gain control over the young boy’s body. This proved to both the Glades Holst and the Warrens that David was desperately in need of an exorcism. However, this is where the waters get a bit muddy. We know that the Glatzel family had reached out to local churches several times before hoping to schedule an exorcism for their son. However, they were turned down on every occasion, though the Warren somehow managed to contact a local Church and convinced the leadership that this young boy was in desperate need of help.
We don’t know what the Warrens may have said to the Church leaders to convince them of such a bizarre occurrence, but the Warneds did everything within their power to help the young man. And at the end of it all, at least three separate exorcisms were performed on David. None of them were successful until the final exorcism, which would finally help to release the demon from David’s body once and for all. But everything was not as it seemed.
It’s at this point that we need to shift our attention from David to another young man named Arna Johnson. Arna had been dating David’s sister Debbie for quite some time. We don’t know too much about the details around Debbie and Arna’s relationship, but Arna was asked by the family to move in and help comfort David at night due to his nightmares. He moved in around May of the 1980s and got comfortable with the family and their relatives. We know that Arna felt bad for him and wanted to do whatever he could to alleviate the young boy’s pain, but it seemed like nothing was working.
That is, until the final exorcism that would see David’s spirit be healed at long last. At the third and final exorcism, Arna had become frustrated that David was still suffering. In the last chance effort to rid the boy of his demons, he proclaimed to the demon and all of the spirit realm that these spirits needed to exit the young boy’s body immediately. However, he added this proposition and offered that if the spirits needed a body to call their home, they could take him instead. Arna was just 19 years old at the time and Ed Warren had mentioned before that he was worried about Arna and what he may do if the spirits refused to release David.
They knew that Arnold was a Loose Cannon, for lack of a better phrase, and did their best to help him understand the severity of the situation. However, even after warning Arna not to taunt the demons, he did so anyway. Ed mentioned in an interview. It’s just one of those things you do not if you know anything about this sort of thing.
Arna and Debbie eventually moved into a home of their own. However, Arna began suffering from many of the same symptoms that David had been dealing with for several months. We don’t know the specifics of everything Arno went through but Debbie spoke in an interview and said he would go into a trance. He would growl and say he saw the beast later. He would have no memory of it.
Just like David. Ed and Lorraine immediately blamed Arna for this considering he made communication with the demons during an exorcism the only time they’re vulnerable. Just four months before Arno would eventually be arrested. Lorraine Warren had warned the police she felt there was dark energy surrounding the family and that she feared for the safety of anyone who may be close to them. Lorraine spoke with the police at least once about the family and warned them that they were incredibly dangerous and that officers should keep them.