The Conjuring Universe is the highest-grossing horror movie series to date with over $1.9B on the total worldwide box office. The thing that makes these movies stand out is the claim of them being based on real-life stories.

On April 22, Warner Bros. released the official trailer for the eighth installment in The Conjuring franchise, The Devil Made Me Do It. Like all the seven movies, this one is allegedly based on a true story — a real-life murder trial.

However, there is a catch. The said murder trial involves the fact that the devil made the murderer kill his friend. While there are believers, there are many other people who believe the whole thing to be a hoax. 


Real Story Behind 'The Conjuring 3'

The movie is loosely based on the murder trial of 19 years old Arne Cheyenne Johnson. In February 1981, Johnson killed his friend Alan Bono by fatally stabbing him with a pocket knife. Johnson was picked up two miles away from the crime scene by the police and then taken into custody. 

The case gained massive media coverage when Johnson claimed a demon possessed him, which led him to brutally murder Bono. This was the first case in America where a demon was used by the defense.

The defense argued that the said demon had possessed David Glatzel, Johnson’s fiancé’s brother, which then transferred to the murderer. 

Glatzel’s possession grabbed the attention of the famous self-taught demonologist, Ed and Lorraine Warren. His sister said that Glatzel was experiencing strangling attempts by invisible hands where powerful forces would flop him like a rag-doll.

He claimed to see an old "Beast Man" with a white beard, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans. Glatzel was experiencing bruises, scratches, speaking in different voices, and quoting the Bible and Paradise Lost by Milton. Johnson had stayed with the Glatzel family to help the young boy out. 

The Warrens were convinced that Glatzel was possessed. Lorraine claimed she saw a black misty form while her husband Ed was interviewing Glatzel. Soon after that, the Warrens said that Glatzel was complaining about invisible hands choking him.

After three lesser exorcisms, Ed claimed that there were 43 demons inside Glatzel. During the exorcisms, the Warrens asserted that Glatzel had shown precognition, predicting the murder Johnson would commit some time in the future. 

As per Ed, Johnson had taunted the demons which led to him getting possessed himself. His fiancée Deborah claimed Johnson had shown the very behavior her brother did, and later would have no memories about it. On the day of the murder, Johnson and Bono had been drinking. Deborah, her cousin Mary, and Johnson’s sister Wanda were also present. 


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According to the three women present during the time of the murder, agitated Bono grabbed Mary and refused to let him go. Seeing this, Johnson challenged Bono, during which he stabbed Bono on his chest. 

Johnson’s lawyer Martin J. Minella put forth a stance of ‘not guilty by virtue of demonic possession’. Despite the Warrens and church claiming that Johnson was possessed, the Judge rejected the claim of possession. The jury charged Johnson with first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 —  20 years in prison however, he only served five years.

Hoax or Reality

In 1983, Gerald Brittle released a book The Devil in Connecticut with the help of Lorraine. Lorraine paid the Glatzel family $2000  as their share of profit. In 2006, the book was republished when the Glatzel Brothers — Carl and David himself sued the publishers and authors. The ground for the lawsuit was the invasion of the right to privacy, libel, and intentional affliction of emotional distress.

The brothers claimed that the information in the book was false. Carl specifically maintained that his brother suffered from a mental illness and was not possessed by demons. He also said that the book was merely a money grab, not the actual story. 

Regardless of the claims by the Glatzel brothers, Lorraine stood by her opinion - the devil influenced Johnson to murder Bono. 

Trailer For 'The Devil Made Me Do It'

On April 22, the trailer for the third movie related to the famous demonologist was released. The trailer gave a sneak peek into Johnson, his case, Glatzel, and his possession along with a few other details. 

While Johnson’s trial and Glatzel’s possession seem to be true to the actual story, various details have been fabricated. The witches’ totem claiming the Glatzel family is cursed and Satanist-related activities are two things that can be noted in the trailer which is not related to the actual story.  

There are various movies that claim to have been based on a true story, but that isn’t always the case. There have been many instances where the "true" horror stories have been proven to be a hoax. The actual stories behind high-grossing movies like The Amityville Horror, The Haunting in Connecticut, and Conjuring 2 — all of them where the Warrens have been involved have been merely a hoax.