Netflix’s ‘The Devil on Trial’: A Shocking True Story of Demonic Possession in a Murder Trial

The Shocking Murder Trial of Arne Johnson

In the brand new Netflix documentary, “The Devil on Trial,” viewers are taken into the unsettling world of a murder trial that involved the use of demonic possession as a defense.

The documentary unravels the disturbing true story of Arne Johnson, who, at the age of 19, was accused of brutally stabbing his 40-year-old landlord, Alan Bono, over 20 times in a chilling turn of events.

Arne’s Claim of Demonic Influence

In 1981, Arne Johnson admitted to the murder of Alan Bono, but his defense was unprecedented – he claimed that he had been compelled to commit the act by the devil himself.

This shocking defense added a layer of complexity to the case, as it introduced the supernatural element of demonic possession.

The Warrens’ Involvement

Adding even more intrigue to the story, paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren were called in to assist in proving Arne’s innocence.

The Warrens are well-known for their involvement in various paranormal cases, and their exploits have served as the inspiration for popular horror films such as “The Conjuring” series and its “Annabelle” spin-offs.

The Origins of the Demonic Possession Belief

The belief that Arne was possessed by a malevolent force stemmed from his girlfriend Deborah’s claims about her younger brother, David Glatzel.

David had allegedly been taken over by the devil earlier that year, experiencing terrifying visions and reciting Bible passages at random.

He was also found covered in unexplained bruises, further fueling the belief in his possession.

Allegations of Possession Transferred to Arne

Deborah contended that the same malevolent force that had afflicted her brother, David, had also possessed Arne.

Arne reportedly went into trances and claimed to have “seen the beast” months before Alan Bono’s tragic death.

The situation escalated when Arne and Alan, along with Deborah and her younger sisters, had lunch together, and Alan’s behavior became inappropriate and aggressive toward Mary, Deborah’s nine-year-old cousin.

The Murder and Its Aftermath

The circumstances surrounding the murder of Alan Bono are shrouded in mystery.

Arne is said to have started growling during the lunch, and he subsequently stabbed Bono multiple times before leaving the scene in a seemingly catatonic state, with no memory of the incident.

Alan Bono suffered several severe wounds, including a substantial one from his stomach to the bottom of his heart.

The Trial and Subsequent Release

During Arne Johnson’s trial, the jury was instructed to disregard the possibility of demonic possession, and he was ultimately convicted of first-degree manslaughter.

He served five years of a 10 to 20-year sentence behind bars, earned his high school diploma, and even married Deborah during his time in prison. Arne’s good behavior led to his release in 1986.

The Ongoing Legacy

Arne Johnson’s story has not faded into obscurity. He has been featured in various media, including an episode of “A Haunting” and as an inspiration for the 2021 horror film “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.”

However, the case took yet another twist in 2007 when David Glatzel, the original possessed child, sued the Warrens for continuing to profit from his exorcism story.

David’s brother Carl maintained that David was suffering from mental illness rather than demonic possession, while Lorraine Warren cited the opinions of six priests who believed he showed signs of being possessed.

As Netflix’s “The Devil on Trial” delves into this perplexing case, it sheds new light on the complex interplay between the supernatural, criminal justice, and the enduring mysteries of human behavior.

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