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Is ‘The Devil on Trial’ a True Story? Who is Arne Cheyenne Johnson, and Why Did He Kill Alan Bono?

Is ‘The Devil on Trial’ a True Story? – Are you ready to delve into a chilling tale that will send shivers down your spine? ‘The Devil on Trial‘ is an intriguing Netflix documentary that unravels a dark and mysterious story that has gripped the public’s imagination. This article aims to uncover the true story behind ‘The Devil on Trial’ and introduce you to the enigmatic figure, Arne Cheyenne Johnson.

It is a crime documentary that explores an unprecedented legal case in the United States. A case so shocking that it became the inspiration for the 2021 horror film, ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.’ The Netflix documentary, ‘The Devil on Trial,’ takes you on a journey into the disturbing and perplexing world of demonic possession used as a legal defense in a murder trial.

Now, let’s set the scene for this eerie story, providing a glimpse of the show’s plot summary.

The Devil on Trial Plot Summary

The Devil on Trial Plot Summary

‘The Devil on Trial’ is not your typical true crime story; it ventures into uncharted territory. In 1981, Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a 19-year-old, was accused of a heinous crime. He stood trial for the murder of his 40-year-old landlord, Alan Bono, in Brookfield, Connecticut. What sets this case apart from others is Johnson’s unique defense – he claimed to have committed the crime under the influence of demonic possession.

As you journey through this documentary, you’ll witness the shocking events that transpired in this murder case. Johnson’s defense had paranormal investigators, including the renowned Ed and Lorraine Warren, voicing their concerns and attesting to his possession. Arne Cheyenne Johnson’s attorney boldly argued that this gruesome murder was not the work of a human being but rather the sinister machinations of the devil himself.

The True Story Behind ‘The Devil on Trial’

Let’s dive deeper into the true story behind ‘The Devil on Trial.’ Prior to the murder, Johnson was engaged to a young woman named Debbie Glatzel. The Glatzel family was in the midst of a harrowing ordeal that had unfolded over the previous year, centered around Debbie’s younger brother, 11-year-old David Glatzel.

In July 1980, a series of bizarre incidents began. While David and Johnson were working together to prepare a rental property for the Glatzel family, David claimed to encounter a frightening old man with a “burnt” appearance. This mysterious figure warned David that he would harm anyone who moved into the house.

In the months that followed, David reported seeing the menacing old man repeatedly, who would communicate with him in Latin, make threats against his family, and vow to claim his soul. David’s behavior became increasingly erratic, reciting Bible passages and experiencing violent physical manifestations as if he were under attack from an unseen force.

Desperate and deeply concerned, David’s family turned to their church for help, but no resolution was found. Their last resort was the involvement of Ed and Lorraine Warren, renowned paranormal investigators known for their work on the Amityville haunting case. As the Warrens conducted their investigation, Lorraine was convinced that David was indeed possessed by malevolent forces. She described seeing a “black, misty form” near David and observed red marks on his body, which reinforced their belief in possession.

In an effort to confront the demonic presence, the Warrens performed exorcisms on David, with priests overseeing the proceedings. They claimed to have recorded the presence of “43 demons” within the boy. During one exorcism, David reportedly levitated. It was during these exorcisms that Johnson, out of desperation, taunted the demons to enter him instead.

As a result of his intervention, Johnson began to display signs of possession. He recounted an incident where he claimed a demon seized control of his car, leading to a crash. After the accident, he visited the site where the demon supposedly resided, marking the last “lucid” moment he remembered before the murder.

Who is Arne Cheyenne Johnson?

Arne Cheyenne Johnson was just 19 years old when he became embroiled in a legal battle that would become a defining moment in his life. He was accused of the murder of his landlord, Alan Bono, in 1981. Johnson’s life had taken a bizarre and nightmarish turn due to the events surrounding the possession of his fiancée’s younger brother, David Glatzel.

A seemingly unassuming young man, Johnson was an athlete with no history of trouble with the law. However, his life took a dark and unforeseen turn when he became entangled in the sinister events surrounding the Glatzel family. His involvement with the family’s struggle against demonic forces would thrust him into the spotlight, leaving an indelible mark on his life.

Why Did Arne Kill Alan Bono?

The events leading up to the murder of Alan Bono are shrouded in the supernatural and bizarre. On February 16, 1981, Johnson called in sick to work but instead went to join his girlfriend, Debbie, at her workplace – a kennel owned by Alan Bono. At this point, the couple was residing in one of Bono’s rental apartments.

Later that day, Bono took Johnson, Debbie, and a couple of other workers out for lunch at a local pub. Witnesses recalled that Bono consumed a substantial amount of red wine with his meal and even declared his intention to quit drinking soon. The atmosphere appeared tense as they returned to Bono’s apartment, and the tension escalated into a dispute over a broken television set.

Debbie intervened, convincing everyone to leave, but Johnson turned back toward the apartment. At this point, something inexplicable occurred – a sudden and inexplicable eruption of violence. Johnson began growling like an animal, and witnesses observed something shiny flashing in the air. In a matter of moments, the violence ceased, and Johnson walked into the nearby woods, gazing ahead as if in a trance.

Alan Bono lay on the ground, face down, with severe wounds, including one that extended from his stomach to the base of his heart. He succumbed to these injuries a few hours later. Johnson was discovered about two miles from the scene and was subsequently taken into custody, with bail set at $125,000.

Remarkably, this murder became the first homicide in Brookfield in an astonishing 193 years, emphasizing the extraordinary nature of this case.

Is Demonic Possession a Viable Legal Defense?

Now, let’s address the pressing question: Is demonic possession a viable legal defense? In Johnson’s trial, his attorney attempted to plead “not guilty by virtue of possession.” However, the presiding judge, Robert Callahan, promptly rejected this defense, contending that no legal basis existed for such a defense. Callahan deemed it “irrelative and unscientific” to entertain related testimony in a court of law.

As a result of the rejection of the possession defense, Johnson’s lawyer pivoted to argue that his client had acted in self-defense. However, this legal maneuvering effectively removed demonic possession as a viable explanation for the killing from consideration by the jury.

After 15 hours of deliberation over three days, the jury delivered its verdict, convicting Johnson of first-degree manslaughter. He was subsequently sentenced to a prison term of 10 to 20 years. Remarkably, Johnson served only five years of his sentence before being released.

During his incarceration, Johnson married Debbie, completed his high school education, obtained several educational certificates, and pursued college courses. Johnson and Debbie chose to lead a relatively low-profile life, but, regrettably, Debbie has since passed away.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Ed and Lorraine Warren maintained their belief that demonic forces were at play in the murder of Alan Bono. They insisted that possession is not a constant state and can come and go. According to them, Johnson had acquired the knowledge to defend against such forces and would not recklessly confront the devil again.


In conclusion, ‘The Devil on Trial’ is a chilling exploration of a case that captivated the nation, intertwining elements of the supernatural with the legal realm. The true story behind Arne Cheyenne Johnson’s trial and the murder of Alan Bono is a testament to the enduring fascination with the unknown and the unexplainable.

The events surrounding this case have left an indelible mark on Johnson’s life, as he became an unwitting central figure in a perplexing tale of possession and violence. The unresolved question of whether demonic possession can serve as a valid legal defense continues to captivate the imagination and spark intense debates among those who delve into this perplexing case.

So, are you ready to take the plunge into the world of ‘The Devil on Trial‘ and unlock the secrets of this chilling true story? The enigmatic figure of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the eerie events leading to the murder of Alan Bono, and the question of demonic possession as a legal defense await your discovery in this captivating documentary.

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