The Conjuring 3: Is the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson the next case for the Warrens?


We still have over a year before The Conjuring 3 makes its theatrical debut, but with the reveal of story details we can begin to speculate on the plot.

The Conjuring 3 will continue the horrific adventures of renowned demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren (portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). This series of movies has become so popular that they’ve branched off into multiple spin-offs with Annabelle. Which is about to reach it’s own trilogy status this June with the release of Annabelle: Comes Homefeaturing the return of Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens.

Last year, the franchise introduced another spin-off about the origins of the demon, Valak, titled The Nun. There is another spin-off in the works about The Crooked Man, an entity present in The Conjuring 2 and I wouldn’t be surprised if the franchise became even more involved. At the moment, it’s almost like horror’s own superhero universe.

That said, by the time The Conjuring 3 releases in theaters next fall, it’ll have been four years since we last got an entry into the staple film series that started it all. Fans are eager to know more about the plot of the upcoming film and in an interview with Bloody-Disgusting, James Wan teased the following about it:

"“It’s this guy who was on trial for committing a murder,” Wan said. “I think it’s the first time in America’s history where the defendant used possessions as a reason, as an excuse.”"

What exactly was the director referencing? After doing some digging, I came up with the case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson which Ed and Lorraine Warren worked on during the 1980’s. While it isn’t confirmed that this incident is the inspiration for The Conjuring 3 story, it fits Wan’s description and it was, indeed, straight out of the Warren’s very real history.

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I found an article from People magazine published in October of 1981 detailing the sordid details of the case.

On Feb. 16, in the town of Brookfield, Connecticut, a 19-year-old tree surgeon named Arne Cheyenne Johnson stabbed his landlord, Alan Bono. Bono later died from his injuries. What makes the case so interesting is Johnson’s proposed defense, he claims the devil made him do it.

At the time, Johnson believed his fiancée, Deborah Glatzell’s, younger brother, David, was possessed by demons and in a bid to save David from his hellish tormentors, he told them to enter him instead. Believing himself possessed by this noble act, Johnson then had his lawyer plead his innocence by way of demonic possession.

Everyone in Johnson’s family believed that he and David had indeed been possessed. According to People’s recounting of the incident, David claimed he saw the apparition ”a man with big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns and hoofs,” and “an old man with a white beard, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans.”

Already you can see how this case would be perfect fodder for The Conjuring universe, but it gets even more interesting.

Horrified at the possibility of their youngest being in league with the Devil, the Glatzell family called upon the help of renowned demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, to help them.

The case shares some similarities with the Enfield poltergeist haunting as Lorraine used her clairvoyant abilities to try and communicate with David. She claims to have seen a dark presence behind him in their meetings. The Warrens became frequent visitors at the Glatzell home as they tried to assist the family and purge the demon from their residence.

When Arne Cheyenne Johnson claimed he was possessed by David’s demons, the family claimed they began to see the similarities to the young boy. Deborah said her fiancé would go into strange trances and start speaking in different voices.

At the trial, Johnson’s lawyer attempted to submit a plea of not guilty by “virtue of possession” but the judge rejected the defense. The jury was not allowed to account for “possession” in their deliberation and Johnson was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter.

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This was the first time a defendant in a trial tried to use possession as an excuse for murder, hence why it has become known as the “devil made me do it case.” It caused a media frenzy at the time.

Again, there is no confirmation that this is the exact case The Conjuring 3 will feature but all of the details fit so I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be the inspiration for the plot.

The Conjuring 3 is due to be released in theaters on Sept. 11, 2020. 

Are you familiar with the Arne Cheyenne Johnson case? Let us know your Conjuring 3 theories in the comments.