The Conjuring movie franchise is a firm favourite of mine. I’ve been intrigued and a fan of Ed and Lorraine Warren for many years so naturally these films have hit the spot for me. Whenever we go to the cinema to watch the latest franchise film, aside from being gripped by the movie, I always find myself wondering which parts of the film actually happened and which parts had creative license applied?
If like me you also want to know the fact versus the fiction then carry on reading as we delve into the crazy yet magnificent world of Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The film is set in 1981 in Brookfield, Connecticut. The storyline of this film is mainly from the infamous murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson — the third man in modern criminal history to attempt a defense by demonic possession. Still with me? Awesome! Let’s look at what was fact and what was fiction!
David Glatzel’s excorcism
By all accounts, this might have actually happened. There are different versions floating around the internet (no pun intended) of what happened to the then 11-year old David Glatzel:
Wikipedia states “After witnessing a number of increasingly ominous occurrences involving David, the family, exhausted and terrified, decided to enlist the aid of Ed and Lorraine Warren in a last-ditch effort to “cure” David. The Glatzel family, along with the Warrens, then proceeded to have multiple priests petition the Church to have a formal exorcism performed on David. The process continued for several days, concluding when, according to those present, a demon fled the child’s body and took up residence within Arne.”
All this is apparently documented in the book The Devil in Connecticut by Gerald Brittle.
According to Carl, David began having hallucinations and delusions in late 1979. His apparent mental condition worsened over a number of years, and the Glatzels eventually brought in priests and demonologists, like the Warrens, to intervene. However, Carl later brought suit against Lorraine, as well as other related parties, arguing their false claims ruined his and his brother’s life.
The audio recording at the end of the film, which includes David screaming and growling, is real, but has never been released in its entirety to the public. It’s also noteworthy that while the Warrens speak about David having one demon possess his body in the film, Lorraine repeatedly said it could have been as many as 40 demons possessing David throughout the real investigation of the case.
The murder of Bruno Sauls
Arne Cheyenne Johnson did commit murder, however, a few things were different from the storyline:
- The murder wasn’t in the house as depicted in the film, instead, it was committed on the front lawn after Sauls reportedly violently grabbed and refused to let go of Debbie’s then 9-year-old cousin
- The 9-year old cousin wasn’t in the film
- He wasn’t called Bruno Sauls. The real name of the person who was murdered was Alan Bono
What did actually happen was the scene that shows Arne wandering down the street, covered in blood, and telling police, “I think I hurt someone”. He was apparently two miles from the murder scene.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson was convicted and sentenced to 10-20 years in prison on November 24, 1981. Yet, due to his good behavior behind bars, he was granted early release after just five years, meaning that he was set free in January 1986.
The Disciples of the Ram
Introduced within the Annabelle film series, this faction/cult does not exist and has never existed. Furthermore, there were no reports of hexed totems, dark bibles, or witches at any point within this whole fiasco.
The Trial of Arne Johnson
Even though the basis of most of the film was the fact that Johnson’s defense was he was under possession, the actual truth is the judge dismissed it stating per the Hartford Courant, “I’m not going to allow the defense of demon possession, period.“
Johnson was sentenced to 10-20 years for manslaughter, however, he was released after 5 years for good behaviour. He did end up marrying Debbie while in prison and they remained married up until her recent passing.