Charged with a brutal murder, a Connecticut man claims his innocence, insisting “the devil made me do it.” For the first time in U.S. history, the existence of demonic forces is used as a defense at trial. SHOCK DOCS: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT, streaming on discovery+ beginning on June 11, examines the harrowing events leading up to the murder and the astonishing court case that followed. Getting to the very heart of evil and to where the actual terror lies, the family, aided by renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, must do battle with overpowering demons. Based on the real-life inspiration for New Line Cinema’s upcoming horror film, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” this terrifying documentary dives into the true story, with never-before-seen interviews with the family, the Warrens, the defendant’s lawyer and local police.
“The ‘Shock Docs’ franchise has quickly become a powerhouse for the paranormal genre and fans can’t get enough of this long-form storytelling format,” said Matthew Butler, general manager, Travel Channel. “Knowing the true events behind iconic tales of terror, and then hearing directly from the survivors and eyewitnesses makes them all the more believable, and no longer a ghost story. The incredible saga of the Glatzel family, their work with the Warrens, and the subsequent anguish and pain make this factual documentary scarier than fiction.”
It began in the summer of 1980, when 11-year-old David Glatzel helped his older sister, Debbie, and her boyfriend, Arne Johnson, fix up the house they just rented. But shortly after they moved in, David began seeing a mysterious “ghost man,” who scared him to death. Eventually, the ghost man transformed into something more sinister; at night he became a demonic beast that threatened to steal David’s soul. Things took a drastic turn when inexplicable scratches and bruises appeared all over the young child’s body. He began to growl and to speak with a demonic voice. Then, after his family witnessed him being attacked by invisible hands, they decided to seek help from a priest and famed demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who concluded he needed an exorcism.
Over the next several weeks, a battle between good and evil ensues. Both the family and the Warrens witness David levitate cease breathing and ultimately predict a murder. It’s during the final exorcism that Debbie Glatzel’s boyfriend, Arne Johnson, puts himself between the devil and the young boy. He challenged the demon to leave David’s body and enter his own. While Johnson’s intentions were pure – the results were disastrous. Five months later, in the midst of a heated confrontation with his landlord, Johnson pulled a knife and stabbed him to death. He later claimed no recollection of the incident.
Was Arne Johnson acting upon his own violent impulses? Or was he, as the defense later argued, possessed by the devil? The case captured the public’s imagination and became an international topic of discussion. As a believer, attorney Martin Minnella became the first lawyer to try to prove the devil’s existence. And for the first time in U.S. history, the devil was put on trial and the world held its breath in nervous anticipation.
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SHOCK DOCS: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is produced by Bungalow Media+Entertainment for Discovery+. For Bungalow Media+Entertainment, the executive producers are Robert Friedman and Lauren Moore Morden. For discovery+, the senior executive producer is Liz Massie.