Demon Murder Trial Sites – Danbury, Connecticut - Atlas Obscura

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Demon Murder Trial Sites

Connecticut sites linked to the only trial to ever use demonic possession as a criminal defense. 


In February 1981, 19-year-old Arne Johnson stabbed his landlord Alan Bono to death after a day of drinking and partying that ended at Bono’s apartment at a dog kennel that he ran in Brookfield, Connecticut. It was the first murder ever recorded in the town, and Johnson was put on trial for first-degree manslaughter.

At the Old Court House at 5 Park Place and Main Street in Danbury a few days before Halloween, Johnson’s lawyer Martin Minella entered a defense of not guilty by reason of demon possession.

It turns out that a year or so earlier, the 11-year-old brother of Johnson’s fiancée, who was also on-scene for the Bono murder, was treated for demon possession by various priests and Ed and Lorraine Warren, the husband and wife demonologist and paranormal investigator team. Johnson was involved in the exorcism and claimed to have been affected because of it.

With support from the Warrens, Minella was prepared to prove that not only did demons exist, but that they physically manipulated his client into committing murder. The judge threw out the defense, though, and the lawyer had to fall back on the more conventional tact of self-defense. Johnson was ruled guilty of manslaughter and served a five-year prison term.

The location of the original crime, 519 Federal Road in Brookfield, is still a kennel, although it has a different name and different owners.

Adapted with Permission from The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker

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May 22, 2012

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