Demons and the forces of darkness are horror movie staples for a reason: they are horrifically terrifying. Whether you believe in demons or not, there are enough supposedly true stories of demonic encounters out there to make an endless string of movies. From adults to kids, from believers to non-believers, from those who went out looking for trouble to those who just made the mistake of moving into the wrong house, people have had truly chilling encounters with vengeful demons they’ve offended.
While it is generally ill-advised to pursue any demons at all, these demons you don’t want to mess with are truly the stuff of nightmares. Some take terrifying forms, some inflict horrible pain, and others lend those they possess strange powers. They have even committed and inspired slayings. While some demons (such as the Bell Witch) are parts of tales that have been passed down for hundreds of years, others have occurred only recently. In 2008, a board-certified psychiatrist even documented a real-life case of what he considered clear-cut demonic possession.
What’s out there is dark, it’s terrifying, and here are the reasons why you don’t want to piss any of it off.
• Photo: Thue / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Arne Johnson Taunted Demons And Turned Into A Murderous Madman
Shortly after his family rented a new home, 11-year-old David Glatzel was repeatedly visited by demons that took both bestial and human forms and would threaten and attack him, leaving mysterious wounds all over his body. The rental house was the site of strange occurrences that only worsened after a priest performed a cleansing. Glatzel would speak in tongues and randomly convulse and levitate. He also gained over 60 pounds in only a few months. Multiple exorcisms revealed the names of the 43 demons which possessed him but did nothing to fix the problem.
Things got even worse when David’s sister’s fiancée, 19-year-old Arne Johnson, taunted the demons inhabiting David, demanding they leave David alone and possess his body instead. Johnson then also began to suffer strange trances and bouts of anger. He crashed his car into a tree, claiming that demons had taken control of the vehicle.
Formerly a calm and mild-mannered person, Johnson got into an argument with his landlord, Alan Bono, and stabbed him to death, later claiming that he remembered none of it.
This was the first high-profile murder case in America where being possessed by demons was used as a legal defense, though the judge rejected this defense.
• • Photo: Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes / The Asylum
Anneliese Michel Underwent Torture, Starvation, And Death In Combat With Demons
This 1976 case of exorcism gone horribly wrong was the inspiration for the horror film The Exorcism of Emily Rose. A 23-year-old mentally ill and epileptic German girl, Anneliese Michel, was suspected of being possessed due to her aversion to religious pictures and symbols, convulsions, ability to speak in tongues, foul smell, and generally terrifying behavior. She would eat coal and spiders, drink her own urine, bark like a dog, and once even bit a bird’s head off. Michel believed she was willingly undergoing these torments to atone for the sinfulness of modern life.
She died of dehydration and starvation after undergoing nearly 70 exorcisms. Having refused to eat, at the time of her death, she weighed only 68 pounds. Two years after her death, her parents and the two priests who held the exorcisms were sentenced to six months in prison for negligent manslaughter. The onslaught of exorcisms were said to have merely angered the demons possessing her, ultimately causing her to refuse food and water until she died.
• • Photo: The Exorcist / Warner Bros.
A Psychiatrist Confirmed The Possession Of A Woman Who Dabbled In Satanism
An American woman struggled with demonic possession so severe and obvious that it was documented by a board-certified psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, Dr. Richard E. Gallagher, in a paper for the New Oxford Review. The woman, called “Julia,” could speak foreign languages unknown to her, levitate seemingly at will, and also demonstrated psychic powers, including knowing private information about others that she had no means to know.
Gallagher wrote the paper in order to academically document a case of demonic possession. The patient, who was previously known to have ties to Satanists, may have done something to conjure or otherwise anger dark forces.
• • Photo: Richard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
A Couple Found A Possessed Mirror In A Dumpster And Sold It To A Mysterious Buyer
After picking up an antique mirror they found in a dumpster outside their London home, Joseph Birch and Sotiris Charalambous quickly found themselves in a dangerous situation. They suffered bad luck, including both health and financial problems. More frightening, they would wake up screaming in pain, see flickering shadows in the mirror, and even find themselves covered in inexplicable red scratches. These are some of the tell-tale signs of a demonic possession.
In order to get rid of the mirror, they put it up on eBay, openly admitting all that had happened to them, only for a single mysterious buyer to bid on it and buy it.
A Possessed Home Was Demolished After Tormenting Three Young Children
In 2014, Latoya Ammons and her three children moved into a new home in Gary, Indiana. Unbeknownst to them, it was the residence of what some experts claim to be over 200 demons.
Apparently, these demons were enraged by the disturbance of their space. Ammons claimed that she and her children were possessed by the demons, which lead to investigations by both the Indiana Department of Child Services and the police. An exorcism was even allegedly authorized by the local branch of the Catholic Church.
Zak Bagans, host and producer of the show Ghost Adventures, had the house demolished in early 2016 as part of a documentary on the supernatural he was putting together. Bagans told the IndyStar:
Something was inside that house that had the ability to do things that I have never seen before – things that others carrying the highest forms of credibility couldn’t explain either. There was something there that was very dark yet highly intelligent and powerful.
• • Photo: jmawork / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Robbie Mannheim Called Upon Demons While Using A Ouija Board
The Exorcist is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, but not many people know that the possession of poor Regan in the film was actually based on the real-life exorcisms of 14-year-old Robbie Mannheim, who was known at the time as Roland Doe. The boy found himself possessed by a terrifying demon after using a Ouija board to try and contact his dead aunt in the 1940s.
Objects would be thrown around, furniture would be toppled over, strange footsteps could be heard within his home, and religious pictures would vibrate on the walls as he passed. At school, his desk would slide around the room in front of witnesses.
A series of violent and unsuccessful exorcisms followed, during which he spoke in tongues and attacked priests with horrifying strength. Eventually, an exorcism was successful, and he went on to live a normal life.
• • Photo: BRad06 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
The Bell Witch Tormented A Family And Murdered Their Father
One of the most famous hauntings in American history is that of the Bell Witch, a dark entity that attacked a pioneer family with the trademark malevolence of a powerful demon. The entity largely focused its attention on the youngest daughter of the Bell family, Betsy, and the father, John Bell. The demon would slap Betsy, pull her hair, and leave marks on her body. When John Bell died, the demon claimed to have poisoned him. This intelligent presence could hold a conversation and even predict events, but it mysteriously disappeared after John Bell’s death.
All sorts of claims have been made regarding what the family did to anger the seemingly demonic spirit. Some say that the family was cursed, others claim that the land was cursed and the family angered an evil spirit by settling there. A psychic published a book in 2015 claiming that the demonic activity was tied in to the sexual abuse of Betsy Bell by another family member.
In 2014, Father Marian Rajchel carried out a failed exorcism on a teen girl in Poland. Rather than driving the devil out of the girl’s soul, the priest drove it into her cell phone, and he then began receiving insulting text messages from the demon.
These text messages contained threats and insults such as these:
Priest claims to be receiving text messages from the Devil after perform…
Father Marian Rajchel from Jaroslaw, south-eastern Poland, believes the devil is attacking him because he failed…
Shut up, preacher. You cannot save yourself. Idiot. You pathetic old preacher.
She will not come out of this hell. She’s mine. Anyone who prays for her will die.