DANBURY — In September 1981, reporters from across the country rushed to cover the case of a man who claimed the devil made him stab his landlord to death outside a dog grooming kennel on Federal Road in Brookfield.
Twenty-six years, and one made- for-TV-movie later, what became known as the “Demon Murder Trial” is headed back to Danbury Superior Court. Carl Glatzel, a member of the Brookfield family at the center of the case, claims a book published in 1983 invaded his privacy and held him up to public ridicule.
“He thought the whole thing was behind him,” said Torrington attorney Greg T. Nolan, who is representing Glatzel. “He doesn’t want everyone to think of him as the guy who was possessed by Satan.”
Glatzel is suing nationally known psychic Lorraine Warren of Monroe, and Gerald Brittle, the author of “The Devil in Connecticut,” for unspecified financial damages. Glatzel said the claims of demonic possession were a hoax engineered by Warren and her late husband, Ed, and the book was filled with false information.
Normally, the deadline for such a lawsuit would have expired more than 20 years ago, but the legal clock was restarted when the book was reprinted last year, Nolan said.
“Carl was just 18 when the book was published the first time,” Nolan said. “I don’t think he was properly prepared to do anything at that time.”
Glatzel, who now runs a construction business, couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday. But in a press release announcing the lawsuit, he said the Warrens — who gained an international reputation as “ghost hunters” — and Brittle “concocted a phony story about demons in an attempt to get rich and famous at our expense.”
The book focuses on Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the boyfriend of Glatzel’s older sister, who allegedly came under the devil’s spell during an exorcism that was intended to relieve their younger brother, David, of an infestation by “42 separate demonic entities.”
Johnson subsequently stabbed his landlord, Alan Bono, to death, and when the case went to trial, his layer, Martin Minella of Waterbury, attempted unsuccessfully to introduce a defense of not guilty by reason of demonic possession.
Judge Robert Callahan refused to permit the novel tactic, and Johnson was subsequently convicted of manslaughter. He served five years in prison and is now married to Deborah Glatzel.
Carl Glatzel said that many incidents described in the book “are complete lies,” and that he was made to appear as the villain “simply because I had a sane voice and knew the story was false since the beginning.”
As a result of publicity from the case, Carl Glatzel said he was forced to drop out of school and lost friends, relationships and business opportunities. Glatzel said his brother was never possessed, and was suffering from a mental illness from which he has since recovered. The entire family was manipulated and exploited by the Warrens, he said.
But Lorraine Warren, now 80 and living in Monroe, defended the work she and her late husband did after being contacted by the Glatzel family.
“It wasn’t just Ed and I. The cream of the Catholic Church was involved, and there was tremendous documentation,” she said. “After 20-something years, why is this coming up now? What’s behind it? I don’t know.”
Brittle said his book was “based entirely on fact. It was written because the family wanted the story told, and I told their story.”
The author said he sent more than 100 hours interviewing the Glatzel family, and still has the tapes to prove it.
“Just to be sure I got it right, the family got the manuscript before it went to the printer, and they vouched to its accuracy in writing,” Brittle said. “This is the claim of one man, and I think you’ll find that he has his own agenda.”
No lawsuit has yet been brought. But Nolan said he has filed an application for a prejudgment remedy in Danbury Superior Court to ensure that the defendants don’t dispose of assets that might be used to compensate his client. A hearing on that application will probably be held within a month, he said.