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A Real-Life Exorcism: The Harrowing Tale of the Ammons Family Haunting

This Indiana family went through hell—literally.

ammons family haunting

We often meet stories of possession with skepticism, swathing them in accusations of a hoax. No one is more apprehensive of these supernatural claims than law enforcement. But when it came to the Ammons family haunting of Gary, Indiana back in 2011, police Capt. Charles Austin suspended his disbelief.

Austin had been a veteran of the Gary Police Department for more than three decades when he came on to this unusual case. A woman, Latoya Ammons, claimed that she, her mother, Rosa Campbell, and her three young children were the victims of a vicious demonic haunting. When Austin first heard their tale, he thought they were trying to scam money out of the public. But after several visits to the Ammons' home, he became a believer.

As the police and the Department of Child Services investigated the odd behavior going on inside the home, they compiled nearly 800 pages of official documents. These are just a portion of the details, as described by witnesses.

It began with the flies...

While it's impossible to say whether the Ammons family experienced genuine demonic possession or just a shared delusion, Latoya claims this bizarre occurrence all began with flies. The Ammons had just moved into a rental house in November of 2011. Their small and quiet home had a screened-in porch which became overrun with large, black flies come December. It was odd timing, given the chilly weather, and no matter how many times the family killed these insects, they just kept coming back in droves.

But there were more concerning things afoot in the home. Latoya and Rosa claim that, around this time, they also heard heavy footsteps ascending the basement stairs. When the door leading from the basement to the kitchen creaked open, no one was there. The noises continued even when they locked the door.

Rosa claims that she awoke one night to find a shadowy figure pacing the living room. In his path were large, wet bootprints. But this growing unease soon gave way to terror as this strange presence focused in on the children.

Levitation and cleansing

At roughly 2 a.m. on March 10th, 2012, the Ammons family were awake, still processing the grief from the recent loss of a loved one. Latoya was in her mother's bedroom with her 12-year-old daughter and her daughter's friend when she cried out for Rosa. Rosa barreled into her bedroom to find the 12-year-old unconscious, levitating over the bed.

The Ammons claim they took action by surrounding the bed and praying. As the 12-year-old lowered to the bed, she awoke with no memory of what had just occurred. The visitors in the Ammons' house that night refused to return.

Latoya and her mother weren't sure exactly what they were dealing with, but they were fairly certain it was something supernatural. They sought help from someone who understood these kinds of problems better than they did. From there, the pair called up several churches, but most simply dismissed them. One church offered advice at last, after paying a visit to the home and declaring it filled with spirits.

The Ammons were instructed to cleanse the home. They had to wipe everything down with bleach and ammonia, and then draw crosses on each door and window with oil. Latoya also painted crosses on her children's foreheads and poured olive oil over their hands and feet.

Wanting to ensure they'd done the most that they could, the family then reached out to two clairvoyants. These supernatural specialists determined that more than 200 demons were currently occupying the residence. Due to their Christian faith, Latoya and Rosa found this easy to believe. The clairvoyants urged the Ammons to move, but their financial situation didn't allow it.

Instead, Latoya took the clairvoyant's secondary advice. She constructed an altar in the basement—a table donned in a white sheet, holding up a white candle and a statue of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Latoya and another individual put on white shirts and scarves, burning sage and sulfur throughout the house as they read Psalm 91 from the Bible.

For three days, the house was blissfully quiet.

And then things got worse.

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  • Photo Credit: Thomas Willmott/Unsplash

Evidence of demons? 

At this point, Latoya believed that demons possessed her three children—ages seven, nine, and 12. She described their eyes as bulging and their smiles as evil. Her mother agreed that their voices deepened when this strange energy came over them.

While Rosa said she was immune to the possession because she was born with a special protection from evil, Latoya had a different experience. She said that the demons would come over her and make her feel warm and lightheaded. She would feel a loss of control as her whole body trembled.

Her seven-year-old son began sitting in a closet to talk to someone no one else could see—a person who described what it was like to be murdered. This boy would later come flying out of the bathroom as if tossed, and Latoya's 12-year-old needed stitches after getting hit with a headboard. Her daughter claimed that at times, it felt like someone was holding her down and choking her. She said a voice told her she'd never see her family again—that she wouldn't be alive for 20 minutes more.

The DCS document this next startling occurrence. After the Ammons family requested their physician, Dr. Onyeukwu, pay a visit to their home, both of Latoya's sons began cursing him in demonic voices. Medical staff witnessed the youngest son being lifted into the air without anybody laying a hand on him. He was tossed into the wall, and both boys lost consciousness. As they were unable to be roused, Onyeukwu's staff dialed 911, bringing in about eight police officers and multiple ambulances.

No one was certain what was unfolding, but the boys were rushed to Methodist Hospital's campus. When Latoya tried to anoint her sons in olive oil again, the hospital personnel laughed at her. She turned to prayer instead. When her nine-year-old awoke, he had returned to normal. But the younger boy woke up screaming and thrashing hard enough that it required five men to hold him down.

Demon possession? Or child abuse?

Someone placed a call to DCS, requesting an investigation into potential child abuse or neglect. The unnamed caller suspected mental illness in the family, resulting in the children performing for their mother, who encouraged their behavior.

The family case manager, Valerie Washington, found the children to all be physically healthy and devoid of any injurious marks. A psychological evaluation of Latoya declared her to be of sound mind.

When Washington interviewed Latoya's youngest, he bared his teeth and growled—his eyes rolling back in his head. He then strangled his brother, refusing to cease until adults pried him away. They interviewed the boys again later that evening with a nurse, Willie Lee Walker, present. Their grandmother also joined them in the small room. The seven-year-old continued his growling.

In a strange voice, the young boy declared, "It's time to die. I will kill you."

In response, the middle child began head-butting his grandmother's stomach. Rosa took his hands in hers and began to pray desperately. The official DCS report, as corroborated by the nurse, claims that the nine-year-old then donned an unsettling grin. He proceeded to walk backwards up the wall until he reached the ceiling and flipped over Rosa to land on his feet. He never let go of his grandmother's hands.

The case manager said the boy hadn't run up the wall as if in an acrobatic stunt. He simply glided upward with ease. She claims that after that, she ran out of the room in terror, with the nurse following close behind.

The next day, the DCS took emergency custody of the Ammons children without a court order. Both Latoya and her children were distraught—after already going through so much, they didn't want to be without each other.

Bring in the chaplain

On the morning of April 20th, 2012, Rev. Michael Maginot received a call from a hospital chaplain with an unusual request. He was asked to perform an exorcism on Latoya's nine-year-old son. While he didn't immediately agree to the task, he began with an interview to first rule out if the odd behavior had any natural causes. As Latoya and Rosa spent two hours going over their harrowing experience, a bathroom light began to flicker. Whenever Maginot would approach the light to investigate, it stopped flickering.

Maginot believed this flickering to be an act of a demonic force—a force he thought might be afraid of him. Later in the interview, the blinds in the kitchen began to sway without any breeze. Maginot also claimed to see wet footprints trailing through the living room. Latoya then complained she felt a headache coming on. When Maginot pressed a crucifix to her forehead, she convulsed.

A four-hour interview had Maginot convinced the family was not only being harassed by demons, but cohabitating with ghosts. He blessed the home before he left and urged the women to find somewhere else to stay. Latoya and Rosa temporarily relocated to a relative's house.

The women had to return to the house less than a week later to accompany their DCS case manager and the Lake County police on an inspection. Out of curiosity, officers from the Gary and Hammond police departments asked to join in on the tour, which is what brought Capt. Charles Austin to the home.

Latoya refused to enter the property, but Rosa guided the others through. Inside, she warned the officers that demons seemed to occupy the space beneath the stairs. For his part, Austin admitted to believing in ghosts, but never demons. Until this day.

While the officers were interviewing Rosa in the home, one of the audio recorders began to malfunction, indicating that the batteries were dying—despite having been replaced just before arriving. Another officer recorded the interview, but upon playing it back, he heard an unidentified voice whisper, "hey." They took photos while they perused, and one documenting the basement stairs displayed a cloudy white image in the upper corner. An enlargement of the photo caused the cloud to resemble a face, as well as a second green image that seemed to be a woman.

Austin had his own eerie observations in relation to the home. He documented that the garage door at the Ammons' home refused to open, even with the power on. Photos taken on his iPhone featured strange silhouettes. The radio in his police-issued Ford malfunctioned on the way home, and later, the seat in his personal Infiniti moved forward and backward on its own.

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  • Photo Credit: James Coleman/Unsplash

Psychological evaluations commence

As the DCS investigated the Ammons' case, they found that the children were at least partially neglected, as Latoya did not have them in school regularly. Records reflect that the DCS also found this to be true three years prior. Ammons claimed that their absences were a result of the spirits making them sick or keeping them up all night.

A psychological evaluation of the youngest Ammons child revealed that he tended to act possessed upon being challenged or asked questions he didn't want to answer. The boy seemed to be completely coherent and logical until the subject of demons came up. These stories were strange and fragmented and changed with each retelling.

The doctor in charge of this evaluation, Dr. Wright, believed that there was no real psychotic disorder present in the child. However, it seemed to be a case of a child stuck in a delusional system perpetrated by his mother. Another doctor, Dr. Schwarz, came to a similar conclusion upon evaluating the older son and daughter.

As more psychologists examined Latoya herself, she was determined to be guarded, but not in the grips of a psychotic or thought disorder. One doctor suggested she be evaluated to determine if her religiousness was masking delusional ideations.

Despite these conclusions, Latoya and her children insisted their problems were the result of demons.

Panic attacks and bizarre physical symptoms

Latoya, Rosa, Austin, and two other officers from the original trip returned to the Ammons' home on May 10th, after hours. Maginot arrived with two Lake County officers, a police dog, and a new DCS family case manager, Samantha Ilic. Ilic had volunteered to go in Washington's stead, as the woman didn't want to return to the house.

As a county officer walked around the house with the dog, the canine showed no particular interest. As the others headed into the basement, Ilic touched a strange, sticky liquid dripping in the basement. Maginot searched the dirt beneath the stairs for a pentagram or cursed objects—or perhaps evidence that someone had been buried there.

Digging a large hole turned up no items of note. After the officers refilled the hole, Maginot blessed some salt and spread it beneath the stairs and around the basement.

As the group moved up to the living room, Ilic claimed her pinky finger began to tingle and go white. She said it felt as if it had been broken. She spiraled into a panic attack, unable to breathe. She fled the house to wait for the others outside.

As Maginot started to question Latoya inside the house, she complained of a headache and a pain in her shoulder. She left to join Ilic outside.

Austin refused to stay in the house past nightfall and left before it got dark. The other officers continued to investigate the home, however, and found a strange oily substance dripping from the blinds in the bedroom. It seems to come from nowhere. They wiped the oil off the blinds and then sealed the room. When they returned 25 minutes later, the same substance had returned. Maginot claimed this was a manifestation of a demonic presence, and wrote to Bishop Dale Melczek for permission to perform an exorcism.

The exorcism commences...

Maginot's request for a church-sanctioned exorcism was denied at first. Melczek encouraged him to reach out to other priests to perform a minor exorcism—one that can be done without involvement of the church. When Maginot consulted other priests, they told him to look it up on the internet.

To expel the demonic energy and spirits, Maginot performed what he calls an "intense blessing." He also performed a minor exorcism on Latoya, which consisted of prayers and appeals to cast out the demons. This two-hour ritual was attended by Ilic and two police officers.

Ilic claims that, after visiting the home, she experienced a slew of medical problems. A week after her final visit, she got third-degree burns from a motor cycle. Within a month, she broke three ribs, a hand, and an ankle in three separate incidents.

Following the ritual, Maginot encouraged Latoya to look up the names of the demons that had attached themselves to her. Every demon had a personality, and those personalities were represented by the problems the family faced during this time. As Latoya and a friend searched online, their computer kept shutting down. She persisted through the technical difficulties and the dizziness and found names that fit, such as Beelzebub, lord of the flies.

With the minor rite done, Melczek, at last, gave Maginot permission to perform a real exorcism. It was a similar process to the ritual already performed, but stronger due to the power of the Catholic Church. Ultimately, Latoya endured three major exorcisms, two in English and one in Latin. Latoya convulsed through the ordeal, claiming the demons inflicted pain as they struggled to hold on.

After these exorcisms, Latoya and Rosa relocated to a new home in Indianapolis, though the children still remained in DCS' care. Maginot blessed their new house to prevent future problems. No problems were reported in the Ammons' former home after the family left.

In November of 2012, after about six months apart, Latoya was finally reunited with her children. The children reported feeling safer in their new home. There have been no more reports of demonic disturbances.

Images: Thomas Willmott/Unsplash; James Coleman/Unsplash