The notion of demonic possession has been around for centuries, and the idea that we can become vehicles for devilish, sinister forces from beyond has haunted and frightened humankind since time unremembered. Yet, is it possible for a whole house to become a portal for such forces to enter our world, and can a whole family be invaded by these evil entities? In one recent case, a family and their home was claimed to have been infiltrated by demons or even the Devil himself, and the Demon House of Indiana has gone on to become one of the most terrifying accounts on record.
In November of 2011, a young woman named Latoya Ammons, her mother, Rosa Campbell, and her three children then ages 7, 9 and 12, came to Gary, Indiana and moved into a modest, quiet home at 3860 Carolina Street. At the time they were happy to be there, and although the house was just a rather plain-looking rental cottage it was for them in a way their dream home. Yet, pretty much as soon as they arrived there were strange, rather ominous phenomena that began to plague them, and which would hint at some sinister force residing and festering there.
The first usual thing the family noticed happened in December, when a high number of black flies began buzzing and crawling around the house, most often concentrated on the small porch of the residence. This was odd enough as it is because it was winter, but what made it even weirder was that sometimes these flies would swarm about in thick black clouds and get everywhere, even though there was no discernible reason for them to gather there so intensely and none of the neighbors had a fly problem at all. The family went about trying to exterminate the unseasonable profusion of flies, but no matter what they did the insects returned in droves, of which Rosa Campbell would later lament, “This is not normal. We killed them and killed them and killed them, but they kept coming back.”
Unfortunately, the plague of flies would turn out to be the least of their worries. At around the same time it is alleged that there would often be heard the heavy thud of disembodied footsteps coming from the stairs down into the basement at night, as well as the creaking sound of the door from the basement to the kitchen opening, even when it was locked, and there were once found to be wet boot prints left behind. In addition to this there were purportedly numerous cases of poltergeist activity such as slamming doors and moving objects, and on at least one occasion Campbell was startled to see a dark figure lurking in the living room, which vanished in the blink of an eye. In one instance a religious statue in the home was supposedly smashed to pieces. This paranormal activity steadily grew in intensity, and the Ammons children began missing school because according to her they were being kept awake all night by the strange occurrences.
It all apparently got even worse from there, as various family members began to complain of being pushed or poked by an unseen force, and at one point Campbell would even claim that she had been viciously choked by invisible hands. On another occasion the older son was also said to be thrown clear across the room as if he were a ragdoll, and on another the youngest son was allegedly thrown from the bathroom. The daughter also was thrown around and “grabbed by dark shadows.” Even more dramatic than this was an incident in March of 2012, when the 12-year-old daughter was supposedly found levitating over her bed in a trance-like state. According to their version of events, Ammons and Campbell began praying and at this point the girl floated back down to her bed. Upon waking she claimed to have absolutely no memory of the otherworldly incident, as if it had been wiped from her mind or instigated without her knowledge.
After this rather terrifying event the children began to exhibit a plethora of strange behaviors and outbursts that suggested that they were under the influence of some demonic, supernatural force. It would be claimed that their eyes would bulge or roll back into their heads, and they would hiss, snarl, and bark like animals at times, without any memory of it. Sometimes they would speak in “demonic voices” or pass out for no reason, during which time they could not be woken up. At other times one of the sons was claimed to have blurted out sinister remarks such as “I will kill you,” or “It’s time to die,” often in a voice that wasn’t his own, and he was even accused of attacking his own brother during one of these violent episodes. Even Ammons herself would claim to have been possessed on occasion.
Increasingly desperate and scared, Ammons reached out for help from the church, and when priests investigated is said that a wide variety of paranormal occurrences were witnessed. Besides the instances of what seemed like demonic possession in the children, there were observed flickering lights and moving objects, including a bottle that allegedly levitated across the room. The church advised the family to try cleansing the house and drawing crosses on the floors and windows, but none of this did any good, so they enlisted the help of clairvoyants to try and ascertain just what they were dealing with. The prognosis was not good, as they would tell Ammons that her home was infested by at least 200 different demons, and in order to combat these dark forces they burned sage and made an altar in the basement, but none of this helped and the family was too poor to simply move away.
Eventually the Department of Child Services became involved, and there was even supposedly a supernatural event witnessed by one of the Child Service case managers and a nurse, when one of the Ammons boys was supposedly witnessed to walk backwards up a wall, seeming to defy gravity. The case manager, a Valerie Washington, would later talk of what she witnessed, saying “He walked up the wall, flipped over her and stood there. There’s no way he could’ve done that. I believe that it was something going on there that was out of the realm of a normal living person.”
Even the authorities became convinced that something strange was going on, with even Police Capt. Charles Austin saying that he believed there was a possible supernatural explanation for the phenomena orbiting the Ammons family after witnessing several strange goings on for himself. Austin would claim that he had taken photos showing phantom shapes with his iPhone, captured a mysterious voice on tape that said “hey,” and he has also said that his car had mysterious malfunctioned and that his garage door refused to open during the investigation. Despite all of this this, the Ammons children were briefly taken from their mother for 6 months while the Department of Child Services performed an investigation, after which they were returned to their mother.
The tale of what would go on to be called the “House of 200 Demons” really hit its stride when it was reported in several high profile news outlets, most notably a comprehensive 2014 article in The Indianapolis Star, complete with a supposed photo of one of the demons lurking in a window, and another in the New York Daily News. This media coverage propelled the whole dramatic affair into the stratosphere, and the dark and macabre story of a mother of three stalked by demons from Hell captured the public imagination and made it a media sensation. In the meantime, Catholic priest Rev. Michael Maginot was brought in by the beleaguered family and performed at least three exorcisms on the house and the victims, none of which seemed to have an effect on the evil forces surrounding them and their home, which Maginot called “a portal of demons.” Indeed, the activity apparently only stopped when the family finally was able to move away to Indianapolis.
The next tenant of the home reported no unusual activity or paranormal occurrences, and it seems like this should be the end of the story, but this is not the case. Indeed, it seems to almost get even stranger. The house was soon after purchased by Zak Bagans, from the Travel Channel TV show Ghost Adventures, and he went about filming a documentary on the Ammons case, as well as his own experiences at the property, which was to be appropriately titled Demon House. Bagans spared no expense on his documentary, not only outright buying the home, but also gaining access to reams of information on the case, interviewing scores of witnesses at the time, and even bringing back the priest Maginot. Just about the only person he couldn’t get was Ammons herself, who was keen to distance herself from the whole incident.
Unfortunately for Bagans, it seemed as if the demonic activity and influence on the home had not died just yet, and he reported falling seriously ill for several days within just the first week after buying it. For his part, Maginot continuously implored Bagans and his film crew to use crucifixes and other forms of spiritual protection from demons, but Bagans refused because he reasoned that getting the full demon experience was the whole point. According to Bagans there were numerous technical difficulties, freak accidents experienced by the crew and witnesses, some crew quit, and one of the crew members was apparently so influenced by the supposed demonic presence at the home that Maginot performed an exorcism on him right then and there, which was filmed and actually made it into the film. Bagans would lament, “This film is cursed,” and even worried about whether merely watching it could be dangerous.
After the filming wrapped in 2016, although it would not be actually released until 2018, Bagans went about having the whole accursed house actually torn down to leave merely an empty lot. According to Maginot, this was a foolish thing to do, and that as Bagans had performed no cleansing ritual on the property of any kind, the evil is still there lingering. In his opinion, without this ritual it makes no difference on its status as a demon portal if there is a physical house there or not, and he has claimed that there are still ghostly occurrences on the property. Maginot has explained:
That’s kind of a sad thing for me. I didn’t want people harmed. It’s dangerous. It’s not an amusement park. There’s a danger that you can’t control, and if the house was still there and locked up, I felt it could be controlled. It would protect people. People still go there and perform (Satanic) rituals and police come by and chase them off. They’re opening up themselves to real danger. As a priest, I would have preferred that it was shown that the house could be cleansed, that it could be taken care of by the church to make it habitable for someone without any problems. That’s the happy ending I would have liked to see. Instead it was torn down and it looks like Satan kind of won.
For now, the property remains an empty, weed-choked lot, but whether it ever had any real demonic presence or not remains debated. There has been much skepticism aimed at the veracity of the claims of Ammons and her family, stating that she was very religious and that her home life was troubled, meaning that it could have influenced her perceptions and those of her children. In particular, Skeptic Joe Nickel did an incredibly detailed and scathing debunking of the case in an article for the Skeptical Inquirer, explaining away and at times outright dismissing many of the supposed supernatural elements. For instance, many of the witnesses, including the police captain, were superstitious and believers of the paranormal, and many of the photographs and recordings taken have rational explanations. He also says that some of the more dramatic reported events such as the crawling up the wall and others may have been misreported and colored by sensationalism, and that many of those involved, including Maginot and Ammons, had financial gain to be had from the whole thing. Nickel does not mince words when he offers his summary of the case thus:
In summary, no demons possessed anyone in this case, except in the figurative sense. What were really unleashed were the dark aspects of superstition, ancient dogma, lust for notoriety, the greed of cynical hucksters, and the stubborn unwillingness of some to be reasoned with.
Despite this rather damning appraisal, Ammons and her family have continued to insist that it was all true and beyond rational explanation, as have others who were involved and Bagans as well. There are many witnesses who claimed to have seen these phenomena for themselves and continue to place them outside of the realm of the normal, so are they all delusional or mistaken? It is hard to say. In the end it is unclear just what was really going on with this house or the family within it, or whether there were ever sinister supernatural, possibly even demonic forces gathered about them, and we are left to wonder what was going on in what has become one of the most spectacular demonic possession cases of recent times.