Audio of alleged demon:
- Latoya Ammons moved into a home with her mother and 3 children in Gary, Indiana in 2011 and started hearing footsteps in the basement
- Over time, she and her children, aged 12, 9 and 8, became ‘possessed’; their eyes would bulge, they’d shake and growl
- A clairvoyant said the home was haunted by 200 demons
- Sons were taken to hospital after one was inexplicably thrown in the house – while there a nurse and a CPS worker saw him walk backwards up a wall
- Speaking to Mailonline, the town’s veteran police chief, Charles Austin, says he became too afraid to enter the home at night and saw objects moving and recorded scary whispers
- He even claims he was ‘attacked’ away from the house with his car moving backwards and forwards on its own
- Catholic priest Father Michael Maginot carried out exorcisms on Ammons and gave Mailonline audio of a ‘demon’ rasping ‘hey’ in the basement
- He claims to have banished the spirits after learning of their weaknesses
By LAURA COLLINS IN MERRILLVILLE, INDIANA
PUBLISHED: 03:05 EST, 28 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:12 EST, 28 January 2014
It is a clear, calm voice – a whisper that cuts across the voices of the Indiana police officers recording proceedings.
‘Hey’ – a simple word rendered chilling because nobody present in the basement that day said it, much less heard it, at the time.
None of the police officers sent to investigate claims of supernatural occurrences, possession and paranormal activity at a modest rental home in Gary, Indiana in spring 2012 really believed this could be anything other than a hoax.
None of them thought that they would be descending into ‘a portal to hell.’
But today that is exactly what Gary Indiana police captain Charles Austin believes the basement of Latoya Ammons’s former family home contained.
Speaking to MailOnline he said: ‘Everyone of us who was there that day in the basement and who saw what we saw, went through what we went through after…we all think the same, we all call it the same. That bit of dirt is a portal to hell.
‘I came into work on the Monday and asked my sergeant if anything had occurred out of the ordinary over the weekend. He told me that there had been a contact by a party in reference to a house in Carolina Street where the mother was living with three children and her mother, their grandmother.’
Since the news of the so-called possession and exorcism of Latoya Ammons broke the story has been met with intense skeptism by some and unwavering belief by others. But no-one can remain unmoved or unsettled by this odd, alarming tale.
MailOnline has spoken with the key officials involved in the investigation at its very beginning and the exorcism in which it culminated. And both men – one of the law, one of the cloth – admit to having followed that same arch of disbelief giving way to horrified credence.
When Capt Austin heard of it that Monday afternoon his sergeant told him that Child Protection Services were involved.
The children had been missing school and had been removed from their mother’s care but both Latoya Ammons and her mother Rose Campbell insisted that the wrong at the heart of their household was supernatural in nature.
Capt Austin said: ‘The sergeant told me that the children had been missing school and there was talk of satanic goings on. He was very leery of it. I contacted some people, high-ranking officers; we decided to take a look.
‘I walked in there thinking this was nothing but a hoax, a concocted story.’
Instead what he experienced that day in the spring of 2012 shook him to his core, threatened his life and became part of the documented history of one of the most disturbing and baffling cases in Indiana’s police history.
That voice – picked up by a police tape recorder as Capt Austin and his colleagues recorded their tour around the house with a growing sense of unease – was either a welcome or a challenge, according to Capt Austin, 62, but whatever it was, it was not human.
Capt Austin’s assertions were echoed by Roman Catholic priest Father Michael Maginot, also interviewed by MailOnline.
Father Maginot may be a more natural candidate to believe in supernatural phenomenon than a cop of 37 years’ standing who prides himself in being an ‘aggressive and assertive law enforcer.’
But, like Capt Austin, he set out to disprove the story forwarded by Latoya Ammons and her mother Rose. Instead he would conduct one minor and three major exorcisms on the mother of three and told MailOnline that he himself had been the target of demonic attack for his involvement in the case.
Over a six-month period Latoya claims that she and her children were possessed by demons. She says that the house in which they lived was ravaged by malevolent spirits, that her daughter, then 12, and sons, 9 and 7 respectively were physically attacked – thrown against furniture, dragged from the sofa, punched and tormented till their gums and noses bled and they struggled to breath.
As a family she says they fell ill – she to three kidney infections, her children to a variety of ailments and disturbances. She says the house ‘dripped oil,’ that shadowy figures walked the rooms at night, that footsteps could be heard coming up from the basement only to be followed by a furious pounding on the door leading form it to the main house when, in increasing terror, she and her mother put a lock on it.
There were swarms of dead horseflies on the porch – swept up one day only to return in equal abundance the next. Lights flickered, phones played up, television signals scrambled and reverted to normal on a whim.
On one occasion,
according to Campbell, family members were praying down in the basement where a makeshift altar had been set up just as one had in all the rooms.
Without warning, she claimed, an object sped across the room through the air. When they went to investigate it was found to be an ornamental scene of the Holy Family apparently flung from the altar and dashed to the floor.
In short, she claims, the family was terrorized beyond all endurance. And the impact in school-time lost and medical treatment sought saw the Department of Child Protection Services step in and call in first he police, and finally after one particularly harrowing event, Father Maginot.
Sitting before the fire in the main room of St Stephen the Martyr’s rectory in Merrillville, Indiana Father Maginot admitted he only became involved by chance. He happened to be covering for the usual chaplain of Gary ER on the weekend when a medic called in some distress to report a bizarre occurrence.
He said: ‘We were having our bible study after mass when I got the call saying “You’re a Catholic priest. You do exorcisms. We need you to do one.” They went onto tell me that a little boy had just walked, glided, backwards up a wall and flipped over to land on his feet.
‘They said he was growling, they described all sorts of things. I went of course.’
Father Maginot speaks rapidly and earnestly. He is affable, open and welcoming but he is no fool. He set out, he insisted, to disprove any notion of the occult. To do an exorcism permission is needed from the Bishop and, to be frank, he admitted he was reluctant to go down that path having approached Bishop Dale J Melczek, Bishop of Gary some years earlier on another matter involving possible supernatural events only to receive short shrift.
He said: ‘I set out to disprove it because to be honest I didn’t want to get the bishop involved. But I had policemen, social workers, doctors and security guards telling me what they had witnessed.
‘I couldn’t just dismiss them all. That was a Friday. So I met with the mother and grandmother on the Sunday.’
‘All of a sudden this growling voice came from my AM/FM radio. It said, “YOU OUTTA HERE” Then a lot of garbled other stuff and static’
– Captain Austin
In an involvement with the case spanning five months Fr Maginot never met or examined any of the children.
But he became convinced, he said, that Latoya was indeed possessed and that the house in which she and her children lived had become cursed as a result of a hex placed on her.
Shaking his head, aware perhaps of how unbelievable the story, he admitted; ‘I think there was a curse placed on the mother, that she was the focus possibly by an ex-boyfriend or his wife and that that combined with some tragedy and perhaps occult practices that had taken place in that house before and that had opened a portal.’
It is the conclusion Capt Austin has drawn against every logical thought that told him that just could not be true.
Speaking from Gary Police Department Headquarters, he has run every department from narcotics to homicide, gang intelligence to autodetail. He has taught 500 officers and received the department’s highest reward for his service. He doesn’t believe in the sort of ‘garbage’ he thought he was being fed in by the two women at Caroline Street in Gary two spring’s ago.
He said: ‘I was skeptical. I was leading the pack through the house. We walked in and the first thing we see is in the living room there’s a candle burning and a bible and a little altar with a crucifix – same in every room in the house. There was a drawing on the refrigerator done by one of the boys that was Jesus on the cross but behind him there looked like demonic figures.’
There were similar drawings elsewhere he recalled. He sat as Latoya’s mother, Rose, told him how the Venetian blinds would get wet and appear to drip oil, that the basement door would open and close and that they heard a dog barking sometimes and scratching.
Capt. Austin listened but, he said, ‘I thought it was a joke.’
But the further into the house he investigated the less comfortable he felt. Things just seemed ‘odd.’
He said: ‘Underneath the stairs was dirt and a candle. I was trying to figure out what was going on there because the rest of the basement was cement.
‘I took pictures of the candles and crucifix under the stairs on the dirt.’
Those pictures, taken on his iPhone, subsequently disappeared he said and the phone which he used that day never behaved the same again.
– Captain Austin
But before those images disappeared, he said, he saw that they contained figures he had not seen before; figures he said were not there before, standing around him and beneath the stairs.
According to Capt. Austin: ‘The officer behind me took pictures of me standing in front of him and in his pictures he saw lots of figures too.’
With the practiced narration of an experienced witness, Capt. Austin continued: ‘I said, “Enough of this garbage.” On leaving the property I went to a gas station and made a phone call.
‘I had my police radio, my squad car dash AM/FM radio, my police cell and my iPhone. I was looking at the pictures I had taken on my iPhone when I made this call and all of a sudden this growling voice came from my AM/FM radio.
‘It said, “YOU OUTTA HERE” Then a lot of garbled other stuff and static.’
The memory clearly disturbs the veteran officer to this day. He said: ‘I’m thinking something is seriously wrong here.’
Later he called his fellow officer who told him, ‘Those pictures that we took under the stairs, there’s silhouettes of other people under the stairs with you.’
After that, according to Capt. Austin, every other officer present that day had problems with their radios, phones and house alarms.
Most alarming for Capt. Austin was an incident he had two weeks later when he was, he said bluntly, ‘attacked.’
Returning home in his Infiniti SUV he said, ‘the electric door to my garage would not open. It had been fine before. I pressed the keypad it must have been 10 times then gave up.
‘I exited the vehicle and went to flip the main power in the garage but that didn’t work, then the house and finally that worked.
‘But when I went back to my car the drivers seat was just moving backwards and forwards by itself. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards.
‘When I took the car to the shop to get it looked into they said if I hadn’t brought it in it could have caused an accident and I could have been killed because for some reason the seat was about to collapse.’
The next time Capt. Austin was in the house it was with Father Maginot several weeks later.
They brought a dog, thinking perhaps they would find a crime scene, perhaps human remains, that might account for the disturbances but the dogs found nothing.
The men dug, five foot down into the dirt in the basement and unearthed a bizarre collection of objects: boys’ socks with the ankle portion cut out, a fake fingernail, women’s panties, a heavy, corroded iron weight, a broken plastic shoe horn and a red oval kettle lid.
Household trash? Or objects ritualistically buried in an attempt to summon something up or keep something at bay?
By then even the most level-headed present were open to the latter explanation and several of the people who had visited the house on the first inspection, including the original CPS case worker, had become so shaken by the day and its aftermath that they refused to go back.
Department of Child Services, family case manager Samantha Illic was part of the group that visited the house on 10 May 2012 when officers recorded the scene and Campbell’s accounts of many strange and disturbing events.
During that visit Illic reached to touch a cabinet that appeared to be dripping clear oil. Both Capt. Austin and Father Maginot tell a similar tale.
According to the Capt: ‘She touched it with her pinky and her finger just went flush free of blood, it was white like it was dead. She was holding up her hand saying, her finger was numb and the side of her hand.’
Father Maginot described the seemingly spontaneous ‘wound’ or affect as like ‘a blister after a burn.’
He said: ‘Her whole finger had this grey, white colour – a death colour. She wondered after if maybe there had been a bug that had bitten her but she didn’t see anything or feel anything.’
Father Maginot’s experience of the exorcisms of Latoya Ammons is similarly unnerving.
He met with Latoya and her mother at the house and, he said, for two hours they conducted an interview without any incident.
The women told him what they claimed was going on – the footsteps, the pounding, sometimes an animal growling, the horseflies, the youngest boy was often found talking to another boy whom no-one else could see and then there was the jarringly horrible tale of an ‘old woman with red eyes’ who disappeared as suddenly as she had appeared to the children in the yard one day.
He said: ‘Only the children saw definite figures but the grandmother saw a shadow of a man and they would find dirty footsteps in the front from in the morning just paced to and fro and going nowhere.
‘Ghostly things are easier to deal with,’ said Father Maginot, explaining, ‘A lot of the time as Catholics you can have a mass, pray for them, tell them to go into the light, not to be afraid. But demons are different. You’re inviting in guests from other realms and they don’t necessarily want to leave.’’
‘After almost four hours when she was going through one of these moments I took my crucifix and put it to her forehead and she began convulsing’
– Fr Maginot
During his visit to the Carolina Street house Father Maginot said that among the many strange phenomenon he witnessed were walls dripping with oil, Venetian blind rods tilting from side to side in unison and apparently for no reasons, seemingly set footprints appearing on the floor.
Lights repeatedly flickered then stopped when approached in such a way that the priest became convinced this was ‘an intelligence’ not simply an electric fault.
The final straw, the family told him, was when they were sitting as a family watching television and a bottle of Febreeze floated up, moved to and fro in the air before being hurled into Latoya’s room, smashing a lamp. In the aftermath they saw the shadow of a man.
They left the house for a hotel that night and never returned to live there again.
A clairvoyant who had visited the house and told Latoya she saw ‘hundreds of demons’ in the basement had told her to anoint the house with oil and put salt down to seal the gateways to demons.
Father Maginot did the same during his visit uttering blessings and trying, at every turn, to find a logical explanation for the things he was seeing and the things these women were telling him. But increasingly he struggled.
He said: ‘I was trying to find a focus for it, to understand where it was coming from because that can help solve these things.’
Father Maginot became convinced that Latoya’s former lover was a ‘trigger’ or possible ‘source.’ Every time he asked her about this man – who is not the father of any of the children – Latoya complained of more symptoms of the possession, fever, cold, headaches, nausea and convulsions.
He said: ‘After almost four hours when she was going through one of these moments I took my crucifix and put it to her forehead and she began convulsing.
‘I had thought the demons were with the kids but now I could see they were with her. She was the source. They jumped from her and they jumped from child to child – they would pick up each other’s chants, or convulse in turn, act crazy, or growl in turn. But they were with her.
‘I said, that’s enough. We’re not prepared to do an exorcism here but I’ve got enough there’s no need to torture anyone.’
Instead on June 1, 8th and 29th Latoya came to St Stephen the Martyr, Church in Merrillville and submitted to three major exorcisms.
She had, by then, moved out of the Carolina Street house in Gary and was living in a new apartment in Illinois. At the time the children were in state care but they have since been returned to their mother and grandmother’s.
Father Maginot recalled: ‘I carried out the first exorcism in English and there was no incident. It was like it had already gone but they do say they play possum.’
Father Maginot gave Latoya a crucifix and a rosary made of Benedictine medals. As she left the church the rosary ripped into five pieces.
Father Maginot said: ‘I said, “I don’t think we’re done here.”’
Later Latoya reported to the priest that the corpus, the figure of Christ on the crucifix he had given her, had similarly been torn off.
‘I had to figure out how to provoke the demons and drive them out. It’s a very personal thing. Once you have their name, it’s as though you have them caught’
– Fr Maginot
‘I had to figure out how to provoke the demons and drive them out,’ Father Maginot said, rocking to and fro in his easy chair.
Latoya had researched names and felt two belonged to her demons. Father Maginot will not repeat either – one is a biblical name, other is not – because he does not want to risk calling them.
He explained: ‘It’s a very personal thing. Once you have their name, it’s as though you have them caught. They like to work in mystery and darkness. Once you shine a light you show their limitations and they don’t like that.’
As if to prove that point Father Maginot recalled how he was ‘attacked by demons’ the day before the second exorcism.
Out riding his bike a series of near accidents and unsettling moments climaxed with him being seemingly spontaneously thrown from the saddle of his bike into the grass at the side of the bicycle path he was following.
He said: ‘I looked and saw that the seat of my bike was completely twisted but it made no sense because it was absolutely tight and I had to really pound it to straighten it out. I was in no doubt I had been attacked. I was being warned.’
The second exorcism saw a more violent response. The exorcism is, Father Maginot explained, a ritual repeated over and over, with the priest narrowing in on the demon and its triggers.
He said: ‘You try to protect yourself as much as you can. You go to confession because if there are any unconfessed sins it will use that.
‘It will use anything possible to deflect, or distract or scare you.
‘You will think you’re torturing the person but you’re not. You’re torturing the demon.’
The final exorcism was in Latin – praising God and condemning the demon.
‘The parts that were praising God there was no reaction from Latoya,’ Father Maginot recalled. ‘The parts condemning the demon she convulsed which was interesting to me as she doesn’t know Latin.’
Latoya said she felt herself being pulled up as if to levitate but Father Maginot saw no sign of that.
After third exorcism Latoya fell asleep he recalled. He gave her the now mended rosary and she took it home with her.
‘I never heard from her again,’ he said. ‘I was anticipating more. I was anticipating another at least but it turned out the game was over.’
After the final exorcism Father Maginot visited the house and blessed it with what he referred to as a ‘more serious blessing.’ He said: ‘This involved incense and salt and Holy Water.’
There were already new tenants in place and they had reported no problems since the priest had ‘sealed’ the portal with salt and blessings following an earlier investigation.
But, he said, he told landlord Charles Reed, ‘If we don’t deal with this now, properly, this will not go away. This will close the portal and seal it.’
Father Maginot is in no doubt that the possession was real and that everything that happened to Latoya and her children and everything that others witnessed was the work of demons – fallen angels, God’s creatures turned against God and against man.
And for all his reluctance the same seems to be true of Capt. Austin. He said: ‘It shook me, everything to do with this. It shook me. This was a situation that was so out of my normal habitat. Did it shake me? Yes to a certain degree it did.
‘You tell me. What do you think happened?’