In an exclusive Register interview, Father Michael Maginot discusses his role in serving as an exorcist to help an Indiana family who appeared to be afflicted by demonic possession.
It was the most bizarre situation in 30 years of his priesthood, according to Father Michael Maginot of St. Stephen Martyr Church in Merrillville, Ind. He was asked to save a family from demons.
LaToya Ammon's three children, a daughter, 12, and two sons, 9 and 7, often reported feeling sick at their Gary, Ind., school. Sometimes blood mysteriously showed up in their mouths, ears and noses. The school nurse reported the situation to Child Protective Services (CPS). The children, their mother and grandmother, Rosa Campbell, who lived together in a rented house, insisted there was no abuse. Instead, the family reported that they were victims of demonic attacks. No one believed them. But then, a nurse and CPS worker witnessed the older boy walk backwards up a wall in the hospital where he was waiting to be examined by a psychiatrist.
Father Maginot sat down with the Register to share his account of these disturbing events.
How did you get involved?
I received a phone call on Friday morning, April 20, 2012, during a Bible study in my living room. It was the chaplain from Methodist Hospital. “We need an exorcism. Can you get down here right away?” he asked me. “People ran out of a room after they saw a boy walking backwards up a wall. They called me, and I’m calling you.”
I was not an exorcist, but I knew there needed to be an investigation before anything could be done. There was nothing I could do right then, and I did not want to leave in the middle of the Bible study. I offered to investigate if the family contacted me. They called me the very next day. Their children had been taken away.
What had been happening to the Ammon family?
The Ammon family had gone to their physician out of desperation, not knowing what to do about the strange behaviors and occurrences in their family. The children went into trances and spoke with demonic voices, reported being choked, levitated and were thrown into things. The youngest boy claimed to see another little boy who visited with him in a closet. No one else saw the visitor, who would talk about what it was like to be dying or getting killed.
At the doctor’s office, the boys growled and cursed in demonic voices. The medical staff saw the youngest one thrown into a wall. Then the boys passed out. An ambulance and police were called to take the children to the Methodist hospital. Then CPS was also called to investigate LaToya for suspected mental illness or abuse of the children.
The oldest boy woke up at the hospital, but the younger one screamed and acted like [he was] in a trance. He was waiting in the psychiatrist’s office with his grandmother when he walked up the wall backwards, then flipped over his grandmother and landed on his feet. The nurse and CPS worker ran from the room. When the psychiatrist came in, he tried to get the boy to do it again, but it was impossible, and the boy could not even remember doing it.
What was your first meeting with the family like?
LaToya and her mother were staying with a relative, but they agreed to meet me at the house the next day, Sunday, at 6pm to tell me their story. Both women were Baptist and said they never dabbled in anything occult. The mother never missed church on Sundays, and LaToya sometimes went.
They told me their story. It all started when the family moved into the house in November 2011. The first day, something strange happened. There were horseflies everywhere in their screened-in porch, even though it was almost winter. They cleaned them up, but then, for several more days, there were flies again. In the basement, sand appeared all over the floor — around two buckets full.
One time, the grandmother woke up at 3am and saw the shadow of someone in her house. The next morning, she checked to see if anything was taken, but only saw muddy boot prints that seemed to come from the basement. Later, the family would sometimes hear footsteps coming up from basement. Sometimes there was knocking on the door or growling like a dog, but, when it was opened, nothing was there.
The family started getting sick. The kids were waking up with bloody gums, noses and ears. Sometimes they went to school, and there would be blood, but the school nurse would find no reason for it. At one point, the grandmother saw the daughter levitate over her bed then fall back down.
Family and friends were afraid to come to the house. LaToya and her mother could not afford to move. They asked people from their church to help, but they refused. A group from a charismatic church agreed to come to pray. A lady with the group, who said she was clairvoyant, claimed there were 200 demons in the basement. She ran from the house, with the others following close behind.
Around Easter time, everyone was watching TV, and a Febreze bottle lifted in front of them. It was thrown into the mother’s bedroom, smashing her lamp. When they got up to look, a black figure looked out at them from an open closet. The mother yelled for everyone to pack some clothes and get out of the house. They stayed in a hotel that night; then LaToya’s brother agreed to take them in.
Did anything strange happen when you were there?
Yes, around 8:30pm. It was then that LaToya told me that things got much worse, right after her ex-boyfriend came by the house in March. He said he wanted to give something to the boys. He gave them both $5 to remind them to be good and said the girl did not need anything to be good.
I said I wanted to know more about the boyfriend, and that’s when a series of interruptions occurred. The bathroom light flickered. Every time I went to investigate, it stopped, but started again when I walked away. “Well, I guess it’s scared of me,” I said. Then it started flickering again, as if in defiance.
I ignored it and said, "Let’s get back to the boyfriend." That’s when the Venetian blinds in the kitchen started to sway back and forth. The strings for pulling them up were perfectly still; just the blinds swayed. The swaying kept the same speed, then the swaying went from window to window, room to room.
What do you think the ex-boyfriend had to do with any of this?
Maybe he put a curse on the mother. He had once asked her for an article of underwear as a souvenir. Around that time, LaToya also had a family picture disappear from her album, and a pair of her shoes disappeared. Personal items are often used in curses against a person.
LaToya received an angry phone call from a woman who said she was the boyfriend’s wife. LaToya said she never knew he was married and was going to break up with him anyway. The lady warned her that she was going to be very sorry that she ever had anything to do with him.
Days later, when the police were investigating with me, we found a place under the steps in the basement where the concrete was broken up, and a number of items were buried, including boys’ socks with the feet cut out and a woman’s underwear.
At the end of the interview that night, I put a crucifix on LaToya, and she began to convulse. I realized that she had an aversion to holy things. “You are possessed,” I told her.
She looked embarrassed and said, “I know.” I held the crucifix on the grandmother, and nothing happened. She said she was never personally bothered by evil, except one time in the basement [when] something had tried to choke her.
Once you completed the investigation, what was the next step?
I did a major house blessing with blessed salt and incense in every room. LaToya and her mother were able to move into a new apartment in Indianapolis. I also did a minor exorcism on LaToya — this is a matter of going through the rite just one time, and it does not need permission from the bishop. Afterwards, she began having horrible nightmares involving the ex-boyfriend, so I knew we needed something more.
My bishop (Bishop Dale Melczek of Gary, Ind.) gave me permission to do a major exorcism. The difference is that it has the backing of the Church and allows me to spend more time during the rite, focusing on areas that seem to be getting a response. I consulted with two exorcists from Chicago and Indiana. The one from Indiana was willing to help the family, but LaToya did not want to start all over with another investigation.
We scheduled the exorcism for June. I had two police officers in case we needed restraint and a parishioner to help me with the rite, to respond to the prayers. Everything went smoothly, and LaToya did not seem to react. Sometimes a demon can play possum and not respond; but after the exorcism, LaToya could hold blessed objects. I gave her a Benedictine cross and a rosary. After she left in her car, we found the rosary in the parking lot in pieces. LaToya called me later and said she could not find the rosary, which she had put in her purse. Her nightmares continued.
Where did you go from there?
We set up another session. I felt we needed to up the ante and find out the demon’s name. She had once been on a friend’s computer looking for help and came across a website of demon names that explained the things each one did. She said every time she got to the description of the things that were happening in her home and went to the name, the computer would shut down. I went to the website and printed out all the names, and LaToya pointed out two that she thought were the ones.
During the next exorcism, I went through the rite, and LaToya violently convulsed every time I used one of the two demon names. I could see it was getting angrier and angrier, but then it began weakening, until she fell asleep. I concluded the rite with praising God, and LaToya fell asleep. When she woke up, we returned the rosary to her that my assistant had put back together.
We scheduled another exorcism around Father’s Day, to use the other demon name. LaToya asked me to do the Latin rite. I went back and forth praising God and condemning the demon. LaToya does not know Latin, but she was quiet during the time of praise and convulsed during every condemnation. It was weakening, and by the time of the closing prayer, LaToya went to sleep. When she awoke, she said she felt fine.
I never heard from her again, until last month, when a reporter got a tip on the story and contacted LaToya. She called me and apologized for not contacting me sooner to let me know how she was doing and to thank me.
The children were back with her, and she said they were happy and doing well in school. Once LaToya was taken care of, all the problems with the kids disappeared.
Even though the story only became public Jan. 26, is it true there are already plans for a movie and documentary?
Yes, I’m going to do both because they can work hand in hand. I will stipulate having final say to sign off on the script. It has to be loyal to the true story. The truth is crazy enough. Tony DeRosa-Grund, who produced the movie The Conjuring, is taking it around to different movie companies now. I signed a contract with Zak Bagans for the documentary. He produced The Ghost Adventures for TV.
As far as the money that will come from it, I’ll have to think of charities to donate to. I like my life the way it is; I don’t need it. The most important thing is to get this information out, so people will take this stuff seriously and know that God and evil are real.
Register correspondent Patti Armstrong writes from North Dakota.