Hoosier gateway to the netherworld?
The Indianapolis Star last week presented a fascinating account of a Gary woman and her three children who claimed to be possessed by demons.
The story by reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski included comments by a Catholic priest, the Rev. Michael Maginot, who believed the family was possessed and conducted multiple exorcisms. And a 36-year veteran of the Gary Police Department who investigated the case, Capt. Charles Austin, told Kwiatkowski, I am a believer.
The problems began in 2011, when LaToya Ammons, her mother and her three children moved into a rental home on Carolina Street in Gary. Then, according to Ammons and other family members, strange things began to happen. Huge flies appeared in their screened-in porch during the winter cold; they heard unexplained footsteps on the basement stairs; and they saw shadowy figures in the house.
Ammons’ mother, Rosa Campbell, told of a night she saw her 12-year-old granddaughter levitating above a bed.
Believing the mother was mentally ill and orchestrating the strange events, a caller alerted the Department of Child Services. A DCS caseworker named Valerie Washington took the family to a hospital to have them examined for injuries or abuse.
Both the caseworker and a registered nurse then witnessed something very strange. According to Washington’s DCS report, Kwiatkowski wrote, Ammons’ 9-year-old son was holding Campbell’s hand, wearing a weird grin when he walked backward up a wall to the ceiling. He then flipped over Campbell, landing on his feet. He never let go of his grandmother’s hand. Frightened, the caseworker and a registered nurse who also witnessed the scene ran out of the examination room.
Soon afterward, the DCS took Ammons’ children away from her. The agency had Ammons examined by psychologists and told her to stop encouraging her kids to believe in demons.
Now, the family is back together and living in Indianapolis. Whether because of DCS’ interventions or Maginot’s exorcisms, the family is now demon-free.
Possession or overworked imaginations? Kwiatkowski told an interviewer she doesn’t know, though she believes the people she talked with were sincere.
Kwiatkowski tweeted that reactions to the piece have included requests from at least 12 movie producers, countless TV shows and 100s of emails, tweets and calls. Another reaction: Zak Bagans, host of the Ghost Adventures TV show on The Travel Channel, paid $35,000 for the house.