Sometime in November of 2011, Latoya Ammons and her children moved into the small, unassumingly quaint house that sat on Carolina Street in Gary, Indiana. Within a short period of having moved in, Latoya began to feel that something strange was also in the house with them.
Clunking footsteps around her house at nights. A shadowy figure pacing around their living room and ghastly swarms of flies that appeared in the dead of winter. There were also reports of mysterious and sudden bouts of rage that seemed to momentarily take control of her children, making them hurt each other.
All of these unexplained occurrences brought an unknown terror to the single mother of three. However, when one of her children levitated off the bed in front of their eyes, the Ammon family knew that what they were dealing with was way beyond their control and frightfully real.
The story of the Ammons family sounds like a plot right out of a horror classic. The Exorcist. The Entity. The Amityville Horror.
However more than anything, the story of the Ammons family resembles those well-researched cases of people and their psychokinetic abilities. The normal, but at the same time, un-normal family dynamics that exist inside the house. The crushing stress that is generated in a house full of hormonal, prepubescent teenagers struggling with drastic physiological and psychological changes. All these things sometimes come together to create the tragically-fantastic set of circumstances we call the Poltergeist Phenomena.
Exorcism: The story behind the story of demonic possession in Gary
A woman and three children who claimed to be possessed by demons. A 9-year-old boy walking backward up a wall in the presence of a family case manager and hospital nurse.
Gary police Capt. Charles Austin said it was the strangest story he had ever heard.
Austin, a 36-year veteran of the Gary Police Department, said he initially thought Indianapolis resident Latoya Ammons and her family concocted an elaborate tale as a way to make money. But after several visits to their home and interviews with witnesses, Austin said simply, “I am a believer.”
Not everyone involved with the family was inclined to believe its incredible story. And many readers will find Ammons’ supernatural claims impossible to accept.
But, whatever the cause of the creepy occurrences that befell the family — whether they were seized by a systematic delusion or demonic possession — it led to one of the most unusual cases ever handled by the Department of Child Services. Many of the events are detailed in nearly 800 pages of official records obtained by The Indianapolis Star and recounted in more than a dozen interviews with police, DCS personnel, psychologists, family members and a Catholic priest.
Furthermore, the family’s story is made only more bizarre because it involves a DCS intervention, a string of psychological evaluations, a police investigation and, ultimately, a series of exorcisms.
“Family possessed by demons.” “Boys speaks in tongues, levitates.”
As skeptics, we’ve developed filters for these types of headlines that flood our inboxes or catches our attention daily. However, every now and then comes along a case that grabs our attention not because of the otherworldly going-on, but rather because of the credible accounts by witnesses who have nothing to gain other than the understanding of what they themselves have witnessed.
When the Indiana Department of Child Services stepped in and began their investigation of the Ammons case, they quickly found that what they were dealing with was unlike anything they had dealt with before. In full view and in front of several DCS workers and a doctor, Latoya’s nine-year-0ld-son managed to crawl up a wall, backward, and flip over his grandmother. Growling, with his eyes, rolled back into their sockets, Latoya’s son was no longer someone she recognized. Her only explanation was of possession. This was the beginning of an 800-page report filed by the DCS workers who like everyone else, were puzzled at the strange happenings inside the house Carolina street. Here is the Intake Officer’s official report on the Ammons case.
However, that did not stop them from further investigating Latoya and the household she kept. In their thorough investigations, they found that the living conditions weren’t an issue and neither was the mental and physical health of all the inhabitants inside the house. What made the DCS officers believe that what they were dealing with was something outside the reasoning of science was the account of one of the nurses who became the unfortunate witness.
an account corroborated by Walker, the nurse — the 9-year-old had a “weird grin” and 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.
“He walked up the wall, flipped over her and stood there,” Walker told The Star. “There’s no way he could’ve done that.”
Later, police asked Washington [case manager] whether the boy had run up the wall, as though performing an acrobatic trick.
No, Washington told them. She said the boy “glided backward on the floor, wall and ceiling,” according to a police report.
Washington did not respond to The Star’s requests for comment.
But she told police she was scared when it happened and ran out of the room. As for Walker, Washington said, “he ran out of the room with me.”
“We didn’t know what was going on,” Walker told The Star. “That was crazy. I was like, ‘Everybody gotta go.’ “
According to Washington’s report, they told a doctor what happened. The doctor, who did not believe them, asked the boy to walk up the wall again.
Walker said he told the doctor he doubted the boy could repeat the feat. “This kid was not himself when he did that,” Walker said.
The boy said he didn’t remember what happened and couldn’t do it, according to Washington’s report.
Walker, who said he previously believed in demons and spirits, thought the boy’s behavior had “some demonic spirit to it” but also was the result of a mental illness.
A police report quoted Washington saying she believed there could be an “evil influence” affecting the family.
To add to the tremendous stress the family was going through, the state decided to take away Latoya’s children, citing the children were all experiencing spiritual and emotional distress.
Looking out for the children’s safety, case manager Washington advised on taking custody of the Ammons children. In total despair, Latoya Ammons sought help from anyone willing to offer. When the hospital’s chaplain stepped in to offer help, her prayers were answered.
In the brisk morning of April 20th, 2012, Reverend Michael Maginot had just started his Bible study class in his living room when his telephone rang. The stranger introduced himself and then proceeded to tell the reverend that his help was needed in the case of demonic possession. A request he thought he’d never hear.
Two days later the reverend visited the residence and spent a couple of hours with Latoya and her children. That’s when strange things began to happen. The Venetian blinds in the kitchen window began to moving and swinging apparently with no current detectable. Then wet footprints appeared all over the living room floor and a flickering bathroom light that would stop once they approached. All those things made the reverend feel that something was definitely haunting the house but when he got to Latoya, he was convinced that demons had actually possessed the woman.
The reports state that when the reverend placed a crucifix on Latoya’s forehead, she began convulsing in a matter that solidified the reverend’s opinion of the Ammons case. He blessed the house by reading passages from his bible and sprinkling holy water throughout. However, before he left, he advised Latoya to stay out of the house.
Days later, Latoya and her mother returned to the house only to let in the DCS case manager and the Lake County police officer that she had asked to accompany her. Two other officers then joined out of curiosity after hearing the rumors of the haunting on Carolina street. The police officers reports detail the layout of the house including the small altars they found and the salt rings that Latoya had placed for protection. They also reported that their electronic equipment began to malfunction. Nothing major occurred during that investigation.
Then the report from Clinical psychologists Stacy Wright and Joel Schwartz came in. In it, both doctors stated that the Ammons children suffered from the pressures and stress of their delusional mother.
“There also appears to be a need to assess the extent to which (Ammons’ daughter) may have been unduly influenced by her mother’s concerns that the family was exposed to paranormal experiences,” Schwartz wrote.
Ammons’ daughter told Schwartz that she saw shadowy figures in the Carolina Street home. She also said she twice went into trances. Ammons’ older son told Schwartz that “doors would slam and stuff started moving around.”
Ammons also was examined several times by psychologists, who said she was “guarded,” but did not seem to be “experiencing symptoms of psychosis or thought disorder.” One psychologist recommended Ammons be assessed to “determine whether her religiosity may be masking underlying delusional ideations or perceptual disturbances.”
These mental evaluations painted a different picture of the Ammons family. On paper, their story read more like abuse and child neglect rather than the supernatural story that the DCS and Police had come to believe. However, the ceasing of supernatural activity in the children only points to the fact that this comes only after the family was separated. In parapsychology, most of the time when a poltergeist agent is separated from turmoil, all paranormal activity ceases. Cases that come to mind are the Rosenheim poltergeist, Tina Resch poltergeist, and the infamous Enfield poltergeist. In these cases, young women had been plagued by supernatural occurrences that were witnessed by many. Once they were removed from the building or the parental figure the terrifying incidents stopped. In some cases, the activity stops right after puberty.
Latoya’s story doesn’t end there. Reverend Maginot performed several exorcisms on her even after having moved to a different city. As for her children, six months after they were separated they have happily rejoined once again. Today the children have stopped talking about the demonic disturbances as their lives regain normalcy. Latoya struggles with the stigma from the horrifying ordeal she experiences when living in the house on Carolina Street.