By Sharon Hill
I recall it was a Sunday (Jan 26) when the story of Latoya Ammons and her three children appeared on the Indianapolis Star news website. I had a feeling it was going to be a popular story and wrote it up right away on Doubtful News. It was clear to me from the detailed piece by journalist Marisa Kwiatkowski that the case contained some serious flaws.
It sounded just like a Hollywood movie. Dramatic behavior was described by the police, a priest and health professionals who were disturbed by the case. Yet, as with almost all of these astounding cases, we see described the typical behaviors related to “possession” (none of which have ever been verified other than by religious believers to be actual demon possession). We are offered many eyewitness reports and opinions but no solid evidence of bizarre events - no photos or videos. The witnesses who describe the events, especially Ammons herself, hold a belief in the reality of the supernatural. Even the police interpreted events in a paranormal light, seemingly swallowing the stories they were told at face value. A sense of religiosity in the victims’ daily lives is apparent. A credulous priest encouraged the belief in demons and performed an exorcism. The story snowballed.
Kwiatkowski revisited the circumstances around publishing the story which became the “most-read piece in The Indianapolis Star's history.”
Why did it strike a chord with so many people who were fascinated and frightened by the story of the house from Hell?