Vessels of Concealment PT3
PORTAL TO HELL
It’s a tale, they say, that started with big black horse flies in the screened-in porch.
Latoya Ammons moved into the house with her three children (then seven, nine, and twelve, respectively) and her mother, Rosa Campbell, in November 2011. Campbell recalled a profusion of flies that swarmed their porch in December. “This is not normal,” Ammons’ mother, Rosa Campbell, remembers thinking. “We killed them and killed them and killed them, but they kept coming back.”
The oldest son told a child psychologist that doors would slam, and stuff was moving around the home. Latoya claimed the youngest son was lifted and thrown into the bathroom wall. She stated she watched as a demon attacked her daughter as it raised her up off the bed. She also claimed that spirits would come out and keep the children up all night and this was why the DCS had been called. Her children has a history of irregular school attendance since living in the home.
Other events were described as footsteps from the basement stairway, and a creepy creaking of the basement door. The grandmother describes awaking to a shadowy figure which accompanied wet boot prints. And even the priest who came to conduct an exorcism witnessed the wooden floor and the same type muddy prints.
This property has no extreme events which can be found, it’s just a small home with an enclosed porch at 3860 Carolina Street, Gary Indiana. The only issue which I have found is the city as a whole was the onetime “murder capital of the USA”.
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.
Ammons, who swears by her story, has been unusually open. While she spoke on condition her children not be interviewed or named, she signed releases letting The Star review medical, psychological and official records that are not open to the public — and not always flattering.
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.
It’s a tale, they say, that started with flies.
In November 2011, Ammons’ family moved into a rental house on Carolina Street in Gary, a quiet lane lined with small one-story homes. Big black flies suddenly swarmed their screened-in porch in December, despite the winter chill.
“This is not normal,” Ammons’ mother, Rosa Campbell, remembers thinking. “We killed them and killed them and killed them, but they kept coming back.”
There were other strange happenings, too.
After midnight, Campbell and Ammons both said, they occasionally heard the steady clump of footsteps climbing the basement stairs and the creak of the door opening between the basement and kitchen. No one was there.
Even after they locked the door, the noise continued.
Campbell said she awoke one night and saw a shadowy figure of a man pacing her living room. She leaped out of bed to investigate, and found large, wet bootprints.
On March 10, 2012, Campbell said, the family’s unease turned to fear.
It was about 2 a.m. Normally, Campbell, Ammons and her children would have been asleep, but they were mourning the death of a loved one with a group of friends.
Ammons, who was in Campbell’s bedroom, startled everyone by screaming, “Mama! Mama!”
Campbell said she ran into her bedroom, where her then-12-year-old granddaughter and a friend were staying.
Ammons and Campbell said the 12-year-old was levitating above the bed, unconscious.
According to their account of events, Ammons and several others surrounded the girl, praying. Campbell said she remembers being terrified.
“I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Campbell said. ” ‘Why is this happening?’ ”
Eventually, Campbell said, her granddaughter descended onto the bed. The girl woke up with no memory of what happened, Campbell said.
Campbell and Ammons said the people who were visiting that night refused to return.
Campbell says she remembers telling her daughter, “We need help. We need to talk to someone who knows how to deal with it.”
Campbell and Ammons said they didn’t know exactly what “it” was, but they believed it was something supernatural.
They called local churches, but most refused to listen.
Eventually, after listening to Campbell and Ammons talk about the house and visiting it, officials at one church told them the Carolina Street house had spirits in it. They recommended the family clean the home with bleach and ammonia, then use oil to draw crosses on every door and window.
At the church’s suggestion, Ammons said she poured olive oil on her three children’s hands and feet, then smeared oil in the shape of crosses on their foreheads.
Campbell and Ammons also told The Star they reached out to two clairvoyants, who said the family’s home was besieged by more than 200 demons. Their explanation made sense to Campbell and Ammons, they say, because it meshed with their Christian faith.
The best thing you can do is move, Ammons remembers the clairvoyants telling her. But moving wasn’t an option for the cash-strapped family.
Instead, Ammons said she took a clairvoyant’s advice and made an altar in the basement.
Ammons covered an end table with a white sheet, then placed a white candle and statue of Mary, Joseph and Jesus on it. She opened a Bible to Psalm 91.
She said she and another person donned white T-shirts and wound white scarves around their heads.
Also on a clairvoyant’s advice, they burned sage and sulfur throughout the house, starting upstairs and working their way down. The smoke was so thick they could hardly breathe.
Ammons drew a cross with the smoke.
The person she was with read Psalm 91 aloud as they moved through the house:
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.”
Ammons said nothing odd happened for three days. Then, things got worse.
The family said demons possessed Ammons and her children, then ages 7, 9 and 12. The kids’ eyes bulged, evil smiles crossed their faces, and their voices deepened every time it happened, Campbell and Ammons said.
Campbell said the demons didn’t affect her because she was born with protection from evil. She said she, and others like her, have a guardian who protects them.
Ammons said she felt weak, lightheaded and warm when she was possessed. Her body shook, and she said she felt out-of-control.
“You can tell it’s different, something supernatural.”
The youngest boy, then 7, sat in a closet talking to a boy that no one else could see. The other boy was describing what it felt like to be killed.
Campbell said the 7-year-old once flew out of the bathroom as if he’d been thrown, and a headboard once smacked into Ammons’ daughter, causing a wound that needed stitches.
The 12-year-old would later tell mental health professionals that she sometimes felt as if she were being choked and held down so she couldn’t speak or move. She said she heard a voice say she’d never see her family again and wouldn’t live another 20 minutes.
Some nights were so bad the family slept at a hotel.
Finally, in desperation, they went to their family physician, Dr. Geoffrey Onyeukwu, on April 19, 2012. Ammons said she told him what they were going through, hoping he might understand.
Onyeukwu told The Star it was “bizarre.”
“Twenty years, and I’ve never heard anything like that in my life,” he said. “I was scared myself when I walked into the room.”
He said he would not speak in more detail unless Ammons had “psychiatric clearance” for the waiver of confidentiality she had signed.
In his medical notes about the visit, Onyeukwu wrote “delusions of ghost in home” and “hallucinations.” He also wrote “history of ghost at home” and “delusional.”
What Ammons and Campbell say happened next also was detailed in a DCS report of a family case manager’s interviews with medical staff.
Campbell said Ammons’ sons cursed Onyeukwu in demonic voices, raging at him. Medical staff said the youngest boy was “lifted and thrown into the wall with nobody touching him,” according to a DCS report.
The boys abruptly passed out and wouldn’t come to, Campbell added. She cradled one boy in her arms; Ammons held the other.
Someone from the doctor’s office called 911. Onyeukwu said seven or eight police officers and multiple ambulances showed up.
“Everybody was … they couldn’t figure out exactly what was happening,” he recalled.
Police and emergency personnel took the boys to Methodist Hospital’s campus in Gary.
Ammons said hospital personnel laughed at her desire to anoint her sons in olive oil.
“I couldn’t talk to them,” she said, “so I talked to God.”
The boys woke up in the hospital. The older boy, then 9, acted rationally, but the youngest screamed and thrashed, Campbell said.
She said it took five men to hold him down.
Meanwhile, someone called DCS and asked the agency to investigate Ammons for possible child abuse or neglect. The caller, who is not named in the DCS report, speculated that Ammons might have a mental illness. The person believed the children were performing for Ammons, and she was encouraging their behavior.
DCS family case manager Valerie Washington was asked to handle the initial investigation. She gave the following account to police and in her intake officer’s report:
Hospital personnel examined Ammons and her children and found them to be healthy and free of marks or bruises. A hospital psychiatrist evaluated Ammons and determined she was of “sound mind.”
Washington interviewed the family in the hospital.
While she spoke with Ammons, the 7-year-old boy started growling with his teeth showing. His eyes rolled back in his head.
The boy locked his hands around his older brother’s throat and refused to let go until adults pried his hands open.
Later that evening, Washington and registered nurse Willie Lee Walker brought the two boys into a small exam room for an interview. Campbell joined them.
The 7-year-old stared into his brother’s eyes and began to growl again.
“It’s time to die,” the boy said in a deep, unnatural voice. “I will kill you.”
While the youngest boy spoke, the older brother started head-butting Campbell in the stomach.
Campbell grabbed her grandson’s hands and started praying.
What happened next would rattle the witnesses, and to some it would offer not only evidence but proof of paranormal activity.
According to Washington’s original DCS report — 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 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.
Ammons said she spent the night at the hospital with her 7-year-old son while Campbell took Ammons’ daughter and older son to a relative’s home in Gary.
The next day was Ammons’ youngest son’s eighth birthday. Ammons said DCS officials asked Campbell to bring the older children back to the hospital, presumably to talk more about what happened.
The family celebrated the boy’s birthday by singing and eating a miniature cake. Then, Ammons said Washington told them the children wouldn’t be going home.
DCS took the emergency step of taking custody of the children without a court order.
“All of the children were experiencing (sic) spiritual and emotional distress,” Washington wrote in the DCS form.
Ammons told The Star she and her children cried because they didn't want to be separated.
"We'd already been through so much and fought so hard for our lives," she recalled. "It was obvious we were a team, and we were beating it — whatever we were fighting. We made it through together as a team, and they separated us."