What Caused Zak Bagans To Demolish The Indiana House Called ‘Portal To Demons’?
Investigators watched as a child "glided backward on the floor, wall and ceiling."
GARY, IN — Latoya Ammons moved her family into a quaint one-story home on Carolina Street in November 2011 — but were what she believed to be demonic forces that forced her and loved ones to flee in terror just six months later real or products of their overactive imaginations?
The first sign something was terribly wrong came in the form of a swarm of giant black flies that descending on the home’s screened-in porch — despite the cold December weather. “We killed them and killed them and killed them, but they kept coming back,” recalled Ammons’ mom, Rosa Campbell. “This is not normal.”
Neither was their terror on March 10, 2012. At around 2 A.M., the family and some friends they had been hosting were sleeping, when Ammons' 12-year-old daughter began screaming. Campbell said they ran into the little girl’s room and discovered her levitating above the bed. “I thought, ‘What’s going on? Why is this happening?’” said the grandmother, who began praying with Ammons and their guests.
The girl finally descended and regained consciousness, but she didn’t remember a thing — unlike their visitors who couldn’t forget what they saw and refused to ever return.
Another night, said Ammons, she woke up to a figure pacing her living room, but when she sprang up and investigated further, all she found were wet bootprints. And on multiple occasions, the sound of footsteps ascending their basement stairs and the creaking of the door to the kitchen left everyone rattled. Yet, nobody was ever there, and all they could do was make sure the door was kept locked.
Ammons and Campbell decided divine intervention was the only way to deal with what they were certain had to be demonic activity. “We need help. We need to talk to someone who knows how to deal with it,” Campbell recalled telling her daughter at the time.
One church they contacted told them the house was possessed by spirits, and they followed advice to clean it with ammonia and bleach before using oil to mark all their doors and windows with crosses. Ammons then anointed the kids’ hands, feet, and foreheads with the oil.
Still desperate, Ammons and Campbell contacted a clairvoyant, who told them to move because the house was possessed with over 200 demonic entities. Unfortunately, financial issues meant the family couldn’t just abandon the rental property so easily, though they at times stayed in a hotel to escape their circumstances. On the advice of the clairvoyant, they burned sage and built an altar holding statues of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the basement.
With a Bible in hand, Ammons also walked through the home and read Psalm 91: “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.”
The frightened family welcomed a days-long lull in the terror, but, they said, the situation then worsened — and the kids became bigger targets. Campbell said her seven-year-old grandson would occasionally sit in a closet listening to an invisible entity discussing what it was like to die. Another time, he was ejected from a bathroom.
The daughter once needed stitches to close a wound caused by a headboard, and she often felt something was restraining and choking her while in bed.
On April 19, 2012, Ammons and Campbell finally told Dr. Geoffrey Onyeukwu, their family physician, what was happening. “Twenty years, and I’ve never heard anything like that in my life,” the doctor told The Indy Star of the “bizarre" stories he later wrote in medical notes of what he termed the family’s shared “delusions” and “hallucinations.”
One person, concerned mental-health issues were at play and that the Ammons kids may be acting for their mom, then contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services to look into the strange situation. However, Valerie Washington, a DCS manager assigned to the case, told police that Ammons underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was deemed to be of “sound mind.”
Washington additionally noted that one time when she visited with the seven-year-old boy, he began growling, baring his teeth, and choking his older brother while telling him: “It’s time to die” and “I will kill you.”
If the DCS employee harbored any doubts the boys were playacting, she soon changed her mind. According to a report she filed, Washington wrote she and a nurse, Willie Lee Walker, were in a room examining Ammons' nine-year-old son when the boy got a “weird grin” on his face. Washington told police the child “glided backward on the floor, wall and ceiling” and an “evil influence” could be responsible.
“He walked up the wall, flipped over and stood there,” Walker, the nurse, later corroborated in an interview. “There’s no way he could’ve done that.”
Both Washington and Walker ran from the room. “This kid was not himself when he did that,” said Walker. “We didn’t know what was going on. That was crazy. I was like, ‘Everybody gotta go.’”
Even the police had a hard time doubting the veracity of the spooky stories. “I am a believer,” Charles Austin, Gary’s former longtime police captain, said after investigating the Ammons’ unsettling claims, which he initially assumed were invented as a way for Ammons to make some money.
According to Austin, officers who visited the home had their recording devices and other equipment malfunction. One detective heard a faint “hey” whispered on some audio he recorded at the scene.
Photos snapped had strange markings, including what appeared to be a face and silhouettes. After the visit, Austin said, his garage door wouldn’t open and the seat in his Infiniti started moving even though he wasn’t touching the controls.
Still, not everyone was a believer. Clinical psychologist Stacy Wright noted in a report after evaluating the youngest son that “this appears to be an unfortunate and sad case of a child who has been induced into a delusional system perpetuated by his mother and potentially reinforced.”
Joel Schwartz concurred with Wright’s assessment after speaking with the other two children. “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 activity.”
Ammons and the three children, who were temporarily removed from her custody during the DCS investigation, finally abandoned the Carolina Street home in May 2012, just days after the Reverend Michael Maginot visited and called it a “portal to demons.”
Life for the brood returned to normal. “No demonic presences or spirits in the home,” Christina Olejnik, a DCS case manager who followed up with the reunited Ammons, wrote in January 2013. “The family is no longer fixated on religion to explain or cope with he children’s behavior issues.”
Zak Bagans, the host and executive producer of the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, bought the supposedly bedeviled home in 2014 — and demolished it two years later.
“Something was inside that house that had the ability to do things that I have never seen before — things that others carrying the highest form of credibility couldn’t explain either,” Bagans said. "There was something there that was very dark, yet highly intelligent and powerful.”
And Ammons had a warning for paranormal skeptics: “When you hear something like this, don’t assume it’s not real because I’ve lived it,” she said. “I know it’s real.”