A woman claims she and her three children were possessed by demons in an astonishing case which saw the involvement of police, children’s services and even a Catholic priest.

Latoya Ammons moved into a nondescript family home in Gary, Indiana, along with her three children and her mother Rosa Campbell in 2011.

Ammons says the family’s ordeal began when swarms of flies started appearing in the porch and quickly escalated from mysterious thumps coming from the basement and muddy footprints appearing on the carpet, to incidents of levitation and violent behaviour.

haunted house

In this police photograph of the Ammons family home, a white figure appears in the right hand window, though officials say the home was unoccupied at the time the picture was taken

The Indianapolis Star has a comprehensive account of the alleged events at the family home, compiled from extensive interviews with Ammons herself, attending police, clergy, psychologists and nearly 800 pages of official records.

The most hair-raising incidents include a description of Ammons’s nine-year-old son walking “backward up a wall to the ceiling”, which was witnessed and recorded by members of the Indiana Department of Child Services, who were investigating allegations of abuse or neglect.

The document, which has been published online, says: “[Redacted child’s name] had the weird grin on his face and began to walk backwards while his grandmother was holding his hand and he walked up the wall backwards while holding his grandmother’s hand and never let go. He flipped over and landed on his feet in front of the grandmother and sat down in the chair.”

When the child was asked to repeat the action in front of an attending doctor, he said he was unable to.

haunted house

The basement of the home, which the family say loud noises emanated from during the night

In desperation Ammons consulted a local clairvoyant who told her the home was “besieged by more than 200 demons” and advised her to build shrines and anoint her children’s foreheads with olive oil crosses.

A Catholic priest also performed a series of "minor" excorcisms. Reverend Michael Maginot then made a formal request to the Bishop of Gary the Most Reverend Dale J Melczek for permission to perform a more powerful, church-sanctioned exorcism. The request was granted, it being the first of its kind in his 21-years at the diocese.

Gary Police Captain Charles Austin told the paper he was sceptical of the claims at first, but later conceded, “I am a believer” and refused to be present in the house after dark.

Indeed among images taken by police, one shows a ghostly figure to the right of the house, though officers say it was uninhabited at the time.

latoya ammons haunted house

Latoya Ammons and three children insist they were possessed by demons

Though a psychological evaluation at a local hospital on behalf of child services declared Ammons to be of sound mind, her children were taken into care for their own safety for six months.

They were returned to her in November 2012 and the case was closed in February 2013. The family has since moved away and has reported no further disturbances.

Clinical psychologists who examined Ammons's children suggested one had become “induced into a delusional system perpetuated by his mother”, while another said one of Ammons’s sons “tended to act possessed when he was challenged, redirected or asked questions he did not want to answer.”

Another recommended Ammons be assessed to “determine whether her religiosity may be masking underlying delusional ideations or perceptual disturbances.”

Of her experiences, Ammons told the paper she believes God helped her through the ordeal, adding: “When you hear something like this, don’t assume it’s not real because I’ve lived it. I know it’s real.”

While Ammons’s story has all the viable ingredients for a horror film, the matter of demonic possession is one taken seriously – at least by the Catholic Church.

Last year the Catholic Church’s leading exorcist said intends to ask Pope Francis to grant all priests the power to perform the ritual amid what he describes as “a huge demand” for the service.

Father Gabriele Amorth, who claims to have carried out 160,000 exorcisms himself, says he was prompted to make the request after witnessing what he insists was the Pope carrying one out in St Peter’s Square in May.

Francis was filmed placing his hands on the head of a boy sitting in a wheelchair after a Pentecost Mass.

father gabriele amorth

Father Gabriele Amorth claims to have performed 160,000 exorcisms himself

The boy, who was accompanied by a priest, appeared to convulse, with his mouth dropping wide open before exhaling deeply. (Scroll down for video.)

The Vatican played down reports Francis had applied the religious practice of evicting demons, with a spokesman claiming the Pope “didn’t intend to perform any exorcism.”

But in an interview with The Sunday Times, Amorth remains adamant an exorcism was carried out and appears to suggest the ritual will help balance the growth of atheism.

He said: “The Pope’s exorcism is a splendid sign because one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the Devil any more. But Jesus said: ‘Who is not with me is with Satan.’ If you don’t believe in Satan, Satan has got you in his pocket.

pope francis performs exorcism

Pope Francis was filmed reportedly performing an exorcism after a Pentecost Mass last year

“The priest told Francis: ‘Look, this is a young man who is possessed by the Devil.’

"And the Pope blessed him and prayed over him, it was a real and proper exorcism. The Pope prayed that the Lord liberate this man. It was a prayer of liberation.”

The 88-year-old, who is the head of the International Association of Exorcists, told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper: "The Pope is also the Bishop of Rome, and like any bishop he is also an exorcist.

"It was a real exorcism. If the Vatican has denied this, it shows that they understand nothing.

"We live in an age in which God has been forgotten. And wherever God is not present, the Devil reigns."

Last year the Catholic diocese of Milan created a special exorcism hotline to cope with demand for the service.

Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese's chief exorcist since 1995, told IncrociNews: "We get many requests for names, addresses and phone numbers; that’s why we’ve set up a switchboard in the curia from Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm.”

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Exorcism is (1) the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice; (2) the means employed for this purpose, especially the solemn and authoritative adjuration of the demon, in the name of God, or any of the higher power in which he is subject.

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  • A photograph of a group gathered at a seance, taken by William Hope (1863-1933). The information accompanying the spirit album states that the table is levitating - in reality the image of a ghostly arm has been superimposed over the table-stand through double exposure. Hope's spirit album photographs use multiple exposure techniques to render the appearance of ghostly apparitions. Hope founded the spiritualist society known as the Crewe Circle and his work was popular after World War One when many bereaved people were desperate to find evidence of loved ones living beyond the grave. Although his deception was publicly exposed by a private investigator in 1922, he continued to practice. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

  • A portrait photograph possibly taken by William Hope (1863-1933). A young woman's face appears as if floating above the sitters, draped in a cloak. Hope may have already held her photograph in his studio, or he may have asked the couple to supply photographs of deceased relatives under the pretence of using the image to contact the spirit world. Hope's spirit album photographs use multiple exposure techniques to render the appearance of ghostly apparitions. Hope founded the spiritualist society known as the Crewe Circle and his work was popular after World War One when many bereaved people were desperate to find evidence of loved ones living beyond the grave. Although his deception was publicly exposed in 1922, he continued to practice. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

  • A photograph by William Hope (1863-1933). A woman's face appears above the couple - identified at the time as the sister of a man prominent in the Spiritualist Church. Her cloak adds to the ethereal effect. The signature in the upper left hand corner is by one of the sitters, to authenticate the plate. The couple are the parents of the person who compiled the spirit album. Hope's spirit album photographs use multiple exposure techniques to render the appearance of ghostly apparitions. Hope founded the spiritualist society known as the Crewe Circle and his work was popular after World War One when many bereaved people were desperate to find evidence of loved ones living beyond the grave. Although his deception was publicly exposed by a private investigator in 1922, he continued to practice. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

  • A photograph of a man, taken by William Hope (1863-1933). A woman's face appears in a 'misty' cloud to the right of the man - identified as that of his deceased first wife. Hope may have already held her photograph in his studio, or he may have asked the man to supply her photograph under the pretence of using the image to contact the spirit world. The signature in the upper left hand corner is the sitter's, authenticating the plate. Hope used multiple exposure techniques to render the appearance of ghostly apparitions. He founded the spiritualist society known as the Crewe Circle and his work was popular after World War One when many bereaved people were desperate to find evidence of loved ones living beyond the grave. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

  • A photograph of Will Thomas, taken by William Hope (1863-1933). A man's face appears in a haze of drapery on the right of the photograph. Thomas, a medium from Wales, did not recognise the superimposed image. Thomas has signed the bottom of the photograph, 'Sincerely Yours Will Thomas' - perhaps this indicates a friendship with Hope. Hope's spirit album photographs use double and even triple exposure techniques to render the appearance of ghostly apparitions around the sitter. Hope founded the spiritualist society known as the Crewe Circle and his work was popular after World War One when many bereaved people were desperate to find evidence of loved ones living beyond the grave. Although his deception was publicly exposed in 1922, he continued to practice. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

  • A photograph of Mrs Bentley, once the President of the British Spiritualists Lyceum Union, taken by Wylie. A superimposed image - that of Mrs Bentley's deceased sister's face - appears at the lower right of the photograph. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

  • A strange visage appears on a piece of cloth next to the head of medium Marthe Beraud (aka Eva C) during a seance, circa 1910. Picture taken from 'Les Phenomenes dits de Materialisation' by Juliette Bisson. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • A couple are terrified by a spectral apparition, circa 1880. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • 1865: A ghostly figure appears to a couple eating their dinner in a country cottage. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series - 225 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

  • circa 1865: The ghost of a woman appears to a girl at prayer by her bedside. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series - 183 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

  • circa 1865: A man clinging to a tree in the face of an apparition in a forest. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series - 72 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

  • circa 1865: An apparition appearing to two country folk in their kitchen. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series - 10 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

  • circa 1865: An apparition causes havoc by menacing two people in their kitchen. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series - 13 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

  • circa 1865: A frightened man praying on his knees to an apparition. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series - 17 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

  • circa 1865: A ghost floating slowly towards a dishevelled man hiding in a corner. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series - 169 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

  • CIRCA 1865: A ghost attacks a man with a sword. Early double-exposure by G. Maerkl. Vienna. Carte-de-visite Photographie. Arond 1865 (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images)

  • If viewed from certain angles, glass on its own can act as a mirror. In the past this was used to create 'ghosts' on stage. The ghost was actually an actor under the stage. An angled plane of glass reflected light from the ghost towards the audience, who would see the ghost but not the glass. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)