|THE CULTS 'R US HIT LIST|
Killer cults tend to be led by charismatic megalomaniacs who pit themselves and their churches against the rest of the world. They are usually apocalyptic visionaries drunk with lust and power that have physical and sexual control over their followers. In most cases their beliefs stem from twisted interpretations of established doctrines. These self-proclaimed divinities usually amass a large arsenal of weapons before bringing forth their personal day of reckoning. The cults are listed according to number of kills associated with them. Check the morgue for the latest doomsday prophecy.
Reverend Jim Jones & The People's Temple (900+) Jim Jones, the son of a Klansman, considered himself the reincarnation of both Jesus and Lenin. He was also endowed with a huge penis which he used repeatedly in the name of Christ. Jim had visions of an impending nuclear holocaust in which only the towns of Ukiah, California and Belo Horizonte, Brazil would survive. With that in mind, he relocated his first People's Temple to Ukiah to await the Armageddon.
Tired of waiting for the third world war, he moved his church to San Francisco where he received numerous humanitarian awards and became the Chairman of the city's Housing Authority. It was there that he first practiced a ritual called "White Nights" in which he prepared his followers for an act of revolutionary suicide to protest racism and fascism.
By 1977, as things started getting weirder, he was forced to move his church to Guyana, South America. There, in the isolation of the jungle, Jimmy created his dream community, Jonestown, and lost his mind. Jim's nirvana rapidly deteriorated into a nightmare which he knew of only one way to end.
On November 18, 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan from San Francisco went on a fact-finding mission investigating alleged human rights abuses at Jonestown. After only a day at the jungle compound, a member tried to stab Ryan. The injury was minor, but Ryan decided to leave with his party and 18 temple members who wanted to to return to the United States. Other members of the cult followed the group to the airstrip and opened fire, killing Ryan, three journalists, and one of the departing members. Eleven others were injured.
Hours later, the good reverend ordered his followers to drink from a tub of grape-flavored Fla-Vor-Aid laced with potassium cyanide and tranquilizers. All 900+ did. Children died first; babies were killed by poison squirted into their mouths with a syringe. Then the adults. Most were poisoned, some forcibly. Some were shot by security guards. As the ritual suicide progressed, it is unclear whether Jim put a bullet through his brain, or someone did it for him.
Within a few months of the mass deaths, other People's Temple members who had survived also committed suicide, with one mother slitting the throats of her three children. A year later, ex-People's Temple members Jeanne and Al Mills and their daughter Linda, who had been speaking out about their cult experience, were shot to death in their Berkeley, CA home. They had become among the most vocal People's Temple critics and feared for their safety.
When the bodies came back home, many could not be identified. Several cemeteries refused to take them until the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland stepped forward in 1979 and accepted 409 bodies. The remaining victims had been cremated or buried in family cemeteries.
Jonestown itself has all but vanished, stripped by villagers and consumed by a fire in the early 1980s. Some believe that Jimmy was linked to the CIA and that the Jonestown massacre was in fact a mind control experiment. If it was, it was a total success. Years later, serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed that he did indeed personally delivered the cyanide to his "good friend, Jim Jones."
Every year, on November 18, a memorial is held at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California, where 260 People's Temple children are buried. Due to the lack of dental records, the children were never able to be identified and thus were buried together there. On the 20th anniversary of the mass suicide, Liz Aguirre, president of Ultraseal International, hand-delivered a $5,000 check to finance a Vietnam memorial-type 20-foot wall to be erected in the cemetary. The black, granite panels of the memorial will have the names and ages of the victims inscribed as well as a dedication written by poet Maya Angelou.
Witch Killers in Congo (800) Since June 15, 2001, over 800 suspected witches were hacked to death in villages in rebel-held northeastern Congo. "Villagers were saying that some people had bewitched others, and they started lynching them. By the time we discovered this, 60 people had already been killed by early last week. About 200 people lost their lives," Brig. Henry Tumukunde said.
Ugandan troops -- who had been in northeastern Congo since 1998 in support of a rebellion against the Congolese government but had been evacuated earlier in the year -- were sent back to the area to stop the killings. The killings began in Aru, 50 miles south of Sudan on the Ugandan border, but have quickly spread throughout northeastern Congo. Diseases and other troubles endemic to the region were being blamed on witchcraft which in turn led to the rampaging violence.
Indonesian Witch Hunters (140+) Since September, 1998, more than 153 people have been murdered in East Java by groups of men clad in black wearing Ninja-style masks. The victims have been mostly Muslim clerics, black magicians and other people accused of sorcery.
The killers have struck against the sorcerers at night, cutting their throats and sometimes hanging their mutilated bodies in trees or tossing them in the street. Victims sometimes have been cut into small pieces and their body parts thrown into mosques.
Shocked by the mysterious murders, Indonesia's justice minister proposed outlawing black magic. In scenes reminiscent of the Salem witch hunts, mobs have also attacked and killed people suspected of being black magicians. Police have arrested more than 100 suspects, but acknowledge there's no clear motive for the grisly slayings.
Justice Minister Muladi blamed the mayhem on the sorcerers themselves and said that anyone who openly claims they can kill or hurt others with black magic should be punished. "That would be one way to resolve the witchcraft issue," added Muladi.
The commander of the Indonesian armed forces said that he had ordered police to bring an end to the mayhem According to Lieutenant-Colonel Isnarno, lynchings have increased as locals, tired of the failure of the police to solve the killings, have started to attack anyone suspected of being involved in the murder spree. Police say at least 10 murder suspects have been killed in east Java alone.
Indonesia's military -- though suspected of being involved in the killings -- has pledged to solve the mystery behind the wave of gruesome murders asap. Analysts have pointed to the butchery as another sign of the lawlessness that hit Indonesia after the economic and political crisis that led to the downfall of President Suharto in May.
David Koresh & ATF (90) On February 28, 1993, when the Storm Troopers of the ATF tried to enter the Branch Davidian compound in the outskirts of Waco, Texas, Dave and the gang answered with a rain of lead killing four ATF agents. Koresh, a failed rock'n roller turned doomsday prophet and poster boy for the NRA resisted the ATF siege that followed for fifty-one days. He also promised to bring forth a fiery apocalypse for all those with him in the compound.
On April 19, 1993, he delivered. As the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, under the lead of Bob Ricks launched their assault, the compound broke out in flames killing eighty-six people inside. The government claimed that Koresh ignited the flames and had the compound booby-trapped so it would go up in a fireball. Some, like the recently infamous Michigan Militia, believe the Feds and Attorney General Janet Reno were completely responsible for the deaths of Koresh and his fellow charred Branch Davidians.
It is said that Webster Hubbell, Vince Foster and Hillary Clinton ran the whole Waco siege from the White House. Many think Waco was behind the death of Vince Foster. Then there is the FBI director William Sessions who was fired the day after Vince Foster is dead. Davidian lawyer Dick Degarrin was a law school friend of Sessions. William Sessions said on ABC Barbara Walters show that Dick called him and convinced him to come down and talk to Koresh directly to end the siege. As soon as the White House found out he was put under "House arrest" in his office and fired and Vince Foster died all in the same couple of days. This all sounds a little to connected for me.
Order of the Solar Temple(74) As the millennium rapidly approaches, this apocalyptic eurotrash cult has claimed 74 victims in three bizarre mass suicide rituals. Strangely, most of the members of the sect seem to be highly educated and well-to-do individuals. The Order itself stems from the Knights of Templar, a secretive medieval organization founded by French crusaders in Jerusalem. How it became a New Age Yuppie Suicide machine, remains a mystery.
The Temple came to prominence on October 5, 1994, when 53 people committed murder-suicide simultaneously in several chalets in Switzerland and Canada. The two known leaders of the group, Luc Jouret, a Belgian New Ageist homeopathic doctor, and Joseph di Mambro, a wealthy businessman, were among the dead in Switzerland. Investigators have been trying to find out who took over from the Jouret and Di Mambro. French police say the new leader could be Michel Tabachnika, a Swiss orchestra conductor. The conductor has denied press reports that he is a cult member, however, his wife died in the 1994 murder-suicide ritual in the Swiss village of Cheiry.
The cult seems to give great importance to the sun. Their fiery ritual murder-suicides are meant to take members of the sect to a new world on the star "Sirius." To assist with the trip, several of the victims, including some children, are shot in the head, asphyxiated with black plastic bags and/or poisoned. Luc and Joseph wrote, in a letter delivered after their deaths that they were "leaving this earth to find a new dimension of truth and absolution, far from the hypocrisies of this world."l
A second mass suicide ritual ocurred about a week before Christmas in 1995. On December 23, on a remote plateau of the French Alps police found 16 charred bodies arranged in a star formation with their feet pointing to the ashes of a fire. Like the rituals of 1994, they all died by stabbing, asphyxiation, shooting and/or poisoning. Their bodies were burned to a crisp as part of a cleansing ritual.
A week before discovering the bodies, Swiss and French authorities suspected the worst when the 16 cult members disappeared from their homes. Some left behind handwritten notes expressing their intentions of committing mass suicide. One of the notes stated: "Death does not exist, it is pure illusion. May we, in our inner life, find each other forever." Two of the dead were the wife and son of French ski champion and millionaire eye wear manufacturer, Jean Vuarnet.
In March 23, 1997 five more dead bodies were found in a burned house owned by Didier Queze, a member of the Order, in St. Casimir, Quebec. The bodies of four cultist, Didier, her husband and another couple, were found in a bed upstairs positioned in what may have been intended to be the shape of the cross. The mother of Didier was found dead on a sofa downstairs with a plastic bag over her head. Unlike earlier suicides in which adults killed their children, the three teen-age children of the cultist couple were spared.
Apparently the teen-agers woke up the day before the suicide to discover their parents and their cultist friend had placed propane tanks, electric hot plates and fire-starters on the main floor of the two-story house and were trying to burn down the place. Realizing what was happening the teenagers expressed their disapproval and negotiated with their parents to be spared. However, Fanie Queze-Goupillot, 14, and her brothers Tom, 13, and Julien, 16, agreed to take sleeping pills before their parents' fiery death and went to sleep in a workshop near the house. "The children were given medication, but they knew that when they woke up their parents and grandmother would be dead."
Heaven's Gate (40) The only "doomsday-cult-web-design-team" of the Archives. On March 26, 1997, 39 members of "Heaven's Gate" decided to "shed their containers" and get on a companion craft hiding in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet. The resulting mass suicide of 21 women and 18 men, ages 26 to 72, all sporting buzzcuts, dressed alike in trendy black pants, oversized shirts, and brand new black Nikes, was unlike any other mass suicide in the Archives. The dead, discovered by two sheriff deputies after an anonymous tip, were found in an antiseptic multi-million dollar mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, an exclusive community north of San Diego. They were all lying on their backs on cots and bunkbeds throughout the mansion covered with triangular purple shrouds with their hands to their sides in a prone position. Officers at the scene said it appeared, "as if they had fallen asleep."
The Heaven Gaters died in three shifts over a three-day period after celebrating their last meal on earth at a Marie Callender's in Carlsbad. 15 cultist died the first day, 15 the second and the remaining nine the third day. As one set of cultist ingested the poison, a lethal dose of phenobarbital mixed in with pudding and/or applesauce and chased with a shot of vodka, they would lie down and another cultist would use a plastic bag to speed up the dying. A frighteningly anal-retentive mass suicide, the cultist would clean up after each round of killing. Before the last two killed themselves, they took out the trash leaving the rented mansion in perfect order. Wanting to be helpful even after dead, all bodies had some sort of identification. Strangely, though, they also had five-dollar bill and change in their pockets and small suitcases neatly tucked under the cots and beds.
In their own special blend of millennial prophecy, the Heaven Gaters -- after watching too many episodes of the "X-Files" -- decided that, after 20 years of waiting, a spaceship flying behind the Hale-Bopp comet was finally coming to pick them up. As the Heaven's Gate web site cryptically states, "The joy is that our Older Member in the Evolutionary Level above human has made it clear to us that Hale-Bopp's approach is the 'marker' we've been waiting for. ... Our 22 years of classroom here on planet Earth is finally coming to conclusion 'graduation' from the Human Evolutionary Level. We are happily prepared to leave 'this world' and go with Ti's crew."
Ti refers to Bonnie Lu Trusdale a cofounder of the cult who died of cancer in 1985. The cult first surfaced as the "UFO Cult" in 1975 when Marshall H. Applewhite, a sexually confused music teacher and opera singer, met Nettles who was working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital where Applegate was looking for a cure for his homosexual impulses. Years later, together with seven other members of the cult, Applegate was surgically castrated leading one to believe that he finally took care of those "bothersome instincts."
At first Trusdale and Applewhite became known as "The Two." They survived nomadically under different -- yet colorful -- names: "The Him and the Her Cult," "Bo and Peep," "Ti and Do, "Human Individual Metamorphosis," "H.I.M.," "Total Overcomers Anonymous," "Computer Nomads" "Higher Source," and finally, "Heaven's Gate." At one point they managed to amass more than 200 members as they crisscrossed the country holding meetings in public places, promising followers celestial bliss and a ride in a UFO. There was even a TV movie made about them called The Mysterious Two, starring John Forsythe and Phyllis Pointer. Prophetically, in a 1979 book called "Messengers of Deception," Jacques Valee quoted a woman who had met "The Two" saying: "These two people are dangerous. It is not hypnosis. It is thought transplant." (Thanks to our friends at 60 Greatest Conspiracies for digging up this little tidbit)
Heaven's Gate, and it's business branch, Higher Source, existed as a new-age blend of Christianity and ufology. In their last incarnation they proudly supported themselves by making web sites at cut-rate prices. In their web site, dubbed by Time Magazine the most elaborate suicide note in history, they state that suicide was wrong for nonmembers but an acceptable way for cult members to ascend to a higher level of life. There are other references throughout the site to the sieges at Waco, Texas, Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Adding fuel to the millennial mix, a purpose statement the group obliquely links a philosophy of bodies moving on to other levels to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Allegedly Do claimed to have been born in a different planet and that his mission on earth was the same as that of Jesus. In a bizarre recruiting tape with messianic overtones Applewhite -- looking very much like My Favorite Martian with bugged-out eyes -- states that, "the planet is about to be recycled. The last chance to survive or evacuate is to leave with us."
In the Higher Source Web site, the group proudly proclaims that they are a sophisticated web site design company that offers programming, systems analysis, and computer security services, as well as Java and VRML. "We at Higher Source not only cater to customizing Web sites that will enhance your company image, but strive to make your transition into the 'world of cyberspace' a very easy and fascinating experience." Tom Goodspeed, manager of the San Diego Polo Club, who had the group design their Web site thought the did "excellent work" and were "very talented. "They were some of the most pleasant people I've ever worked with." Others thought they were harmless "space cadets."
The section "The Difference" in the Higher Source Web site states: "The individuals at the core of our group have worked closely together for over 20 years. During those years, each of us has developed a high degree of skill and know-how through personal discipline and concerted effort. We try to stay positive in every circumstance and put the good of a project above any personal concerns or artistic egos. By sustaining this attitude and conduct, we have achieved a high level of efficiency and quality in our work."
On May 6, 1997, two more members fo the cult decided to "exit their vehicles" and join their classmates and teachers in an Encinitas Holiday Inn Express four miles from the cult's Rancho Santa Fe mausoleum. One died, the other was found unconscious and is now in critical condition in Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas.
The two men were found with small tote bags next to them, dressed in star trekking black, wearing black Nikes, with purple shrouds next to them, and five dollar bills in their pockets. Wayne Cooke of Las Vegas was found dead with a plastic bag on his head. Chuck Humphrey of Denver was still alive with a plastic bag near him suggesting that he had second thoughts about dying. Like those who went before, they both ingested phenobarbital washed down with vodka.
Cooke, who's wife was among the 39 cultist who committed suicide in March, said in an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes: "I wish I had the strength to have stuck it out and gotten stronger and continued to be a part of that crew." On his videotaped "exit statement" which was sent to family members and CNN, the star-crossed cultist said he wanted to "assure people, number one, that I'm sane and I'm happy. I want very much to join my classmates and my teachers ... I've never doubted my connection with them." He concluded his comments by saying "Goodbye" with a smile.
At a San Diego news conference after the March mass suicide, Humphrey, 56, said, "I left the group because it had been 15 years, because many of the things we were told were going to happen didn't... I got tired of waiting." In his "exit statement" he erroneously states: "By now you should be aware that I ... too have exited my vehicle... I do not pretend to have accomplished my task of overcoming this human vehicle and gaining the degree of control I would have liked, but nonetheless, I know who I am and that I must go back with them whether I am ready or not... I'd rather gamble on missing the bus this time than staying on this planet and risk losing my soul." Sadly for him, he both missed the bus and lost his soul.
According to Dick Joslyn, a former cultist, Humphrey had grown frustrated by the lack of attention given to the group's ideas. "He was a little discouraged by the inability to get the word out. He made it clear to me that when his work was done, he would go too. Humphrey, one of the brains behind the Higher Source web design team, "was supposed to spread information about the 'next level' and maintain the Internet site." Apparently, when someone "commandeered" the site, he tried to kill himself.
Crocodile Men From Congo (33) Six tribal chiefs believed by villagers and police to possess a mystical ability to turn themselves into crocodiles have been arrested for killing 33 people. One suspect, a chief of Buma village in Bandundu province, about 330 miles from the capital of Kinshasa, confessed to killing and eating five people, Voice of the People radio station quoted police as saying.
Those under arrest have been identified by their community as belonging to a witch gang whose members villagers believe are able to transform themselves into crocodiles, and who have been blamed for 33 deaths in the area since 1995.
Police made the arrests based on allegations made by a Buma fisherman who claimed he was banished from his village by "crocodile men" because they believed he could identify them. The fisherman told police that he narrowly escaped an attack by the men -- monsters with human legs, faces and hands but other crocodile features below the waist.
Jombola Cult (30+) The mystical Jombola cult, believed to be made up of more than 300 men and women, surfaced in the war-ravaged regions of the southern part of Sierra Leone three months after the signing of the November, 1996, peace accord between the government and the rebel Revolutionary United Front. Operating in the southern districts of Bo, Pujehun and Bonthe, the cult has carved along its way a path of death and destruction.
"We are not exactly sure how many people have been killed by cult members who clearly have supernatural powers," said Pa Santigie Murray Kawa, a 60-year-old resident of Lugbu chiefdom in Bo. Reports state that at least 30 innocent people have died at their hands. The Jombolas are believed to possess the power to transform themselves into bats, cats, dogs and other creatures before wrecking havoc on villages. Terrified residents of the troubled areas have remarked that the sight of the transformed cult members when they are going on their military operations, mesmerizes their victims.
According to a captured 25-year-old cultist, the Jombolas have a political agenda. "Our objective is to overthrow the government and the local hunters' militia -- Kamajors -- and we are doing this not only by force of arms, but through the power of the dark."
Analysts believe that the brewing conflict between the Jombolas and the Kamajors is a battle for supremacy in the wake of the weakening of the national army. Both groups are said to possess mystical powers. The Kamajors' mystical powers have been revered in the country, especially in their fight against the RUF rebels. "The vacuum created by the government army's impotence in holding the rebels at bay, the rising power of the Kamajors, and in fact, the general chaos that has followed the six-year long war, combine to explain the emergence of the Jombolas," opines political analyst Desmond Williams of the University of Sierra Leone.
According to a captured member, the cult's leader, Pa Kujah, "lives in the southern town of Yambama. About 52 of us were recently initiated, and this number included 25 women." Although thse women are members of the cult, their role appears to be that of sex objects to entice victims. "We use our womenfolk to overpower male victims, often sexually."
The Church Of The Lamb Of God (24+) Led by neo-polygamist Fundamentalist Mormon patriarch Ervil LeBaron, this tribe of killers (many of them his wives and children) murdered at least 20 people -- mostly rival polygamists and other fringe Mormons -- over a 20-year period. LeBaron himself died in prison in 1981, but the killings were continued by his followers for years after his death.
Aaron LeBaron became the sect's high priest after his father's death. Like father like son; Aaron soon got into trouble with the law. In June 1988, as a "blood atonement" ceremony for leaving the cult, Mark Chynoweth and his brother Duane Chynoweth were shot to death in Houston, and Edward Marston was killed simultaneously in Dallas. A young girl was also murdered for witnessing one of the slayings. According to Ervil's Lamb of God 510-page tome, anyone leaving the cult had to be killed before believers could inherit God's kingdom on Earth.
In 1996 Aaron was arrested near the cult's colony in northern Mexico. A year later, on March 1997, he was convicted by a Houston court of directing the 1988 slayings of the three sect defectors and the girl. The jury also found him guilty of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, conspiracy to obstruct religious beliefs, racketeering conspiracy and racketeering. However, the murder-for-hire conviction was overturned.
On June 13, 1997, Aaron was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the killings and the racketeering charges. LeBaron was also ordered to pay $134,000 in restitution to help pay for the victims' funerals. All in all it seems to us that Aaron got away with a light sentence for orchestrating four deaths. As Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Shelby said after the sentencing, "His father created a monster called the Church of the Lamb of God, but Aaron LeBaron gave that monster direction."
In a rambling statement in court, LeBaron said he wanted to get a degree in journalism while in jail and tell the public how to prevent crime. Three other cult members are already serving life sentences for their roles in the slayings. Authorities are still seeking LeBaron's half-sister, Tarsa LeBaron, who is believed to be hiding in Mexico or Belgium.
Here at the archives we have recieved the following e-mail from Aaron's younger sister, Jessica leBaron:
Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo & Sara Aldrete (24) Constanzo, a Cuban-American bisexual cult leader and male model, managed a drug smuggling ring in Matamoros, Mexico. He and Sara Aldrete, his college-student-gone-cult-priestess partner, were very successful in the drug trade because of their habit of ritually sacrificing their competition. Through sacrifice, Constanzo preached, they would be invisible to their enemies. Constanzo himself was fond of wearing necklaces made out of human vertebrae for protection. Once one of the members of the cult who got into a fight in a bar, pulled a severed finger out his pocket to scare away his attackers.
Their gig ran afoul when they decided what they needed was to kill a gringo. They abducted Mark Kilroy, a college student on spring break, and killed him in their border ranch called Santa Elena. There his body was dismembered and his heart, genitals and spine were used to make a magic stew. The disappearance of Kilroy triggered an all out police search around the border. Authorities were alerted of the weird rituals practiced in Rancho Santa Elena. As the digging in the ranch began a large number of dismembered bodies started appearing and several members of the cult were arrested.
Previously no one cared about the missing drug dealers figuring there were victims of a drug war. However, once the gringo was sacrificed, the group was put on the run. By the time the bodies in Matamoros were found Constanzo and Aldrete were hiding in an apartment in Mexico City. Police discovered their hideaway and surrounded the apartment. After a brief exchange of gunfire Constanzo ordered another cult member to kill him and his boyfriend. When police stormed into the apartment they found the embracing couple machine-gunned to death inside a closet. His college-student-gone-cult-priestess girlfriend, Sara Aldrete is now in jail in Mexico where she gives totally schizophrenic interviews.
Shoko Asahara & Aum Supreme Truth (18+) This apocalyptic sect and its charismatic, blind leader are suspected of releasing Sarin gas in five Tokyo subway stations the morning of March 20, 1995, killing 12 people (one dying a year after the attack) and sickening more than 5,500 others. The religious cult is also suspected of a similar gas attack in June, 1994 in Matsumoto, a town north of Tokyo, that killed seven people and wounded 144. Furthermore they are suspected of a series of slayings and kidnappings of anti-cult activists and of preparing to overthrow the Japanese government -- all in the name of "good karma."
Asahara justified indiscriminate mass murder through the religious belief of "poa" -- a Tibetan Buddhist term for reincarnation to a higher existence. According to Shoko's twisted doomsday teachings, one can only save their soul through killing. Through the years Asahara developed a mumbo-jumbo collaged religious doctrine that resembled some sort of New Age-Hippie-Bhuddist-Mysticism. He even went on a pilgrimage to see Nostradamus expert Michel Chomarat at Lyon's municipal library to gain new insights into divination.
To the New Age cocktail brewing in his head, Asahara added the incentive of world domination through violence that he taught to his followers. According to Shoko a "poa" killing relieved victims from everyday life and the inevitable accumulation of bad karma. Thus what we call cold blooded murder was regarded "as a beautiful 'poa,' and wise people would see that both the killer and the person killed would benefit."
In 1994, seeing that his cult was entangled in all types of legal difficulties, Shoko ordered his disciples to mass produce deadly nerve gas and test its power in the streets of Matsumoto. It was the start of a doomsday plot to wipe out untold numbers of innocent people in his first volley in a war against the police and the Japanese government. The objective of the attack was to kill several judges staying at a courthouse dormitory that were due to rule against the sect in a property lawsuit. Seven people died and 144 were injured in the experiment. However, nothing happened to the judges.
Under Asahara's command, the doomsday cult built a sarin plant to produce 70 tons of the lethal Nazi-invented gas. On the side he also had plants manufacturing barbiturates and truth serum. Furthermore, he ordered the production of 1,000 automatic rifles and one million bullets. He was also looking into the possibility of procuring weapons-grade Uranium to build an atomic bomb with the help of Russian nuclear scientist hired by the cult.
At the peak of its influence in 1995, the Aum owned about 30 pieces of property throughout Japan, as well as a business empire that controlled restaurants, computers and other technology companies. Its net worth was estimated at $20 million to $1 billion. It was also said to have 10,000 followers in Japan and up to 40,000 in other countries, 30,000 of them in Russia.
Not the humble type, Asahara demanded that his followers treat him as a "living incarnation of God." He allowed them, at a steep price, to drink his bathing water as a way to cleanse their souls. He also sold strands of his hair and little vials of his blood -- at $8,100 a shot -- as part of an initiation ritual. Former cult members testified in court that they paid up to $2,400 for an intravenous injection of an unknown substance. Shoko also had a habit of kidnapping and executing anti-cult activist and lawyers representing former cult members. Prosecutors described how one rebel cult member, Kotaro Ochida, was strangled while Asahara looked on.
During the opening day of his trial the blind visionary's only words were: "I have nothing to say." Later he appeared to doze off and one of his lawyers had to wake him up. Throughout the trial Asahara has been repeatedly removed for bursting out incoherently and interrupting proceeding. Virtually all other top cult members -- including Shoko's wife -- have been arrested for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to helping to carry out the Tokyo subway murders. Until his arrest, the portly cultist predicted that the world would soon come to an end and only the Aum Supreme Truth would survive. Until then, they will all be in jail waiting for the apocalypse rather than actively participating in it.
Yahweh Ben Yahweh & The Temple of Love (14+) This charismatic black leader of the Church of Love and sixteen followers have been charged with the slayings of at least fourteen people. The Temple of Love was a black Israelite sect that believes blacks are the lost tribe of Israel and that true Jews and white people are devils. Their leader Ben Yahweh, born known as Hulon Mitchell Jr., and six others were convicted in 1992 of conspiracy for ordering 14 killings of white people and resistant black disciples. Yahweh Ben Yahweh, which means "God the Son of God" in Hebrew, built a multimillion-dollar business empire in the Miami area through murder, fire bombings and extortion. However, he also managed to join Miami's Chamber of Commerce and was even honored with the proclamation of "Yahweh Ben Yahweh Day" by the city's mayor.
The secretive Church of Love preached that the American blacks were true Jews living in the land of the "white devil". It's members dressed in white robes, took the last name Israel and followed a kosher diet. The black supremacist cult was accused of a reign of terror that includes the beheading of an ex member, the fire bombing of a Delray Beach neighborhood and many other acts of violence. It seemed that to become part of the "Brotherhood", a secret group within the sect, one had to smoke a "white devil".
Many of the shady details of the sect's activities come from Robert Rozier, a former NFL player who also called himself Neariah Israel, or "Child of God," who was arrested in 1986 in connection to four killings. Rozier was convicted of committing four murders under orders from the cult. Later he admitted to seven killings and was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but was released after 10 years in 1996, after testifying against Yahweh and other followers. Rozier became a federally protected witness in 1996, relocated to his home in California and changed his name. He was recently arrested for violating his program agreement by writing bad checks totaling $125.24, which due to a new "three strikes" California law might send him to prison for life.
On March 24, 1999, New Jersey prosecutors charged Rozier with stabbing a homeless white man to death in Newark as a sacrifice to Yahweh Ben Yahweh. Prosecutors said Rozier, 43, stabbed Attilio Cicala in 1984 as a sacrifice a few days before the cult's leader was to visit Newark. At the time Rozier was the leader of Newark's Temple. Along with Rozier another former cultist John Armstrong, 40, was also charged with the murder. Presently Rozier is in jail in California on $1 million bail.
Tijuana Religious Ritual (12) On Dec. 13, 1990, 12 people died in a religious ritual in Tijuana. It was never clearly established if this was a suicide and authorities speculated the deaths might have been accidental. They said some kind of industrial alcohol, perhaps rubbing alcohol, was poured into a fruit punch the participants shared during the religious ceremony.
Charles Manson & The Family (9+) Meet the Reigning King of America's Homicidal Maniacs and his harem of acolytes. Between July and August of 1969, Charlie and his "Family" of society drop-outs carved themselves a niche of infamy in the American psyche after a blood-soaked series of murders that hammered shut the hopes of the flower generation.
Born "No Name Maddox," Charlie was the son of a teenage, bisexual, alcoholic prostitute. As an infant his uncaring mom once traded him for a pitcher of beer. As a young boy he watched his mother bring home lovers of both sexes and was constantly shuffled between the home's of relatives and orphanages. One particularly sadistic uncle forced Charlie to wear a dress to school so he would "learn to fight and be a man." Not surprisingly Charlie started his career in crime at a young age. As a young man he was the poster-boy of institutional life, constantly in and out of reform schools and prisons. Before he was thirty-five, he had spent more than half of his life incarcerated.
When he was paroled in 1967, this ex-con and aspiring musician drifted to San Francisco just in time to catch the Summer of Love. There he became the "God of Fuck". Charlie's charisma made him the Messiah of every lost flower child and, strangely, after years of incarceration, he turned out to be full of love. Describing himself as a "little runt" he managed to surround himself with a bevy of beautiful young girls who considered him God. While in San Francisco he traded the rights to one of his songs for a bus, which his girls painted black and he drove all across the West collecting what he called "Garbage People."
When the bus broke down north of Los Angeles, they settled in the Spahn Ranch, a derelict ranch that was used for Western movies. There the Family grew to have more than 30 girls with more joining each day. At first their life in the ranch was pure hippie Nirvana. Charlie would sleep with a different girl each night as they all fried on acid and sang songs around a campfire when the sun went down. They would raid garbage dumpsters in the back of supermarkets for food and would shoplift for other necessities. Back at the ranch, as they fucked and sucked with abandon, the Family envisioned themselves as representatives of the "Infinite Soul." On the side they formed alliances with various satanist and biker groups and with who they occasionally committed ritual murder.
All along Charlie planned to launch his stellar career as a folk singer with the help of Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Sadly, for Sharon Tate and her friends, things didn't turn out the way he thought. Shunned by the music industry Charlie grew bitter and vengeful. His odd interpretation of the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter" warned of a coming race war in which "blackie" would win. Then he and his minions, who had been breeding at a furious rate in the Spahn ranch, would take over and rule the world. Ultimately, the reign of terror perpetrated by this midget genius had nothing to do with his visions of Armageddon. Instead, it was simply an act of revenge against the music industry that had ignored him.
Terry Melcher, a music producer who had rejected Manson (and also the son of Doris Day), moved out of his house in Cielo Drive and subleased it to Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate. In a desperate attempt to get his music produced Manson had gone to talk to Terry to find out that he had moved. He thought the new tenants of Cielo Drive treated him like "a piece of scum to be sucked into the toilet." So when he felt that a series of random murders were in order to feed the "Infinite Soul" he knew exactly where to go
The first hit was Gary Hinman, a rich Buddhist musician partly associated with the Family. Members Susan Atkins, Marie O'Brien and Bobby Beausoleil went to pay him a visit. After torturing Gary for five or six hours he proved unwilling to give the Family money. Manson and Family member Bruce Davis were called to the scene to see if they could convince Hinman to cooperate. He refused again and Manson told Bobby: "You know what to do. Kill him-- he's no good to us." Bobbie stabbed him and later wrote on the wall "POLITICAL PIGGY" in blood to divert attention to the Family and make it look like a hit by the Black Panthers.
The next stop in their war against "the Establishment" was Cielo Drive. On August 8, 1969, Manson sent Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to "do the Devil's business." What ensued was a blood bath of apocalyptic proportions. Armed with knives and a gun, the Family members butchered Steve Parent, Abigail Folger, Voityck Frykowski, Jay Sebring and a very pregnant Sharon Tate. After the killing Tex ordered Susan to return inside and, "write something that will shock the world." Using a towel soaked in Tate's blood she wrote "PIG" on the door. She also thought of carving out Tate's unborn child and bringing it to Charlie wrapped in the towel. "How proud Charlie would be if I presented him with the baby cut from the womb of the woman." She later considered cutting out the heart and eating it or skewering the baby and roasting it in a bonfire. Fortunately these were just fleeting thoughts.
Feeling that the massacre in Cielo Drive was too messy, the next night Charlie joined his hippie death squad to demonstrate how the killings should be done. After meandering through the streets of Los Angeles they ended next to a monastery in the Los Feliz area. There he entered the home of supermarket magnate Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. After tying up the couple and reassuring them that everything was going to be fine, Charlie sent Tex, Leslie and Patricia to do the job. They killed the hapless couple and scribbled in blood "ARISE" on the wall, "DEATH TO ALL PIGS" on the front door, and "HELTER-SKELTER" on the refrigerator. Then they took showers, ate watermelon and hitchhiked a ride home. Before leaving, Patricia, in a stroke of evil brilliance, carved the word "WAR" on the stomach of LaBianca using a fork. When police discovered his body the next day he still had the fork protruding from his gut. To make the rampage look like part of the impending race war Charlie drove to a black neighborhood and left the wallet of Rosemary LaBianca in the bathroom of a gas station.
The last killing perpetrated by the family before their arrest was a ranch hand called Shorty Shea who knew too much about the "five dead piggies." The Family then relocated to the Barker ranch in Goler Wash on the outskirts of Death Valley. There Charlie and the Family "tried to get as close as we could to all the animals, try to learn from them how to live." They also had fun with dune buggies playing some type of desert war games. Eventually, because of their nightly desert escapades, U.S. Marshalls came to arrest the Family on charges of arson and auto theft after they torched some park ranger equipment. Once in custody Susan blabbed to one of her cellmates about the murders and their house of cards came tumbling down.
During their trial Charlie tried unsuccessfully to defend himself and staged several media pranks in his ongoing attack on "the Establishment." He wanted to form a corporation with the other six jailed Family members called "The Family of Infinite Soul, Inc." to pay for their defence. Eight days after the defense rested their case, Manson's court-appointed attorney Ronald Hughes dissapeared. His decomposed body was found five months later. At one point Charlie and the girls carved Xs on their foreheads as a symbol of X'ing oneself out of society. All the histrionics never amounted to anything other than Vincent Bugliosi penning a best-seller out of prosecuting the Family.
By 1971 seven members of the Family were handed death penalties which were revoked in 1972 when the California Supreme Court abolished it. Charlie, although convicted of multiple murders, was never proven to have killed anyone. It is believed that the Family was probably responsible for dozens of other deaths before and after the arrest and incarceration of their leader. Years later, on September 4, 1975 Family member Squeaky Fromme managed to capture headlines when she lunged at President Gerald Ford with a gun. Fortunately a Secret Service agent managed to wedge his thumb between the hammer and the firing pin preventing one more death to be tallied for the Infinite Soul. A week later fellow Family member Sandra Good leaked to the press a hit list of corporate and political big wigs targeted for assassination by the Family for their destructive actions against the environment.
Not one to be sitting on past laurels cyber-Charlie has now his own website. At his latest parole hearing on April, 1997, he pointed out that he was hard at work on the website and had no time for parole. Showing that he was keeping up with current events he also remarked: "These monks (Heaven's Gate) that just took their heads in San Diego they're way behind the times."
Even in jail America's favorite psychopath remains at odds with the law. In the summer of 1997 he was caught dealing drugs inside the Corcoran state Prison. As punishment he was transferred to the tougher Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City and was placed in a segregated Security Housing Unit where he has virtually no contact with other inmates. He can only leave his cell for treatment sessions, showers and his daily solitary exercise routine. After more than a year of punishment Manson was returned to Corcoran. In jail he recieves four fan letters a day, more mail than any prisoner in the United States.
The latest two reports about Charlie have him cowarding away from a group of prisoners attacking fellow serial killer Juan Corcoran in maximum security. In the altercation Manson's beloved guitar was smashed. Charlie is also said to be assisting a criminology professor with a course on the American legaL system.
The Ripper Crew (18) In the early eighties Robin Getch, a former employee of John Wayne Gacy, and three associates, Edward Spreitzer and brothers Andrew and Thomas Kokoraleis, had a Satanic cult suspected for the disappearances of 18 women in the streets of Chicago. Known as the Ripper Crew, Gecht and his gang drove around in a van looking for prostitutes to sacrifice in Gecht's apartment. They would remove one breast from each victim and eat it as Robin read passages of the bible.
Getch and his friends were arrested in 1982 for the stabbing of a teenaged prostitute. Like every good Satanist they all started squealing on each other. Though Robin's associates and other witnesses implicated him in some of the deaths, investigators never had enough evidence to charge him with murder. Robin is serving 120 years in Menard Correctional Center for mutilating and raping an 18-year-old prostitute. Fellow cultist Edward Spreitzer and Andrew Kokoraleis were sentenced to death. Kokoraleis' brother Thomas was sentenced to life for his role in the murders.
On March 16, 1999, Andrew Kokoraleis was executed by lethal injection at Tamms Correctional Center in Southern Illinois for the 1982 strangulation murder of Lorraine Borowski, a 21-year-old secretary at a real estate office that was abducted on her way to work. Her mutilated body was found in a cemetery. Kokoraleis, 35, sighed three times, licked his lips and appeared to be speaking quietly to himself before he died.
Defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that Andrew was coerced into confessing. They also argued that new information cast doubt on the credibility of confessions by two co-defendants who accused Kokoraleis. Kokoraleis, who had been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Rose Beck Davis, was the first prisoner executed at a new super-maximum-security prison in southern Illinois.
On March 7, 1999, David A. Gecht, the son of Robin, and two others, were charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of a Northwest Side man. The killing is believed be to gang-related, police said.
Youngsang ("Everlasting Life") Church (7) On October 5, 1998, six doomsday cult members and their leader were found burned to death in a mini-van in a suspected self-immolation ritual. The dead cultist were identified as members of the Youngsang (everlasting life) Church, one of the dozens of doomsday cults active in South Korea.
Police said the doomsday cult leader, Woo Jong-min, 57, left his home in Seoul in July with six followers, saying that they were embarking on an everlasting journey. Jong-min taught his followers that when they die, they will live a new, happy life in heaven. The news shocked South Koreans, most of whom had returned to their home towns to celebrate Chusok, a traditional lunar holiday. It is not known whether the date was a significant one for the cult members.
United Pentecostal Church of Brazil (6) On November 27, 1998, Brazilian police announced that six members of the United Pentecostal Church of Brazil, a tiny religious cult deep in the Amazon, beat and kicked to death six people, including three children, purportedly to be taken to heaven "after wiping out the enemies of God."
Six members of cult the were arrested at a remote rubber plantation where men, women and children were subjected to vicious ritual beatings. Among those arrested was Francisco Bezerra de Moraes, known as Toto, who is believed to be the pastor and leader of the 30-member sect.
The killings began two weeks before their arrest when the pastor announced during a sermon that he could hear "voices from Jesus Christ" ordering a former leader of the group and all his followers to be punished. The pastor, helped by his wife and two other men, began beating, whipping and stamping on the worshipers. For the next several days the "disciplinary" torture continued in a nearby shacks. "Every day they held a ceremony that began with the veneration of Toto's wife. Then came the torture." The sessions were accompanied by prayers and chants of "Out, Satan!" he added.
Among the dead were two boys ages three and four, who police said were killed by their father, and another 13-year-old boy. The mother of the dead brothers was also murdered. The former leader of the group escaped and raised the alarm with police who stopped the killings when they reached the remote plantation. When police arrived, they discovered the bodies of the dead out in the open, decomposing, torn appart and being eaten by animals.
"They said the only thing that made them do it were voices from the beyond," a police officer said.
Rituals involving death are not common in Brazil. However, police in Para state, also in the Amazon, are investigating a suspected group of satanic worshipers believed to have murdered at least eight young boys in recent years. And in a town in neighboring Maranhao state, 14 boys have been murdered or vanished over the last seven years. Investigators say black magic could be behind that case but an illegal trade in human organs might also be to blame.
Mexican Witch Killers (6) On November 6, 1996, an entire family, including four children, was stabbed to death by three men who accused them of being witches. The slayings happened in Vicente Guererro, 80 miles southeast of Mexico City. The victims were identified as Eduardo Quiahua Maquixtle and his wife, Andrea, and four children between the ages of 6 and 12.
Two brothers, Florencio and Constantino Chipahua Maquixtle, and a third man, Amador Atilano, were arrested in connection with the killings. The suspects claimed the victims were witches responsible for the deaths of Florencio's wife and two daughters.
Siberian Satanist Cult (5+) In March, 1997, Russian police announced that they were searching for the ringleaders of a Satanic cult in western Siberia. The cult is believed to be from the city of Tyumen, 1,400 miles east of Moscow, where five young people have been found hanged to death in what, at first, authorities though were suicides. Later, the discovery of cabalistic jottings in the belongins of the dead youths revealed their involvement in a seven-stage initiation ceremony that culminated in ritual suffocation.
The first death occurred in April,1996. Denis Abramov, 19, was found hanged in his room at home in the village of Roshchino. In May Dima Bronnikov, 17, and in July, Stas Buslov were found hanged from a tree. Three days later his friend Sergei Sidorov, 18, hanged himself at home. So did Tanya Stankeyeva, 22, in October. All the victims were friends and used to meet in a basement, which was equipped with a kind of Satanic altar and had walls painted with diabolical signs and cryptic symbols.
The mother of Sergei Sidorov said her son admitted to her shortly before his death that he was involved in a cult. "Mama, I'm a Satanist. I know it is bad, but I cannot escape. They are terribly strong." Mr. Buslov, the father of one of the victims, discovered that 36 young people between the ages of 12 and 22 have hanged themselves in Tyumen province in the past year. While there is no known connection to any cult, the high number of deaths have shaken the whole of western Siberia. A spokesman for the provincial prosecutor's office said: "We may be dealing with a serial killing, though it is not clear if this is murder or incitement to suicide."
The leader of the cult is said to be a man in his 40s, who, helped by two younger acolytes, exerted enormous influence on naive provincial children. But, thanks to the "Russianness" of the police, there seems little chance of catching those responsible.
The Chijon Family (5) On November, 1, 1994, the Chijon Family, a South Korean gang of cannibals, was sentenced to death for murdering five people. The gang was founded in 1993 by Kim Ki-hwan, a former convict, and six other former prisoners and unemployed workers who shared his grudge against the rich.
Kim christened his band the "Chijon Family" and ordered them to kidnap wealthy people and extort money from their families. The gang's hatred of the rich led them to systematically kill the best customers at one of the most exclusive department stores in Seoul. The six gangsters were found guilty of murdering five people in 1994, burying some of the corpses on remote hillsides and burning the rest in an incinerator specially installed for that purpose in the cellar of their rustic hide-out.
One gang member admitted dismembering his victims and eating their flesh, saying this was to fire up his courage and to renounce his humanity. The gang, boldened by a series of successful murders and kidnappings, decided that they needed a more effective way to pick out wealthy victims. They were able to buy the mailing list from Seoul's exclusive Hyundai department store from a disgruntled worker. The list contained the names of the shop's 1,200 best customers who paid with credit cards. From it they chose their next victims.
After sentencing none of the murderers showed any trace of remorse. One told television reporters before his trial that his only regret was that he had not killed more rich kids.
Jeffrey Lundgren (5) As a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Lundgren wielded total control over his six-family flock. He beat misbehaving children with poles, trained his followers for war and masturbated while naked female cult members danced around him. A man of strange appetites, Jeb7, as he liked to be called, enjoyed having excrement rubbed all over his body by his loving wife as he preached about the coming apocalypse.
In 1987 he settled with his cult in a fifteen-acre farm in rural Ohio. There, according to cult members, they were intending to meet God in the final days of planet Earth. However, God would be angry with the cult, due to "man's sins." Lundgren, a resourceful man, figured that if he sent five of his own, the Avery's (whom he considered the weakest family in the cult), before the "judgement bar," God would take out his anger on them.
The Avery family was thrown in a pit under the barn of the cult's ranch and were shot to death with a Colt 45 which, incidentally, Avery had paid for. After the killing Lungren and his family fled to what they called "The Wilderness" in Tucker County, West Virginia. By the fall of 1989 the group relocated to Jackson County, Missouri where things started to really fall apart.
On December 31, 1989, Larry Keith Johnson, (whose wife, Katheryn Renee Jackson was chosen by Lundgren as his "wife.") reported the murders to Larry Scott of ATF-Kansas City. Three days later the first body was uncovered, that of Dennis Leroy Avery. On January 7, 1990, Jeff Lundgren, his son Damon, and wife Alice were arrested in Room #29 of the Santa Fe Motel in National City, California. At the time of their arrest police and ATF agents found an arsenal of weapons tucked in the room with them. His wife and nineteen-year-old son received five consecutive life terms for the doomsday killings of the Avery family. Jeb7 was sentenced to death. The remaining cult members (except for Larry) were sentenced to various lengths of imprisonment.
Chevie Kehoe & Danny Lee (3) Gloria Kehoe, the mother of a man accused in a murderous plot to set up a whites-only country, testified that her son once told her about killing a gun dealer and his family. Chevie Kehoe, of Colville, Washington, bragged to his mom that he put the victims on "a liquid diet" by tossing their bodies into a bayou. Looking across the courtroom at her son, Mrs. Kehoe said: "It's got to be told, Chevie. There's wrong and there's right. God won't let me live with it anymore. I'm very sorry."
Chevie, 26, and Danny Lee, 26, of Yukon, Oklahoma, are charged with racketeering, conspiracy and murder in an alleged plot to overthrow the government and set up the whites-only Aryan Peoples Republic in the Pacific Northwest. Among other things, they are accused of murdering gun dealer William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and their daughter.
Mrs. Kehoe said her son told her that he and Lee donned FBI outfits, entered the Muellers' Tilly, Arkansas, home and waited. They took the family by surprise, bound their hands with plastic ties and told them they were being arrested. Then Lee and her son put plastic bags over the Muellers' heads and that Kehoe beat Mueller in the head with the butt of a shotgun.
"Kentucky Occult Teen Killers" (3) On February 20, 1998, four teen-agers and two young adults from eastern Kentucky pleaded guilty to killing a couple and their 6-year-old daughter. Prosecutor Berkeley Bell said the deal -- which spared them from the death penalty -- was supported by the relatives of Vidar and Delfina Lillelid, who were shot to death with their daughter Tabitha. Their 2-year-old son Peter survived a bullet through his eye and is living with relatives in Sweden.
On April 6 the Lillelids -- who were on their way back from a Jehovah's Witnesses conference in Johnson City -- met the killer teen squad in a highway rest stop in northeast Tennessee. They were later found in a muddy ditch along a gravel road several miles away. Vidar, shot six times, and Delfina, shot eight times, died with their children in their laps. Their legs had been run over by their own van, prosecutors said.
The six suspects -- Jason Blake Bryant, 15, Natasha Cornett, 19, Crystal Sturgill, 18, Karen Howell, 18, Dean Mullins, 20, and Joe Risner, 21 -- were arrested in Arizona while driving the Lillelids' van two days after the slayings. The group had been turned away at the Mexican border because two of them were juveniles.
Cornett, the reputed ringleader,told her first lawyer she was the daughter of Satan. Prosecutors said two days before the killings the group held a bizarre ritual in a Pikeville, Ky., motel room that included self-mutilation and bloodletting. Cornett -- who said she wanted to to cross the country killing peoplelike in "Natural Born Killers" -- had almost 20 cuts on her right arm and about 50 on her left arm when she was arrested. Apparently she only could communicate with Satan after cutting herself and bleeding.
"The West Memphis Three" (3) Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Lloyd Misskelley, three bored teenagers from West Memphis, Arkansas, shocked their way into national infamy when they were accused of killing three youngsters in a half-baked attempt at performing a satanic ritual. On May 5, 1993, the three hapless eight-year-old boys went riding their bikes through the Robin Hood Hills in West Memphis and were never seen alive again. The next afternoon their dead bodies were discovered in a shallow stream near the woods. They were tied, beaten, nude, and one of them was sexually mutilated.
For weeks local police had no leads. One theory was that a trucker or hitchhiker -- mockingly referred to as Mr. Bojangles during the trial -- was responsible for the carnage. Police cracked the case open when they interviewed dim-witted Jesse Lloyd Misskelley who claimed to have been drinking beers around a campsite in the woods with a stranger the night of the murders. The stranger turned out to be Mark Byers, the step-father of one of the murdered kids. He told authorities he knew nothing of the killings. However, after submitting Misskelley to a lie detector, they realized he had first-hand knowledge of the crimes that only someone involved in them would know.
Misskelley, together with Echols and Baldwin, had formed a satanic cult for disaffected youths. According to Jesse their little clique enjoyed killing and eating dogs, and organized orgies. Echols, the 19-year-old ringleader, claimed to be a Wiccan, a practitioner of white magick. Kerr Cuhulain, a Wiccan and an expert on Wicca and anti-Wiccan groups, was called in on the case by the police to interview Echols. Not surprisingly, he found out that Damien knew nothing about Wicca at all. Echols explained that he got the name from watching an Evangelical Christian teleminister who said Wicca was a type of Satanism. He figured that being a Satanism was fairly common, but a Wicca seemed more special. So he called himself a Wiccan to be cool.
A self-styled Satanist, 19-year-old Echols was always dressed in black, sported a couple homemade tattoos of occult symbolism and lived in a ratty trailer with his 15-year-old pregnant girlfriend. When arrested he proudly proclaimed to the media, "I'm a freak," as authorities carted him away. Rising to the occasion, Echols -- who changed his first name from Michael to Damien -- flicked his tongue and licked his lips for the cameras in a truly satanic fashion.
During their 10-month trial Echols emerged as a profoundly disturbed youth who, until he was twelve, thought he was "an alien put here from another planet." A court appointed psychologist testified that Damien's unhappy childhood and broken home left him living in a fantasy world. Not Mr. Nice-Guy, Damien told the psychologist he hated "the human race." As a sorcerer he enjoyed drinking the blood of his sexual partners to gain power and, "feel like God."
Because of his incriminating confession Misskelley was the first one to be tried. On February 4, 1994 he was found guilty and sentenced to life plus 40 years. A month later Echols and Balwin were tried together in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Prosecutors were not allowed to use Jesse's confession as evidence and resorted to other kids who had heard the two boys bragging about the killing. During the trial Damien took to sparring with the prosecution and stated his opinion of what he thought the alleged killer might or might not have done. He said the killer would enjoy hearing the victims scream and would have thought the murders were funny.
Baldwin did not testify, but a jail house buddy told the court that Jason had told him that he mutilated one of the boys and sucked the blood from the severed body part. Throughout the trial Echols rocked back and forth on his chair and mugged for cameras and spectators. On March 18, the two boys were convicted of three counts of murder. The next day Baldwin was sentenced to life in prison without parole and Echols was sentenced to death by lethal injection. A defiant Damien bent on making some kind of statement went to the bathroom before sentencing and changed into a black Harley Davidson T-shirt.
On death row at the state prison at Tucker, Damien enjoys the occasional visits from his girlfriend and their child who was born during the trial. He also has been receiving plenty of fan mail and request for his autograph from fellow Satanist. While he awaits his state-sponsored appointment with death, he spends most of his time reading fantasy novels, listening to music and watching "Tales from the Crypt."
On October 29, 1999, October 29 Damien Echols requested permission to get married at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit of the Department of Corrections. The wedding, if approved by the warden, would take place in December in the prison chapel and would be paid for by the bride and groom. The happy couple, prison authorities say, could have as many as six guests present. "But that doesn't say we have to provide a Barbie and Ken night of glamour," Dina Tyler, spokesman for the Department of Correction, noted. "There isn't a fancy reception with hors d'oeuvres and there is not a honeymoon."
The bride's identity remains a mystery, but West Memphis detectives say they've heard the woman is a New York architect who started writing to Echols after watching an HBO documentary that convinced her he was wrongly accused. Detectives say the bride-to-be recently moved to Little Rock to be closer to Echols.
"I would like for her, under Freedom of Information laws, to roam through the case file and then she would see that the HBO documentary was so biased in Damien's favor," said Lt. Mike Allen, who investigated the boys' deaths. "That documentary did kind of make you wonder 'what if?' but only because it didn't show the facts of the case that two juries listened to."
Like many other visitors to the Archives, Carol Ann Matthews believes the "West Memphis Three" are innocent, and their incarceration is a miscarriage of justice. There's even a film, "Paradise Lost" and a website http://www.wm3.org that state, in no uncertain terms, how Damien, Jason and Jesse where unjustly convicted for crimes they did not commit.
Carol, a true believer, states:
Backing Ms. Matthews' opinion, Anita Dalton wrote to the Archives saying:
Rachel Fackler, another irate reader, wrote:
Aremis, a former Wiccan, feels any reference to the religion should be expunged.
Lisa Dowty is adamant that the bite on one of the victims points at Chris Byers's step-father as the real cultrit and sent us a picture proving it.
Effram Zimbalist Jr. writes:
Crystal, a former police process service worker, wrote the following:
This comes from someone who went to school with the West Memphis 3:
Jose Augusto dos Santos (2) On June 25, 199, Brazilian police arrested voodoo priest Jose Augusto dos Santos on suspicion of robbing graves and making human sacrifices after finding 16 skulls and other bones buried beneath his home. Dos Santos, 40, is being investigated for allegedly sacrificing a small child and a man in a rare Afro- Brazilian religious ceremony aimed at winning favors from the devil.
"This man had pictures of Lucifer, Satan, all over the house. He had statues of him as well," said homicide investigator Marcio Peironi. "He says he bought all these bones from a worker at the cemetery. But we have reason to believe he may also have committed human sacrifice," he added. Peironi said Augusto dos Santos admitted to paying a grave digger for skulls and skeletons for use in black magic rituals at his home and "terreiro" (house of worship) in the remote state of Mato Grossoor.
Augusto dos Santos is known as a "pai-de-santo" (high priest) in Afro Brazilian religion. He told authorities his terreiro was used for Candomble ceremonies, in which West African gods possess followers' bodies during heated moments of dance and drumming. But the Candomble religion, like virtually all Afro- Brazilian religious practices, does not involve human sacrifice.
Police said they believe dos Santos was paid by middle and upper class followers of the darker, Quimbanda religion, where the pai-de-santo summons evil spirits to win favors from them.
Along with the remains of a young child buried beneath Augusto dos Santos' terreiro, police say they found a photo of a baby with the words "Para Morrer" or "To Die" written on the backside. The high priest, who denies allegations of murder, told local press the photo was of his own child. Police also believe they may have found the remains of Romualdo Pereira Barbosa, a man who had been missing since 1995, in the priest's house.
"Kentucky Vampire Clan" (2) On November 29, 1996, four teens and an adult from a self-described "Vampire Clan" in Kentucky were arrested in Baton Rouge, La., for bludgeoning to death a Florida couple. At first authorities feared the daughter of the dead couple, had been abducted by her parents' killers. Soon, they realized she too was a suspect, along with her former boyfriend and three other vampire friends. Eventually, authorities determined that Heather -- the daughter of the murdered -- did not know of her parent's murder until she got in the car with her buddies, and therefore was not a suspect in the case.
"They apparently like to suck blood. They cut each other's arms and suck the blood. They cut up small animals and suck the blood. They honestly believe they're vampires," a Murray, Kentucky., police detective told the media. The teens became attracted to vampires because of a best-selling role-playing game. However, this crew took their roles a little too seriously. Heather had told friends she was a demon in past lives and had talked with spirits during human blood-drinking rituals.
Rod Ferrell, 16, leader of the so-called Vampire Clan, told a friend had become possessed with the idea of opening the Gates to Hell, which meant he would have to kill a large, large number of people in order to consume their souls. By doing this, Ferrell believed he would obtain super powers. He also told friends that his sign was a "V" with dots on each side signifying himself and the members of his clan. Cigarette burns in the shape of a "V" were scorched onto the body of the adult Wendorf, along with two pairs of dots on each side of the letter.
Prosecutor Brad King said he wouldn't seek the death penalty against Dana L. Cooper, 19, and Charity Lynn Keesee, the two female members of the clan. However, he will seek the death penalty for Ferrell and Scott Anderson, 17, who allegedly did the bludgeoning. After defense attorneys requested separate trials, Circuit Judge Jerry T. Lockett tentatively scheduled trials for Ferrell, Anderson and Keesee in February 1998. Cooper has not waived her right to a speedy trial and could be judged as early as May.
The afternoon of the killings, Heather Wendorf and Ferrell performed a blood drinking ritual in a cemetery to induct, or "cross over," her as a fellow vampire. "The person that gets crossed over is like subject to whatever the sire wants... Like the sire is boss basically. They have authority over you." In the cemetery, investigators say, she and Ferrell talked about their plans to leave town. Ferrell allegedly discussed killing her parents, but she told him not to harm them.
Ferrell, Heather and others had plotted for seven months through letters and phone conversations to run away together. Considered misfits when they met at Eustis High School, the two found solace in each other's company. When Ferrell later moved to Kentucky, they stayed in touch.
Friends have described Ferrell as hostile and prone to animal torture. He may have had a troubled family life as well. His mother, Sondra Gibson, pleaded guilty in Kentucky last November to trying to entice a 14-year-old boy into having sex as part of a vampire initiation ritual.
John Goodman, a Kentucky cult member who didn't travel with Ferrell to Florida, said his friend "had become possessed with opening the Gates to Hell, which meant he would have to kill a large number of people in order to consume their souls. By doing this, Ferrell believed that he would obtain super powers."
When questioned by investigators, Heather said the only reason she went with the group was because she had no place to go and feared she would be blamed for the murders. She said she learned about the murders during the trip and was distraught at hearing her parents were dead.
Wyoming Valley Satanist (2) In 1996 Shaun Marc Zarcufsky (16) and Stanley J. Szcuzupski (16), two Wyoming Valley West High School students, were found dead in Larksville, Pennsylvania's West Side Landfill. Both had died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head resulting from a "satanic worship pact."
The teens' interest in Satanism was only 3 to 4 weeks old before the double suicide. In that short time, it was evident to parents, teachers and friends that their personalities changed dramatically. Police found 130 pieces of evidence at the suicide scene including a marijuana pipe, alcohol and music cassettes, one of which, "Origin of Feces," by a heavy metal band called "Type-O-Negative."
A search of Zarcufsky's bedroom at home uncovered "scores" of occult-related literature on "Black Magic". Both youths had left suicide notes, and, prior to their deaths, the two got high and taped their last moments together. The cassette recorder was still on "record" when it was found by police investigators.
Russian Satanist (2) On February 19, satanic cult members in Russia were convicted on charges of murder with aggravating circumstances. The cult members, whose ages range from under 20 to 80, stood trial in the city of Donskoi, for two ritual murders in 1998. The cult's leader, Yelena Kuzina, 80, was sentenced to five years in prison. Her oldest son, second in command in the cult, was sentenced to ten years. Defense lawyers of the Satanists said they would protest the sentences.
Crimean Satanist (1+) On October, 1997, a group of youngsters aged 16-17 suspected of performing satanic rites was detained by the police of Simferopol. Local law enforcement bodies suspected in spring that a ritual murder had been committed when a dismembered body of a dead young woman was found in the city cemetery followed by several incidents of vandalizing graves at city cemeteries were registered.
In September, one of the participants in these atrocious orgies was arrested. He confessed to having worshipped Satanism for several years. In 1997, he vandalized two graves and removed sculls and bones to perform magic rites. He also took away metallic plates from tombs to make knives for a ritual. Crimean police reported that in the attic where the man practiced satanic worship they found a black crucifix turned upside down, sculls of different animals, earth taken from a graveyard and a diary where the man thoroughly described his satanic practices.
The diary helped trace other satanic worshipers. The young woman found dismembered in the cemetery was not the only one who fell victims to the vandals who cheated innocent youngsters, persuading them to join the group and then cut their veins and drained their blood.
San Luis Obispo Satanist (1) Little Elyse Marie Pahler, 15, was "sacrificed to Satan" by three San Luis Obispo teen-agers. The three boys Roger Casey, 17, Jacob Delashmutt, 16, and Joseph Fiorella, 15, took Elyse to a secluded eucalyptus grove about a quarter-mile from her home, fed her drugs, raped her, tied a belt around her neck "to make it easier to stab her", and offered her up as the "ultimate sin against God".
Elyse knew her killers from the school bus. Delashmutt, Fiorella and Elyse attended Arroyo Grande High School in San Luis Obispo, 195 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Delashmutt was expelled from the school in September of 1995; Fiorella left in February 1996 to be home-schooled. Casey attended a nearby school. The three stabbed the girl to death at at an alleged "Satanic altar". The boys "selected and stalked" Elyse believing that a virgin sacrifice would earn them a "ticket to Hell".
Elyse disappeared July 22, 1995 and had been reported missing until Casey came forward and led authorities to her body on March 14, 1996. The girl left her house voluntarily the night she died, although it wasn't clear where she was headed or at what point she encountered her killers. If the teenagers are tried as adults and the jury finds special circumstances, they face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. If tried as juveniles, they face up to about 7 years in juvenile detention.
David Obertorf (1) Proving once and for all that the French are indeed from hell, suspected satanist and car factory worker David Obertorf stabbed to death an elderly priest in a church in France. 18-year-old David allegedly stabbed 68-year-old Father Jean Uhl 33 times in his church in the Alsatian village of Kingersheim on December 20, 1996. "The priest's body bore very specific wounds which suggested satanic symbols," a police spokesman said.
Spanish Role-Playing Killers (1) In another instance of role-playing mayhem, two Spanish youths, Javier Rosado & Félix Martínez, were found guilty of randomly killing a man in the streets of Madrid, Spain. On the night of April 30, 1994, Javier and Félix stabbed to death a janitor, Carlos Moreno, as he waited at a Madrid bus stop. Moreno, a 52-year-old father of three, was chased down the street and stabbed 19 times as he fought to save his life. At one point he bit the hand of one of his assailants. When his body was found, there was a piece of latex -- form his killer's glove -- lodged in his throat.
The two boys were arrested 35 days after the murder when they were turned in by another role-playing buddy who they wanted to enlist for a second round of killing. At first the friend thought that they were kidding as they boasted about the murder. But as the evidence unfolded he became convinced that they were the killers. He confessed his fears to a priest who convinced him to tell the police. The night of their arrest the boys told him to go to Félix's house and bring a knife. When police picked the up Javier and Félix both had knives on them and had just bought a box of latex gloves.
On the opening day of the trial, Martínez said Rosado had invented a role-playing game in which they had to look for a victim who was "bald, chubby and old." He said that on the night of the killing, he never expected Rosado to go through with it. As the trial wrapped up, a tearful Félix apologized to Moreno's family and changed his story by saying he couldn't remember if he had participated in the killing or not.
Spain's leading daily El Pais said Rosado inserted both hands into a wound in Moreno's throat to rip out tissue and cartilage while Martínez tried to disembowel him. Lawyers for the accused argued that the two men had become so involved in their fantasy game they were not fully responsible for their actions.
Meanwhile, after four days of exercising his constitutional right not to testify, Rosado broke his silence to say the role-playing game had nothing to do with the crime and that he was not claiming insanity as part of his defense. He also said that his friend Martínez was the killer and the ringleader of their role-playing gang. Furthermore, to explain his carefree attitude in court, Rosado said he was a practicing Taoist. His constant smiling and mugging at the cameras was because of the Taoist doctrine of always being kind towards others and happy. He then launched into tirade against the psichiatrist who portrayed him as the ruthless killer and his friend as the submissive follower. "After all," he said, "the big knife and the bloody jacket were found in Félix's house."
Another piece of incriminating evidence was a three type-written account of the killing written by Rosado. The text, prosecutors remarked, explained how they stabbed the hapless man in non-vital areas so his death would be slow and painful. Javier, reading from the notes he had taken during the trial, explained with great eloquence that it was all pure fiction and pointed out that, "as well as horror stories, I write poetry and fairy tales."
Nathan Brooks (2) One from the satanist with a raging Oedipal crisis file. At the mere age of 17 Nathan wasted his parents in a lame attempt to preparing for a satanic ritual. On September 30, 1995, Nathan killed his mother with an ax and decapitated his father with a hacksaw after shooting him to death. A black magic aficionado, Nate chopped off his father's head in the family home in Bellaire, Ohio, and planned to use it in a satanic ritual. When arrested, he confessed to the killings and his macabre plan. In court he pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.
Evidence found at his home included a black and white bowl that held a rubber fright mask on which his dad's head rested. The mask, trimmed with a black wig, was the image of a man shot in the head. Investigators also found books about satanism and the occult and a biography Jeffrey Dahmer.
Nathan's friends claim that he was reading about Satanism because he was curious and was trying something new. However, he killed for attention. Days before the murders he allegedly told a friend, "Just wait until I'm famous." He also had an altar in an old abandoned house that mysteriously burnt down after he was arrested. There he had a list of 16 people he was going to kill. He planned evicerating them, then burning there skin off.
Lords of Chaos (1) In 1996, a group of teen-age friends in Fort Myers, Florida, banded together in a small gang created to "cause chaos and destruction." They called themselves the Lords of Chaos. The group ran afoul when they shotgunned to death the school band leader. Three of the teens have been convicted of participating in the murder. Two others have been convicted in connection with the group's crime spree.
The Lords of Chaos began its crime spree with assorted arson and vandalism in April 1996. The night of the slaying, they planned to burn down the high school gymnasium but Mark Schwebes, the 32-year-old school band leader caught them outside and said he would report them the next morning.
One by one, the former Lords of Chaos have taken the witness stand to testify against Kevin Foster, their ex-leader. Foster, who enjoyed being called, is accused of shooting Schwebes. After the band leader busted the teen-agers trying to burn down the gymn, Foster led three gang members to Schewebe's home to make sure he would not report them. When Schewebe's answered the door Foster shot him in the face and again in the buttocks after he fell face-down on the ground.
On the way back from the murder Foster told the three other boys that they had done a "job well done," and called for a group hug. "He gave a little chuckle" said, Derek Shields, now 20. When someone asked Foster whether he thought Schwebes was dead. "He sure the hell ain't alive," the wanna-be god answered.
At the time of the slaying, Shields -- who knocked on Schewebe's door the night of the of the slaying -- was a high school senior and member of Schwebe's jazz band. "You're all going to do as I say, or you're going to die. Someone is going to die tonight," Foster told them, according to Shields' testimony. Shields pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Foster faces the death penaly. The others convicted in the killing are Peter Magnotti, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and received a 32-year prison sentence, and Chris Black, who was sentenced to life in prison for a murder conviction.
Foster's lawyer presented a series of alibi witnesses Foster's mother and sister. "Kevin was in my home the entire time -- never left," Ruby Foster, said of her son. Prosecutors contend the gun used to kill Schwebes came from the pawn shop she owned at the time. Police said the gang planned a trip to Walt Disney World to kill black tourists. When the group members were arrested, they were planning an armed robbery and had a stockpile of weapons. On June 19, 1998, Foster was sentenced to death for the murder of Mark Schwebes.
The Ant Hill Kids Commune (1) Only one actual murder was committed by this group, but the sheer ferocity of its leader, French-Canadian alcoholic hippie-guru Rock Theriault, makes them charter members of the Killer Cult Hit List. A truly deranged individual, Theriault started out in Adventism but eventually became a polygamist who terrorized two Canadian provinces for many years. He's currently in prison, and still has loyal followers in Canada.
Ira Einhorn (1) On September 22, 1998, longtime fugitive guru Ira Einhorn was re-arrested in France under a new extradition warrant for the 1977 murder in Philadelphia of a Texas womany. Einhorn's attorneys said he will fight his return to the United States after having fled in 1981. Justice Department officials refused to comment.
A antiwar activist leader in the 1960s, Einhorn was well known in Philadelphia where he once ran for mayor. Einhorn became a successful New Age hippie guru -- as well as the founder of Earth Day -- in the 1970s. At the height of his popularity he had an international network of scientists, corporate sponsors and wealthy benefactors.
But in 1981 he was arrested on murder charges after police found the remains of Helen Maddux, aformer cheerleader and Bryn Mawr College graduate from Tyler, Texas, in a trunk in his apartment. The woman, his former girlfriend, had disappeared 18 months earlier. Allegedly Einhorn slept with her corpse stuffed in a trunk next to his bed. He was arrested after neighbors complained about the stench coming from Einhorn's apartment, and Maddux's remains were found. Forensic experts said her skull had been bashed six times. The hippie guru was released on bail and fled the country. He was convicted in absentia in 1993 and sentenced to life in prison. Einhorn claimed Maddox's body was planted in a trunk next to his bed by the CIA who wanted to set him up for uncovering the agency's "psychic warfare" experiments.
The oldest of five siblings, Holly Maddux left her conservative Tyler, Texas, home in 1965 to attend Bryn Mawr College, a liberal arts college here. Friends have said the aspiring ballerina felt as out of place among the Northern blue bloods of Bryn Mawr as she did in her no-nonsense East Texas hometown. In 1972, she met Einhorn -- a bearlike and unkempt philosopher, Age of Aquarius intellectual, philanderer and high-profile member of the city's cadre of movers and shakers.
Two weeks later, she moved into his apartment near the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. When teaching an alternative education course at Penn in the 1960s, Einhorn was said to have once stripped naked and danced in the classroom after passing around marijuana to his students. He also was awarded a one-semester fellowship to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in the 1970s. Einhorn hobnobbed with hippie superstars Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, organized "be-in" events and ran for mayor as a self-proclaimed "planetary enzyme, a catalyst for global change."
Acquaintances described the couple's relationship as tempestuous, with Einhorn the egocentric and dominant half and Maddux his waiflike and insecure foil. They often fought -- some said he was physically abusive -- and separated several times before Maddux called from Fire Island, N.Y., and finally said they were through. He became hysterical and summoned her to Philadelphia, threatening to throw her belongings into the street.
She was last seen Sept. 10, 1977, the day she returned to Philadelphia; Einhorn said she went to the local food co-op and never came home. Police found her mummified remains March 28, 1979, inside a locked steamer trunk in the apartment they once shared after Einhorn's downstairs neighbors complained of odor and ooze coming from the apartment above. Around the body, still clad in corduroy slacks and a plaid blouse, was foam packing material and newspapers dated August and September 1977.
She had suffered at least six crushing blows to the head. "This case has been part of my life and career for 23 years, so of course I'm very grateful that his day in court has arrived," said Michael Chitwood, the detective who discovered Maddux's remains and is now chief of police in Portland, Maine. "It's time for closure for the Maddux family and everyone else associated with this case." Defense attorney William Cannon said he would introduce witnesses who will "disrupt the theory" of Maddux's death as presented by prosecutors. At least three people will testify they saw Maddux after prosecutors say she was killed, including a former police officer who is sure he saw her "alive and well" in May 1978, Cannon said. He said he also will present blood evidence that raise questions as to the place and time of death.
Einhorn, who by the late 1970s had developed a keen interest in the paranormal, maintained that he was framed for Maddux's murder by the CIA because of his knowledge of their secret mind-control weapon experiments. Many wealthy benefactors and corporate sponsors who joined Einhorn's inner circle over the years, enchanted by his New Age philosophy and seeking to tap into his futurism-inspired business theories, rushed to his aid. Represented by soon-to-be Sen. Arlen Specter at an April 1979 hearing, Einhorn was released on just $40,000 bail after testimony from prominent Philadelphians regarding his excellent character. His bail was paid by Barbara Bronfman, then an heiress-by-marriage of the Seagram distillery family who shared Einhorn's interest in the paranormal.
Einhorn vanished on the eve of his 1981 trial. In 1993, he was convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder. He lived in England, Ireland and Sweden under pseudonyms before he was apprehended in 1997 at a converted windmill in France, where he lived with his Swedish-born wife. He was returned to the United States in July 2001 after a European court refused to halt his long-fought extradition. His retrial was ensured after the Legislature passed a law allowing his conviction and sentence to be vacated to satisfy a French requirement that foreign nationals not be extradited based on trials in absentia. "We got closure in July of last year; this is just icing on the cake," Hall said. "We're going to write the end of this story -- not him -- and I don't think the ending will be to his satisfaction.
A fugitive for 16 years living in several European nations, Einhorn was tracked down and recaptured in France in June 1997. But the Bordeaux court refused to extradite him, citing a French law that requires a retrial for all defendants, and released him from custody. Pennsylvania then passed a law promising Einhorn a retrial and he was re-arrested in September 1998.
On February 18, 1999, a French court agreed to extradite Einhorn to the U.S., then ordered him set free pending his appeal. Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham expressed concern that Einhorn would run again. "He has proved to be elusive and resourceful in the past," said Abraham, interviewed on WCAU-TV. "My guess is that he will do everything he can to flee the country." In Washington, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder called on France to take "the necessary steps" to ensure Einhorn is returned to the United States if the extradition is upheld.
In a desperate attempt to delay his extradition, on July 12, 2001, Einhorn tried to slit his throat at his house in southwestern France. "I think he had really decided to end his life," said his lawyer, Dominique Delthil, "but at the last minute he changed his mind. It wasn't just an act... He tried to cut his throat with a knife... It was not very pretty." Einhorn was found by French TV crew sitting in the kitchen with an open wound at the base of his neck and blood soaking his shirt. "I don't think they'll be able to arrest him if he's hospitalized," Delthil added. The suicide attempt came two hours after French authorities announced Einhorn lost his appeal to fight his extradition to the U.S.
On October 17, 2002, a Philadelphia jury found Einhorn guilty of the 1979 murder of Holly Maddux. Einhorn's attorney, William Cannon, said during his closing argument that the discovery of the mummified corpse in the apartment the couple once shared 18 months after she disappeared was, "just a piece of circumstantial evidence... It doesn't mean at all that Ira Einhorn is responsible for her murder." Prosecutor Joel Rosen said the evidence of Einhorn's guilt is overwhelming.
To make his case, Rosen had Einhorn read to the jury from his poems and diary entries, in which he wrote "to kill what you love when you can't have it seems so natural" and "violence always marks the end of a relationship." Rosen also called the former owner of a bookstore who said Einhorn once asked for a "how-to" book on mummification.
Vivian & Serena Miranda (1) In a strange twist of religious distortion, Charity Miranda -- a teenage cheerleader recently voted "most likely to succeed' at her school -- was allegedly suffocated to death with a plastic bag by her mother and older sister in a ritual to free her of demonic possesion.
Apparently both mother and older daughter -- Serena -- became involved in Santeria a year before embarking in their lethal ritual. However Charity -- a bubbly "all-American girl" -- resisted their pressure to join, telling friends that she was horrified by the change in her staid, white, upper-middle-class mother. According to police, the lethal mom linked Charity's resistance to Santeria with the presence in her mind of "demons', which she tried to exorcise on several occasions. Unable to flush out the evil buggers, Mommy Dearest decided that she had to resort to murder.
The day of the killing Mom and Serena approached Charity after she answered her friends e-mails. Without beating around the bush, they pinned her down, placed a plastic bag over her head, and suffocated her to death. A third sister, Elizabeth, was in the house at the time of the killing, but it is believed she did not take part in it. When police arrived they found Mommy and Serena chanting and swaying as if in a trance, from which they snapped right out once they were handcuffed and hauled to jail.
Neighbours, relatives and friends were in a state of shock, unable to understand how the two could have been accused of such a crime. A woman who described herself as a close friend of Mrs Miranda said: "Vivian is a wonderful mother. Her children are her life. This is something out of a horror story."
Concerned Christians (-) On October 16, 1998, more than 50 members of a Denver doomsday group called Concerned Christians have vanished, raising the possibility of a mass suicide. The group's leader, 44-year old Monte Kim Miller, espoused his belief that an apocalypse would strike Denver, and stated his intention to die in the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999, only to rise again in three days. Miller has made other doomsday predictions and claims to be the voice of God.
Mark Roggeman, a Denver police officer and cult expert, received "...an avalanche of calls from family members." Bill Honsberger, an Aurora minister who has been monitoring Millers' Concerned Christians cult, also fielded distraught calls, as did Janja Lalich of the Cult Recovery and Information Center in Alameda, California.
One member of the group called her sister recently from Texas. "She said they were not going to commit suicide," said the woman's sister, requesting anonymity. "She said that she couldn't tell us what they were doing and that I was asking too many questions." Another woman reported a similar disturbing experience with her sister. "She told me that since I didn't believe in what she did, she felt closer to her group than to her family. She'd be with them in the hereafter and not with us."
Ironically Miller founded Concerned Christians in the early 1980s, preaching against the evils of cults and New Age movements. Along with Honsberger and Roggeman, Miller originally counseled people involved in cults and so-called New Age religions. In October of 1996, Roggeman, Honsberger and a seminary student confronted Miller with their concern of his control over several people in his group. During the confrontation, the three men claimed Miller began speaking to them, according to Miller, "...in God's own voice..." while referring to himself as "Kim" in the third person.
Hal Mansfield, director of the Fort Collins-based Religious Movement Resource Center, said Miller might have started the movement as a financial scam. Nevertheless, the group transformed itself into an apocalyptic personality cult. Miller, 44, claimed that God was using him as a vehicle to speak to his followers. After prophesying that the Apocalypse would begin with an earthquake in Denver on October 16, the cult dropped from sight. It is believed they might be in Mexico en route to Jerusalem.
The recent silent, rapid departure of Miller's group did not surprise Honsberger. "They've been talking this way for quite a while, and not hiding it," he remarked during a joint Denver Post/9News report. "According to them, (Miller) is the last prophet on Earth. (They think) he is one of the two witnesses from Revelations 11, which is a biblical account of the end of time. The bigger picture, really, is the notion that, according to him, he and his co-prophet are going to die in the streets of Jerusalem."
Honsberger went on to add that he fears a group suicide is in the making. "I don't think they're going (to Jerusalem) to cheerlead. My fear is that, if (Miller's prophecy) doesn't happen, he's liable to do something bizarre just to ensure his place in history. And there's nobody in his group who could say, 'I don't think the Bible says that.' He has that much control.You question him - you question God."
The latest episode involving the Concerned Christians cult is now centered on Rafina, a small town 15 miles west of Athens, Greece. The twenty members of the group recently deported from Israel to Denver are now suspected to be in Greece. Greek security officials are investigating reports from the media that the twenty cult members joined other members of their group in rented apartments and villas in the nearby hillside community of Neo Voutza. Authorities ordered surveillance of the two sites and together with immigration officials are attempting to determine if these individuals are in fact members of the apocalyptic cult.
God's Salvation Church (-) Not yet an official member of the Cults 'R Us Hit List, the God's Salvation Church has emerged in San Dimas, California as potentially suicidal sect eerily reminiscent to the Heaven's Gate cult. The Taiwan-based God's Salvation Church came to the attention of authorities on December 24, 1997, when Sheriff's detectives went to investigate a Taiwanese woman's claim that her teen-age daughter was kidnapped by her cult member uncle. While rescuing the girl at the church, detectives learned that the group was going to Garland, Texas, where they expect Christ to come down in a flying saucer to pick them up . Authorities also found neatly packed backpacks with matching white clothing and sneakers for the members to take in their heavenly rendevouz.
Already 140 followers of the church -- dressed in white and wearing sunglasses and white cowboy hats -- have left for Garland for the expected March 31 date with their maker. Though church members deny their intentions of commiting mass suicide, Taiwanese media reported last week that the group's leader, Hon-Ming Chen, was encouraging newcomers to kill themselves so their bodies could be picked up by flying saucers. Chen -- who believes the Bible got it all wrong -- decided to move his church to Garland early this summer because the name sounds like and means "God's Land." He also interprets promotional sky writings as signs from God especifically directed at him. The former Taiwanese sociology teacher did claim to be the father of Jesus Christ and that God will assume an identical body to his own at 10 a.m. on March 31.
On March 25 God's alleged TV appearance on Channel 18 at 12:01 failed to materialize. Instead, believers -- under the glare of worldwide media lights -- were treated to static instead of a broadcast heralding the second coming. Even in failure Mr. Chen -- in his signature hat and white clothing -- said his faith remains immutable. However, in a strangely non-apocalyptic manner, he asked others to stop believing his preachings. "Since God's appearance on television has not been realized, you can take what we have preached as nonsense. I would rather you don't believe what I say anymore."
The Raelian Cult (+1) Though not necessarily a killer cult yet, the alien-worshipping Raelian Cult found a spot in the Cult's r Us Hit List when their company, Clonaid, announced it had created a healthy baby girl cloned from her 31-year-old mother. "I'm very very pleased to announce that the first baby clone is born," Clonaid director Brigitte Boisselier, a former research chemist in France, said at a news conference in Hollywood, north of Miami. At the December 27, 2002, news conference Boisselier appeared to be wearing the Raelian silver medallion combining the Star of David and a snowflake, symbolizing infinite time and space.
Clonaid, the first known human cloning company, was founded in February 1997, after Scottish scientists announced the birth of Dolly, the first cloned sheep. It is connected with the cultish Raelians, whose founder, Claude Vorihon -- a former journalist -- describes himself as a prophet and calls himself Rael. The group believes cloning could extend human life for hundreds of years. The Raelians, who claim 55,000 followers around the world, believe life on Earth was sparked by extraterrestrials who arrived 25,000 years ago and created humans through cloning.
Rael and a group of investors created Valiant Venture Ltd., a corporation based in the Bahamas, to run Clonaid. Clonaid says on its Web site that after pressure from the Bahamian government -- which feared the experiments might be conducted on one of its islands -- Valiant Ventures was dissolved. In 2000, Rael handed the Clonaid project over to Boisselier.