CultWatch Response Volume 2, Number 1 From The Editor OCCULT CRIME- A GROWTH INDUSTRY By V
Volume 2, Number 1
From The Editor
OCCULT CRIME- A GROWTH INDUSTRY
By Vicki Copeland
In our story on the Matamoros killings in the last issue of
CWR, Kerr Cuchulain quotes an article from the Corpus Christi Times
1/14/89 in which Lindell Bishop of the Central Texas Council of
Governments said, "If we didn't do anything else but go into the
business of conducting seminars on Satanism, we'd do a booming
business". This started a train of thought on the "business" of
"occult related crime". A survey of the material in the files of CWR
yielded the following bits of information.
From July 1986 to the present, we have documentation on no less than
25 seminars on "occult related crime", ranging in length from 1 to 3
days and in price from $30 to a whopping $489.00, plus room and
board.. Frequent guests at these seminars include Lt. Larry Jones
(Cult Crime Impact Network), Pat Pulling (Bothered About Dungeons and
Dragons) Jack Roper (Christian Apologetics Research and Information
Service) Joan Christenson (an "adult survivor of ritual abuse"), and
Lauren Stratford (author of Satan's Underground). Sites for these
seminars included Ft. Collins, CO, Cedar City, UT, Richmond, VA,
Valencia, FL, Helena, MT, Warwick, RI, Killeen, TX, Malasoff, TX,
Berkeley, CA, Cromwell, CT, and Leawood, KS, to name a few. One of
these seminars even advertised a banquet with door prizes on Saturday
night (the juxtaposition of a banquet with door prizes after a day of
discussing alleged murders, animal mutilations, child abuse, etc.,
seems at best macabre and insensitive to this author!).
A wide variety of "training aids" on "occult related crime" are
available from many different sources, ranging in price from $4.00 for
"Witchcraft or Satanism" from BADD to $110 for the "Occult
Investigation Slide Training Series and Script" sold by Writeway
Literary Associates. Other significant offerings include: "A Basic
Guide to the Occult for Law Enforcement Agencies" ($5.00 + $1.50
postage from the Technical Research Institute); "American Focus on
Satanic Crime" ($14.95 from Priority One Consultants); "Occult
Awareness Manual" ($20.00 from the National Information Network);
"Occultism, Satanism and Witchcraft in Our Schools and Society" ($5.00
from Exodus S.A.) and "Occult Related Homicide Clues" ($13.95 from
Writeway Literary Associates).
Videotapes are also becoming a profitable item in this industry. We
have received information on the following tapes: "Ritual Crime" (18
min., $345, rental $75, from AIMS); "Massacre of Innocence" ($40.00,
Contact America); "America's Best Kept Secret" ($19.95, Passport
Magazine); "Rising to the Challenge" ($24.95 + $2.50 postage, Parents
Music Resource Center); "Identification of the Ritually Abused Child"
(40 min, $225, rental $60, Cavalcade Productions); "Treatment of the
Ritually Abused Child" (25 min., $195, rental $50, Cavalcade
Productions); "Ritual Child Abuse, A Professional Overview" (30 min,
$194, rental $50, Cavalcade Productions) and "Revival of Evil" ($40,
There are also numerous newsletters dealing with the issue of "occult
related crime". Those we know of include File 18, Believe the
Children, Eagle Forum, Exodus, and W.A.T.C.H. Network. Other
organizations such as BADD mail out frequent lists of goods available
for sale, and many ministries send out pamphlets and other flyers on
"the occult" to those who regularly support them financially.
Audio tapes are available from the various conferences, and many of
the people who regularly speak at the conferences have tapes
available. The CWR archives include tapes from the 1987 Exodus seminar
in San Antonio Texas on occultism and various audio tapes of Christian
talk shows featuring Larry Jones, Pat Pulling, etc. The Christian talk
shows sell these tapes to the public for anywhere from $6-$10 each.
Books also form an important part of the revenue from this industry.
In the last two years, several have been published on the subject of
Satanism and occult crime. Titles include Satan Wants You, by Arthur
Lyons, Cults that Kill, by Larry Kahaner, Satan's Underground, by
Lauren Stratford; The Edge of Evil, by Jerry Johnston, Satanism: Is
Your Family Safe, by Ted Schwarz and Duane Empey, Devil on the Run, by
Nicky Cruz, The Devil's Web, by Pat Pulling, Like Lambs to the
Slaughter, by Johanna Michaelson, and Satanism; The Seduction of
America's Youth, by Bob Larson. These books normally retail for $7-$10
paperback, but can range as high as $15-$20 for a hardback version.
There are also numerous old titles being sold by the various
ministries and agencies involved with "occult related crime". These
titles include The Satan Hunter, by Tom Wedge, The Satan Seller, by
Mike Warnke, and Halloween and Satanism, by Phil Phillips.
The final money making aspect of this growth industry is the public
appearances. Talk show hosts such as Geraldo Rivera, Oprah Winfrey,
and Sally Jesse Rafael have at least 2 shows a year each on this
subject on the average. The same roster of guests appears on these
shows, along with Zena LaVey and Dr. Michael and Lilith Aquino. Mr.
Jones, Mrs. Pulling, and others who are authors or considered
"experts" are also frequent guests on local television and radio talk
shows. Add these revenues to those from books, tapes, newsletters, and
their frequent appearances at seminars, and it is not hard to see why
this is fast becoming a "growth industry".
In This Issue:
Rowan Moonstone reviews everything (well, almost), including Phil
Phillips' book, Halloween and Satanism;
Craig Pierce continues his series on his visit to an Exodus seminar;
.. and much, much more ...
CWR Questions Exodus
by Craig Pierce, CWR correspondent
As reports of Satanism grow, Texas investi- gators are often
hampered by a complete absence of evidence when responding to publicly
alleged claims of devil worship. Born-again cult buster groups making
the claims are also causing questions to be raised regarding the
legality of their methods of "exit counselling."
In San Antonio, where the issue of teen Satanism has brought forth a
group of such "counsellors" as Exodus S.A., police have no evidence of
the criminally active group from whom that Exodus claims they are
"In the four years we've been around, we've gone from informing police
and parents to a point where now we're hiding people," said current
Exodus administrator, Craig Peterson.
Mr. Peterson made his comment during the opening address of the Exodus
S.A. Occult Awareness Seminar in San Antonio on 14 April, 1989. During
the keynote speech, Mr. Peterson also referred to his organization as
a "deprogrammer group", a term which makes his wife, Exodus founder
Yvonne Peterson, uneasy. Naturally, she doesn't want to be identified
with the abrasive groups of the 70s that used brain washing techniques
"for the greater purpose" on Krishnas and members of other "cults".
"We practice de-indoctrination, not deprogramming," said Mrs.
Peterson. "They (cult survivors) are not abused; not locked up."
"I can see a similarity," said Jerry Rieder when asked which term he
preferred. Rieder, a self- proclaimed former Satanic High Priest,
directs youth seminars for Exodus S.A. He is also a former heavy-
metal musician who urges kids to reject rock'n'roll for Jesus. "Music
is a form of worship. You either worship God or the Devil, there is no
in between," stated Rieder during a lunchtime interview with CWR on 15
Jerry is a fair example of the born-again Satanic survivor that
Americans have become accustomed to seeing on T.V. talk shows. He
tells young audiences, teens and pre-teens, how he seduced kids into
Satanism with drugs and heavy metal. At the April seminar, he alluded
to many gruesome practices of his cult. He even related that he came
home one day to discover that his wife had sacrificed their infant
daughter. He says that shortly thereafter, he gave up Satanism and
turned to Christianity.
Drugs figured heavily during Mr. Rieder's "bad old days" as a Satanic
recruiter, and he admits that they took a great toll on him. Like many
others on T.V. who have come forward to talk about their cult
experiences, he has memory lapses. He identified himself to me as an
ordained minister during the interview, but then had trouble
remembering who or what denomination had ordained him. He did,
however, exhibit a very clear memory of events surrounding the alleged
sacrifice of his daughter and claims that God has made him a "renewed
man". "Jesus is the light of my life," says Jerry.
Though Mr. Rieder has spoken at many Exodus seminars specifically
aimed at the "education" of law enforcement professionals regarding
the threat of Satanism, he claims he has never identified his former
devil worshipping followers to the D.A. He also told me at the time of
the interview that he had not given prosecutors the facts regarding
the alleged infanticide performed on his own flesh and blood in Bexar
When asked why his wife is not in prison for her part in the alleged
sacrifice, Mr. Rieder looked uncomfortable. "I didn't know how to
bring her to justice," he replied. When responding to the question
about identifying former cult members to prosecutors, he said,"Nobody
has contacted me about working with the D.A.'s office." His apparent
discomfort grew when reminded that one who fails to report a murder is
frequently considered an accomplice to that murder and that there is
no statute of limitation on murder.
To be fair to Jerry, it must be pointed out that he has publicly
"testified" to his alleged experiences for years. That no officers
have as yet gone out of their way to dispute him is hardly his fault.
On the other hand, maybe they just don't believe him without more
In a similar vein, Yvonne Peterson claimed at the conference that just
one San Antonio teen "survivor" had witnessed over 100 human
sacrifices by age 14. She declined to name or produce the lad, saying,
as usual, that Exodus was hiding him from fellow cultists. Remaining
mindful that about 130 homicides were reported in Bexar County in
1988, this youngster would have been privy to a wave of murder that
Charles Manson, John Gacey, and Jack the Ripper couldn't rival.
Unfortunately, as with most claims made by the group, not one shred of
physical evidence was brought forward and one could infer that Exodus
is comfortable with 100 deaths unprosecuted in South Texas. Of course,
if there is no evidence of a crime, there can be no investigation.
Bexar County Deputy Sheriff's Investigator, Larry Quintanilla was at
the Occult Awareness Seminar to express his department's point of
view. Not surprisingly, he doesn't agree with Exodus on their
statistics beyond the fact that Satanism does exist. He said that the
"hard" evidence police usually look for in an investigation is absent
from Exodus' fund of "proofs".
"As far as victims go, they can't tell us where they are or who killed
them," says this occult crime investigator. Det. Quintanilla also put
to rest the myth regarding the disposition of sacrificial victims in
"portable crematoriums". (According to many "cult- buster" groups,
this is why there are never any remains,) Such "portable" units are
the size of 18-wheelers, he pointed out. He then questioned where
teen-age Satanists would buy or hide one, never mind covering up the
odor: such units do not have all the features of stationary
"We don't have any ritual sacrifices or murders here in Bexar County,"
said the detective at the April conference.
Although Mr. Quintanilla quietly blows the doors off of claims of
Exodus's spokespersons by asking ,"where is the evidence?", it never
seems to stop them from presenting the same unverified claims again at
the next seminar. Thusly is the line between allegation and reality
blurred by the very people who cry out for police and parents to do
something about arcane crime.
The investigative eye may in time actually turn back upon Exodus-style
groups or other organizations of this ilk.
The laws of America and the law of their deity are not yet one and the
same. For instance, both Mr. and Mrs. Peterson claim that the
"ex-cultists" they are hiding do possess hard evidence of crimes they
witnesses and/or participated in. In most states, to withhold
evidence, even if it is the knowledge of the whereabouts of a witness
to a murder, is to become an accessory to the murder; or at the very
least an obstruction of justice. This is true whether the witness is
"covered in the blood of Jesus" or not.
When I asked Craig Peterson if the local D.A. was regularly informed
or given access to the type of information Exodus uncovered, he gave
us as passive an answer as Jerry Rieder. "You almost have to let them
(the "ex-cultist") do that themselves," he said.
If, as claimed by both Exodus' founder and administrator, Exodus is
deprogramming/reindoc- trinating recalcitrant Satanic teens, then
Exodus is responsible for the new set of values the kids have.
Furthermore, these reprogrammers must be already aware that their
"subject" won't go to law enforcement unless told to do so!
What a loop! The Satan-worship alarmists, while self-admittedly
concealing and indoctrinating their witnesses, are demanding that law
enforcers do something, while on the other hand, the professionalism
of Bexar County officers does not allow them to proceed without
evidence or witnesses! Det. Quintanilla put it succinctly when he said
to me, "We don't investigate religions, only crime."
Satanism, it has been said, will be the crime of the 90s. Certainly
groups such as Exodus are right to be concerned, but Jesus alone won't
get convictions. Professional law enforcement officers don't need
Bible quotations to do their jobs; they need names, dates,and places
of alleged criminal acts. Most importantly, they need witnesses to
testify in court instead of in church. Vague yet gruesome testimony
before PTA and youth groups must be replaced with hard evidence, and,
when wild claims are disproven, they must be abandoned. Without
substantive action on these crucial elements, the loop remains intact
and violent cultists, few as they are, will remain free to damage
society. Meanwhile, good cops may justifiably grow suspicious of
religious deprogrammer/reindoctrinators' tactics as more of these
groups spring up around the country.
If You Were A Subscriber to CWR...
...you would have received the revised edition of Rowan Moonstone's
"The Origins of Halloween". All pamphlets published by CWR which are
16 pages or less are included with your subscription. We will be
publishing at least 4 pamphlets per year under this policy. Please
subscribe now (see the coupon on the last page to enter your
EX-CULTIST SOUGHT BY TEXAS AUTHORITIES
CWR has received several articles from Texas concerning one
Marti Johnston, who is associated with the Cult Awareness Council. In
January, 1989, at a meeting in Anahuac, TX, she spoke of witnessing a
child sacrifice of an 8-year-old girl from the Tomball, TX area eight
years earlier. Shortly after this presentation, Tomball police officer
Leroy Michna sought contact with Ms. Johnston in connection with this
alleged crime. When his attempts were unsuccessful, he obtained the
help of Harris County Assistant D.A. Casey O'Brian. In an article from
the Daily Pasadena Citizen, Feb. 25, 1989, O'Brian is quoted as
saying, "It was referred to me. I attempted to get hold of Marti
Johnston. For whatever reason she won't talk to us. We don't know
where she is."
Authorities in the Tomball area say there are no reports of missing
girls dating from the time period in which Ms. Johnston claims to have
seen the child abducted and killed. "We have no homicide to link it
to. Why she would make those claims and then be hesitant to talk with
authorities is reason to question her motives," said O'Brian in the
Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1989.
Johnston's location is known to Dorothy Seabolt of the Houston Cult
Awareness Council, according to the Chronicle article, but Ms. Seabolt
refuses to disclose Ms. Johnston's location because of fear for
Johnston's life. She claims that Johnston has received death threats,
and has had to move numerous times in the past to avoid being killed
by cult members.
We here at CWR are most happy to see the police investigating these
claims. If there is evidence, lets find those responsible for the
crime and put them behind bars where they can hurt no one else. If
there is no evidence, let's defuse the hysteria before somebody gets
For further information on this case, refer to the following newspaper
"Crowd Hears About Satanic Cults", Anahuac (TX) Weekly, Feb. 8, 1989
"Assistant DA Wants to Talk to Cult Expert", Humble Echo (Channelview,
TX) Feb. 22, 1989
"DA Seeking 'Sacrifice' Information", by Virginia Hahn, Daily Pasadena
(TX) Citizen, Feb. 25, 1989
"Tale of Child's Ritual Slaying Vexes Lawmen", by Bill Disessa,
Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1989
Don't overreact to so-called Satanism
by Patrick Cox
from USA Today, 9/12/89
MENLO PARK, CA -- There was a time when most mental and neurological
disorders were ascribed to evil spirits. Schizophrenics, epileptics,
even political dissidents and social misfits were burned at the stake
or hung on the gibbet to cure their "Satanism".
Superstitious fundamentalism has,unfortunately, undergone a resurgence
of late. Atavistic Christians and Shiite Moslems have found a perfect
explanation for anything they don't understand -- Satanism. Curiously,
however, the stated symptoms of the condition are largely
indistinguishable from puberty.
The rare criminal who says, "The devil made me do it" provides
sufficient evidence of rampant devil worship for the folks who believe
that Elvis is still alive and that UFOs are kidnapping thousands of
people annually. Nevertheless, it is unclear how many of those
criminals are truly psychotic and how many are simply clever enough to
serve their sentences in mental institutions rather than the prisons.
So-called television journalists have contributed to the phenomenon by
publicizing the allegations of those who lack the ability or will to
understand mental illness or artistic expression. But far more people
are being killed in the name of God in Beirut and Belfast than have
ever been murdered by psychotics claiming allegiance to Satan. The
wild rumors of kids abused by Satanists pale compared to the number of
adolescents actually molested by priests and ministers. And children
regularly die because of the denial of food or medical care by
Perhaps that's why both satanic and pagan trappings appear in the
inevitable expressions of adolescent rebellion against authority. If
it's shocking, some people will do it. If ours were a Satanist
society, heavy-metal records played backward would contain Christian
Though low-level law enforcement contains its share of fundamentalist
paranoids calling for a new Inquisition, there's no evidence of any
widespread Satanist movement. If we're going to establish new
psychiatric institutions, maybe they should be used to treat those who
hallucinate the devil behind every social anomaly.
by Rowan Moonstone
"Experts Say Tales are Bunk: Rumors Abound but nothing proves that
cults exist", by Rex Springston, Richmond News Leader, April 6 & 7,
Investigative reporter Rex Springston took on the volatile issue of
the alleged Satanic Cult conspiracy and came to the same conclusion
that increasing numbers of investigators are coming to; namely, that
the story is an "urban legend".
Interviewed in the course of investigating the story were FBI Special
Agent Kenneth V. Lanning; Robert D. Hicks, Analyst for the Virginia
Department of Criminal Justice Services; Dr. Shawn Carlson from the
Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion; Dr. Marc
Galanter, a New York psychiatrist and author of a book on cults; Lt.
Larry Jones, founder of Cult Crime Impact Network and editor of "File
18"; Patricia Pulling, founder of Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons;
Arthur Lyons, author of "Satan Wants You" and "Satanism in America";
Dr. Martin T. Orne, Univ. of Pennsylvania psychiatrist and
psychologist; and Dr. Jeffrey S. Victor of Jamestown (NY) Community
College, who has just conducted a year-long investigation into Satanic
The vast majority of the experts interviewed said that there is NO
corroborating evidence for the allegations of national or
international Satanic conspiracies. Says Lanning, "Total up the
stories and people are alleging the murders of hundreds of thousands
of people and we don't have a clue. If you believe this, this is the
greatest - and I mean greatest by a thousandfold - criminal conspiracy
in the history of mankind ... Nobody is this good."
But Jones and Pulling dispute this attitude. Jones claims that
"Satanists perform thousands of sacrifices a year - perhaps 50,000 or
more." And Pulling states, "the number of Satanic sacrifices could be
10 a year and could be as many as 10,000 and up ... We have no way of
Hicks says, "Lots of police hours have been spent looking for evidence
of cult survivors' stories, digging up parking lots (for bodies and
bones) and things like that. To my knowledge, no cult survivor story
has been verified." Lanning and Lyons attribute the "survivor" stories
to the book "Michelle Remembers", which was written by Dr. Lawrence
Pazder and his then-patient (now wife) Michelle Smith in 1980. The two
men claim there are no survivor stories which became public before the
publication date of the book.
When asked about specifics to the Richmond area, Pulling replied that
she had confidential police information but said to talk about local
sacrifices would be "overstepping my bounds". Ms. Pulling made other
accusations as well that could not be substantiated. For instance, she
and Officer Lawrence E. Haake of the Richmond Police Department allege
that there are criminal Satanists who are doctors, lawyers, law
enforcement officers and other prominent people, yet neither could
cite one case in which a person had been proven to be a Satanist
involved in serious criminal activity.
Pulling also alleged that 8% of the Richmond area was involved with
Satanic worship. Mr. Springston points out that this number is
approximately 56,000 - more than the number of United Methodists in
the Richmond area and nearly the entire population of Hanover County.
Pulling then amends her statement to say that this figure was
including everyone involved in any way with the occult. When asked as
how she arrived at the figure, she stated that she estimated that 4%
of the teens and 4% of the adults were involved. When informed that
this works out to an overall number of 4%, she replied that it didn't
matter, as the estimate was probably conservative anyway.
"Satanism: Where are the Folklorists?", by Phillips Stevens Jr., and
"A Rumor-panic About a Dangerous Satanic Cult in Western New York", by
Jeffrey S. Victor, New York Folklore, Vol. XV, 1-2 1989 , pp.1- 22
In the editorial "Satanism: Where are the Folklorists?", Mr. Stevens
goes into the history of scares and panics and notes the Inquisition
in Europe, the Proctor and Gamble "Man in the Moon" incident, and the
1950's communist "witch-hunt".
After a lengthy history of Satanism, the concept of the Millennium is
addressed. He points out that there are great sociological
similarities to the rumors we are seeing now, and the events in Europe
as the year 1000 approached.
Of great interest to me was the illustrations he gave of two cases
broadcast on Buffalo television stations, declaring that Satanic
activity was rampant in the area. On closer inspection and
investigation, these allegations were found to be false ... but, no
follow-up report was done to inform the public of this fact. I wonder
just how many other cases of this kind are occurring around the
tevens is particularly upset that the Native American beliefs and the
Afro-Caribbean beliefs, such as Santeria and Voudoun, are being lumped
in the "Satanic" category. He notes numerous articles and incidents in
which the ignorant perpetuate rumors with no truth to them whatsoever
which result in the persecution of practitioners of such beliefs.
Those who come in for the most criticism from Mr. Stevens are those he
labels "the experts"; he cites poor scholarship, lack of credentials,
and downright greed as points of contention. One interesting question
he raises concerns funding for the individual law enforcement officers
to attend training seminars on occult crime. Simply put,"These
seminars are advertised among police agencies; were the fees paid out
of public funds?" (Is anybody listening?)
Folklorists should get involved NOW, he insists, before someone gets
hurt in the panic. He sees a great need for study and research and
explanation of what is and more importantly, what is NOT happening,
and explanations for it all in light of history and mythology. In his
words, "the folklore of Satanism is snowballing, and it is in serious
need of explication by people who know what they're talking about."
Dr. Victor's article addresses a problem that CWR has treated with
before: tracking an "urban legend" (CWR # 5). He narrows the focus of
the Satanic rumor-mongering to one specific outbreak in the Jamestown
N.Y. area in the spring of 1988. Through interviews with hundreds of
students, parents, police, ministesr, and newspaper reporters, Dr.
Victor and his sociology students tracked this rumor, beginning with
an Oct. 31, 1987 Halloween party.
The flames of rumor were fanned by an episode of the "Geraldo Show" on
Nov. 19, 1987, dealing with "Satanic Cults and Children". This show
prompted telephone calls to local ministers by concerned parents, and
the Thomas Sullivan case in January of 1988 further inflamed public
sentiment. Other ministers began to speak to their congregations about
the possibility of Satanic involvement by teens, and by May 13, the
full blown rumor was that a Satanic cult was seeking victims for a
The community response to this rumor surprised Victor; "many parents,
for example, held their children home from school out of fear that
they might be kidnapped by 'the cult'. Absences from elementary
schools were three or four times greater than average. Over 100 cars
showed up at a rumored ritual site in a wooded area, where they were
stopped by police barricades. Some of the cars had weapons in them:
clubs, knives and hunting guns. Several teenagers who were falsely
rumored to be in 'the cult' received telephone death threats from
adults. At a warehouse rumored to be another meeting place of 'the
cult' about $4,000 of damage was done to musical equipment and
interior walls. The police, school officials, and the youth bureau
received hundreds of telephone calls reporting bizarre incidents.
People reported seeing things that did not exist and having knowledge
about events that did not occur."
Dr. Victor goes on to speak about myths and why and how they are
created and what function they serve in society. He treats
specifically with scapegoats such as Jews, Witches, Blacks, etc. and
their relation to those myths. As Victor is a sociologist, he offers
some interesting sociological insights as to why this myth is
re-appearing in our culture at this time. The piece is exquisitely
detailed and documented and is HIGHLY recommended. New York Folklore
can be obtained by writing:
Phillips Stevens, Jr.
Dept. of Anthropology
SUNY at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14261
New York Folklore is to be commended for the painstaking research and
documentation on these two fine articles.
"SATANIC, OCCULT, RITUALISTIC CRIME: A LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSPECTIVE" by
Kenneth V. Lanning, Supervisory Special Agent, Behavioral Science
Instruction and Research Unit, FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia (June,
In the almost 5 years that I have followed this subject, rarely has
such a complete, informative, well- thought-out, and well-researched
document crossed my desk. Mr. Lanning has done a superb job of
pinpointing the problems associated with the current approach to the
problem of so-called "occult crime".
He begins with a overview of the general curriculum of an occult crime
training seminar, noting that the topics covered include an historical
overview of Satanism, Witchcraft and Paganism, fantasy role-playing
games, heavy metal music, "stoner" gangs, teen suicide, crimes by
self-styled satanic practitioners, ritualistic child abuse, organized
Satanic groups, and the "Big Conspiracy" theory. These topics are all
strung together, implying that (1) there is a continuum of behavior,
and (2) this material is all documented. The remainder of the paper is
devoted to debunking those two implications.
Noting the lack of definition of key words, such as "satanic",
"occult", and "ritualistic", he says, "simply put, for some people,
satanism is any religious belief system other than their own". A list
of items, including Freemasonry, Rock Music, the KKK, and Hinduism,
have been labeled as "Satanism" at these seminars. In addition to this
listing, Mr. Lanning references a book entitled Prepare for War by Dr.
Rebecca Brown which lists as "doorways" to satanic power horoscopes,
fraternity oaths, and acupuncture, and concludes, "the ideas expressed
in this book may seem extreme and even humorous. This book, however,
has been recommended as a serious reference in law enforcement
training material on this topic."
Mr. Lanning states, "Ritual can refer to a prescribed religious
ceremony, but in its broader meaning refers to any customarily
repeated act or series of acts. The need to repeat these acts can be
cultural, sexual, or psychological as well as spiritual." Included in
those rituals are those familiar to all of us, such as the traditional
Christmas and Thanksgiving family gatherings.
In the context of social ritual, he addresses the concept of sexual
ritualism and says that "deviant acts, such as urinating on,
defecating on, or even eviscerating a victim, are far more likely to
be the result of sexual ritualism than religious or 'satanic'
ritualism." This type of behavior is most often connected with a
psychological condition known as obsessive-compulsive behavior. The
paper goes on to discuss this topic in some detail and concludes, "the
important point for the criminal investigator is to realize that most
ritualistic criminal behavior is not motivated simply by satanic or
Addressing the problem of ritualistic child abuse, Lanning points out
that not all spiritually- motivated ritualistic activity is satanic.
Many things that some parents would consider a part of their normal
religious activity, such as corporal punishment, or kneeling on the
floor while reciting prayers, might be considered ritualistic
activity, but not necessarily satanic.
The next question addressed is "What makes a crime satanic, occult, or
ritualistic?" Rejected as answers to this question are the presence of
certain symbols, the bizarre and cruel nature of the crime, or the
date of the crime -- the presence of these elements would beg the
question: what then does it mean if a crucifix is found at the site,
or if the crime is committed on Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving? He
also cites cases in which psychotic killers mutilated their victims
with no evidence of any type of "satanic" involvement whatsoever.
Many times the handout material given at occult training seminars to
law enforcement officers is conflicting and undocumented. As an
example, he cites handouts and reference material that show a range of
the number of satanic or occultic holidays from 8 to 110 days a year
(plus birthdays, and up to 3 days on either side of these holidays)!
Following this he lists various things that have been done by
Christian parents, justified by use of the Bible, which the rest of us
might view as child abuse, and comments, "Some people would argue that
the Christians who committed the crimes misunderstood and distorted
their religion while satanists who commit crimes are following theirs.
But who decides what constitutes a misinterpretation of a religious
belief system? The individuals who committed the above- described
crimes, however misguided, believed that they were following their
religion as they understood it."
Mr. Lanning states that he has been unable to clearly define a satanic
crime. "Each potential definition presents a different set of problems
when measured against an objective, rational, and constitutional
perspective." Many times, the facts of the crime are quite different
from the media reports and "actual involvement of satanism or the
occult in these cases usually turns out to be secondary,
insignificant, or nonexistent". But then, ordinary crime doesn't sell
"What is the justification for law enforcement officers giving
presentations on satanism and the occult to citizen groups, PTA's, or
school assemblies? Is it public relations, a safety program, or crime
prevention? "This is a very confusing question for a civilian to
answer, and Lanning brings out that by introducing themselves as
current or former police officers and speaking as religious advocates,
these "experts" only confuse the public. He recommends that "officers
who believe that the investigation of satanic/occult crime puts them
in conflict with supernatural forces of evil should probably not be
assigned to these cases." Indeed, it has known to happen that an
officer who does NOT believe such things has been suspected of being a
One of the most perceptive points made in this paper reads, "satanic
and occultic crime has become a growth industry. Speaking fees, books,
video and audio tapes, prevention material, television and radio
appearances all being egoistic and financial rewards."
He points out that law enforcement officials have a job to listen to
the facts of a case and to look for evidences of a crime. If crimes
are really going on, history and human nature are on the side of
exposing the crimes. People make mistakes and leave evidence. The
recent incidents at Matamoros, Mexico are proof enough of that.
In closing, Lanning says, "Until hard evidence is obtained and
corroborated, the American people should not be frightened into
believing that babies are being bred and eaten, that 50,000 missing
children are being murdered in human sacrifices, or that satanists are
taking over America's day care centers. No one can prove with absolute
certainty that such activity has NOT occurred. The burden of proof,
however, as it would be in a criminal prosecution, is on those who
claim that it has occurred. As law enforcement agencies evaluate and
decide what they can or should do about satanic and occult activity in
their communities, they might also consider how to deal with the hype
and hysteria of the 'anti-satanists'. The overreaction to the problem
can clearly be worse than the problem."
As a researcher, I cannot agree with this more. CWR has printed
articles describing the hysteria surrounding this issue; it is only a
matter of time before someone is hurt if this continues. As a Witch
whose beliefs are oftentimes lumped into the "Satanic" scare, I would
like to applaud Mr. Lanning for a voice of sanity amidst the hysteria.
The author may be reached at:
Kenneth V. Lanning
Supervisory Special Agent
Behavioral Science Unit
Quantico, VA 22136
This article is Public Domain, and reprints are available from CWR.
Send $2.00 (ppd.) for each copy ordered to CWR, P.O. Box 1842,
Colorado Springs, CO 80901- 1842.
"Satanic Cults: a Skeptical View of the Law Enforcement Approach"
(Presentation given at the 11th annual crime prevention conference of
the Virginia Crime Prevention Association, Chesapeake, Virginia, June
23, 1989) by Robert Hicks, Criminal Justice Analyst/Law Enforcement
Section, Department of Criminal Justice Services
Mr. Hicks begins this informative and enlightening piece with a
description of the activities of a convent, using the jargon that he
says is common in satanic cult seminars. The use of these terms make
the lawful and harmless activities of convents seem sinister and
pernicious. The point Mr. Hicks makes is that words such as "cult",
"occult", "satanic", and "ritual" being bandied about in the satanic
cult seminars are never defined.
Mr. Hicks takes his readers inside the atmosphere of the police
training seminars and points out areas in which he sees
counterproductive and alarming tendencies -- and they are rampant, if
his account is to be believed. Some of the shortcomings listed include
insufficient background given on cases used as illustration, the heavy
influence of Judeo- Christian values in the presentations of many of
the "experts", lack of clear definitions of terms, lack of
corroborating evidence for the claims of the "experts", and imprecise
or misleading descriptions of crimes.
On the subject of the "experts", Mr. Hicks is even more explicit. He
cites the double standard used by the cult crime instructors when
pointing to "satanic crime", yet failing to refer to "Christian crime"
or "Jewish crime", stating: "Whether or not people can get criminal
ideas from belief systems -- whether from Buddhism, Christianity,
voodoo, Islam, or anything else ... has little to do with the belief
system but rather with a person's own psychological make-up." Mr.
Hicks also cites the jumbling together of beliefs such as Wicca and
Voudoun with the "Satanic" belief systems.
What Mr. Hicks sees as the most disturbing in all this seems to be the
lack of evidence to back up the cult "experts'" claims. He cites
normal dynamics of groups (such as personality conflicts, rivalries,
jealousies, etc.) as reasons why the large scale conspiracy of the
international evil Satanic cult is, at best, an "urban legend".
Mr. Hicks' observations on the book Michelle Remembers were quite
interesting -- he made the following comment concerning some points
the book raised: "Some curious loose ends remain, though. (Michelle)
Smith's father denied the incidents, Smith loved her mother very much,
as did her two sisters, not mentioned in the book, who never witnessed
any satanic involvement. One sister has been deeply distressed at
Smith's representation of her mother. Not mentioned either was the
Catholic Pazder's divorce, Smith's conversion as a Catholic and her
own divorce in order to marry Pazder, practices frowned upon by the
Catholic Church, yet the book extols Catholic ceremonies and ritual as
a way to combat Smith's terror."
The subject of ritual abuse is dealt with here by citing the rich
abundance of folklore which surrounds Satanism through the centuries;
virtually every example of satanic stories found in the cult seminars
can be found in the folklore of Satanism.
The media does not avoid Hicks' critical eye either. He cites numerous
examples where an overanxious media published stories which they
claimed to have "satanic" involvement; when later thorough
investigation disproved the satanic theories, the damage remained
done. Nobody pays much attention to retractions, which have been few
regardless of the facts of these cases. The most graphic example of
this is an incident in Indiana several years ago, which involved a
legal, non-violent Pagan gathering at a public park. One sheriff's
deputy (who had been to an "occult crime" seminar) talked to a
reporter (who did not bother to verify anything told to him, and
talked to no other source). The resultant story proceeded to describe
"animal sacrificing, drinking blood in rituals, nude dancing, or
dancing by people in 'devil-like costumes' ... and eating raw flesh."
The facts of the case were not even remotely similar to the story,
Hicks says, and the group was "not satanic. The satanism was created
by the seminar-trained police who spent much time and effort watching
the (group) simply because they were not Christians celebrating in a
CWR would like to thank Mr. Hicks for a well-researched, factual
presentation. Copies of this transcript may be obtained by writing to:
Criminal Justice Analyst
Law Enforcement Section
Department of Criminal Justice Services
805 E. Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia, 23219
THE DEVIL'S WEB: WHO IS STALKING YOUR CHILDREN FOR SATAN?
By Pat Pulling with Kathy Cawthon
Pat Pulling, founder of Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (B.A.D.D.)
has based this book on her experiences of seven years in dealing with
the problem of teen occultism . Ms. Pulling became involved with the
issue after her then-16-year-old son "Bink" committed suicide in what
she describes as a "Dungeons and Dragons related death". From this
beginning of investigating fantasy role-playing games, Ms. Pulling has
gone on to investigate such areas as heavy metal music and its
relation to crime, violence in entertainment, and the phenomenon of
ritualistic child abuse.
Ms. Pulling's research is not what I would call either thorough or
reliable. A brief look at some of the citations from the book will
give the reader an idea of the quality of the scholarship involved: On
page 44, she notes:
"There are certain dates which occultists consider 'high holy
days' in Satanism and Witchcraft ... These dates are January 1
(traditionally a Druid feast day)..." The Druids celebrated
Nov. 1 as their New Year, and it was a major feast; Jan. 1 had
no particular significance.
Further evidences of poor research appear in the glossary at
the back of the book. On page 196, she defines the following
"Warlock: Originally meaning 'one who breaks faith'. It is
more often used by non- witches to refer to a male witch." On
the same page, a few lines down, we find the following
"Witches Sabbath: Meeting of a witches' coven held in order to
perform magical rites and ceremonies. A large number of
witches and warlocks who would gather around a bonfire or
cauldron, light black candles, and perform sacrifices. The
Sabbath would culminate in a sexual orgy." Contrary to this
assertion, the meaning of the word "warlock" has never
changed, and therefore such a one would not be invited to any
Then on page 191 she defines "Sabbat: Seasonal assembly of
Witches in honor of the Archfiend." Use of the word "Sabbath"
(incorrect) for one reference and "Sabbat" (correct) for
another is rather strange, for one, and in almost 10 years as
a Witch, I have never honored anything that could be called
Many other researchers in this field have taken issue with Ms. Pulling
in the past; in Chapter 4, "The Satanic Network", she addresses this
issue. Referring to an article which appeared in the Richmond News
Leader (reviewed elsewhere in this issue of CWR) she states the
following: "The reporter had gone to a great deal of trouble to find a
number of 'authorities' who would support the angle of his article ...
The two-part series quoted a number of people who have set themselves
up as experts on the subject of occult activity and used these quotes
to argue the statements made by the police officer and me. The
reporter failed to mention, however, that one of his naysaying sources
is a former member of the Church of Satan whose current level of
involvement is unknown. Another source has been 'investigating' this
subject for less than a year and his 'research' consists of little
more than reading a smattering of articles and books."
What Ms. Pulling fails to mention in her book is that the "naysayers"
she talks about here include the following:
- FBI Special Agent Kenneth Lanning, who works extensively
with the issue of occult crime and with the National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children, and has for many years;
- Robert Hicks, Analyst for the Department of Criminal Justice
Services in Richmond, who holds a Masters Degree in
Anthropology, and who presented a paper to the 11th annual
conference of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association, June
23, 1989. CWR has obtained a copy of the transcript of his
speech and has found that it is entirely consistent with the
research of Mr. Lanning and our own staff;
- Dr. Shawn Carlson, who is a member of the Committee for the
Scientific Examination of Religion (see CWR, Vol. I, Issue 4);
- The "former member of the Church of Satan" mentioned was
Arthur Lyons, who has written two books on the subject of
Satanism through two decades of first-hand research. Mr. Lyons
states that Anton LaVey would not talk to him unless and until
he paid $20 to join; he likens this to an FBI agent joining
the KKK for investigative purposes;
- One can only assume that the source she scoffed at for
spending less than a year in research on the subject is Dr.
Jeffrey S. Victor of Jamestown, NY. Dr. Victor is a
sociologist who has spent a year of intensive study on the
subject of Satanic rumor-mongering in his area of NY state.
His research findings parallel the findings in "Tracking an
Urban Legend" (CWR, Vol. I, Issue 5).
Dr. Victor describes this research as follows: "My research methods
included interviews I conducted with a wide variety of community
authorities, including police, school officials, youth group workers,
ministers, psychotherapists, and newspaper reporters. The Jamestown
Police Department was exceptionally helpful in providing me with
non-confidential information regarding their own investigations of the
various rumor stories. I also interviewed newspaper reporters from
other towns in the region, who covered the story. Students from one of
my classes conducted interviews with 49 local area teenagers, parents
and informal authority figures (such as teachers and ministers),
shortly after the rumor-panic occurred. One student, on an independent
study project, did a research study of teenage peer group conflict in
Jamestown in reaction to the rumors, interviewing 30 teenagers from
different youth sub-cultures. Another student, who is a minister, is
currently conducting interviews of fundamentalist and mainline
Protestant ministers, relative to the reactions to the rumor stories.
I also have information from my own participant observation ... having
a teenage son in the local high school at the time. As a teacher in a
community college, most of my students (youth and adults) are from the
local area. Many of them talked to me at length about the rumors. I
also obtained useful information from documents, including school
attendance records and reports from local government agencies." (From
"A Rumor-Panic About a Dangerous Satanic Cult in Western New York", by
Jeffrey S. Victor, New York Folklore Magazine, Vol. XV Nos 1- 2, 1989,
p. 25 & 27.)
Compared to the above sources, this reviewer would love to know how
Ms. Pulling's credentials stack up. The use of the phrase, "people who
have set themselves up as experts", when referring to the above
persons, would seem inaccurate at best and either arrogant or
self-serving at worst.
Ms. Pulling does make some good points in the area of parent-child
communications. She stresses that parents should be aware of what
their teens are doing, and whom they are associating with; wise advice
from whatever quarter. But her allegations of Satanic rituals in which
sexual orgies and murder take place (and, she claims, are videotaped)
are as yet unfounded.
All in all, this is NOT a book which I could reccomend for either
scholarship or informative content, as it is entirely too full of
unfounded rumor, speculation, and downright sloppy research. Real
information is available from reliable sources; it is too bad that Ms.
Pulling has disregarded it apparently because it does not fit her
Satanic conspiracy theories.
HALLOWEEN AND SATANISM
By Phil Phillips and Joan Hake Robie
Starburst Publishers, Lancaster, PA 1987
This book is highly recommended by many organizations as being the
definitive reference book on Halloween for the Christian and police.
While Rev. Phillips has done more historical research than the average
Christian investigating pre-Christian religious customs, his work
falls far short of what I would term adequate. Perhaps the most
disturbing thing about the book is the lack of references for the
first two chapters, which contain the majority of the historical
Phillips persists in such inaccuracies as stating that Stonehenge was
built by Druids (scholars now agree that the structure had stood on
the plain for many hundreds of years before the arrival of the Celts
with their Druidic priesthood), that Halloween was originally held in
honor of a Celtic deity called "Samhain" (while Samhain was the name
of the festival, there is no evidence to indicate that the name was
ever applied to a deity. See "The Origins of Halloween" by Rowan
Moonstone, available from CWR), and that the Celts also worshipped a
deity named "Muck Olla". Muck Olla was mentioned by W.G. Wood-Martin
in Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland , but the practice is limited
to one small area of the British Isles in the villages of Ballycotton
and Trabolgan and is unknown outside this small geographic area. There
is no indication that Muck Olla was a sun god, as alleged by Phillips.
The native inhabitants of the British Isles did have solar deities;
the Irish deity was Lugh and the Welsh was Llew.
Phillips then proceeds to go into several chapters on the evils of
everything from Pennsylvania hex signs to ouija boards and tarot
cards. While this might have relevance in his Christian belief system,
it has nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween or law enforcement.
Police should be concerned with CRIME, not the religious practices of
As proof that the things he alleges in the book are true, Phillips
uses testimony from three women who have written books on the subject.
I have read all of these books.
Roberta Blankenship in her book "Escape From Witchcraft" alleges that
in England in the 60s and 70s there was a huge organized underground
of "black witches" who met to do all sorts of evil things. She claims
to have risen to be their High Priestess and Witch Queen, and then
abdicated after she became a Christian.
Johanna Michaelson wrote of her experiences as an assistant to a
psychic surgeon in Mexico in "The Beautiful Side of Evil". By far,
hers is the most well-researched and documented book, although I
personally find the concept of psychic surgery difficult to believe.
The third woman, "Dr." Rebecca Brown, is the author of 2 books
entitled "He Came To Set The Captives Free" and "Prepare For War",
published by Starburst (the publisher of Phillips' book). CWR has
learned that Dr. Brown's original name was Ruth Bailey, and that while
a physician in the state of Indiana, she had her license revoked by
the state Medical Board on Oct. 2, 1984. Listed reasons for the
revocation include citations that she "knowingly and intentionally
misdiagnosed her patients including, but not limited to ... Edna
Elaine Moses ... That on numerous occasions she stated to her patients
that she was 'chosen' by God as the only physician able to diagnose
certain ailments and conditions which other physicians could not
because the other physicians ... were in fact, 'demons,devils and
other evil spirits' themselves. That on numerous occasions Respondent
misrepresented and falsified prescriptions ... That Respondent has
stated on numerous occasions that she possessed the capability of
'sharing' her patients' illnesses in fighting demons, devils and other
evil spirits. That without a valid therapeutic reason the Respondent
self-diagnosed and self-medicated herself with non-therapeutic amounts
of Demerol." The Board revoked Dr. Bailey's license, and she has not
applied for reinstatement in any state to date. (quoted from legal
transcript of the case of Ruth Bailey, M.D. Medical Licensing Board of
Indiana Cause No. 83 MLB 038) As is customary, no reason was given for
her name change.
It strains credibility and insults the intelligence of the reader to
be asked to rely on a work of such sloppy research and shaky
foundations as a "reference work".
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