By: JEFF FREEMAN To: WITCHHUNT Re: Gilmer hunt 1/2 The North Texas Skeptic, February 1995
By: JEFF FREEMAN
Re: Gilmer hunt 1/2
The North Texas Skeptic, February 1995
Modern-day witch hunt in Texas
By Virginia Vaughn
Editor's note: Ginny Vaughn reviews a high-profile case of bogus charges
of ritual Satanic abuse in Gilmer, Texas. The case touches on the
current hysteria in the United States surrounding allegations of
recovered memories, false memory syndrome, and ritual Satanic abuse.
The Gilmer case gained national exposure through the work of Dallas
Morning News reporters Allen Pusey and Victoria Loe. Mr. Pusey spoke at
the November, 1994 NTS public meeting.
I am often at a loss to provide names of individuals who are, in my
humble opinion, deserving of being called "hero." I do not hesitate to
label Allen Pusey, Victoria Loe and Sgt. James Brown heroes, and I am
not the only person who thinks so. Mr. Pusey and Ms. Loe are writers
for The Dallas Morning News and were awarded the Stephen Philbin award
for reporting an amazing story of a modern-day witchhunt in Gilmer,
Mr. Pusey spoke to the North Texas Skeptics at a meeting before
Christmas detailing aspects of the Gilmer investigation. (I am reporting
the following from Mr. Pusey's talk, and the opinions expressed are my
own.) Mr. Pusey and Ms. Loe became involved in a story of a supposed
satanic cult ritual murder in Gilmer, a small east Texas town. The
kicker was that a police sergeant, James Brown, who tirelessly
investigated the case, was wrongfully charged with committing the crime.
Gilmer is inhabited by God- fearing people who go to church and profess
the Christian virtues of being non-judgmental, fair, compassionate and
loving toward their fellow man.
The first victim in this convoluted story was a 17-year-old girl named
Kelly Wilson. Kelly worked at a video store in downtown Gilmer and was
last seen leaving the store to make a bank deposit She vanished at about
8:30 p.m. on January 5, 1992, and her body has yet to be found. The
deposit was made, yet her car was found outside the store with slashed
tires. As it turned out the tires were slashed by a 17-year-old
skateboarder who had slashed quite a few tires that night. He was
questioned in the case, but it was deemed unlikely that he had anything
to do with Kelly's disappearance.
Sgt. Brown was assigned to the case. Prints were not lifted from the
car because it was decided that the FBI had better forensic resources.
It became obvious that someone Kelly knew abducted her, or that she just
left. Kelly's boyfriend was questioned and he claimed not to have heard
In reality, he had been out with Kelly the night before her
disappearance and they had had a big argument. Two boys were
questioned, one being the boyfriend and the other a mutual friend. This
friend lied to police saying that he and Kelly's boyfriend had been out
riding around when Kelly disappeared. This was meant to be an alibi for
the boyfriend, but the story didn't add up. They both failed polygraph
tests. The sergeant investigating the case would be the last person you
would suspect or would you?
Another story enters the milieu at this point. There was an
investigation of a Gilmer family, the Kerrs. The Kerrs are very base
people - poor and severely dysfunctional with a whole bunch of kids. In
the Southern vernacular they would be "po'white trash." Within the Kerr
family there was widespread sexual abuse and police reported this to
Child Protective Services (CPS). Some of the Kerrs had spent time in
jail. One would think this is the end of the Kerr story, but is it the
end of the story?
The Kerr children, in the hands of CPS, were prompted about instances of
sexual abuse. There isn't much question that the Kerrs were actually
abusing the children, but the charges that were brought against the
Kerrs were unsatisfactory to the fundamentalist community. CPS was told
a number of stories by the children including, "the devil would get them
if they told." This is a typical threat from a fundamentalist who
happens to be abusing his child. Heck, I remember being threatened by
the devil if I didn't clean my room!
When CPS heard this, nervousness set in. The kids had been home-
schooled and ten of them were placed in the same foster home. This
arrangement is conducive to swapping and enhancing stories. Gradually,
four of the children told of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). SRA was the
story of choice by foster parents who had been trained to look for SRA.
Case workers had also been trained to look for SRA. A fundamentalist
child abuser threatens his victim with "the devil will get you," because
to a fundamentalist, the devil is mighty scary. The child repeats this
to people trained to look for SRA and Bingo! Instant Satanic Cult.
Looking and finding
SRA is the theory that there is a vast conspiracy of Satanic worshippers
who abduct children, perform sexually-oriented rituals where the
children are debased, tortured and killed. Hearing about the devil set
off hell's bells in official personnel trained to find ritualistic
activities. The Kerr children were almost certainly sexually abused and
the people questioning them repeatedly asked about the supposed Satanic
aspects of the abuse. The kids spoke of warehouses, devils, angels and
robes, but they lived together and compared stories. Kiddie porn
entered the mix at this point.
The Upshur County sheriff investigated every warehouse in Upshur County
since the pornography supposedly occurred in a warehouse and the sheriff
found no candles, photographic equipment, photos or anything suggesting
a kiddie porn ring. He also found nothing to indicate ritual abuse or
The witch hunters weren't satisfied and contacted the Department of
Public Safety (DPS). They have their own expert in SRA, Stephen Baggs.
Baggs brought in another expert Brooks Fleig. Fleig is a police chaplain
from Louisiana who was a local preacher with cop car keys. Baggs and
Fleig trained the social workers to look for SRA and were paid $45/hour
to find it. Guess what? They "found" it.
A warrant was exercised in May 1993 on the Kerr home and the police tore
the home apart. Under intense questioning, one kid expanded his story
from sexual abuse to claims of baby killing. The two truck-driving Kerr
men supposedly abducted babies, took them home and slaughtered them in
the backyard. Baggs and Fleig used infrared photography along with
every other high-tech trick available to them to get evidence for mass
killings. They came up with nothing.
The affidavit used to get a search warrant had become public with its
horrific stories of sexual abuse and satanic rituals. There was a media
explosion and the media were caught up in the sensational story of the
Kerrs being Satanists. As Pusey said, "Truck drivers yes, Satanists
no." For one thing, people who actually invoke the name of Satan in
their rituals do not, in any way, fit the Kerr profile. Baggs and
Fleig, despite their findings, claimed to have vast evidence for SRA.
Sgt. Brown was called.
Baggs and Fleig looked for everything: dead babies, blood, hair, any
kind of forensic evidence, and they found nothing. They were
embarrassed by their lack of evidence and the heat was turned up. The
Kerrs were arrested for sexual abuse, and one kid that was taken away
was a Kerr neighbor, a friend of one of the Kerr children. The Kerr kid
told this neighbor friend about his being sexually abused. 'This kid
was interrogated for several hours and, Surprise! he blurted out what
the interrogators wanted to hear. The boy even soiled his pants. In his
statement he said that not only were the Kerrs killing babies, but Kelly
Wilson (remember her?) was here. Did he get the idea from the foster
parents or did be just see it in the saturated media?
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(4) Sun 12 Feb 95 2:53
By: JEFF FREEMAN
Re: Gilmer hunt 2/2
>>> Continued from previous message
Someone in a dark suit became someone in a uniform. Someone in a
uniform became a police officer. Eventually, it became Sgt. Brown.
Information about the investigation was given to Sgt. Brown and he
learned that some of the Kerrs implicated in Kelly's disappearance had
been in New York state at the time of her disappearance. The
truck-driving Kerr kept trucking records which were verified with his
employer in Arkansas. He also had gasoline credit card receipts from
New York. When asked where he had been on the night of January 5, 1992,
Mr. Kerr replied, "In New York." This, in itself, would be a good reason
to disbelieve the coerced testimony of the kid. Not so: the witch
hunters are convinced they are onto something and they are convinced
they are onto something big.
DA dumps case - Paid attorney continues witch-hunt
When Sgt. Brown pointed out that the kid's story didn't add up, and had
evidence to back this up, CPS got angry. The District Attorney didn't
want anything to do with CPS's case and recommended they get their own
prosecutor. They did that, in the person of a lawyer from Galveston,
Scott Lyford. He had to investigate allegations of child abuse and
quickly investigate Kelly Wilson's disappearance. He was given the
kid's testimony and for $90 an hour, he believed it.
Sgt. Brown became upset that the lawyer was investigating the Kelly
Wilson case since it was his case and out of the lawyer's jurisdiction.
Mr. Lyford, the lawyer, tells Brown, and this is very important "If you
get into my investigation in any way, I will ruin you personally,
professionally, financially and in every other way." Sgt. Brown was
beginning to be suspected because he didn't believe the SRA story.
Two women, Wanda Kerr and Connie Martin, were "questioned" regarding the
SRA matter. Wanda was in New York with her husband, yet after being
browbeaten by the interrogators, she admitted to being involved. Mr.
Pusey provided a partial transcript of the interrogation and it is a
textbook case of witchhunt proceedings. Sgt. Brown knew that Wanda Kerr
wasn't involved because of the trucking records. Mr. Lyford knew this,
but rejected the evidence because it didn't serve his agenda and prove
his point. Mr. Lyford learned that the trucking records are absolutely
legitimate, but did he question Wanda's story? What do you think?
Wanda told the interrogators what they wanted to hear to avoid the
no-win situation in which she found herself They were obviously not
going to believe anything she said unless it fit into their pre-
conceived notion. There was proof that the Kerrs were somewhere other
than in Gilmer. The interrogators were angry with her for lying, so she
simply went along with them. She told her lawyer, "I have so many
stories in my head I don't know what's the truth and what's not."
Connie Martin's history is important. She was in a foster home early in
life and ran away. She went back to an abusive relationship and had no
relationships where she wasn't badly physically abused. Danny Kerr was
her boyfriend and they had a couple of kids who were taken away during
the investigation. She was jailed and on record for lying. Lying a
lot. She could hardly be considered a reliable witness. She would say
and do anything to get her kids back, so she told people what they
wanted to hear.
One story of Connie's, which was entirely fabricated, made her the only
witness against Sgt. Brown. She can somehow remember minute details of
a birthday meal, but she can't seem to remember when Kelly was abducted
or the color of Kelly's car among other glaring details. She does,
however, "remember" that Sgt. Brown was involved in Kelly's torture.
Scripting the answers
Mr. Pusey provided us with an unbelievable transcript of Connie's
interrogation about the torture of Kelly Wilson. The interrogators ask
leading questions and at one point must backtrack in order for Connie to
change her testimony so the flow of events make more sense. One of the
kids had used a profane word to describe anal sex. It was important
that Connie's testimony match what the kid said, so they proceeded to
ask her about this particular event. She obviously doesn't know what
they are talking about and when asked, "What do you call it?" Connie
replies, "Anal sex, I reckon." She is then asked what the Kerrs called
it and she responded with a different euphemism each time. Each time it
was the wrong answer. This happened six times! She never did get it
right, so they TOLD her what to say.
The highly-paid investigators are convinced that the trucking records
are forgeries. Do they send them to the DPS for verification? Ummm,
no. No time. However, they had plenty of time to send lengthy
questionnaires about what the kids said to two big-league SRA cult abuse
experts of dubious character. All questions rated a whopping 5 on one
expert's scale, 5 being the highest likelihood of SRA. The other expert
reported a high likelihood of SRA in a narrative. A note at the bottom
of the report said that these people (the Kerrs) were "Solar Phallic
Satanists" who trace their origins to 15th century Knights Templar of
Greece. Actually, the Kerrs hail from Indiana. This was received on
January 19, 1994. On January 21, 1994, Sgt. Brown was indicted by the
grand jury on the first day they met using only the child's and Connie
Martin's testimony, without knowing that the testimonies had been
Sgt. Brown was arrested in College Station and since he was so
dangerous, a SWAT team was sent to retrieve him. He had no idea that he
was even being suspected. At this point Pusey and Loe became involved.
An FBI friend of Pusey's called him saying, "You've got to do
something!" Nothing remotely suggested that Sgt. Brown was involved.
Kelly was supposedly raped and tortured over a period of ten days yet
there was no evidence and nobody heard anything.
Nothing = Evidence for SRA
The prosecution obviously needed evidence against Sgt. Brown. After
media saturation of the crime, witnesses magically began to come forth.
More witnesses came forth after a 800-number telephone line was
installed and the prosecution began begging for clues. Mr. Pusey
provided us with some of the clues that began pouring in:
A young lady was stopped by Sgt. Brown at 3:00 a.m. on a Gilmer road.
He told her to be careful because what happened to Kelly could happen to
Someone had seen Sgt. Brown and Mr. Kerr going to a health club
A lady with an IQ of 70 remembered that Geneva Kerr read the Satanic
Bible. During the exercise of the warrant nothing Satanic was found -
just a couple of Halloween masks. EVIDENCE!
Sgt. Brown, the other victim and my third hero, cannot work as a police
officer due to ill health and community resistance. The charges against
him were dropped after he spent a few days in jail. Nevertheless, he is
a pariah in the community of Gilmer. Being a skeptic was a very brave
and dangerous thing for him and this should serve as a warning to all of
us. Wake up and smell the credulous for they are all around us. I
sincerely hope that what happened in Gilmer is an aberration, but my
fear is that it is not.
My thanks go to Allen Pusey for giving such a spell-binding
presentation. Unfortunately, Victoria Loe wasn't able to attend, but
she shares the accolades. I have only hit the high points of Mr.
Pusey's presentation here, and I am looking forward to the Pulitzer
nominations. If any investigation and report deserves recognition, it
is the Gilmer expose'.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank