TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two men arrested after being seen in a Tallahassee park with six child
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two men arrested after being seen in a Tallahassee
park with six children dressed in rags were held Friday on child abuse
charges, and police said the men may be part of an international satanic
cult whose members give up their children.
Some of the children told police they hadn't seen their parents since
"They evidently have come from such sheltered existences that they had
no concept of what a telephone was, or TV or anything like that," Scott
Hunt, spokesman for the Tallahassee Police Department, said Thursday.
The children, ages 2 to 6, may have been given up by their parents so the
parents could join a satanic cult in Washington, D.C., authorities in Florida
Washington authorities discovered material Friday that they say points
to a 1960s-style commune called the Finders, described in a court
document as a "cult" that allegedly conducted "brainwashing" and used
children "in rituals."
Washington police, who searched a warehouse there linked to the group,
removed large plastic bags filled with color slides, photographs and
photographic contact sheets. Some photos visible through a bag, as it was
carried from the warehouse, were of children; some were wallet-sized,
similar to school pictures, and some were of naked children.
Washington police said some of the items seized Friday showed pictures
of children engaged in what appeared to "cult rituals." Officials of the U.S.
Customs Service, called in to aid in the investigation, said the material
seized includes photos showing children involved in bloodletting
ceremonies of animals and one photograph of a child in chains. Customs
officials said they were looking into whether a child pornography
operation was being conducted.
Tallahassee police were alerted Wednesday by anonymous callers
concerned because the men were dressed in coats and ties while the
children, unwashed and insect-bitten, were playing in tattered clothes at
Myers Park, a downtown playground.
Upon questioning after their arrest Wednesday, the men said the children
were being "weaned" from their mothers in Washington. They said they
were taking the children to Mexico to start a school for brilliant children.
They denied any blood relationship with the children and refused to answer
"We don't know what we've got. All we have is six children and we don't
know where they came from," Hunt said.
The oldest child said the children had never been to school. They had been
traveling for several days or weeks, she said, although she didn't know
where they had been. She also said they hadn't seen their parents since
The girl said that when they did eat, they were given raw fruit and
Police identified the men as Douglas Edward Ammerman, 27, and Michael
Houlihan, 28, and said they were believed to be from the Washington area.
The two were each charged Thursday with one count of child abuse. They
appeared in court Friday and were jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.
The oldest child and a 2-year-old boy claimed to be brother and sister
and said Houlihan was their father. The other children were a 3-year-old
girl and three boys, ages 6, 4 and 2, authorities said.
Medical exams showed one child had been sexually abused, Hunt said Friday.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank