UPma 02/04 1610 Goldsboro residents told teen deaths not occult-related GOLDSBORO, Md. (UP

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UPma 02/04 1610 Goldsboro residents told teen deaths not occult-related GOLDSBORO, Md. (UPI) -- A small Eastern Shore town continues to struggle with the recent deaths of several teenagers, deaths that have spurred rumours of death lists and Satanism. Since Nov. 14, five teens have died in the small town of 200. Two of the deaths were 14-year-old girls who slammed a car into a tree at a high rate of speed. Also, three teenage boys in the Goldsboro area have taken their own lives. The deaths have led to an investigation by the Caroline County State's Attorney's Office, the county Sheriff's Department, and Maryland and Delaware state police. Last week, authorities held a meeting and assured several hundred people from surrounding communities that they found nothing connecting the five deaths to Satanism. WP 02/04 Eastern Shore Town Struggles to Cope With Teen Deaths By Sue Ann Pressley Washington Post Staff Writer GOLDSBORO, Md. - Goldsboro is like many small, faded towns on the Eastern Shore - like Smyrna and Oil City and Burrsville. It has a general store, a "fix-it" shop, a one-room town hall people call "the outhouse." On Route 313, a sign offers visitors a comic message: "You are now leaving magnificent downtown Goldsboro, Pride of the Delmarva Valley, Hub of the Universe." Until recently, nothing much had ever happened in this town of 200 to attract the attention of the outside world. But now, a makeshift memorial near the Sandy Island Bridge symbolizes the current source of pain, worry and notoriety in Goldsboro: five funeral wreaths, five teenagers dead. Since Nov. 14, three teenage boys from the Goldsboro area have committed suicide. Two 14-year-old girls died in a high-speed car crash, slamming into a tree where the small memorial now stands. All five teenagers happened to be friends, and their deaths, accompanied by rumors of death lists and Satan worship, have unnerved the community. Adults ask, "How could this happen?" Teenagers wonder, "Who will be next?" "Every last one of them is upset," said Town Clerk Emily Shockley. "This is something, normally, a kid doesn't go through. Maybe they've known the death of a grandparent or the death of a pet, but they never expected to look at the face of death in so many of their friends. "They say they're tired of going to funerals. They say they don't want to look at any more coffins." The deaths have prompted an investigation by the Caroline County State's Attorney's Office, the county Sheriff's Department, and Maryland and Delaware state police. At a meeting last week, authorities told several hundred people from the surrounding communities that they had found nothing connecting the deaths to Satanism. But residents are desperate for reasons to explain what has happened, and the rumors have not disappeared - rumors of dire Ouija-board predictions and more deaths to come. "The deaths of five teenagers in a small community in a short period of time does not make sense to people - and people want to make sense out of life," said the Rev. Michael Rokos of Baltimore, an Episcopal priest and president of the Cult Awareness Network who is assisting investigators. If you blame it on the devil," he said, "you don't have to ask, `Did I let them down? Did the community let them down?' " Maybe there is no good explanation for what has happened. It is true that Goldsboro, a couple of miles from the Delaware state line, is an isolated spot. The nearest McDonald's is 10 miles away in the county seat of Denton; the nearest movie theater, 20 miles away in Easton. At night, depending on your point of view, Goldsboro is either refreshingly quiet or painfully remote, surrounded by dark fields and woods, with yellow porch lights glowing in the dark. Children there grow up knowing one another well, spending so much time together that, authorities believe, the death of one might prompt suicidal feelings in others - the domino effect often seen in teen suicides. The last teen to die, Paul Pinder, 18, who shot and killed himself in his bedroom on Jan. 12, had been a pallbearer at three of the preceding funerals. "It's such closeness with the kids around here," said resident George Bixler, who with his wife, Linda, has started a Monday-night Christian meeting for the town youth. "They grew up with one another, they know each other's birthdays. And when one of them died, I guess some could handle it and some couldn't." Funny what you remember about your friends. Jennifer Bixler, 16, remembers Lisa Harris's distinctive walk, the way Norman Lee used his hands when he talked about the deer he had seen, how Paul Pinder always slept during class in the ninth grade. On the blackboard in Jennifer's bedroom is a message Dawn Bilbrough wrote a few days before she died: "Dawn was here." "This has been the most shocking experience I've ever been through," said Jennifer, a junior at North Caroline High School. "That's the one word for it - shock." The troubles began on Nov. 14. John T. Kirby, 19, known to his friends as J.T., drove his 1972 Chevrolet down a dirt road on the outskirts of Goldsboro, put a gun to his head and killed himself. An unemployed deckhand, Kirby lived with his family in nearby Queen Anne's County, but spent a lot of time in Goldsboro with his friend, Paul Pinder. When news of his death reached the high school, "everybody was crying and carrying on and going to the office to talk to the counselors," Jennifer said. "We just couldn't believe he was dead." But there was more to come. On Nov. 26, Dawn Bilbrough and Lisa Harris, both 14, were killed when Dawn apparently lost control of a friend's borrowed pickup truck and struck a tree at 80 mph. The accident occurred at 1 a.m. on a two-lane country road. A 20-year-old Delaware man, who told police he had assumed Dawn was at least 16 because he had seen her driving her mother's car, was fined $400 for allowing an unauthorized person to drive a vehicle and providing alcohol to a minor. Bottles of champagne and peppermint schnapps were found in the truck, and Dawn had a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent, police said. State law defines impairment at 0.07 percent and intoxication at 0.10. The second suicide occurred a month later, on New Year's Eve. Norman Lee Jr., 17, closed his bedroom door and killed himself with a .22-caliber rifle. Twelve days later, Paul Pinder also was dead. "It was a bad holiday season," said Jennifer, who took part in group discussions at her school and in the town. "Nobody had any Christmas spirit and then it was the new year and Norman and Paul . . . . It hit everybody so hard," she said. "Everything seemed wrong and nobody knew the right thing to say. We all kept hurting each other's feelings." It was rumored that during a party last fall, a Ouija board predicted the deaths of seven teens, and five of them are now dead. It was rumored that Lisa Harris and Dawn Bilbrough intended to die. It was rumored that someone - or something - forced their truck off the road. All just rumors, authorities said. "We've been trying to stop people from getting carried away with the occult angle," said Christian Jensen, the Caroline County state's attorney. "We're not saying there's no occult activity in the county; there always has been, and some kids are just attracted to that stuff . . . . "But I think it's more a question here of, what is the social life of a kid in this area? What's available for a kid to do when he's not in school?" At sunset on a recent evening in Goldsboro, a boy rode his bicycle down Route 313, past the older green-and-white clapboard houses. Pickup trucks crowded the lot at the Goldsboro Store, and blackbirds flew over the muddy brown fields. The huge irrigation machines looked spidery in the dim light. At the town's community park, a small patch of land with several rusty swing sets, three teenage girls got up from a picnic table and slowly began to walk home. "It's different here now," said Shockley, the town clerk. "I miss looking out my bedroom window and seeing Lisa and Dawn and the others walk by. A lot of the old faces are gone forever."


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