by Rex Springston
[The following is a June 1988 excerpted article from the Richmond,
Virginia "News Leader".)
Cassandra Hoyer said she was being thrown to the ground by 30
Satanists when a woman drove by and stopped her car to help. "They
dragged her into the woods, hung her on a cross and sacrificed her
by fire," Ms. Hoyer alleged. Another time, Ms. Hoyer and a teenager
were harassed and dipped into vats of blood, she said. She claimed
that both rituals occurred in the summer of 1987 in a rural part
of Goochland County, Virginia, she said.
At the time, investigating Police found nothing -- no car, no
missing person report, not even a drop of blood from the vats, said
chief deputy Leslie Parrish. Does he believe the stories? "I'm a
little 'iffy' on it," he said. Sue Bane says she has witnessed 50 to
70 human sacrifices by Satanists in the Richmond area. The most
recent occurred about six months ago in Henrico County when a baby
was sacrificed on an altar, then cut up into pieces, she said. The
police have found nothing.
Hoyer, 42, and Bane, 28, call themselves survivors of Satanic
cults. They are representative of hundreds of such "survivors"
across the country. Both have had intensive psychotherapy, and both
suffer from multiple-personality disorders, their psychiatrists
say. Neither has physical evidence to support her contentions.
"Survivors" across the country have told extremely similar stories
of torture and sacrifice without corroboration by physical
evidence, experts say. The stories -- given great play on talk
shows and in the mainstream press -- help feed the notion that
Satanic cults are conducting sacrifices with regularity across the
country. Many experts say that notion is a myth.
Two outspoken local advocates of the Satanic-conspiracy theory,
Richmond police Lt. Lawrence Haake and Hanover County "private
investigator" Patricia Pulling, say "survivors" are key sources of
their information. "People are saying the same thing all over the
country, and those people are totally unrelated to one another, but
what they say is consistent -- to me that is a degree of
credibility," said Haake.
Some mental health professionals say the survivor accounts are
simply delusions suffered by mentally disturbed people and passed
to the public as fact by unskeptical therapists, police officers
and news reporters. The delusions may be reactions to genuine, but
non-Satanic, abuse they received as children, experts say. "The
true cult is the people who believe in this," said Dr. Park Dietz,
a Newport Beach, CA forensic psychiatrist.
Ms. Hoyer, a toy-store cashier who was brought up in New England
and has lived in Richmond since 1980, has spoken in public meetings
and in news stories of being chased by a Satanic cult, being
repeatedly raped and being forced to witness two local sacrifices.
Her story was the basis for a January 1988 feature article in
"Style Weekly", a weekend newspaper insert. Mrs. Bane has spoken
about Satanism to Richmond police training groups, according to her
and Parrish. She is writing a book, "Freedom from Satan's Horror".
She revealed she had 17 personalities, and some of them wanted to
be in the cult. She said therapy and faith in God fused her 17
personalities into one. "I prayed, and through a miracle, I was
completely integrated," she said. Her husband, Nathan, a 35-year-
old plumber, said the whole thing had been a "nightmare." He said
he never saw the rituals; his wife would slip out at night to go
to them. Ms. Hoyer and Mrs. Bane said they began to realize they
were Satanic cult victims while undergoing psychotherapy in recent
Adults are not the only ones to describe Satanic rituals. According
to officials, a dozen or more children in the Richmond area have
described them, as logged by various Virginia state and local
departments. The children reported -- or indicated through play and
passing comments -- seeing sacrifices, dismemberment and other
"They are not saying they witnessed it. They are talking about it
as if they know about it, and that's what makes us suspicious,"
said Bettie Kienast, a Social Service director. She said her
department had dealt with four such children in about four years.
The stories are consistent with unconfirmed reports from children
across the country. Many experts say the children may have picked
up the stories from adults or other children or even from movies
and other popular culture. The stories also may be fantasies or
false reports induced by leading questions, experts say. In some
cases, the children may have been victims of real but non-Satanic
abuse, or of abuse by pedophiles who use the trappings of Satanism
as a means of control, some experts say.
Kenneth Lanning, the FBI's chief expert on sex crimes against
children, has been consulted in more than 299 case involving
Satanic themes. He would not discuss specific cases but he said he
was aware of claims of sacrifice in the Richmond area. He said he
knows of no bona fide Satanic cult sacrifice -- not only in Central
Virginia, but nationwide. Regarding Mrs. Bane's story, Lanning
said, "It's unlikely that a group of individuals could come
together, commit 50 to 70 human sacrifices, and no one ever finds
any evidence, no mother of a (sacrificed) child ever has second
thought . . . nobody ever makes a mistake."
[Note the great similarity in reports of Satanic ritual and UFO
Copyright (C) 1990 BAY AREA SKEPTICS. Reprints must credit "BASIS,
newsletter of the Bay Area Skeptics, 4030 Moraga, San Francisco,