Who is stalking the children for Satan?
By Kathy Cawthon
This article is from "PortFolio" weekly (Hampton Roads VA.)
Very early on a cold Sunday morning in January 1986, a Williamsburg minister
entered his church to find a grisly scene of desecration. A cross had been
rehung up-side down, and a black flag depicting a raven lay draped across an
alter table. Blood-smeared candles marked the five points of an inverted
pentagram which had a larger white candle at its center. An 18-year old James
City man slept soundly in the midst of what appeared to be remnants of a
private ritual. The minister sommond police officers, and, according to one
investigator, there was "blood all over the place". The young man was
arrested and later told officers that he was a satanist. He had used a
syringe to draw his own blood which he had then emptied into a goblet and
Similarly gruesome incidents are being reported with increasing frequency
around Hampton Roads. Residents of a Newport News apartment complex awoke one
morning in 1987 to discover a puddle and splattered blood in a stairwell and
on a walkway. Police officers followed the trail to an apartment where they
found parts of human organs on the living room floor. A suspect, arrested
later, told a bizarre story to justify his claim of self-defense. According
to the alleged killer (who was subsequently convicted), the victem had
insisted he was a vampire.
Last summer, a group of sinister recruiters were reportedly hanging around
the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, inviting area teenagers to a meeting where
they would learn "the true power". Beach police later confirmed the group's
link to satanic cult activity.
Still more reports of strange activity. Satanic symbols were found
spray-painted on the Lion's Bridge in Newport News and etched into the lawn
of a home that was set on fire in that city. A valuable ram owned by Colonial
Williamsburg bled to death lasst year after its throat was cut. The charred
remains of a dog were found in a plastic garbage bag beneath the Chesepeake
Bay Bridge-Tunnel last summer, the second finding in the same spot of
evidence of what police believe are occult-related animal killings. Two
vaults in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery were vandalized in July, and part of
a body was removed from one of the tombs - evidence, say Richmond
investigators, of preparations for a satanic ritual. A Hampton police officer
concedes that "every now and then you see things that look weird," and "we
have had some cemetery vandalism," but declines to say more.
Law enforcement officials are sharply devided on the issue of occult
activity in Hampton Roads. Some insist that the idea of such activity is
nothing more than an urban myth. William Robinson, Newport News'
Commonwealth's Attorney, calls the link of the so-called vampire killing in
the city to occult activity "a creature of the media." He says the victim
suffered from a rare disorder that made his skin extremely sensitive to
light, thus his pattern of staying inside durring the day and only venturing
forth at night. Williamsburg officers say that the church desecration was an
isolated incident enacted alone by an emotionally disturbed young man. The
killing of the ram is labled a high school prank by police.
Officers in Richmond and Virginia Beach, however, say that Peninsula
police departments are closing their eyes to an ugly reality that is
threatening the mental stability and even the lives of area children and
teenagers. Experts in the field of ritualistic crime maintain that "minor"
incedents, such as the vandalizing of cemeteries and churches, the scrawling
of satanic graffiti, and the killing of animals, are just the tip of a very
large iceberg and that to ignore or discount the more serious implications
is to invite disaster.
"Tidewater is becomming a hotbed of satanic activity," says Virginia Beach
detective Don Rimer. "Richmond has been dealing with this for years, but
we're the new guys on the block. Cult members from the Richmond area have
told us that there people are moving here, living down here."
Rimer has seen a significant increase in occult-related activity in
Virginia Beach in recent months. He is currently investigating eight cases
of ritual animal killings that have occured since early spring. The remains
of the animals have been at various locations throughout the city. In one
case which occurred in the Princess Anne area, two dogs and two pigs were
found lying head-to-head in the shape of a cross. In another case, a goat was
burned to death.
Rimer's job was made more difficult by citizens and other law enforcement
officials who refuse to believe that the problem is real and that it is here
in Hampton Roads. "Denial is the first thing you are met with when you are
trying to tell people that something evil is going on in their community,"
Last month, Rimer met with representatives of police departments and
mental health facilities from 35 states at a three-day seminar in Richmond.
Says Rimer, "I saw seasoned law enforcement officers cry at that seminar."
Stories of macabre incidents are on the rise around the country. Survivors
of ritual abuse tell of Black Masses (rituals performed which mock the
traditional Catholic mass), the drinking of human blood, cannibalism and
mutilation, ritual killings of infants conceived by cult members for the
express purpose of sacrifice, of being tortured and sexually abused in ways
that strain the imagination, and of self-mutilation by cult members to prove
their devotion to the Prince of Darkness. There are tales of personality
splittings - complex processes of brainwashing which effectivly divide a
victim's personality so that he is able to lead two (or more) distinct lives
and perform acts in each life that are not consciously recalled in the other.
According to survivors, these process involve the use of hallucinogenic and
other drugs, forcing victims to engage in un-natural sex acts (often
photgraphed and videotaped for later blackmail), and locking victims in
coffins of other small spaces for days. The victims they say, are almost
always children and teenagers. Infants are the purest, and therefore most
desirable, sacrificial offerings. Testimony in hundreds of cases around the
country indicates that youngsters are the most vulnerable prey of cults every
kind and esecially the ones linked to satanism.
A 12-year-old Richmond girl disappearing in 1984 while walking a short
distance to her grandmother's house. Her remains were found more than two
months later, too decomposed for immediate identification. X-rays comparisons
finally alowed a positive I.D. Later that year, two girls, ages five and
seven, were removed from the custody of their mother, who along with her
boyfriend had allegedly abused the girls sexually. The girl revealed that she
had witnessed the death of the slain 12-year-old and that she and her sister
had been made to eat human entrails. Law enforcement officials confermed that
the mother and her boyfriend had participated in cult activity. Evidence of
satanic rituals was found at the mothers apartment, just blocks away from the
home of the murdered child. According to a Richmond investigator, who asked
to remain anonymous, social workers determined that the little girls were not
emotionally stable enough to testify in court, and the mother and boyfriend
were released due to lack of evidence. The children remain under the
protection of child welfare services.
Kathy Snowden, a licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in
Richmond, has gained much experience in the field of ritual abuse
(particulary generational abuse) in recent years and believes that this kind
of horror can surface anywhere. "It's a serious problem," says Snowden.
"Three years ago I didn't know anything about this, and I didn't believe it
when I first encountered it."
One of Snowden's first experiences with a survivor of ritual abuse was the
case of Cassandra Hoyer, a Richmond woman whose memories of satanic rituals
including human sacrifice and cannibalism were consciously recalled in vivid
detain durring sessions with Snowden and Dr. Norman Holden, director of
outpatient services at Charter Westbrook in Richmond. Since then, Snowden has
spent hundreds of hours with other survivors and their therapists in Richmond
and around the country.
Says Snowden, "The level of horror and terror, the smell and taste
memories, the hearing and body memories, all are so vivid to ritual
survivors. They experience nausea in recalling of some memories."
There are various levels of cult activity and involvment on the part of
individuals and groups. One is the self-styled satanist, the "loner" type who
is already seriously emotionally disdurbed before becomming involved in
occult activity. The sociopathic personality is attracted to the books on the
occult, and he devises his own private rituals based on on his research.
Some loners hurt no one but themselves while others may take their beliefs
to the extent of murder.
Criminally oriented cults are believed to be highly organized and connected
through a network that reaches around the world.
Membership often includes several generations of a family and such highly
regarded individuals as doctors, lawyers, police officers and clergy.
There are several congregations of religious satanists who worship the
devil, such as the Chuch of Satan founded by Anton LaVey in 1966 in San
Francisco and the Temple of Set, both of which exsist solely to preach in
pleasurable acts and vengeance instead of forgiveness. As yet, there no
direct evidence of these elements proliferating in Hampton Roads, but experts
such as Rimer and Snowden warn that such dangers, particularly to children,
are comming and from several directions.
Pat Pulling, mother of a 16-year-old Richmind youth who died as a result
of his involvement with the popular fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons, and
founder of B.A.D.D., has joined forces with Richmond and Virginia Beach
detectives to warn other parents about what is happening in the region. "Kids
find it (the occult) intriguing," says Pulling. "They are vary open to it.
People have got to open their minds enough to believe that this is going on.
I hesitate to call it a conspiracy, but there is definitly a nationwide
network of satanic cult activity."
Pulling, Rimer and other law enforcement officials and terapists are
working to alert parents of heavy metal rock music, the current crop of
plotless blood-and-guts films, fantasy games and books on the occult. "Some
song lyrics are pure Black Masses," says Pulling. Satanic themes can be seen
on album covers by such rock groups as Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Black
Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, and Blue Oyster Cult. Drug use and unnatural sex are
other themes in the music causing concern among authorities.
Books on witchcraft and satanism found in many local bookstores contain
instructions for casting spells to cripple and kill, and one book offers a
spell for destroying the marriage of an unfaithful lover. Corporate
headquarters for the bookstores refused to divulge sales figures, but said
that these books are very popular among teenagers. "We don't carry The
Satanic Bible anymore," she said, "but the kids come in and special order
Peninsula child psychologist Peter Powell believes the occult is a growing
influence on youngsters in Hampton Roads. "We have a very real problem," he
says. "We have had children hospitalized here who have been physically abused
and who have witnessed animal mutilations."
Rimer and a growing number of law enforcement officials in Virginia Beach
and other area cities also believe that occult practices are even more
threatening to area children and teens than what is found in books, movies
and records. Their most recent investigations indicate that the more highly
organizedand criminally active cults are moving into Hampton Roads. Virginia
Beach officers have had a number of confermed sightings of rituals being
performed by dark-robed, chanting adults who carried torches as they circled
alters set up in open fields in the middle of the night. In one such ritual,
a baby was reportedly carried aloft, but there was no indication that the
infant was harmed. Experts on ritual crime are firmly convinced that the
local incidents of animal killings, church and cemetary vandalism, and other
reported sightings of rituals are evidence thatserious practitioners of
satanic and other occult activity are making Hampton Roads their home. "High
school kids may run through a cemetary, even knock over a gravestone," says
Detective Rimer, "but they don't kill animals," nor, he insists, do they try
to remove bodies from graves, desecrate churches and drink there own blood,
of murder children. Rimer and his associates and members of the Richmond
police department bemoan the fact that the law enforcement officials are too
quick to labe as high school pranks the growing number of incidents in the
The evidence is mounting, though little has surfaced publicly as yet. Much
is under investigation that cannot be revealed, says Rimer. In the meantime,
here is what parents should know:
Young people, either through normal adolescent or childish curiosity, or as
a result of loneliness and depression, are easily influenced by and drawn
into the occult, and parents need to observe carefully and seek professional
help when a child becomes preoccupied with this type of activity. The
greatest danger seems to lie in the children becoming victims of their own
fantasies and interests. The jewlery and dress that depict satanic symbols,
the concerts they attend, the albums and books they buy and the company they
keep make them perfect targets for the more organized and sinister groups
that some warn are moving into Hampton Roads. A refusal to believe that the
danger is real, the denial of the existence of this kind of activity in our
communities, may make victims of parents through the victimization of their
Something can be done by parents before it is too late. "Children who don't
have steady, well-controlled, affectionate families are the most vulnerable,"
says Powell, but he adds that any young person can become involved. Because
adolescence is a period of growth and natural assertion of independence, the
teen years need to be carefully observed by parents. "Look at the way your
children dress, and look at their reading material. Satanic music can be
confusing to the mind of an adolescent. When there is evidence that your
child is preoccupied with themes of death and mutilation, satanic symbols,
music and films, or is excessively moody and secretive, that's the time to
become concerned. Get information, educate yourself, and never hide that from
your child. Let him know that you are doing that out of love and concern."
Reverend Bob George of Peninsula Pastoral Counseling agrees. "Know where
your children are," says George. "Know who their friends are, what they are
reading and what they are involved in. When this kind of communication breaks
down within a family, there is a void, an empty space within the child. That
void is going to be filled by something, someone, somewhere."
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