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,"

he says.

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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