AUTHOR: Jon Trott and Mike Hertenstein
SOURCE: Cornerstone, vol. 21, iss. 98, pp. 7-9,11-14,16-17,19,30,38
TITLE: Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Michael Warnke
NOTES: Copyright 1992 by Cornerstone Communications, Inc.
"I always wanted to write him a letter and
say, `Mike, when were you able to have this
coven of fifteen hundred people?' About the
most exciting thing we used to do was play
ÄÄOne of Mike Warnke's college friends
The Tragic History of Michael Warnke
by Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein
This is the story of well-known comedian, evangelist, and professed
ex-Satanist Mike Warnke.
Known as "America's Number One Christian Comedian," Mike Warnke has
sold in excess of one million records. June 29, 1988, was declared
"Mike Warnke Day" by the governor of Tennessee. ®The Satan Seller¯ has,
according to its author, sold three million copies in twenty years.
His 1991 ®Schemes of Satan¯ quickly climbed the best-seller list. Mike
Warnke's press material includes credits for appearances on "The 700
Club," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Larry King Live," "Focus on the
Family," and ABC's "20/20." Mike has won numerous awards from the
recording industry, including the 1992 Grady Nutt Humor Award. He
continues to perform two hundred live shows a year. He is truly a
figure of national prominence.
Mike Warnke's ministry and public profile are based upon the story
he tells of his previous involvement with Satanism. As written in ®The
Satan Seller¯, the story goes like this: a young orphan boy raised in
foster homes drifted from whatever family and friends he had to join a
secret, all-powerful satanic cult. First, he descended into the hell of
drug addiction. Then he ascended in the satanic ranks to the position
of high priest, with fifteen hundred followers in three cities. He had
unlimited wealth and power at his disposal, provided by members of
Satanism's highest echelon, the Illuminati. And then he converted to
A generation of Christians learned its basic concepts of Satanism
and the occult from Mike Warnke's testimony in ®The Satan Seller¯.
Based on his alleged satanic experiences, Warnke came to be recognized
as a prominent authority on the occult, even advising law enforcement
officers investigating occult crime. We believe ®The Satan Seller¯ has
been responsible, more than any other single volume in the Christian
market, for promoting the current nationwide "Satanism scare."
Through the years, ®Cornerstone¯ has received many calls from people
who felt something was not right concerning Mike Warnke. After our
lengthy investigation into his background, we found discrepancies that
raise serious doubts about the trustworthiness of his testimony. We
have uncovered significant evidence contradicting his alleged satanic
activity. His testimony contains major conflicts from book to book and
tape to book, it contains significant internal problems, and it doesn't
square with known external times and events. Further, we have
documentation and eyewitness testimony that contradict the claims he
has made about himself.
The evidence we present here includes testimony from Mike's closest
friends, relatives, and daily associatesÄÄpeople whose names Mike
disguised or omitted entirely in his "official" testimony. These people
knew the real Mike Warnke, who was not a drug fiend or a recruiter for
Satanism. But he was a storyteller.
Michael Alfred Warnke was born November 19, 1946, to Alfred "Al"
Warnke and his wife, Louise. Mike's parents lived in Evansville,
Indiana, and according to their son's confirmation certificate, had
Mike baptized at St. Anthony's Catholic Church.
When Mike was five, the Warnkes moved to Manchester, Tennessee,
where Al opened Warnke's Truck Stop. Located on Highway 41, north of
town, the diner soon became part of the local landscape. On January 15,
1955, Louise, on her way home from town, lost control of the family's
brand-new Packard and was killed. She was thirty-seven; Mike was eight
Mike had other family, too, from his father's previous marriage. His
half sister, Shirley Schrader was twenty-two years older than he
was. She first met Mike in 1954, when Al brought his family to
California on a visit. As Shirley recalls, "Dad, Louise, and Michael
came out to California in the mid-fifties. Prior to that, I wasn't
writing my father. I didn't even know where he was. My dad had
abandoned me when I was little. He was an alcoholic, and maybe twice in
my childhood did he make any effort to communicate with my mother. So I
was working and they came to my office, very unexpectedly. He says,
`I'm your father,' and he came on big and strong, `Oh, my daughter, my
daughter.' They spent maybe a week in California, and then went back to
When Mike's mother was killed, Al flew Shirley to Tennessee for the
funeral. During that visit, Al Warnke asked Shirley if she and her
husband, Keith, would move to Manchester and help run the truck stop.
"You always think, Wouldn't it be neat to know your own dad? That was
probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made."
Shirley, Keith, and their six-year-old son Keith, Jr., came out to
Manchester in February of 1955. But Al and Shirley soon had their
problems. "He had me working days, with Thursday off, and he had my
husband working nights, with a different day off. Then there was the
fact that my father was a drunk. We weren't there but a few days when
he went off on a big binge and didn't show up again for a week. There
would have been enough money to support us all. But he forgot we were
supposed to be paid."
Al Warnke seems to fit the description given him by his son in his
books and records. But what about Mike Warnke? Shirley recalls Mike as
a little boy who spent a lot of time "sitting two feet from the
television. I tried to tell my dad, `Hey, the boy can't see.' And he'd
say, `Don't try to tell me about my son!' And my dad would give the kid
ten bucks and send him uptown. That was a lot of money for those days."
Disgusted with Al and his truck stop, but feeling empathy for Mike,
the Schraders returned to California. Two years later, Al Warnke was
dead of heart failure.
Mike Warnke's story of his life, ®The Satan Seller¯, opens just
after Al's funeral, with adults discussing Mike's future as he
eavesdrops. As the book indicates, the eleven-year-old boy was
initially placed with his two aunts, Dorothy and Edna, who lived in
Sparta, Tennessee. Warnke has a segment on his ®Mike Warnke Alive!¯
album called "Tennessee Home and Blankety-Blank," in which he describes
how he raised one aunt's dander with his crude, truck stop ways.
The first night I was up there this lady came out and she
said, "Well, honey, how do you think you're gonna like it
here?" And I said, "Well, this is a pretty nice
blank-blankety-blank place. We oughta get along pretty
blank-blankety-blank well as long as you feed me
Aunt Edna Swindell denies any such child appeared at her
Tennessee home. "He was just a typical boy. We had no problems." What
about his claims about being a foulmouthed brat? "He wasn't that here."
Meanwhile, Shirley Schrader was trying to get custody of young Mike.
"We ®wanted¯ Michael," Shirley recalls. "And we fought through the
courts for Michael for months before they let him come out here."
Aunt Edna notes, "He stayed with me seven months. I guess if I
wanted him, I could have kept him the entire time. His half sister in
California wanted him, and that's where he wanted to go."
®Mike Moves in with the Schraders¯
During the summer of 1959, Mike went to live with his half sister
and her family near Riverside, California. Shirley confirms Warnke's
story of how his Aunt Edna sent him to California loaded down with
Shirley Schrader took the boys to churchÄÄthat is, she took her
eleven-year-old son Keith with her to Catholic mass and allowed
thirteen-year-old Mike to attend a nearby Protestant church. "And that
was fine for as long as he wanted to do it, because we weren't going to
force religion on him."
In Riverside, Keith, Jr., attended a parochial schoolÄÄSt. Francis
deSales. Mike eventually decided he wanted to go to that same parochial
school. "He went for a year, until we moved up on the mountain," says
In February of 1961, the Schraders and fourteen-year-old Mike moved
to Crestline, a small community planted among the pine trees atop the
San Bernardino Mountains overlooking the vast San Bernardino Valley.
The Schraders were well respected in Crestline. Community pillars,
they ran a tight ship at home. Keith, Sr., head of the Pilot Rock
Conservation Camp, was in charge of minimum security inmates assigned
to fight forest fires. "We took the boys on camping trips. We rock
hounded. We did things together," recalls Shirley. "We sat them down
and had the sex talk. We had the talk about alcohol. We were a regular
Keith, Jr., recalls, "Mike and I had a good time growing up
together. We were real close during high schoolÄÄwhen we weren't
Mike Warnke attended Rim of the World High School. His best friends
through these years were Tim Smith and Jeff Nesmith. "We'd
spend lots of time at each other's houses," says Jeff Nesmith, "go to
school dances together, proms, and one summer Mike and I worked for my
dad in the construction business. We weren't hellions, but we weren't
angels either. We had our parties, gate crashed some dances."
All of Mike's friends and family we were able to contact denied his
assertion that he drifted at one point to a "rougher" crowd. In fact,
most of the kids Mike hung out with were, by all reports, good, clean,
Catholic boys. Tim Smith and another local boy, David Goodwin, were
altar boys at St. Francis Cabrini Church. "Tim and I went to morning
mass every day before school," says Goodwin. "Sometimes Mike Warnke
attended mass with us." Tim's sister Terri explains, "I believe Mike
got interested in Catholicism from hanging out with us. He was like a
piece of furniture at our house."
One day Mike announced to the Schraders that he, too, wanted to
become a Catholic. In the spring of his senior year in high school,
Warnke was confirmed in the Catholic Church. His sponsor was Tim's dad,
Paul "Jerry" Smith. Two months after being confirmed, Mike
graduated with the rest of his class at Rim High in the class of '65.
Everybody we talked to who knew Mike Warnke at "Rim" remembers him
first and foremost as a chronic storyteller. His high school partner in
various escapades was Jeff Nesmith. Once, says Jeff, Mike had a date
but no car, and Jeff had his parents' Lincoln. "Mike talked me into
dropping him and his date off at a restaurant and then picking them up
after dinner. Before we picked up Mike's date, we stopped at a local
uniform store and got me a chauffeur's cap. From the moment the girl
got into the car, Mike spun this wild tale about me being an orphan boy
and how his family had taken me in, and how I sometimes performed
various services for them such as being their chauffeur. She just
soaked it all in."
The thing that always struck Nesmith about his pal was that Warnke
would never break out of character. "We'd go into some restaurant, and
Mike would pretend to be a Russian immigrant who couldn't speak
English. I'd translate Mike's order into English for the waitress.
SometimesÄÄjust to get himÄÄI'd order something I knew he'd hate. But
Mike was always enough of a pro that he'd stick with it and wouldn't
say anything . . . until we got outside the restaurant and he'd yell at
The Schraders also knew Mike as a boy with the gift of gab. "Michael
is a showman," says Shirley. "He is an actor, and he always swore he
would never make a living with his hands, that he would make his living
with his mouth." Keith, Jr., adds: "Mike is the kind of guy that can
sell somebody the Golden Gate Bridge. Or swamp land in Florida. I gotta
hand it to him. I wish I was as good a salesman."
In high school, storytelling had been a diversion, a way to get by.
According to his friends in college, it would increasingly become a
part of Mike Warnke's identity.
®Mike Warnke at College¯
Here begins the critical period described in ®The Satan Seller¯, the
defining moment of Mike Warnke's later testimony and ministryÄÄhis
involvement with and subsequent banishment from a satanic cult.
On September 13, 1965, Mike Warnke began school at San Bernardino
Valley College, a two-year school. Mike writes in ®The Satan
Seller¯ that it was after he started college that he first was
introduced to drugs, sex, and finally Satanism. And, he continues, it
was only after the Satanists threw him out of their coven that he
joined the navy. Warnke's military records say he entered the navy on
June 2, 1966. Therefore, whatever happened in Mike's life regarding
Satanism had to have happened between September 13, 1965, and June 2,
1966. (See sidebar "Under a Full Moon," p. 9.)
Mike, in his 1991 book, ®Schemes of Satan,¯ claims to have had no
close friends at college and to have virtually disappeared:
In my own case, being away from home at college and not
having any close friends there meant that almost no one could
have known what was happening to me except, of course, the
members of the Satanic Brotherhood, and they were not
In reality, Mike Warnke simply did what countless other freshmen
have done: he found a new circle of friends. We found that new circle,
and they were not a part of the Satanic Brotherhood. None of these
people are mentioned by Warnke in ®The Satan Seller¯ or anywhere else.
Greg Gilbert was one of Mike's first and closest friends at
college. Today an English professor at a southern California
university, Greg reflects upon the notoriety of his old college
roommate. "After Mike became a star, I assumed that since he had gotten
this far with his Satan story, he'd always get away with it. I never
knew what to do. Who could you tell?"
Right around the time college started in 1965, Greg met Mike through
a mutual friend, Dennis Pekus. Greg was living with his elderly
grandparents in San Bernardino and took Warnke to meet them. "When my
grandparents said they were from Tennessee, Mike said, `I come from
Tennessee, too,' " Greg recalls. "Before the evening was over he had us
all convinced he was a long-lost relative. Next thing we knew, he'd
talked his way into living with us."
Greg's college girlfriend, Dawn Andrews, gave us her assessment.
"The first time I saw Mike Warnke was at Greg's house. He was
introduced to me as Greg's cousin," says Dawn. "He told everybody he
was. I remember how upset I was when ®The Satan Seller¯ came out,
because what Warnke said was a lie. He has a very fertile imagination."
Dyana Cridelich was another of Mike Warnke's college friends
introduced by Greg. "After he got famous, I always wanted to write him
a letter and say, Mike, remember me? The one you gave the silver cross
to? When were you able to have this coven of fifteen hundred people?
Don't you remember, about the most exciting thing we used to do was
play croquet in Greg's backyard?' "
In ®The Satan Seller¯, Mike never mentions croquet. He was too busy
becoming a teenage alcoholic.
I attended classes regularly at first, but I wasn't about
to cut down on my drinking. As the days went by, it became
harder to concentrate on what the professors were saying, but
I could still talk my way out of anything, and this carried me
through. I was drinking so much by now, it was starting to
wreck my stomach."
Was Mike a heavy drinker? Not according to those who knew him. "We
drank occasionally," says Greg, "but mostly we just talked about it. We
weren't of age, and alcohol was hard to come by."
This group of college freshmen often sat on the lawn between
classes, or got together in the student union cafeteria, The Tomahawk
Room. It was there that Lois Eckenrod, a girl who was soon to be
his fiancee, joins the story. "Mike and I met in September or October,
that first semester at Valley," Lois said. "It was only a couple of
months before we got engaged. Hardly a day went by that we didn't see
His friends remember Mike Warnke as thin, with thick glasses and
short hair. He was bright, he was mainly happyÄÄthough Lois remembers
he could swing easily to depression. Yet Mike says in ®The Satan
Seller¯ that when college started, he was a "heavyset, jovial guy" who
only later lost weight due to drug use. His hair, he writes, was
already collar length. Within a short time, he claims to have become a
I made a return trip to the Salvation Army and bought some
black pants and freaky shirts. My hair was longer than ever,
and I bleached it blond. I was really craving attention, and I
got it. You know, weird people attract chicks.
"He looked like everybody else," says Greg. He did have one constant
accessory, a silver cross. (This cross Warnke gave to Dyana, she says.)
Warnke writes in ®The Satan Seller¯ that he frequented a coffeehouse
called Penny University, where he danced, obtained hard liquor, and got
acquainted with the owner while practicing his fake English accent.
Lois says that she and Mike did go to Penny University, "quite a bit
because Mike really liked folk music. But there was no room for
dancing. The place was full of tables and stuff."
®Cornerstone¯ also talked with John Ingro, who in 1965 not only
owned Penny U., but also was a district attorney (currently he is a San
Bernardino judge). "You couldn't dance there. It was very small, and
packed with chairs. As far as alcohol, we only served coffee at a penny
a cup. That's where the place got its name." As for remembering Mike
and the fake English accent? "No. Is this a joke?"
®Storytelling in the Tomahawk Room¯
Storytelling developed into an art form among the Tomahawk Room
crowd. One student, Gary Manbeck, is remembered as having some of the
best stories. "Gary always told stories about being in the Green
Beret," says Dawn. "He was very good, but I never thought any of it was
Mike Warnke joined right in. "Gary and Mike vied for attention with
stories, trying to be the life of the party," says George Eubank,
another of the Tomahawk crowd. "Who can one-up ya. That's a real good
description of the two of them together."
Warnke produced a never-ending stream of tall tales. "He claimed he
had some kind of white witchcraft background," recalls Greg Gilbert.
"He claimed he'd been reincarnated any number of times, that he was
born in the Irish Moors in the 1570s. Along with his other stories, he
claimed he'd once been a Trappist monk."
In ®The Satan Seller¯, Warnke paints himself as a freshman guru,
dispensing wisdom to an eager audience of disciples:
Most of my friends were the pseudo-intellectual type. We
liked to lie out on the lawn in the quad after classes and
discuss psychology, philosophy, religion, art, and politics.
Other students began coming around, and they seemed to look to
me for answers to their questions. Anything I said was okay
with them. And it was certainly okay with me. If they were
that hung up for a leader, I was happy to oblige." 
Greg Gilbert remembers things this way: "We sat out under the trees
at school, all right. And there were times we listened to Mike tell his
tall tales. But if Mike thought we believed what he was saying, or that
we looked at him like some kind of guru, he was greatly mistaken. We
were all part of the same bragging team."
It was difficult, at times, to know whether Warnke believed his own
stories or not. "I don't think it was in fun. I think he himself wanted
to believe it," says Phyliss Catalano, Lois's best friend. "I used
to sit there and be embarrassed, because I'd think, How could somebody
that young have done all these things? He'd done everything. And
everything he told was with a straight face."
Phyliss's mother, Mary Catalano, saw Warnke on a regular basis
when the gang gathered at the Catalano house. "He was a likable young
man when he visited our house," she says, "but anything brought up in
conversationÄÄhe'd done it. He said he'd been a Greek dancer, and he'd
dance for us, round and round. He said he'd been a professional
ambulance driver. And he was a monkÄÄhe'd come to the house all dressed
in black. Of course, we never believed him. We just said, `Boy, is he
one big liar.' "
In college, as he'd done in high school, Warnke continued to costume
himself for his roles. Mike particularly liked being a priest. "I
remember at Halloween he dressed up like a priest and went around
pretending," says Dawn. "My parents saw himÄÄthey're very CatholicÄÄso
I heard about it." Another occasion for the priest impersonation was a
double date with Lois and Phyliss and her boyfriend David Gibbet. "I'll
never forget when he went dressed as a priest to Jay's Coffeehouse,"
says Lois. "He met us there, and came walking in wearing robes and a
white collar. I about died."
Yet another student, Tom Bolger, recalls Warnke boasting how
he'd dressed as a priest and gone panhandling in downtown San
Bernardino. "He said he'd made fifty dollars." And finally, Greg
recalls Mike unsuccessfully using the priest bit to get drinks. "He got
the robes at a costume shop, went to Corky's Liquor Store, and tried to
get Christian Brothers wine for the mass. They just laughed him out."
®"The Satan Seller" And the Way Things Really Were¯
According to ®The Satan Seller¯, though, things are by now getting
serious. The story is set in motion by the mysterious college-age
individual named "Dean Armstrong," who Warnke alleges was a satanic
high priest. Mike says Dean lured him into drug use, sexual
promiscuity, witchcraft, and Satanism. We will examine these elements
of the story, then compare each with what witnesses remember. For
starters, Mike's associates at school affirm that none among them
remotely resembled the Dean character in ®The Satan Seller.¯
According to the book, Mike was encouraged by Dean to quit drinking
so much and start smoking marijuana. Mike tells Dean no, but later an
unnamed roommate brings up the subject again:
My stomach was still hurting. I tried everything I could think
of, except giving up drinking. My new roommate suggested I try
. . . [grass], and not wanting to be left out, I finally went
along with it. . . .
. . . I really liked marijuana.
Regarding drug use, Greg laughs. "Drugs? No way, not at Valley, and
not in 1965. Two years later there was plenty of grass around, but back
in '65 we still believed ®Reefer Madness.¯"
Did Warnke ever talk about drugs around anybody else? "None of us
were into drugs," says Dyana. "We didn't even smoke cigarettes." Yet in
®The Satan Seller¯, Warnke and his friends are allegedly full-blown
into drug use early in the year:
When we tried the peyote, we decided it was better and
heavier than pot. We also started eating mescaline in our food
in increasing quantities, and from there we went on to reds. .
. . . . . Some doctors came to the campus to conduct
controlled group experiments on [LSD]. My friends and I
decided to volunteer for the tests.
Not only do Mike's friends deny controlled or uncontrolled
experimentation with drugs, but according to the records, no LSD
experiments took place on the campus of San Bernardino Valley College.
This was underscored in our conversation with Dr. George Zaharopoulos,
head of the Social Sciences Department at Valley. "I taught here during
those years, and we never, ever, asked for or had any LSD experiments
take place here. This is only a junior college."
In ®The Satan Seller¯ Mike not only claims to have used drugs, but
to have been a major-league drug trafficker:
One time I took some money for a drug payoff down to El
Centro, a burg in the desert of California, not far from the
border town of Mexicali. A really big load was involved, and
this caused quite a flap. It was the most money I had ever
seen at one timeÄÄfifty thousand dollars in bundles of
On his ®Mike Warnke Alive!¯ album, Mike further claims:
I'd had hepatitis four times from shooting up with dirty
needles. I had scabs all over my face from shooting up
crystal. I was a speed freak. I weighed 110 pounds soaking
wet. My skin had turned yellow. My hair was falling out. My
teeth were rotting out of my head. I'd been pistol-whipped
five or six times. My jaw had been broken. My nose had been
almost ripped off. I had a bullet hole in my right leg. Two
bullet holes in my left leg.
Greg Gilbert and the others saw Mike on a daily basis, and say that
it is totally impossible for Mike to have had hepatitis, facial scabs
from injecting "crystal," and wounds from being shot three times.
"Without us knowing it? It's a lie," Greg says.
Lois's reaction to Mike's tale? "That's just make-believe," she
states. "Mike never fell in with drugs. My dad was an alcoholic, and
because of our family situation, I'd had to move in with the Catalanos.
So I was really sensitive to things like that. Second, I was training
to be a nurse, and I think I would have known if he was using drugs. I
wouldn't have dated Mike if he was drugged. I didn't even allow people
to drink around me."
In ®The Satan Seller¯, drugs and sex were the magnet that drew Mike
Warnke along. Warnke gradually found himself running errands for Dean,
attending occult discussion meetings, until, finally, Dean decided his
charge was ready for the real thing: a satanic ritual service.
The Black Mass in an orange grove turned out to be just what anybody
would expect who's seen ®Rosemary's Baby¯ or other films of this genre:
black robes, a naked woman on the altar, blasphemy and incantations.
"After the Invocation of Satan, I listened intently to the Offertory,
where the members offered their souls to Lord Satan."
According to ®The Satan Seller¯, Warnke signed his name in blood to
give his soul to Satan, and a few pages later took over the coven from
Dean as the new High Priest.
I swung the now screaming cat over the smoking caldron and
then over the heart of the girl on the altar. Then, when the
sword point touched the cat's belly, I thrust it in.
"Now!" I suddenly shouted. . . . I drew an upside-down star
on the girl's stomach, with the freshly spilled blood. From
the weird utterances that now came from her mouth, I knew we
were being graced by the presence of one of the denizens of
Just before he published ®The Satan Seller¯ in 1973, Warnke brought
manuscript copies to his old high school friends Jeff Nesmith and Tim
Smith, and asked them to sign affidavits swearing the events depicted
were true. Jeff Nesmith had lost track of Warnke after high school and
had little idea what he did during college or who he hung out with. On
a rare visit to Mike's apartment during his college days, Mike asked
Jeff to join a "coven." But Jeff laughed it off, thinking it was one of
Mike's stories. In any event, when Warnke asked Jeff to sign the
affidavit, he refused. "My initial reaction to the book was, `Come
on, Mike! This is poppycock!' "
Tim Smith dropped out of college after only two months, but notes,
"I had contact with Mike off and on all the way through the fall of
1965 until the summer of 1966." Tim states he never saw Warnke with
long hair or in the drug-induced emaciated state he claimed to be
during that period. "Sign the affidavit? I told him, `Nope. Can't do
Warnke's two high school buddies saw him sporadically throughout the
year, but not every day. Yet Mike brought Jeff and Tim the affidavits,
but not Lois, Greg, Dawn or the others. It does not speak well for the
veracity of Warnke's claims that he did not ask those who knew him on a
daily basis in San Bernardino Valley College to endorse his story.
®The College Crowd and the Occult¯
Interestingly, most of Mike's college friends did dabble in occult
activities. "Some of them were into seance and Ouija board type stuff,"
says George Eubank. "But it wasn't serious, just the kind of stuff
freshmen in college play with. Especially sheltered freshmen in college
that are all of a sudden free from their parents, spreading their
wings, so to speak."
Bill Lott, another college student who is now a Christian,
took the experimentation more seriously. "People were messing around
with stuff like reincarnation, tarot cards, Ouija boards. Mike was one
of those people. But he never talked about Satanism or being a devil
worshiper," Lott says.
"People talked about witches and Ouija boards," says Dawn. "It was
that era. None of us belonged to a coven, and none of us were witches.
If we'd have thought anybody was serious, it would have scared us to
death. We did table tipping once, and the table tipped and that was
that. No more table tipping for me."
Warnke and a few of the guys created a not-so-secret society. "We
started a club called The Royal Order of the Lantern," says Greg. "We
played chess, drank beer, and told tall tales. It was a group that
really never took off."
Adds George Eubank, "The Royal Order of the Lantern had to do with
this lamp we'd stolen from somebody's driveway. Warnke wanted to get an
apartment and have a group of guys. I don't think it was supposed to be
secret. It was supposed to be fun and games. It flopped because nobody
was willing to put the effort into it. Mike carried it as far as he
could at the time. It was kind of a defunct fraternity that never got
anywhere." The Royal Order of the Lantern is a far cry from ®The Satan
Seller¯'s fifteen hundred followers in three cities, financed by a
worldwide network of Satanists.
Mike eventually did get his own apartment, and the place became a
favorite hangout for the Tomahawk Room crowdÄÄthe guys in particular.
Mike gave both Greg Gilbert and Bill Lott keys. The apartment "was
above a garage," says Greg. "There was an exterior stairway that went
up to a room with an open-beam ceiling, the gable coming to a point."
In ®The Satan Seller¯, Warnke describes the exterior of his
apartment in this way: a second-floor apartment approached by an
outside stairway. The interior, however, was redecorated by the
Satanists after Warnke became high priest:
A long, low, oxblood leather couch replaced the sagging old
brown horsehair one, and there were two sets of bookshelves
full of books [on the occult]. . . . The biggest surprise was
on the floorÄÄtwo chicks sitting on a white rug . . . .
. . . "We hope you like it, Mike, because we come with the
apartment," said the blonde one named Lorraine.
The two women allegedly remained at Warnke's beck and call, rarely
leaving the apartment unless it was to get groceries or drugs. "It's a
fantasy," says Dennis Pekus, who knew Mike in both high school and
college. Greg Gilbert says he never knew Mike Warnke to have a
girlfriend in college besides Lois Eckenrod. None of the college
friends who frequented the apartment ever saw occult books, an oxblood
leather couch, or two love slaves.
Mike says plenty of "soft pink sex" is at the center of his
satanic experiences. These begin with the orgies Warnke says initially
drew him into the coven:
Then they split off into couples. It was great, because there
was a girl for every guy, not like most places I had been
where there is a chronic chick shortage.
Cool-looking, sexy girls, too. . . . These chicks were
free-lovers. . . .
"Come on over here, Mike," a blonde said.
Then there's the sexual recruiting Mike says he helped organize and
rituals that degenerate from cat killing to the rape of an innocent
virgin. (Warnke is careful to exclude himself from direct participation
in the rape, though he writes that it was his idea.)
In a later book, ®Schemes of Satan,¯ Warnke suggests that sex was a
routine part of the rituals:
On more than one occasion, I regret to admit, we participated
in ritual sexual abuse that even involved rape. Most of the
time I was too doped up to perform sexually, but I would watch
these lust rituals with great desire.
Such tales of perversion and criminal activity raise serious
questions. If Mike led in acts of rape and other violent crimes, why
(after his conversion) didn't he turn himself in and aid the police in
apprehending his old satanic friends? If, on the other hand, his rape
and abuse stories are not true, what does this say about the
imagination of their author?
Mike's college crowd completely rejects these stories of violence
and sexual perversion. "Oh, my goodness, no," says Phyliss. "To talk
about sex orgies and all these drug parties. He didn't do them with
Lois and me, that's for sure!"
"I never slept with him," says Lois. "We kissed and hugged, but I
never would have had sex with him because I was a very devout Catholic,
and I wanted to be a virgin till I got married. Thank God I didn't
There always seemed to be a story. In college, as in the high school
role-playing with Jeff Nesmith, Warnke refused to drop out of
character. "He played it to the end," says Greg. "He never gave up.
That was the remarkable thing about him. We'd question him about his
stories and he always came up with some half-baked answer. And you
couldn't disprove what he was sayingÄÄthat was the common thread. It
was never anything we were likely to have the real answer for or the
time to check into. So he could say anything he wanted."
Warnke's refusal to admit to his own storytelling made him
untrustworthy in the eyes of some members of the group. "I didn't know
anything about his past, so I didn't know what was true and what
wasn't," says Dawn. "I didn't feel like he was sincere in anything he
did. If the situation required him to be macho, he was macho. If it
required him to be mean, he was mean. He just sort of blended into the
situation and tried to monopolize everyone. There was nothing real
®Mike and Lois Plan Their Marriage¯
By Christmas of 1965, Mike and Lois were seeing each other on a
daily basis. "It was pretty fast that we said we were going to get
married," says Lois. "Within two or three months of school starting, he
gave me a rose ring with a diamond in it. It cost $60. He had to make
payments on it. I thought he really loved me. And I thought I loved
In ®The Satan Seller¯, Warnke has gone through his drugs, sex, and
promotion to high priest before Christmas of 1965. (Trying to fit the
long list of his claims onto a real calendar is a challenge. See
sidebar, p. 18) Shirley Schrader says Mike had Christmas dinner in
Crestline with the family. "He didn't seem emaciated by drugs to me,"
College records show Mike Warnke left school after the first term.
"Most of us dropped out after the first semester," recalls Lois. The
group continued to hang out together at Mike's apartment, the
Catalanos', and elsewhere. What about the Mike in ®The Satan Seller¯
who flew around the country on satanic business trips to San Francisco
(where he allegedly met Anton LaVey), New York, and Salem,
Massachusetts? "You're a real traveling salesman for Satan, Mike, and
we want you to go to Salem and get more hip with some really serious
"How could he fly when he didn't have two pennies?" asks Lois, who
adds that Mike never went anywhere, and when he did it was with her.
"If he says he was a Satanist between September of 1965 to June of
1966, he's lying. How could I not know my boyfriend was into Satanism?
I don't remember there ever being a time when we didn't see or talk to
each other every day."
Every day? "Yes," says Lois. "We went to movies together, I went to
the country club with him in the mountains, we went to the beach. We
used to go to Jay's Coffee Shop in San Bernardino. That was the big
thing. He introduced me to hot fudge sundaes. I spent the majority of
that year with him."
Lois says she and Mike used to play pool over on Highland Avenue in
San Bernardino. We read her a story from Warnke's book ®Hitchhiking on
Hope Street.¯ In it Mike writes that he got into a gunfight with Ray, a
local pimp, at the pool hall:
I was drunk as a skunk when I shot at him with the .44,
because I missed him by a country mile and blew off the corner
of the pool table. . . . The two of us went roaring down the
street, screaming and shooting. . . .
. . . he . . . got off a lucky shot. It hit me in the leg and
knocked me down.
The predictable reaction: "Oh, my goodness. You're kidding. . . ."
Lois dissolves into laughter.
According to ®The Satan Seller¯, Mike Warnke's reign as a satanic
high priest ends, apparently sometime in the spring of 1966, when
Warnke crumples under the strain of too much responsibility and too
many drugs. On a "Focus on the Family" radio broadcast, he described
his appearance at this time: "I had white hair. It was about down to my
belt. . . . I had six-inch fingernails; I painted them black." (See
picture, p. 8, taken April 30, 1966.)
Warnke says he was intentionally overdosed with heroin by one of his
live-in love slaves and thrown, naked, on the steps of a local
hospital. After a few weeks of drying out at the hospital, Warnke
escaped by joining the Navy. On the ®Mike Warnke Alive!¯ album, he
describes his hair length the night before boot camp: "It hit me just
below the pockets." He continues:
The night before I went to boot camp I went to this
party. . . . I smoked a bunch of dope and ate a bunch of reds
and got crashed out in a corner. . . . But the girl I was with
decided the thing that would really be cute is if she braided
my hair. . . . She put beads with the first bunch, feathers
with the next bunch, a piece of red ribbon about that long
with the last bunch, braided it all together, and hung a
jingle bell on the end of each braid.
Lois says ®she¯ was the girl who gave Mike his going-away party.
When she heard this story for the first time in 1979, she was furious.
"I couldn't believe it when I heard that!" she says. "I'm the one who
gave him the going-away party! We never touched drugs. He never had
long hairÄÄhis hair was ®short, short, short!"¯
Greg and Dawn, who had just gotten married, offered Lois the use of
their apartment for the party. "I bought a big cake decorated with a
navy boat," Lois remembers. "It said `Ship Ahoy, Mike.' Dawn and I made
food and pop, and we had a bunch of people over. It was just clean fun.
I took him to the bus stop, put him on the bus to go to boot camp,"
Lois says. "We were supposed to get married when he finished."
®Mike, Sue, and Campus Crusade¯
On June 2, 1966, Mike Warnke joined the U.S. Navy. During the time
he was there, he and Lois stayed in touch by letter. According to
Warnke's official story, boot camp is where he meets two Christians who
are such a bold witness for Christ that the ex-Satanist converts to
According to his service records, Mike Warnke graduated from boot
camp August 22, 1966. His fiancee, Lois, and the Schrader family
attended graduation. "I went down with a friend and gave Mike a St.
Christopher medal," says Lois. There was a fifteen-day leave after camp
ended. During this time Lois noticed a change in Mike. "He was
different. He was carrying a Bible. I asked him about it, and he said
he'd found Christ at boot camp. He was real excited about being a
Christian, finding God." Within days Mike told Lois "he'd had this
Christian conversion and he had to go on. That this was it. I didn't
see him anymore after that."
®The Satan Seller¯, once again, tells a different story. There is,
of course, no mention of Lois Eckenrod before or after boot camp.
Instead, when Warnke returns home from boot camp, he begins dating Sue
Studer, a fellow Rim High alumnus who was soon to become his first
wife. "I turned around and was surprised to see Sue Studer, the girl
who had always dated the football heroes. Sue was still as pretty as
Warnke writes that he then told Sue of his recent conversion to
Christ, and to his delight Sue replied she, too, had become a
Christian. "Sue had worked on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ at
the Arrowhead Springs Headquarters."
In ®The Satan Seller¯, Mike Warnke says that he was chased by Campus
Crusaders attempting to convert him when he was the campus Satanist.
However, Lois and several others do remember Mike Warnke taking some
interest in religion and Campus Crusade before boot camp. "I remember
him starting to get interested in religion," Lois says. "He'd go up the
hill to Campus Crusade's headquarters."
Just how early Mike dabbled with Christianity is unclear, but at
least one witness says she saw him proclaiming faith in Christ in 1965,
a whole year before ®The Satan Seller¯ says he became a Christian.
Charlotte Tweeten, a 1964 Rim graduate who attended Valley College,
told Cornerstone, "It was in the fall of 1965. I know that because by
winter I had already left school. Mike Warnke came up to me while I was
sitting there drinking coffee and started proselytizing me. It was the
born-again thing. Mike was doing his religious thing and Sue Studer was
On September 7, 1966, Mike Warnke reported to Hospital Corps School
in San Diego.
Mike gives us our choice of stories as to why he chose to become a
medic. In ®The Satan Seller¯ he writes he joined the Hospital Corps
because "I could be of more use to God mending guys than swabbing
decks." On the album ®Hey, Doc!,¯ he says he joined the Hospital
Corps because of drugs and nurses: "Dope and women . . . for pay . . .
In late 1966, Warnke graduated from medic school and, after training
with the marines at Camp Pendleton, went to work at the naval
dispensary in San Diego. Marriage records show Mike and Sue Studer
were married May 13, 1967, in Crestline. Soon after, the couple
moved onto San Diego's Louisiana Street.
While in San Diego, the Warnkes visited Scott Memorial Baptist
Church, pastored by now well-known church leader and author Tim LaHaye
and his wife, Beverly. In ®The Satan Seller¯, Warnke offers one version
of what happened when the LaHayes visited the Warnke home. Mike says he
told Tim LaHaye about the Illuminati.
I had already told him I had been to an occult conference.
"There were some weird guys that seemed to be the real backers
of the whole thing. . . . I heard the word ®Illuminati.¯"
"The conversation really wasn't like he put it in his book," says
Dr. LaHaye. "I brought up the term Illuminati first. I had been
reading a book on the subject, and I tried testing him to see if he
really knew anything about it. He didn't seem to have ever heard the
"Mike gave us a little of his testimony," says Beverly LaHaye,
who is now the head of Concerned Women for America. "He said a book
about the leaders of the Satan church had disappeared off his shelf
when he became interested in Christianity." Dr. LaHaye sums up, "His
type of personality tells stories for effect, not for accuracy."
®Mike in Vietnam¯
In November of 1967, the Warnkes moved back to Camp Pendleton and
Oceanside. In May of 1969, Warnke was transferred from Pendleton to the
Third Marine Division, Vietnam. Warnke says he spent his time in
Vietnam, like so many who served there, anesthetized from the
experience of war by drugs.
The following is a list of the other things Mike Warnke says
happened to him while in Vietnam:
My faith was weakening fast! A buddy of mine was
killedÄÄa mortar shell landed directly on him, disintegrating
him except for his shoes. I was existing from one bottle
to the next. The message [a spy] was carrying was a
detailed description of myself and the skipper, identifying us
as prime targets for the Viet Cong. . . .
. . . I shot a spy, went to my tent, cooked dinner, and
ate. And something died inside of me. I was the first to
enter the tent [of marines who had been "fragged"ÄÄkilled by
their own people]. 
Anyway, one day we were into this fire fight. . . .
Everybody is shooting at each other. . . .
. . . All of a sudden: zooooom, zonk, and my arm is
pinned to the ground with an arrow! I look over at this other
Marine Corps sergeant, who goes, "Only you, man, only
One time I went through a village and was handing out
candy bars to little kids. Just standing in the back of my
Jeep. . . .
When I get done, I'm putting the box back and this
twelve-year-old kid goes in his house, comes back out with a
gun, and shoots me.
Add to the list this story from Keith Schrader, Jr.: "Mike told me
that he killed a man in a bar fight in the Philippines."
Despite the impression such a long list may give, records show
Warnke was in Vietnam for only six months.
In ®The Satan Seller¯ Mike says that he was wounded twice. In his
second book, ®Hitchhiking on Hope Street,¯ he says he was wounded five
times. Military records obtained by ®Cornerstone¯ show that Mike
Warnke, hospital corpsman, second class, service number B98 05 49,
received one Purple Heart, and, along with the rest of his unit,
several additional medals. The Third Marine Division he was connected
to was withdrawn from Vietnam in October of 1969 and sent to
Warnke was sent back to the U.S. in the spring of 1970 and for the
first time was able to see his infant son, Brendon Michael, born
December 2, 1969, while Mike was overseas. In return for reenlisting
for six more years, Mike was enrolled in cardiopulmonary school. The
Warnke family settled in San Diego.
George Wakeling, who worked with young drug addicts, says he was
contacted by Mike around this time. George was the founder of the Drug
Prevention Center, or "the Hotline," a ministry to addicts at the
Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim. Mike started spending time at
the Hotline, and getting instruction from Hotline speaker Dick Handley.
It was through the Hotline that Mike made his first contacts with
Jesus Movement-era Christianity.
®Mike Meets the Jesus Movement¯
Melodyland was one of the Southern California centers of the
charismatic renewal movement then sweeping the Church. The ex-addicts
and others who ran the Hotline were among the original Jesus People,
part of a new youth counterculture uniquely compatible with the
charismatics. Both preferred informal gatherings and a vital,
experience-oriented faith. The culturally conservative Melodyland crowd
thus understood when the exuberant young hippies suggested "getting
high on Jesus."
Both groups majored on the theme of acceptance. The mainstream
church was sadly out of touch with the needs of counterculture youth
and, even more sadly, unwilling by and large to reach out to them. But
Pentecostal denominations such as the Assemblies of God seemed to grasp
what God was doing among children of the sixties. Uncritically, without
attacking the cultural preferences of the young, many charismatics and
Pentecostals shamed their mainstream peers by being (in Paul's words)
all things to all men.
But as with nearly all revivals, there were problems with the newly
revived. The mix of uncritical acceptance plus emphasis on experience
was easily taken too far. It opened the door for various cults among
the Jesus People; it also opened the door for those with fascinating
though unprovable conversion stories.
"A lot of people came to the Hotline and told their drug
testimonies," says Ron Winckler, a leader there. "Mike Warnke came
with the added attraction of the Satanist experience, which was a big
hit with the Full Gospel Businessmen and charismatics. The times were
right for that sort of testimony."
Hotline speaker Dick Handley and friends in Crestline had introduced
Mike Warnke to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Through Handley, Warnke
met Dave Balsiger, a writer who had done promo work for Melodyland and
now was media director for charismatic evangelist Morris Cerullo.
After starting a youth ministry in San Diego, Cerullo had come in
contact with kids dabbling with the occult and decided to write a book
on the subject. Balsiger was assigned the job. It was during this time
he met Mike Warnke and enlisted his aid. The book was to be called
®Witchcraft Never Looked Better.¯ They also created a specially
outfitted trailer, purchased to house "research materials" such as
voodoo oil, graveyard dust, and fortune-telling spray. The vehicle,
dubbed the "Witchmobile," was to be unveiled at an upcoming Morris
Cerullo convention, The Seventh Deeper Life Conference.
Cerullo's vision, Warnke's story, and Balsiger's media talents
combined to make the January 1972 meeting a smash. A twelve-page
tabloid on Cerullo was inserted into the ®San Diego Evening Tribune.¯
Warnke and the Witchmobile were introduced to the media at a press
conference, and at the Saturday night youth rally.
®Christianity Today¯ covered the event, noting that Cerullo "bore
down heavily on the theme that satanic forces are loose in the
nation." Mike Warnke, who gave a seminar on the occult, was one of
the newsmen's favorites.
After the January 1972 conference, Warnke and Balsiger parted with
Cerullo and decided to write a book together about Mike's Satanist
experience. We asked Dave Balsiger about evidence for the story told in
the book. Was he concerned about that? "Oh, yes." And what was the
evidence Mike offered for ®The Satan Seller¯'s fifteen-hundred-member
cult; the all-powerful Illuminati, the intricate rituals complete with
various knives, candles, books, and robes? "Mike took me to some of the
sites." (The reader should recall that Mike's experiences had allegedly
occurred six years before the book was written.) "I saw where there had
been a fire started. And there were some indications of cultic writings
During the first half of 1972, Warnke had been working hard (with
the help of Morris Cerullo's organization) to get out of the navy so he
could go full-time into the ministry. "I helped him write letters,"
recalls Cerullo staffer Jean Jolly, "and I got hold of
[Congressman] Del Clawson's office. We got him out of the navy." On
June 2, Warnke was granted an early discharge on conscientious-objector
"As soon as he got out, Mike sent a letter to Morris Cerullo's
headquarters and said we were forbidden to use his name or his
material," recalls George Eckeroth, who headed Jolly's department.
"And Balsiger left Cerullo around the same time."
Mike launched his ministry under the banner "Alpha Omega Outreach."
In mid-June, Warnke went to Explo '72 in Dallas, a sort of Campus
Crusade version of Woodstock attended by over eighty thousand.
®Guideposts¯ was running a feature on Warnke's story, and his book
was due in the fall.
®"The Satan Seller" a Best-seller¯
Logos International released ®The Satan Seller¯ in early 1973.
At that moment, Christian publishing was in the midst of an
unparalleled boom with the success of blockbusters like ®The Late Great
Planet Earth¯ by Hal Lindsey and the Praise books by Merlin Carothers.
While the party lasted, Logos was the life of the party, the industry
leader in both output and income.
Yet, as a former Logos editor has admitted, the boom-time books were
often "too quickly written." That same year, Logos published
®Michael, Michael, Why Do You Hate Me?,¯ the purported story of
born-again rabbi Michael Esses. A later expose revealed Esses' bogus
credentials and immorality.
Into this heady atmosphere ®The Satan Seller¯ was born. The book was
positively reviewed in publications ranging from ®Moody Monthly¯ to
®The Christian Century,¯ with nary a question as to its
credibility. "The only thing I remember about that book is that it
sold better than we thought it would," says Logos founder Dan Malachuk.
Indeed, by April 1973, ®The Satan Seller¯ was a religious
Other ex-Satanist testimonies followed Warnke's. John Todd's
warnings about the Illuminati and a conspiracy of witches were promoted
in a series of Jack Chick comic books. According to Ron Winckler, Todd
visited the Hotline once with a group of underlings to check out Mike
Warnke. "There was a backstage confrontation," says Ron Winckler."Todd
accused Warnke of stealing his material about the Illuminati."
Another alleged ex-Satanist, Hershel Smith, purchased the
Witchmobile from Morris Cerullo and began his own tour. Smith's
testimony, seen in the 1974 book ®The Devil and Mr. Smith,¯ coauthored
by Dave Hunt, was an apparent effort to one-up ®The Satan Seller.¯
Hershel Smith eventually dropped out of sight. Todd's story was
later discredited. When a book debunking Todd was written, Mike Warnke
wrote the forward. "We as Christians have to be careful of those who
take the name of the Lord in vain," said Warnke.  In Ron Winckler's
analysis, "Mike Warnke had the jump on John Todd. He understood the
Full Gospel mind-set better."
Now a published author, Mike Warnke found increasing demand for his
story and told it in coffeehouses and churches beyond the West Coast.In
August of 1973, Warnke spoke at a Christian music festival in
Pennsylvania. The Jesus Movement had spawned its own music, and Warnke
gravitated toward this fraternity of musicians. Tim Archer of the group
The Archers, told the crowd at Jesus '73, "Mike Warnke is the Chaplain
of Gospel Rock."
In his travels, Warnke had met Charles Duncombe, an elderly
Pentecostal evangelist. "Brother D," who started in the ministry under
English preacher Smith Wigglesworth, was loved and respected by all who
knew him. In 1974 Mike, Sue, four-year-old Brendon, and newborn
Jesse all moved to Oklahoma near Duncombe's small school, Trinity
Bible College. Mike would attend school while Sue tended children.
Trinity Bible College was a nine-month preparation for ministry,
located in a big country house outside Tulsa, Oklahoma. The thirty
students were mostly new converts, many from a counterculture
background and eager to learn. "Within two weeks of our conversion my
wife and I were in Trinity," says John Witty, who with his wife
Vicki Jo had been a nightclub comedian.
Fellow students Bob and Karen Siegal ran a Jesus People ministry
in southern Illinois and had met Brother D at a Full Gospel
Businessmen's meeting. "We were the token hippies at FGBM," says Karen.
"They'd bring us in there and have us give our testimonies." Student
Bill Fisher, known as "Wild Bill," was a colorful local who later
became Mike Warnke's traveling partner and confidant.
In some ways Mike Warnke was the star pupil, since he was already
doing what everybody else was just learning to do: ministering in
churches around the country. "Here was a guy who was going out on the
weekends and leading hundreds to Jesus," says John Witty. "He was a
hero to us all."
On local gigs, Trinity students would tag along, sometimes even
joining Warnke on stage. "Mike liked to introduce me as a former hippie
or drug addictÄÄwhich I'd been, but I wasn't proud of," Karen Siegal
says. "Then he started introducing me as a former prostitute, which I'd
never been. I had to ask him to stop."
Another new convert at Trinity, one with a sensational testimony of
her own, was to see her real-life story blended with Mike Warnke's.
"Part of the program at Trinity was tell your testimony," she says. "I
got up and said, `My name's Carolyn Alberty and I'm third-generation
Mafia. My father ran gambling houses, and my mother ran brothels. We
had connections in political circles and the entertainment
This story caught Warnke's interest, says Carolyn. "Mike told me he
knew me from some parties I had given in California." He convinced her
he'd been to some, though she didn't remember him. "Then he started
inquiring about my connections and ability to promote."
Carolyn rattled off a list of things Warnke needed to do to further
his ministry. "Mike brought me to his home, introduced me to Sue, and
said, `I really think Carolyn can help us.' " Carolyn assembled his
first real promotional package and called churches to make connections
for speaking engagements. She says she told Mike, "Ease up on the
satanic stuff and concentrate on the funny stories you've started to
It didn't take long for the relationship to move beyond a
professional level. "Mike started telling me he and Sue had different
ideas about what they wanted out of life, and that he didn't love her
anymore," says Carolyn. "Mike began passing notes to me in class, with
stuff like `Hubba, hubba' written on them."
As the year wore on, Karen Siegal realized something was up.
"Carolyn and Mike started getting really hot and heavy," says Karen. "I
confronted them and said, `This is not godly.' They basically told me
it was none of my business." Karen took her concerns to fellow
students, but they suggested she was being judgmental.
Brother D was taken by Warnke's sincerity, says Karen. John Witty
adds that the rest of the class was too naive to realize what was
happening. "Back then, Mike and Carolyn seemed to be just what Jesus
freaks would call `brothers and sisters in the Lord.' I now realize the
relationship had warning signs all over it from the beginning."
Karen Siegal protested one last time. "I'd repeatedly told Mike he
needed to clean up his act with Carolyn," she says. "One time he came
over to our house when nobody else was home. I made the mistake of
confronting him again. All of a sudden, he said, `It's not Carolyn or
Susie I love. It's you.' He grabbed me. It freaked me out and I pushed
him away. I yelled, `Get out of here! I love my husband!' "
Carolyn Alberty admits her relationship with Warnke took the
inevitable turn near the end of the school year. "We'd been assigned to
paraphrase the book of Isaiah. Mike rented a cabin outside Tulsa to do
his work, and he offered to help me with my homework there. I thought
that sounded reasonable, since I was living with the Siegals and had no
After they'd worked at the cabin for awhile, Carolyn says, the two
went for a drive, and Warnke stopped at a convenience store. "He asked
what kind of cigarettes I used to smoke, and I said, `Pall Mall Gold.
Why?' He just shut the door and kept on walking. I went, `Uh-oh.' "
Warnke returned to the car, says Carolyn, with "two bottles of Annie
Greensprings wine, two packs of cigarettes, and a package of peanut
butter cookies." That day they began an affair that would lead to
marriage two years later and divorce two years after that. "I guess
from day one I was wrong," says Carolyn.
Meanwhile, recalls John Witty, "Mike's testimony was just starting
to break nationally. He was beginning to get calls from big churches."
Among the churches calling Warnke during this time was the Golden
Heights Christian Center in Brockport, New York. Pastor Don Riling
tried his best to disciple the young Christian musicians and speakers
who came to his church. "I loved Mike Warnke as a son," he says. But
soon problems cropped up. "We had a woman in the church who'd just
become a Christian. She began to hang out with Mike WarnkeÄÄhe seemed
to have an eye for people with weaknesses," Riling says. "Later, she
confessed to me she'd met him a number of times in hotels for sex when
he was in the area."
®The Syro-Chaldean Connection¯
During the Trinity '74-'75 school year began one of the strangest,
and longest-running, chapters of the Mike Warnke story. Elijah Coady,
an independent bishop in an Eastern Orthodox splinter group called the
Syro-Chaldean Church, ordained Warnke a deacon.
Warnke had met Coady on the road, and expressed interest in the
bishop's brand of independent Eastern Orthodoxy. Several Trinity
students remember Bishop Coady's visit to Tulsa. A few were present
when Coady ordained Warnke at a local church. "The bishop wore a
strange hat, like a stack of pancakes," says Bill Fisher, who adds that
Charles Duncombe expressed some concerns about Coady. "Brother D told
us to be cool. He'd gotten a real check in the spirit about the guy."
Another ordination was bestowed upon Warnke by Brother Duncombe on
his graduation from Trinity in the spring of 1975. After graduation,
Carolyn says Warnke made promises to her but would not be rushed. "He
told me he was going to divorce Sue, that I should wait and be patient,
that he needed to set up his escape."
Soon afterwards, Warnke did a show at The Happy Church in
Denver, where he met Pastor Wally Hickey and his wife Marilyn.
Mike and Sue Warnke decided to move to Denver with their two children,
and Mike invited Bill Fisher and Carolyn to join him there. The
entourage arrived in Denver in August of 1975, where Mike and Sue
settled. Mike had promised Fisher and Carolyn jobs with Happy
Church, but the jobs didn't materialize. Mike leased a 270-acre
mountain retreat called Joy Ranch in Evergreen, Colorado. "Mike would
go catch the plane in Denver, and I would keep the place together up
there," notes Bill Fisher.
The relationship between Warnke and Happy Church is unclear. Bill
Fisher says Mike was "a kind of evangelist for them," not on the
payroll but working under Marilyn's Life for Laymen organization. An
article in the ®Denver Post¯ in October '75 identifies Warnke as "an
evangelist with Life for Laymen, a Denver-based movement." The
Hickeys refused to talk with us, but their spokesperson said Warnke and
his wife attended the church during the seventies, primarily for
According to Carolyn, Warnke now began to push for a divorce from
Sue. The Hickeys tried to reason with him. "Mike told them he and Sue
would try to work it out," says Carolyn. "But he told me he wanted out
of the marriage." Not long after, the relationship was broken between
Mike Warnke and The Happy Church.
In November 1975, Mike was invited to do a show at the Adam's Apple
coffeehouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Christian artists Nancy
Honeytree and Phil Keaggy were recording a concert that night. The tape
kept rolling during Warnke's part of the show. A proposed
Keaggy/Honeytree live album didn't materialize, but the Warnke tape
found a buyer in Myrrh Records, a subsidiary of Word, Inc.
Another Christian artist Mike had done concerts with on the road was
Randy Matthews. Randy, along with Wes Yoder, was co-owner of Dharma
Artists Agency, a fledgling Christian management company based in
Matthews' garage in Nashville. After talking with Matthews, Warnke and
Carolyn flew to Nashville, where he signed with the company.
"While Wes was signing Mike, he asked me to work with Dharma," says
Carolyn. "Wes said he'd split my bookings down the middle, fifty-fifty.
Mike said, `I can't beat that. He may get half of me, but I get half of
it back.' So I became a working member of the team."
During this time Brockport, NY, pastor Don Riling continued to
befriend Warnke. He was growing more and more concerned over what was
going on in Mike and Sue's marriage. "On several occasions Mike had
told me and my wifeÄÄcrying and the whole bitÄÄ`Sue doesn't love me.
She's kicked me out,' " Riling says. "Mike kept saying how all he
wanted to be was a family man, to raise his two boys. I told him he'd
have to choose between the road and his family." According to pastor
Riling, Marilyn Hickey then visited the Rilings. "I asked Marilyn,
`Isn't there anything we can do to persuade Sue to go back to Mike?'
Marilyn about fell out of her chair. She said, `What are you talking
about? Sue loves Mike. She wants to save their marriage. Mike is the
one who wants to end it.' Then it was my turn to be surprised. All I'd
known about the marriage problems before this was that Mike said Sue
was cheating on him."
Riling flew to Denver in the late summer of 1976 on a desperate
mission to try to save the marriage. On arriving, Riling said he found
Mike had left Sue and the two children and had moved into an apartment
with Carolyn. So Riling met with Sue. "She wanted to get back together
with Mike. Sue said at one time she had dated another man, but she was
plugged into Hickey's church and her attitude was `I just want to be
with my husband.' I think Mike saw it as his chance to dump Sue."
(Carolyn told us that Mike had urged both Sue and herself to go out
with others when he was away on the road. Finally, Carolyn says, Sue
did go out once with her to a dance hall.)
After talking with Sue, Pastor Riling stayed with the Hickeys but
spent most of his time with Mike and Carolyn. Riling got his
information about Carolyn from Warnke: "Mike was out on the road, and
he had supposedly led this gal Carolyn to Jesus. Before then, she had
run these houses of ill repute. Mike told me he had to bring her home
to help rehab her, and she lived right there with Sue."
During the visit, Riling didn't let up. "Every opportunity I could,
I pleaded with Mike to go back to SueÄÄfor the sake of his marriage,
for the sake of his ministry. Mike wouldn't hear anything about leaving
Carolyn." Riling was in a restaurant with Warnke when Mike told him Sue
was being served with divorce papers that very moment. (The summons is
dated August 20, 1976.) His mission a failure, the pastor returned
to New York.
Upon receiving the divorce petition, Sue Warnke called Ron Winckler
and George Wakeling, along with others, and asked for prayer, saying
Mike had run off with another woman.
It was at this point that Dr. Walter Martin, a well-known
counter-cult apologist and founder of Christian Research Institute
(CRI), was asked to speak to Mike about his marriage difficulties. (Dr.
Martin died in 1989.) Gretchen Passantino was Martin's senior research
consultant at the time, in charge of CRI's research staff,  and
her duties included overseeing Walter Martin's travel arrangements.
"Dr. Martin had a speaking engagement near Denver and asked me to
book a couple extra days so he could speak with Mike Warnke and his
wife, Sue," says Gretchen. "When he got back, he took me aside. He
said, `I had this real difficult meeting with Mike and Sue Warnke. I
hope what I did was enough.' Realizing that Mike was determined to
leave the marriage, Dr. Martin had prayed and counseled with both of
them, advising Mike he needed to leave the ministry."
®Mike & Carolyn in Music City¯
®Harmony¯ magazine was ®the¯ Christian music magazine in the
mid-seventies, and in September 1976, Mike Warnke was on the
cover. During this era, Mike relocated to what was becoming the
center of the contemporary Christian music business. Jesus music began
to be shaped by the powerful influence of Nashville, country music
capital and home of the Gospel Music Association (GMA). The "music"
part was welcomed in Music City. As for Jesus, insiders there have a
saying: "Nashville has changed more Christians than Christians have
Mike and Carolyn pulled into town with a U-Haul trailer. "Mike and I
moved into an apartment together," says Carolyn. "Once we'd moved in,
Mike went and bought cases of whiskey, different wines, and beer." At
the time, of course, Warnke was still married to Sue. Among their
Nashville Christian music friends, the only ones to protest Mike and
Carolyn's living arrangements was a couple they had met on the road,
Mike and Karen Johnson.
Though many of our readers may be unacquainted with Mike Johnson, he
was a Jesus music pioneer, starting his first Christian band in 1968.
According to many Jesus music historians, Johnson never received
recognition equal to the dues he paid and miles he and Karen logged on
the coffeehouse and church basement circuit.
When Mike Warnke came to town with Carolyn, Karen Johnson wanted to
know what was going on. "We said, `Hey, what about Sue?' Mike told us,
`She's running around on me.' I called Sue, and she said that wasn't
true. She said Mike found this other woman and he wanted to marry her.
And the only way you could get a divorce in the Christian community was
to say somebody had been unfaithful."
Out of their concern, the Johnsons orchestrated another meeting with
mutual acquaintance Don Riling. "We thought Mike Warnke was a mess and
wanted him to get help," says Karen. "Don Riling was the only pastor
that Warnke opened up to and submitted to in any form. He was like a
father figure to Mike." Mike Johnson told the Rilings that Warnke had
asked him to be best man in his wedding with Carolyn. "We pushed for a
meeting," says Karen Johnson. "Wes set it up. Don Riling flew to
The meeting was held at the Dharma offices. Riling, Mike Johnson,
Wes Yoder, and Mike and Carolyn were there. "You'd have never guessed
that this was a meeting of Christians," says Riling. "Mike and Carolyn
were swearing the whole time, and they must have gone through a whole
pack of cigarettes." The meeting went on for hours in an effort to get
everything out on the table with Warnke. "He moped around, saying his
life was a mess," says Riling. "I tried to convince him to go back to
Sue and save his ministry."
At one point in the meeting, Carolyn brought up Warnke's continuing
affair with the woman at Riling's church in Brockport. "Mike was still
very involved with her," says Carolyn. Pastor Riling was struck by the
bizarreness of the situation: "I'm sitting there listening to this
woman Warnke was committing adultery with talk about how Mike was
cheating on her."
As the meeting bogged down, Riling took Wes Yoder aside and tried to
make him understand the gravity of the situation. "Wes wouldn't deal
with it," says Riling. "He knew Mike Warnke had a problem, but Wes was
young and inexperienced. Wes said to Mike, `Do whatever you want to.
Stay with this woman. Go back to your wife. It's okay. I'm behind you,
because we have to keep the ministry going.' Mike Johnson was horrified
by this," says Riling.
Carolyn says she also gave Wes advice: "I thought Mike Johnson was
being sanctimonious and Don Riling was a joke. Wes came to me and said,
`What's going on?' I said, `Look, the guy's a joke. He's trying to get
his paws on Mike, but you've got him signed and if you don't keep him
it's your fault.' So it was really us against them."
Wes Yoder says of those days, "I should have run Warnke out of town
when he first showed up with Carolyn. I was stupid. I didn't miss it. I
just didn't know what to do about it. I was sinful in allowing him to
use me as a cloak of decency for what he was doing. The Lord doesn't
bless in things like that." Karen Johnson forgives Wes for his
part in the debacle, saying, "Here he was, this young guy trying to be
a part of Christian music, and he's involved with all these crazy
Carolyn says the meeting accomplished nothing. "Nobody I ever met
who was around or who was connected with Mike Warnke in any way ever
had any effect on him." The day after the meeting, Mike Johnson left
Dharma. His path then began to lead downward by degrees. It was also
after this meeting, says Carolyn, that Mike Warnke initiated her in
what he called an Indian ceremony. "We were at a motel, and he said,
`I'll show you how much I love you.' He took a pocket knife and cut his
wrist, and cut mine, and mixed our blood. He said, `Now we are one.' He
gave himself the name Many HorsesÄÄbecause I was part American Indian."
Bill Fisher said, "Mike told me he got the name Many Horses from an
Indian medicine man." Bill Fisher told us, explaining the Indian
identity as one of Warnke's many "mojos": "Mike would personify himself
as various characters at times. Mike had his Indian mojo, or sometimes
he'd be a Scotsman, or Jewish, or a Catholic priest, or Jeremiah
Johnson, or blackÄÄhe wanted to think he had black blood because Andre
Crouch told him he had soul."
The divorce of Mike Warnke from Sue was finalized on December 3,
1976. Mike and Carolyn were married four months later.
Instead of Mike Johnson, Wes Yoder was best man.
®Downhill into the Bigtime¯
In his books and on his records, Mike Warnke goes from Satan to
Christ. In Nashville, the path led from rags to riches. Warnke had no
money or credit when he came to town, says Carolyn. The bang-up
combination of a hit record and the Dharma Agency soon changed
that. And the money started rolling in. "Lots of money," says
Carolyn. "Not all of a sudden. But it wasn't uncommon for us to make
five thousand dollars on the road, spend two to three thousand a day,
buy whatever we wanted, go where we wanted, do whatever we wanted."
The Dharma Agency prospered. During this period, they moved their
offices from Randy Matthews' garage to Music Row, and later to a
penthouse suite in the United Artists Towers. They hired additional
booking agents. Dharma's star rose with the fortunes of something
that was now called contemporary Christian music.
Writes Christian media observer William D. Romanowski, "The industry
scaffolding began to go up as concert halls replaced coffeehouses and
church fellowship halls, as record labels replaced custom recordings,
and as contemporary music radio formats replaced tapes of
preachers. . . .
Christian entrepreneurs were building a Christian entertainment
industry that paralleled its secular counterpart not just in musical
styles and trends, but in marketing techniques, management, concert
production, publicity, and glamorization."
The whole atmosphere surrounding the music changed. "We took our
eyes off what had been very precious and innocent," says industry
veteran, Dan Hickling, "the joy of being a Christian and going around
and singing music for people that would bring them closer to God."
Buddy Huey, Word Records' artists and repertoire man, who had signed
Warnke, was part of the big change. "What we were trying to do was
have better distribution to get the Word out. We ended up compromising
lots. When I was with Word, the intent of the company was nothing more
than trying to find those people who had a voice or a platform. And
then all we could go on was what they told us." Including Warnke's
satanic story? "It was just accepted," says Huey. "That's one of the
things you'll find in the industry. You see something that might be
salable, marketableÄÄthat's what you look at. It saddens me that I was
a part of setting up things in the industry that I wish I had a chance
Romanowski writes, "Evangelism was the rhetoric, business became
reality." The manipulation of language, he says, transformed
"money-making into ministry, easing the consciences of those few who
earn healthy incomes off the music."
"You could see a kind of downhill slide," says Larry Black, a
one-time Christian deejay who is now an actor. "To see the
marriages dissolve, to see them slowly begin to justify various vices."
Was this behavior common knowledge in the industry? "Yeah. I think
there was general knowledge. But you're caught in that old trap of not
wanting to criticize a brother."
We asked Buddy Huey if there was any company policy regarding
Christian artists who were exhibiting non-Christian behavior. "No,
there really wasn't," says Buddy Huey. "I didn't personally do cocaine,
for instance, but I was present when others did cocaine. Looking back
at that, I think my silence was worse than them doing the drugs."
Scott Ross, who now works for CBN Television and back then was the
country's foremost Christian disk jockey, recalls how kinky things had
gotten. "There was a lot of immorality, drugs, and booze."
Says Karen Johnson, "Mike [Johnson] tried to stay so straight, for
eight years. Then everything fell apart after we'd been in Nashville
for awhile. Mike looked around and realized that Warnke and his friends
were making lots of money and fooling around on their wives. My husband
thought, `What difference does it make?' He started drinking, smoking
grass. He started hanging around with these Christian music people that
didn't care if you were moral or not."
Says Mike Johnson, "I was one big mess." Adds Karen, "When my Mike
came home from being on the road with Warnke, he'd confessÄÄall in the
name of repentanceÄÄto all this drinking and going to discos.
In the fall of 1978, the future seemed bright for Mike Warnke. His
albums were "the most popular Christian comedy records ever produced
anywhere, with sales reaching to nearly 200,000." Doubleday
Publishing was assembling a book of material from the first three
albums. With dates around the world, 1979 was slated to be his biggest
tour ever. Mike asked Bill Fisher to travel with him.
At home, Carolyn says she and Mike had been fighting, and that
several times he had hit her. Because of this, Carolyn's mother, Peggy
Alberty, had moved to Nashville to be near her daughter.
®Enter Rose, Exit Nashville¯
Warnke was on the road almost constantly. "We figured it out one
time," says Bill Fisher. "We traveled over 280,000 air miles in about
ten months that year, with three days off a month." About halfway
through the whirlwind ten-month tour, Warnke performed in Hazard,
Kentucky. It was there, says Rose Hall, that she first met Mike
Carolyn confirms this story. "While Mike and I were still married,
he went to Kentucky to do a show, and that's where he met Rose."
Carolyn says Mike came home very excited about something. "Then he went
down to a jewelry store where we'd established credit and began buying
jewelry for someone else, who I later found out was Rose."
The story of Mike Warnke's romance with Rose Hall is told in her
book, ®The Great Pretender.¯ Rose never mentions Carolyn or the fact
that Mike was married to Carolyn during his courtship with Rose. She
says she met Warnke in various cities and stayed in the hotel with
himÄÄin separate rooms. "Looking back, it had never occurred to me to
say, `You're a minister, an evangelist; are you married?' It never
entered my mind."
During the time she was traveling around with Warnke, Rose says she
went with him to Nashville. There, she writes, both his road manager
and his agent objected to the relationship. Wes Yoder says, "Rose
came along before Mike and Carolyn were divorced. The whole thing with
Carolyn, I couldn't deal with personally. With Rose I did. But I was
still there. I was ®so¯ wrong."
Mike Warnke's relationship with the Johnsons went from bad to worse.
As Karen Johnson tells it, "Mike called on the phone and said he wanted
to come over, because he knew I was angry at him over what had happened
to my Mike. I told him no, that I felt he was leading people astray,
and I didn't want him associating with my husband because he was
helping destroy our marriage. But later Warnke came over anyway and
said, `Karen, I don't want you to dislike me. I want us to be friends.'
I said, `Then change what you're doing. You're deceiving people. You're
committing adultery.' He said, `I can't change.' "
After Karen told Warnke to get out, "He came at me like he was going
to kill me." Mike Johnson says of this episode, "I was in pretty good
shape back then, and I was ready to go at it there in the living room."
Warnke left, says Karen, "screaming obscenities at me."
The end for Mike Warnke and wife Carolyn was, as she tells it, the
stuff of melodrama. "We were fighting and he threw me into a wall and
split my head open. He said, `If you go to a local hospital and tell
them what your name is, I'll kill you. I don't have to do it
physically. I can do it from another room or another state.' "
"There was a revolver in the nightstand," Carolyn says. "I took it
out and said, `If you hit me again Mike, I'm gonna kill you, because
I'm tired of your beatings. I just can't take any more.' " Carolyn says
she jumped into her car, started driving, and didn't stop until she
reached Pensacola, Florida.
Tom Carrouthers found Carolyn in a convenience store in Pensacola
that summer night in 1979, dazed and bleeding. "Carolyn said she and
her old man had gotten into it," says Carrouthers. "She had a big
gouge on the top of her head, and a wad of dried blood. I took her to
the hospital. When we got there, she was like a kid and didn't want me
to leave. She stayed with my sister and me for a week or so."
Carolyn gave us a note she received from Mike. "Dear Carolyn," it
reads, "I don't know how we ever got to this place. All I know for sure
is that we are here. . . . I can't blame you for not wanting to be
around me right now. Nor can I condemn your disgust at my rages and
tantrums. I'm trying hard to get control. . . . I'll always be there
when you need me. The scar on my wrist will ®never¯ fade. . . . Peace
to you. Many Horses."
Carrouthers remembers Carolyn talking with Warnke on the phone
during the two weeks she was there; things seemed to be improving. But
when Carolyn finally returned to Nashville from Florida, she was in for
a surprise. "I came home and there was a `For Sale' sign on the house.
All the locks had been changed, and everything in the house was gone.
In just a matter of days, I had no funds, no furniture, nothing," she
Carolyn didn't go back to Dharma. She felt most of the people she
knew in the industry had been siding with Mike, who was telling
everyone the stories about her unfaithfulness. In a bizarre twist,
Carolyn got a job working as an undercover narcotics operative with the
Regional Organized Crime Information Center, a law enforcement
organization in Nashville.
Mike and Carolyn's divorce was final on November 29, 1979. Mike
Johnson says Warnke told him that Carolyn was rubbed out by the mob,
"bludgeoned to death in a ditch." A friend from the Trinity days,
Clarence Benes, heard from Warnke that Carolyn had been killed in a
boating accident. Don Riling says he was told by Warnke that
Carolyn had drowned.
From Carolyn's viewpoint, "Mike is one of the greatest con artists
I've ever known in my life. And coming from my background, that says
quite a bit."
Mike and Karen Johnson divorced two years later, and he is no longer
in Christian music. "Mike Johnson has really reaped what he has sown,"
says ex-wife Karen. "He has no family, no friends, no career, no money,
no life. It makes me angry that Mike Warnke, on the other hand, seems
to be making money, going on with life, and continuing to deceive
Among the friends that took a different path than Warnke at the end
of 1979 was Bill Fisher. "Mike and I parted when he moved to Kentucky
to be with Rose," says Bill. "He was divorced, but that's not grounds
for moving in with someone. Mike said, `We married each other before
the Lord.' I said, `Do it before the state, too.' "
®Holy Orthodox Catholic Church in Kentucky¯
Mike Warnke married Rose Hall in Paintsville, Kentucky, on January
2, 1980. It was his third marriage, her fourth. With the marriage
came several changes: Rose was often onstage and on record with
Mike; Warnke left Dharma Agency and began to book his own
concerts; the public focus shifted from onstage concerts to the
ministry back home. As Mike has said: "When you get right down to
it, I'm just a glorified cheerleader. The real work of our ministry
goes on back there."
The name of the "ministry back there" was Warnke Ministries; its
nonprofit status was listed under "The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church in
Kentucky" (HOCCK). This built on Warnke's previous 1974 ordination in
Tulsa by Bishop Elijah Coady while Warnke was attending Trinity Bible
School. With HOCCK, Mike Warnke joined the ranks of "independent"
Eastern Orthodox churchmen who founded their own autonomous
denominations. During the early eighties, Warnke met James Miller, a
local bishop in the American Orthodox Church. Miller told us he
ordained Warnke a deacon and then a priest in early 1983. He suspended
the ordination later when Warnke failed to submit regular reports.
And then Mike Warnke became a bishop. This final ecclesiastical step
occurred when another independent bishop, Richard Morrill, consecrated
WarnkeÄÄan event we have verified by speaking to three other bishops
who say they were told by the late Morrill that he had indeed made Mike
Warnke a bishop.
Bishop Richard Morrill had officiated over Mike and Carolyn's
marriage in Nashville. According to Elijah Coady, Morrill was an
itinerant cleric given to flamboyance and the founding of
organizations, many of which seemed to exist only on paper. In 1981,
Morrill incorporated in Texas under the name "The Holy Orthodox
Catholic Church, Eastern and Apostolic." One year later, Mike and
Rose incorporated as "The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church in
HOCCK's offices were located at first in a converted garage behind
the Warnkes' Versailles home. As time went on, they staffed it
with a series of Christian women whose opinions of the Warnke ministry
were much higher when they joined than when they left. In the summer of
1983, Dorothy Green heard Rose on a Lexington Christian radio station
and invited her to speak to the Danville, Kentucky, Women's Aglow.
Soon afterwards, "Dot" was hired to answer letters and do phone
counseling. Dot's friend, Jan Ross, joined later as Rose's personal
secretary. Roxanne Miller and Phyllis Swearinger eventually worked in
the bookkeeping department.
All four women were nonplussed by Mike's preference for High Church
"chapel" services. Dot remembers an early chapel service with Mike: "He
had incense, and he'd come down the aisle with his robes, swinging it
in this thing."
Roxanne Miller's opinion had less to do with the High Church
trappings than with an event where Mike's ritual got in the way of a
few friends' prayer time. "We used to go down to the park for lunch,"
Roxanne recalls. "Dot, Jan, myself, a few others . . . and we'd
just talk about what God had done in our lives. What He still was
doing. Mike was usually out of town, but one day he just showed up and
said, `I'm gonna do the teaching this week.' So we sang, and then Mike
put on his robes. I thought he was plain ridiculous. It was like
dressing up to be something you're not. It made me feel sad. He wants
to be so much, and he isn't. I can still see him standing there in his
robe, all velvet and dark."
®The Ministry and the Money¯
Another point which perplexed the women was HOCCK's finances.
Roxanne Miller had been hired to get control of the finances and says
that while she was there (1985-1986) HOCCK covered various expenses for
Mike and Rose. "We paid for the car, we paid for the gas, we paid for
the parsonage, we paid for their clothes and their food," she says. Yet
she says her job was a continual battle of the budget. Mike seemed to
have no concept that money made by a nonprofit ministry is different
than personal income. Once, she says, Mike Warnke responded to her
efforts to curb his spending this way: "He told me, `Every bit of the
money is mine. I earned it. If I wasn't out front, there would be no
Jan Ross told us, "On several occasions Rose said to me that anybody
who was in the position she and Mike were in deserved to have the best
of everything because of who they were and what they had given up to be
where they were. I thought, `What did you give up?' "
Phyllis Swearinger said there were problems making ends meet.
"I'd worked at banks before, so I was used to handling large amounts of
money. But the amount that came in here every week sort of threw me.
And then to find out it just wouldn't go far enough! Once Mike called
me, upset because he needed some trees pruned at his home, and I
wouldn't write a check for it because we didn't have enough money in
the account at the moment. What struck me about this conversation is
Mike told me he felt he deserved to make as large a salary as Jimmy
Swaggart was making."
The Warnkes' home was certainly in line with his high aspirations.
Back in July of 1983 Rose's mother, Blanche Hall, had purchased a huge
mansion (at one time a plantation) near Danville. "Lynnwood Farm" was
leased to HOCCK for several years and later sold to Rose, who with Mike
referred to it as "the parsonage."
Tax returns indicate HOCCK's total revenue for 1984 was over
$900,000. In 1985 HOCCK grossed over $1,000,000, with over $500,000 in
love offerings alone. In 1986, the total went over two million: love
offerings brought in over $1,000,000; product sales (i.e., books and
records) grossed over $180,000; and direct public support totaled over
$450,000. The 1987 total was $2,239,927. Revenue figures for 1988
through 1990 continued at slightly over $2,000,000.
HOCCK tax returns show that the Warnke's personal salaries
steadily rose (see Table 1).
Table 1: Warnke's annual income
1984: $ 34,500 $ 11,500
1985: $ 95,617 $ 83,417
1986: $163,632 $155,418
1987: $177,450 $177,450
1988: $183,917 $183,917
1989: $204,383 $204,383
1990: $239,291 $230,291
The growth of Warnke Ministries in the mid-eighties paralleled a
sudden explosion of public fears about Satanism. In March of 1985, Mike
Warnke appeared on an ABC "20/20" report called "The Devil
Worshippers," part of a deluge of talk shows and books on contemporary
Satanism. Stories of hideous satanic crimes were often woven together
by self-proclaimed "experts" to demonstrate the existence of a
worldwide satanic conspiracy similar to the Illuminati network outlined
in ®The Satan Seller.¯
Each year, goes the theory, thousands of children are being
sacrificed in satanic rituals laced with sex and violence. Alleged
adult survivors of satanic ritual abuse testify to the hidden cult's
existence. ®The Satan Seller¯ seems tame in comparison. Yet when
evidence for the conspiracy is requested, true believers (including a
few therapists and police officers) often refer skeptics to Warnke and
his book as a final authority.
In the early eighties, when Mike and Rose began to speak about their
Kentucky ministry to audiences on the road, they offered descriptions
typically centered around their work helping victims of the
"Supposedly, Jeffy was this little boy who had become a vegetable
because of all the satanic abuse he'd had," says Jan Ross. "The story
was used to raise money to `help all the Jeffys of the world, so there
wouldn't be so many Jeffys.' Mike would say, `What if your child was
sent to preschool and this happened? How'd you like this to happen to
your child?' "
The home office would always know when Mike was telling the Jeffy
story, says Dot Green. "People would write on the offering envelopes,
`This is for all the children like Jeffy.' It was amazing how many
envelopes would come back with Jeffy's name on it. Mike always had to
count the money after a concert and call Rose to give her an idea of
what was there," Dot continues. "She'd ask if he'd told the Jeffy
story. If he hadn't, she'd say, `You tell the Jeffy story tomorrow
night.' " Several staffers say the Warnkes' interest in the at-home
ministry never made it home from the road. Says Dot, "I'd try to tell
them about somebody who wrote needing help, and they didn't want to
Adds Jan Ross, "We didn't get that many calls, maybe four or five
actual calls a day. Some people just wanted attention, but every once
in a while there'd be people with real problems. Mike and Rose just
didn't want to deal with them. They'd go on the road and say, `We're
here to help you,' but when you called they didn't want to deal with
For a while, Dot Green tried to ignore everything at Warnke
Ministries that wasn't connected to her counseling duties. "I loved my
job so much," she says. "I fooled myself into thinking it was my
ministry, since Mike and Rose didn't seem to have any interest in it.
But I started realizing the people I was writing to were sending in
offerings. I always put a pink offering envelope in with each letter. I
began marking my envelopes so I could tell which came back with my
mark. The month I left, my letters brought in over $21,000. At that
point, the Lord let me know I was just as guilty as they were as long
as I stayed."
Jan Ross was in the midst of her own struggle. The staff attended a
series of Warnke shows in Cincinnati. "We did this concert; it was just
a super evening. Then we walked out and went to a bar. The Warnkes were
buying rounds of drinks, dancing. I kept thinking the whole time, I
wonder if anybody's going to come in and recognize them."
Roxanne remembers that trip. "We went to Cincinnati once. It just
grossed me out. They went out and drank and carried on afterwards, Mike
and the road guys. I said, `I just can't handle this.' "
Dot Green and Jan Ross left Warnke Ministries at the end of 1985.
Roxanne Miller was fired in February 1986 (for refusing to give Rose
several signed, blank checks, she says), and Phyllis quit soon after.
"It's not been something we have forgotten easily," says Jan Ross.
"It's scary to think you can get involved with something like that with
a pure heart, to serve God, and then find out it's run on deception,
lies, and thievery."
Warnke Ministries continued to expand. In October of 1986, the
Warnkes purchased property in Burgin, Kentucky, which they then sold to
HOCCK. A newsletter announced that a long-promised "Center" was
about to become a reality. Plans included rehab and medical facilities.
"Phase I" was the construction of an administration building.
The fund-raising campaign began. "This Center is fast becoming a
reality and will be a reality if ®you¯ make it one," said Mike in a
ministry newsletter. "Your gifts, offerings, and prayers enable Warnke
Ministries to continue its missions."
By April of 1987, Warnke Ministries was able to move to Burgin and
into their beautiful new colonial-style brick office complex.
Dr. John Cooper worked for a short time in this building. In the
late eighties, Warnke Ministries opened a seminar department to teach
police and others the gruesome facts about Satanism and occult crime.
Dr. Cooper, a former college professor and author of twenty-nine books,
was hired in 1989 as director.
Cooper has this to say about the Warnkes' "Center": "They were
raising money for a children's center for refugees from Satanism. Phone
calls would come to my office, people wanting to send kids there. I'd
explain to them that there wasn't any such thing there, only a building
with offices. The only parts of that building not dedicated to getting
Mike speaking engagements or handling receipts were a large room set up
like a Greek Orthodox Church and a library."
Cooper disputes the Warnkes' claim of 50,000 counseling calls and
letters a month. "There isn't any way in the world for that to be
so," he says. "My guess would be, on a daily basis, they might get 6
calls." (Such a figure, if accurate, would translate to 120 calls per
month.) "The only ministry I know of that went on there was one fellow
who worked part-time answering the phone. And he'd usually just give
out other ministry numbers and tell people to call them."
John Cooper spent several months preparing a seminar presentation,
which he premiered in May. Shortly afterwards, he was fired. He later
tried suing the Warnkes, but the case died in court.
A more important court case for Warnke Ministries was the 1991
divorce of Mike and Rose. According to the Warnkes' new book,
®Recovering from Divorce,¯ the serious problems in the marriage date as
far back as November 1984. In the book, Rose notes an "It's over, isn't
it?" talk with Mike that took place in his office in December of
Some comparison with Rose's previous book is enlightening. Written
in mid- to late 1985, ®The Great Pretender¯ reveals how Rose caught
Warnke in an "affair" in 1984. "We had a situation this last year when
we felt there was nothing left between us. We weren't communicating,
and Satan provided a woman to fill the gap in Michael's life."
The conversation in the first book goes like this:
He began to tell me there's nothing to this and that I'm
misunderstanding it all.
"Okay, okay," I growled, "I don't want to hear it. If you're
not going to tell the truth, don't say anything. . . . You're
throwing your ministry away, your life, the whole works. I'll
guarantee you, people will not accept this. You're not going
to go through another divorce and people accept it."
Rose says she threatened on Christmas Eve to call the woman, and
Mike responded by moving out. Later, after Warnke had promised to end
the relationship, Rose found out he was still calling the woman. Says
Rose, "He hid all the guns. Michael's a big gun collector, and I know
how to shoot. . . . I said, `I'll continue running the ministry, I'll
get myself established ministry-wise, then I don't care what you do.
You're not going to wreck my life. I'll establish myself. You do what
These incidents go unmentioned in the new book. Instead, ®Recovering
from Divorce¯ presents a rather psychologized story of a marital
mismatch, doomed from the start. While the Warnkes are evasive on the
exact reasons, they make it clear their marriage was a painful
experience for both of them. Court records say the couple last lived
together in October of 1989.
Despite her earlier warnings in ®The Great Pretender¯ about how
people would not accept another divorce, Rose Warnke filed for divorce
on September 4, 1991. A property settlement agreement drawn up by
Rose's attorney and signed by both Mike and Rose was filed the same
Blanche Hall had deeded Lynnwood Farm to Rose in April of 1991. In
the divorce property settlement, Rose was also awarded 327 additional
acres surrounding the farm, which the couple purchased in April 1991
for $525,000 (despite the fact that they hadn't lived together there
since October, 1989.) Mike Warnke also agreed to pay half the
mortgage for the new acreage.
Additionally, Rose got a condominium the Warnkes owned in Stewart,
Florida (purchased in May, 1986, for $398,000), and another condominium
the couple owned near Danville (purchased in July, 1989, for
$231,500). Further, Rose got everything in all the houses
mentioned above, plus the Yamaha piano, the 1985 Cadillac, and the
couple's four horses.
Mike also agreed to pay Rose $8,000 per month ($96,000 per year) for
the rest of her life via a wage assignment out of Mike's salary from
HOCCK. Mike agreed to assume responsibility for paying various liens,
pay for the education of Rose's daughters until the year 2001, divide a
$15,000 IRA with Rose, and also split the debt to their accountant.
Rose also got 65 percent of Warnke's ownership of his copyrights for
and royalties from absolutely everything he will make from his books
and recordings. Mike agreed to keep various existing life insurance
policies and take out an additional $2 million life insurance policy on
himself, with Rose as the beneficiary, for the next fifteen years.
Finally, Mike agreed to pay Rose $20,000 to equalize the division of
In the same property settlement, Mike Warnke was awarded whatever
property was located at the condo where he was staying, his motorcycle,
and visiting rights to the horses.
October 2, 1991, the Warnkes' divorce was granted. The local
paper quoted a ministry spokesman who said nothing would change. Rose,
who was identified as the music director and an administrator, would
continue to do separate shows and possibly make joint appearances with
When it came time for Mike Warnke to announce his third divorce
officially to the friends of Warnke Ministries, he used a rationale
which he was sure his fellow believers would respect: He did it, he
said, for the ministry.
"As many of you know," wrote Warnke, "Rose and I, after seeking the
Lord's guidance, and two years of intensive Christian counseling,
accepted the fact that our marriage was beyond reconciliation, and the
only hope of saving the Ministry we have poured our lives into, was
Six weeks after his divorce was finalized, on November 18, 1991,
Mike Warnke married Susan Patton, an old Rim High classmate, and moved
As of this writing, Mike and Rose are scheduled to appear together
at the Christian Booksellers Association convention in late June, where
they will be promoting their new book, ®Recovering from Divorce.¯
According to CBA press material, the Warnkes will be available for
interviews to discuss their "unique perspective on the troublesome
issue of divorce."
Their unique perspective: forgive and forget. In the book, Mike and
his ex-wife share the pain of their relationship and parting; then the
experiences are interpreted by their editor, Lloyd Hildebrand, and
therapist, John Joy. There is much talk of how sad divorce is, and much
assigning of blame to dysfunctional backgrounds and a codependent
relationship. Although they could not be married, Mike and Rose
conclude, they can now be friends.
"Perhaps no one is ready for this book," writes Mike. "Could being
`up front' about our failure cost it all? That's the chance I must
take. Rose feels the same way. We both have come to the place where we
know that the only real choice we have is to go on ®as
For those who would raise objections to what is, indeed, in the
Christian Church a "unique" perspective, Mike Warnke fires a preemptive
blast. "So I messed up. Does that change who Jesus is?" Likewise,
he decries "the Gospel Gestapo" who feel bound to discover and
publicize the failures of those in ministry, "even if the evidence
proves to be true."
After our research was complete, we contacted Mike in early May to
set up an interview with him, to which we had invited some other
Christian leaders (Ron Enroth, Don Riling, and others). Mike declined
our interview and said he would only meet with us at his attorney's
office in Kentucky. We considered this a matter for the Body of Christ,
with no lawyers being necessary, and asked about the possibility of
meeting somewhere convenient for everyone. Mike's response: that we
have no further contact with him except through his attorney. This
ended our communication.
This concludes a long and painful survey of the life and ministry of
Mike Warnke. We did not prepare it lightly, but solemnly and with
counsel from many dedicated ministers.
®A Biblical Plan of Action¯
We would be remiss in our duty as Christian journalists if we could
not offer some concrete suggestions and reflections.
Some of our readers will expect us to have followed the steps of
Matthew 18:15-17, starting with a private confrontation. This passage
gives Christ's instructions on what to do "if your brother sins against
you," and the process stops if the brother repents privately. We have
two remarks on this passage.
First, Mike has already been confronted numerous times over the
years by many concerned Christian friends, acquaintances, and church
leaders. Mike knows what the Bible says about truthfulness, integrity,
and fidelity. He is responsible to put into practice what he already
Second, this is not a private dispute between Mike Warnke and a
magazine. A public figure is susceptible to public scrutiny and
criticism. Matthew 18 is not violated when public figures are publicly
rebuked. (However, other scriptures are violated if the rebukes being
made are not fair, true, or applicable to the person.)
Mike has sinned against the public for years, and the public is
entitled to know the truth about his claims and actions. The
misinformation about Mike's testimony is still in circulation,
influencing how Christians view contemporary Satanism. For the sake of
the Church and the watching world, it must be corrected. (A more
complete discussion of the biblical grounds for Christian reporting
appears in the article, "Public Trust," on page 5.)
The statements made in this report are factual and verifiable.
Anybody can read Mike's book, study its time line, and see that there
is no way for him to have done the things he claimed in ®The Satan
Seller.¯ Mike's former fiancee, his roommates, relatives, and cohorts
in school emphatically contradict his claims on everything from hair
length to drug use and from out-of-town trips to "love slaves" in his
apartment. Mike's own friends refused to sign an affidavit that his
Satanism testimony was true.
If Mike has any real evidence to disprove what we've offered here,
we're willing to print it. However, the evidence we have uncovered
leads us to the conclusion that Mike doesn't have any. One thing is
certain: the Church should not let the master storyteller get by with
telling just another story: "There really ®was¯ a satanic coven; they
just didn't talk to the right people. . . ."
At this stage, excuses aren't sufficient. Mike needs to provide
either ®evidence¯ or ®repentance.¯ It is not enough to make religious
excuses for sin or sophisticated attempts to change the subject: "Those
girls came on to me, and I was at a vulnerable point in my life. . . ."
"The person who said `the Christian Church is the only army to shoot
its own wounded' was totally right. . . ." "It's not up to you to judge
my actions. Last time I read my Bible, Jesus was sitting on the throne,
and He's not about to get off and let you take His place. . . ."
This is sidestepping. It's a move to change the subject and get away
from calling one's actions sin and asking for forgiveness. The issues
are whether Mike has told the truth, whether he is fit for public
ministry, and whether he meets the standards for biblical leadership.
Like it or not, by addressing thousands of people he is assuming a
pastoral role, regardless of what he calls himself.
If Mike were to seek forgiveness and restoration, what could the
Church expect to see as evidence of the genuineness of his repentance?
The following principles should apply to any Christian leader who has
®Repentance.¯ Repentance is fundamental to Christianity. It denotes a
complete turnaround, heading in the opposite direction than previously.
Like "to love," ®to repent¯ is a verb denoting action. Nobody wants to
see another Jimmy Swaggart crying crocodile tears on camera but
returning to save "the ministry" three months later . . . and returning
to the same sin after that. In Mike Warnke's case, true repentance
would necessitate complete withdrawal from public ministry.
®Confession.¯ If Mike is repentant, he should make an open admission of
guilt. On the other hand, Mike Warnke has built a career of telling us
about past and present sins. The Church must not allow him to emerge as
a new authority on fraudulent testimonies.
®Restitution.¯ True moral change involves some attempt to undo past
wrongs and to provide some kind of restitution. Perhaps the best kind
of restitution Mike Warnke could perform would be to take ®Satan
Seller¯ and all his other products off the market.
What about the rest of us? Accountability is a public as well as a
personal matter. Christian publishers have an obligation to validate
the books they print, whether nonfiction or historical fiction books.
At the same time, it is ®our¯ responsibility as the book-buying public
to ask for evidence before accepting a story.
After Warnke's testimony began circulating, those few who knew the
truth kept silent: they felt powerless against the immensity of the
story. Where could they turn? Well, the publisher would be a place to
start. We need the active participation of all members of the Body of
Christ in provoking each other to righteousness and, where necessary,
in providing biblical confrontation and counsel.
Sometimes a twisted man can preach a straight gospel. Through the
years, we've known many people who could speak truth while ignoring it
in their personal lives. Scripture testifies that God may bless or
anoint a sermon even while condemning the deeds of the preacher (Num.
23-24, 2 Pet. 2:15, Matt. 23:3).
Yes, the love of God is truly as infinite and wondrous as Mike
Warnke has been telling us for twenty years. God loves Mike Warnke as
he really isÄÄex-Satanist, war hero, Ph.D.ÄÄor not. His choice now is
no different than it has ever been: losing the whole world or losing
his soul. For no one can know the love of God whose heart is closed to
Perhaps he has never stopped feeling like an outsider, and even when
Christianity opened its arms to him, he would not give up his
storytelling. His adolescent flirtation with the occult was exaggerated
into a postadolescent fantasy of having incredible amounts of money,
sex, prestige, and power as a Satanist. He later achieved money, sex,
prestige, and power. Sadly, it was in the name of Christ.
It's not too late for Mike to change, if he wants to. The secular
press may scoff, and those who consider themselves ®real¯ Satanists may
snicker, but the Jesus of the Bible is still the God of truth. The
Lord, who makes ruined lives whole and restores purity to harlots and
liars, offers each of us forgiveness and acceptance. Not on our terms,
To Mike, and all others, who have been tempted to sacrifice the
truth for the sake of "the ministry," we can offer no better words than
these of the apostle Paul:
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received
mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the hidden
things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the
word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth
commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight
of God. (2 Cor. 4:1-2)
1. Coauthor David Balsiger, in his biographical sketch, says ®The
Satan Seller¯ has sold only 500,000 copies.
2. So-called satanic panic has led to tragedy in many cases. For
further information, see Jon Trott, "Satanic Panic," ®Cornerstone¯ 20,
iss. 95 (1991): 9.
3. Mike Warnke marriage licenses. Interview, Fr. Bob Nagler, St.
Francis Cabrini Church, Crestline, CA.
4. Interview, Mildred Warnke Jordan; Al Warnke obituary, ®Manchester
Times,¯ 17 Oct. 1958.
5. Mildred Warnke Jordan; Larry Nee, ®Manchester Times,¯ 16 Oct. 1991,
spoke with local undertaker, who referred to his notes on Louise
6. Interview and letter, Shirley Schrader.
7. "Final Rites for A. J. Warnke," ®Manchester Times,¯ 17 Oct. 1958.
8. ®Mike Warnke Alive!,¯ Mike Warnke, Myrrh Records, 1976.
9. Interview, Edna Swindell.
10. Interviews, Keith Schrader, Jr.
11. Interview, Tim Smith.
12. Interviews, Jeff Nesmith.
13. Interview, David Goodwin.
14. Interview, Terry Smith Perry.
15. Confirmation certificate (see above).
16. Charles Donovan, San Bernardino Valley College ref. librarian.
17. Warnke, Michael Alfred, USN, #B98 05 49.
18. Mike Warnke, ®Schemes of Satan¯ (Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1991),
19. Interviews, Greg Gilbert.
20. Interviews, Dennis Pekus.
21. Interviews, Dawn Andrews.
22. Interview, Dyana Cridelich.
23. Mike Warnke, with Dave Balsiger and Les Jones, ®The Satan Seller,¯
(Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1972), 18.
24. Interviews, Lois Eckenrod.
25. ®Satan Seller,¯ 19.
26. ®Satan Seller,¯ 14.
27. Interview, John Ingro.
28. Interviews, George Eubank.
29. ®Satan Seller,¯ 19.
30. Interview, Phyllis Catalano.
31. Interview, Mary Catalano.
32. Interview, Tom Bolger.
33. ®Satan Seller,¯ 19.
34. ®Satan Seller,¯ 19, 20.
35. ®Satan Seller,¯ 30.
36. ®Satan Seller,¯ 33.
37. ®Satan Seller,¯ 100, 101.
38. In 1981, Logos went bankrupt and sold its titles to Bridge
Publishing, which has since been purchased again. The new owners were
unable to locate any affidavits, signed or otherwise, for ®The Satan
39. Interviews, Bill Lott.
40. ®Satan Seller,¯ 64, 65.
41. ®Satan Seller,¯ 29.
42. ®Satan Seller,¯ 28.
43. ®Schemes of Satan,¯ 73.
44. ®Satan Seller,¯ 90, 91.
45. Mike Warnke, ®Hitchhiking on Hope Street¯ (Garden City, NY:
Doubleday & Company, 1979), 63, 64.
46. "Focus on the Family" broadcast, 16 March 1985.
47. ®Satan Seller,¯ 112-114, 116, 121.
48. Naval records show Warnke was transferred out of Recruit Training
Command on 22 August 1966. This is also the date he gives on his video
®Do You Hear Me?¯ as the day he became a Christian.
49. ®Satan Seller,¯ 135.
50. ®Satan Seller,¯ 137.
51. Interview, Charlotte Tweeten.
52. Navy Records.
53. ®Satan Seller,¯ 136.
54. Mike Warnke, ®Hey, Doc!,¯ 1978, Myrrh Records; Also, ®Hitchhiking
on Hope Street,¯ 34.
55. Completed Hosp. Corps School 12/22/66; Reported to Field Med.
Serv. School, Camp Pendleton; 1/5/67; Reported to Naval Adcom, San
56. Certificate of Registry of Marriage, San Bernardino co., CA.
57. ®Satan Seller,¯ 149, 150.
58. Interviews, Tim LaHaye.
59. Interview, Beverly LaHaye.
60. Transferred to Third Marine Division, Vietnam, 5/2/69.
61. ®Warnke Ministries Newsletter,¯ 1 (1991), 4.
62. ®Satan Seller,¯ 163.
63. Ibid., 165.
64. Ibid., 166.
66. Ibid., 168.
67. ®Hitchhiking on Hope Street,¯ 42, 43.
68. Ibid., 45.
69. Ibid., 42.
70. "Decorations and Awards: Good Conduct Medal, Combat Action Ribbon,
Vietnam Service Medal, Purple Heart, Republic of Vietnam Campaign
Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious
Unit Citation; Warnke transferred home 3/1/70.
71. Interview, George Wakeling.
72. Interview, Ron Winckler.
73. Don Musgraves, director of Cerullo's Youth Action Center in San
Diego, interview: "It was during those times that I began to have heavy
contact with people coming out of the occult . . . "; Peter Brown,
"Dropout Heads WitchcraftFight," ®San Diego Union,¯ 15 January 1972, 1;
"Evangelism Group Fights Witchcraft," ®San Diego Union,¯ 22 January
1972, p. 5B; Dave Balsiger, "Charismatic Insider's Report," ®Logos
Journal,¯ May/June 1972, 39, 40.
74. Interview, Morris Cerullo; Balsiger, "Insider's Report;" ®Christian
Life,¯ March 1972, 12.
75. Dave Balsiger, et al., "It's Happening Now," insert, ®San Diego
Evening Tribune,¯ 17 January 1972. (See Roddy, below: " . . . Cerullo,
surprisingly unassuming in contrast to the image created by his flashy
PR people . . . ") Peter Brown, "Dropout Heads Witchcraft Fight"; John
Dart, "Converted `Priest' Offers Guided Tour of Satanism," ®Los Angeles
Times,¯ 19 January 1972, Sec. C, Part II, 1; "Evangelism Group Fights
Witchcraft"; Balsiger, "Insider's Report."
76. Lee Roddy, "Morris Cerullo Crusade: A New Anointing?" ®Christianity
Today,¯ 18 February 1972, 52-53.
77. Interview, Dave Balsiger.
78. Interview, Jean Jolly.
79. Navy Records, date of discharge, 2 June 1972.
80. Interview, George Eckeroth.
81. "YEAR END REPORT and APPEAL FOR ASSISTANCE," Alpha Omega Outreach,
Rev. Mike Warnke, president, January, 1973.
82. Michael Warnke, "When Evil Fights Back," ®Guideposts,¯ Nov. 1972,
83. Dave Balsiger, "Charismatic Insider's Report," ®Logos Journal,¯
July-August 1972, 54.
84. Dave Balsiger, "Charismatic Insider's Report," ®Logos Journal,¯
Nov-Dec 1972, 56.
85. John P. Ferre, "Searching For the Great Commission: Evangelical
Book Publishing Since the 1970s," in ®American Evangelicals and the
Mass Media,¯ ed. Quentin J. Schultze (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan,
86. David Hazard, "Decatrends in Christian Publishing," ®Charisma,¯
August 1985, 140.
87. Michael Esses, ®Michael, Michael, Why Do You Hate Me?¯
(Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1973); Betty Esses DeBlase,
®Survivor of a Tarnished Ministry¯ (Santa Ana, CA: Truth Publishers,
88. James Danne, "Demonic Spirits," ®Christian Century,¯ 4 July 1973,
738; Paul Nevin, "On Selling Your Soul to the Devil," ®Moody Monthly,¯
July-August 1973, 52.
89. Dave Balsiger Biographical Sketch.
90. James E. Adams, "Regards Peril of the Occult As Worse Than That of
Drugs," ®St. Louis Post-Dispatch,¯ 29 November 1972; Hershel Smith with
Dave Hunt, ®The Devil and Mr. Smith¯ (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell
Company, 1974); James H. Brewster, "Rolling Along with the
Witchmobile," ®Probe the Unknown¯ magazine, March 1973, 22-25;
Interview, Jean Jolly.
91. Darryl E. Hicks and Dr. David A. Lewis, ®The Todd Phenomenon¯
(Harrison, AK: New Leaf Press, 1979), foreword by Doug Wead and Mike
92. Don Cusic, "Mike Warnke: Jester in the King's Court,"
®Contemporary Christian Music,¯ June-July 1979, 130; Paul Baker,
"Two-Fold Laughter from Mike and Rose," ®Contemporary Christian Music,¯
December 1982, 14.
93. Jesse Joshua Warnke was born 4/18/74, according to Susan L. Warnke
Response, Civil Action D17252, District Court, Adams County, CO.
94. Interview, John Witty.
95. Interview, Karen Siegal.
96. "Holdup Victim Named as Call Girl's Queen," Long Beach
®Press-Telegram,¯ Evening Final, 8 January 1971, identifies Carolyn's
mother as "kingpin of a local prostitution racket . . . " Police call
incident "the latest rounds in a mob war over control of prostitution
in the LB-LA area."
97. Bill Hance, "That One-Liner Religion is Good Enough for Him," ®The
Nashville Banner,¯ January 13, 1978, 30: "Until four years ago, he was
`just one of those preachers. . . . So, I started lightening my
testimony by telling jokes . . . '"
98. Bill Fisher says he flew with Warnke to Brockport while they were
still in Trinity (Fall '74-Spring '75). Fisher has a photo of himself
and Warnke on stage in Brockport, dated October 1975, and another photo
of himself and Warnke there, dated June 1976.
99. See Dave Medina, "Former Rabbi Named Chaldean Archbishop," ®Logos
Journal,¯ Nov-Dec 1972, 58.
100. Carol O'Connor, "Ex-Satanist Happier with Christ," ®The Denver
Post,¯ 20 June 1975, 4BB.
101. Petition For Dissolution of Marriage, D-17252, confirm Warnke
moved to Colorado in August 1975.
102. March 1976 is the date on a photograph of Bill Fisher at Joy
103. Virginia Culver, "Devil-Worshippers Called Possible Cattle
Mutilators," ®The Denver Post,¯ 5 October, 1975, 31.
104. The back cover of Mike Warnke Alive! notes "Recorded Live at:
Adam's Apple, Fort Wayne, Indiana, November 14, 1975."
105. The story of the recording of the album is told in Cusic, "Jester
in the King's Court," 28; Paul Paino interview.
106. Affidavit with Respect to Financial Affairs, Civil Action
D-17252, Adams County District Court, CO, 8/6/76. Warnke lists his
employer as "Dharma Productions, 807 Redwood Cr, Nashville, TN."
107. Interview, Dan Riling.
108. According to Petition for Dissolution, D-17252, Mike and Sue last
lived together January 1, 1976.
109. Date based on Mike Warnke's statement to Don Riling that Sue was
served while Riling was in Denver. The Affidavit of Service says Sue
Warnke was served Aug. 20, 1976, at 8:42 am.
110. Interviews, Gretchen Passantino. Two other CRI staffers also
contributed information regarding this meeting.
111. Cover story by Peggy Hancherick, "Mike Warnke, Jester in the
King's Court," ®Harmony,¯ vol. 2, no. 3, 8-9. Full-page ad for "Mike
Warnke Alive!", 11.
112. This saying was related to us by Frank Edmonson (aka Paul Baker),
ex-DJ, writer, and popular historian of Jesus Music. Edmonson worked
for Word at the time Warnke was signed, and played a key role in the
113. Interview, Mike and Karen Johnson.
114. Interview, Wes Yoder.
115. Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, Civil Action D-17252, Adams
County District Court, CO, 12/3/76.
116. Marriage Certificate, Davidson County, Tennessee, 4/25/77.
117. "When Mike Warnke Speaks, the World Listens!", Myrrh records ad
in ®Contemporary Christian Music¯ (hereafter, abbreviated ®CCM¯),
Februrary 1979, 26.
118. See 21-page commemorative section celebrating Dharma Agency's
10th anniversary in the February 1982 issue of ®CCM.¯
119. William D. Romanowski, "Contemporary Christian Music: The
Business of the Music Ministry," in ®American Evangelicals,¯ Quentin
Schultze, ed., above, 152, 155.
120. Interview, Dan Hickling.
121. Interview, Buddy Huey.
122. Romanowski, 144, 151.
123. Interview, Larry Black.
124. "When Mike Warnke Speaks, etc."
125. Itinerary in May 1979, ®CCM.¯
126. Rose Hall Warnke with Joan Hake Robie, ®The Great Pretender¯
(Lancaster, Pa.: Starburst Publishers, 1985), 73-74.
127. Rose Hall Warnke, ®Great Pretender,¯ relates her romance with
Mike, 73-85; quote cited on page 79. Carolyn is never mentioned, nor
that Warnke was married during this time, only the note, "He, too, had
been previously married." Final Decree, Sumner County Court, 11/29/79,
shows Warnke filed for divorce from Carolyn on 8/27/79, summons served
8/30/79. cf. ®Great Pretender,¯ 83: "In September of 1979, Michael
said, `I want to marry you.'" ®CCM¯ itinerary shows Mike Warnke
scheduled to play Sept. 28-29, 1979, in Canada. Rose says she went to
Canada with Mike (p. 83).
128. Rose Hall Warnke, ®Great Pretender,¯ 81-82.
129. Interview, Tom Carrouthers.
130. Final Decree, Circuit Court for Sumner County, TN, 11/29/79.
131. Interview, Clarence Benes.
132. Certificate of Marriage, Johnson County, Kentucky, 1/2/80.
133. Mike and Rose Warnke, "First-Hand Rose," ®CCM,¯ April 1981, 50;
"Road Rap," ®CCM,¯ July 1982, 51; Paul Baker, "Twofold Laughter from
Mike & Rose," ®CCM,¯ December 1982, 14.
134. Warnke, ®Great Pretender,¯ on booking, 119, on accounting, 148.
135. Television interview with Mike Warnke, "Believer's Lifestyles,"
Channel 52, Orlando, Florida, 2/2/91, air-date 2/22/91.
136. Interviews, Elijah Coady; Joseph Morse; William Schillereff.
137. Marriage Certificate, Davidson County, Tennessee, 4/25/77.
Marriage "was solemnized by Mar Apriam I."
138. Articles of Incorporation, The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church,
Inc," dated 12/23/81. Pamphlet "This We Believe, Holy Orthodox Catholic
Church, Eastern and Apostolic" is dated 1977, copyright by "His
Beatitude, Mar Apriam I, Patriarch."
139. Articles of Incorporation, 11/19/82, for "The Holy Orthodox
Church in Kentucky, Inc."; Certificate of Assumed Name, 11/4/83, HOCCK
authorized by to do business under name "Mike Warnke & Associates.";
Certificate of Assumed Name, 3/1/88, HOCCK authorized to do business
under name "Warnke Ministries." "HOCCK, Inc. dba" appears on Warnke
140. Mike Warnke, "The Root of the Problem," ®CCM,¯ Februrary 2, 1981;
Rose Warnke, "Little Keys Unlock Big Doors," ®CCM,¯ July 1981, 54; Land
Contract, 7/1/81, for 153 Elm Street, Versailles, between Warnkes and
Virginia Wiglesworth, her husband James, for $180,000.
141. Interviews, Dorothy Green.
142. Interviews, Roxanne Miller.
143. Interviews, Jan Ross.
144. Interviews, Phyllis Swearinger.
145. Deed, Equitable Relocation Management Corporation and Blanche
Hall, 7/29/83, for $235,000. Deed, Blanche Hall and Rose Hall, 3/1/91,
for "the sum of One ($1.00) dollar, cash in hand paid, and the
Grantor's love and affection for her daughter."
146. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, HOCCK, 1984-1990
148. One well-known example: James G. Friesen, Ph.D., ®Uncovering the
Mystery of MPD¯ (San Bernardino, Calif.: Here's Life Publishers, 1991),
uses Warnke's book in both text and footnotes to bolster far-reaching
claims concerning a satanic cult conspiracy.
149. Deed, Lelia Mann Brown, et al. and Michael A. Warnke and Rosemary
H. Warnke, 10/28/86, for $20,395.70. Deed, Michael Warnke and Rosemary
Warnke and HOCCK, for "the sum of $1.00 and as a gift, contribution,
150. Warnke Ministries ®Newsletter,¯ 1st Quarter, 1987, 1.
152. Warnke Ministries ®Newsletter,¯ 1st Quarter, 1988, p. 2 " . . .
by the time you receive this newsletter, we will be moved into the new
153. Interviews, Dr. John Cooper.
154. Cf. Rose Warnke, ®Great Pretender,¯ 181, "At ministry
headquarters we get some 50,000 letters and telephone calls each
155. Michael A. Warnke & Rose Hall Warnke, ®Recovering From Divorce,¯
(Tulsa: Victory House, Inc.), 22-25.
156. Rose Warnke, ®Great Pretender,¯ 86.
157. Ibid, 87-88.
158. Ibid, 88-90.
159. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, 9/4/91.
160. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Mercer Circuit Court,
Kentucky (#91-CI-00274), Rose Hall Warnke vs. Michael A. Warnke,
9/4/91; Response, Entry of Appearance, and Waiver by Respondent,
9/4/91; Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, 9/4/91.
161. Lynnwood Farm, see above note. Deed, Land Owners, L.P., and
Michael A. Warnke and Rose H. Warnke for new acreage, 4/19/91, for
162. Mortgage, American Fidelity Bank & Trust, Corbin, KY, 9/10/91,
Rose Hall Warnke and Michael A. Warnke for $250,000. Mortgage, State
Bank & Trust Company, Harrodsburg, KY, 9/27/91, Rose Hall Warnke and
Michael A. Warnke, for $31,500.50.
163. Deed, Charles W. Pistole and Michael and Rose Mary Warnke,
5/30/86, for 2001 Salifish Point, Apt. 308, Stuart, FL for $398,000.
Deed, Mary & Clinton Woodard and Michael A. Warnke and Rose H. Warnke,
7/24,89, for Chimney Rock property for $231,500.
164. Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, Mercer Circuit Court,
Kentucky (#91-CI-00274), Rose Hall Warnke vs. Michael A. Warnke,
165. Amy Wolfford, "Official downplays effect of Warnke divorce on
ministry," ®Danville Advocate-Messenger,¯ 24 Oct. 1991, 1.
166. Undated Warnke Ministries letter (begins "Dear Ministry Family,
It is again the start of a New Year, PRAISE GOD!").
167. License and Certificate of Marriage, Santa Cruz County, CA, 18
Nov. 1991. 43. "Authors Available for Interview," Christian Booksellers
Convention, Dallas, Texas, June 29--July 2, 1992, 15.
168. Warnke & Warnke, ®Recovering From Divorce,¯ 63.
169. Ibid, 164.
170. Ibid, 159.
Photo of Witchmobile (p. 9) reprinted from Morris Cerullo, ®The Back
Side of Satan,¯ 109. Copyright 1973 by Creation House.
Photos of Scott Ross and Larry Black (p. 12) reprinted from Paul Baker,
®Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?¯ 90, 98. Copyright 1979
by Paul Baker.
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