AUTHOR: Jon Trott and Mike Hertenstein

SOURCE: Cornerstone, vol. 21, iss. 98, pp. 7-9,11-14,16-17,19,30,38

DATE: 1992

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.[1]

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."[2]

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.[3]

When Mike was five, the Warnkes moved to Manchester, Tennessee,

where Al opened Warnke's Truck Stop.[4] 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

years old.[5]

Mike had other family, too, from his father's previous marriage. His

half sister, Shirley Schrader[6] 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.[7]

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!¯[8]

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

blank-blankety properly."

Aunt Edna Swindell[9] 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

anti-Catholic materials.

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[11] and Jeff Nesmith.[12] "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,[13] 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."[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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[19] 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.[20] 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,[21] 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[22] 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."[23]

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,[24] 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

each other."

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

full-fledged hippie:

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.[25]

"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.[26]

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,[27] 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,[28]

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." [29]

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,[30] 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,[31] 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,[32] 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.[33]

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.[34]

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

hundred-dollar bills.[35]

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."[36]

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.[38] "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

that.' "

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,[39] 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.[40]

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"[41] 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.[42]

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.[43]

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

marry him."

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

about him."

®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

him, too."

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,"

she says.

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.[45]

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."[46] (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.[47] 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.[48] 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."[50]

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,[51] 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

with him."

On September 7, 1966, Mike Warnke reported to Hospital Corps School

in San Diego.[52]

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."[53] On the album ®Hey, Doc!,¯ he says he joined the Hospital

Corps because of drugs and nurses: "Dope and women . . . for pay . . .

far out!"[54]

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.[55] Marriage records show Mike and Sue Studer

were married May 13, 1967, in Crestline.[56] 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.¯"[57]

"The conversation really wasn't like he put it in his book," says

Dr. LaHaye.[58] "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

word before."

"Mike gave us a little of his testimony," says Beverly LaHaye,[59]

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.[60] Warnke says he spent his time in

Vietnam, like so many who served there, anesthetized from the

experience of war by drugs.[61]

The following is a list of the other things Mike Warnke says

happened to him while in Vietnam:

My faith was weakening fast![62] A buddy of mine was

killedÄÄa mortar shell landed directly on him, disintegrating

him except for his shoes.[63] I was existing from one bottle

to the next.[64] 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.[65] I was the first to

enter the tent [of marines who had been "fragged"ÄÄkilled by

their own people]. [66]

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.[68]

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.[69] 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,[71] 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,[72] 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.¯[73] 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.[74]

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.[75]

®Christianity Today¯ covered the event, noting that Cerullo "bore

down heavily on the theme that satanic forces are loose in the

nation."[76] 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

and graffiti."[77]

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,[78] "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,[80] 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.[81]

®Guideposts¯ was running a feature on Warnke's story,[82] and his book

was due in the fall.[83]

®"The Satan Seller" a Best-seller¯

Logos International released ®The Satan Seller¯ in early 1973.[84]

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.[85]

Yet, as a former Logos editor has admitted, the boom-time books were

often "too quickly written."[86] 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.[87]

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.[88] "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.¯[90]

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. [91] 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."[92]

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[93] 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,[94] who with his wife

Vicki Jo had been a nightclub comedian.

Fellow students Bob and Karen Siegal[95] 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.[98] 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.[99]

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,[100] 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.[101] 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.[102]

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."[103] 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.[104] 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.[105]

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.[106]

"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[107] 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."[108]

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.)[109] 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, [110] 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.[111] 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

changed Nashville."[112]

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.[113]

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."[114] 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.[115] Mike and Carolyn were married four months later.[116]

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.[117] 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.[118] 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."[119]

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."[120]

Buddy Huey, Word Records' artists and repertoire man, who had signed

Warnke, was part of the big change.[121] "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

to undo."

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."[122]

"You could see a kind of downhill slide," says Larry Black, a

one-time Christian deejay who is now an actor.[123] "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."[124] 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.[125] 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."[127]

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.[128] 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.[129] "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.[130] 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.[131] 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.[132] It was his third marriage, her fourth. With the marriage

came several changes: Rose was often onstage and on record with

Mike;[133] Warnke left Dharma Agency and began to book his own

concerts; the public focus shifted from onstage concerts to the

ministry back home.[134] 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."[135]

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.[136]

Bishop Richard Morrill had officiated over Mike and Carolyn's

marriage in Nashville.[137] 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."[138] 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.[140] 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.[141]

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.[142] "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

money.' "

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?' "[143]

Phyllis Swearinger said there were problems making ends meet.[144]

"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."[145]

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.[146]

HOCCK tax returns show that the Warnke's personal salaries[147]

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.[148]

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

occultÄÄlike "Jeffy."

"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.[149] 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.[150]

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."[151]

By April of 1987, Warnke Ministries was able to move to Burgin and

into their beautiful new colonial-style brick office complex.[152]

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."[153]

Cooper disputes the Warnkes' claim of 50,000 counseling calls and

letters a month.[154] "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."[156]

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."[157]

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

you want."[158]

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.[159]

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.)[161] Mike Warnke also agreed to pay half the

mortgage for the new acreage.[162]

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).[163] 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.[164] 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

to California.[167]

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?"[169] 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."[170]

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

manifestly fallen.

®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

the truth.

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,

but His.

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

Diego, 2/7/67.

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.

65. Ibid.

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,

1990), 99-101.

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

Ministries letterhead.

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


147. Ibid.

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,

and donation."

150. Warnke Ministries ®Newsletter,¯ 1st Quarter, 1987, 1.

151. Ibid.

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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