Books by Frank E Stanfield
“Signal five! Signal five!” the sheriff’s deputy shouted into his radio, signaling a homicide.
The killer, or killers, had transformed a suburban central Florida home into a house of horrors on Nov 26, 1996, by beating a couple to death with a crowbar.
“My parents have been killed. Please send ambulances,” frantic 17-year-old Jennifer Wendorf said moments earlier in a 911 call.
“How do you know they have been killed?” the operator asked.
“There is blood everywhere. Please, as fast as you can,” she begged.
“My sister is gone. She should be here. She’s only fifteen and she’s gone.”
The key suspect was Rod Ferrell, a 16-year-old friend of Jennifer’s sister, Heather.
Ferrell was the leader of a blood-drinking vampire cult, and Heather was a member.
Deputies surveying the grisly scene had a long list of questions but few answers. Was Heather a murder victim, too? Was she kidnapped? Or did she help kill her parents?
A veteran newspaper editor and reporter, my hands hovered over the keyboard before writing “vampire cult murders.” “Is this for real,” I wondered?
Not only was it for real, but I would end up covering the case for more than 20 years, while psychologists probed the dark recesses of his mind and his family history. For me, trying to figure out the why of a story is the most difficult and exciting task. This case, I told myself, will allow me to report on the most depraved murder I have ever covered, and that is saying a lot.
Ferrell’s mother, for example, was charged with trying to have sex with a 14-year-old boy in a vampire ritual. She said she had been raped during a cult orgy. And she was also okay with her 16-year-old painting his room black and setting up an altar with skulls.
Ferrell told police he had been raped by his grandfather’s cult friends when he was five years old, and one of his best friends summoned demons to take over his soul.
A defense lawyer said, “this is not the [Charles] Manson case,” but there are similarities to the cult that terrorized Los Angeles in 1969.
Ferrell was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life. He then begged to have that sentence reduced, saying he was a different person. Was he telling the truth, or was it yet another monstrous lie?
Vampires, Gators and Wackos, A Newspaperman’s Life
Forty years in the newspaper business, and I still can’t get enough. Then again, where else can you come to work and write true stories about vampire cults, sex-starved teachers, cattle rustlers throwing bodies down a “bottomless pit,” monstrous alligators, and in one case, at least, a plane full of naked people buzzing houses?
That would just be the tip of the iceberg, if Florida had icebergs. What it does have are hurricanes, wildfires, sinkholes, and tornadoes. It also has some of the most gruesome, cruel murders and millions of people rushing to the state to fry their brains in the hot sun.
Among the stories: A missing millionaire, cops who try to sweep a murder under the rug, a killer caught by a computer, a little boy who disappears, a cop who ends up on death row and law enforcement officers who are forever heroes.
Unbroken: The Dorothy Lewis Story
Dorothy Lewis sat in the back seat trying to comfort her young daughters while carjackers cursed and shouted for them to be quiet. As she began to pray, one of the attackers sneered: “This ain’t Jesus doing this, this is Satan doing this.”
The two teens lived up to the billing. Dorothy, a young widow, was raped, shot in the head three times and left for dead, and the children murdered in a crime so senseless the killers couldn’t even explain it.
Dorothy, who was a young widow, once told her sister, “If anything happens to the girls you might as well lock me up.” Instead, she embarked on a long, remarkable recovery.
She had only one question for God: “Why was I spared?” The answer is the thing that has kept her Unbroken. Today, she offers hope and comfort to anyone facing tragedy, or what seems to be a hopeless situation, in the telling of this inspirational story.
Unbroken is both a memoir and a true crime story that contrasts the wildly dysfunctional lives of two young assailants with one woman’s overcoming faith.