Sometimes evil is overwhelming.
In my newest book, “Vampires, Gators, and Wackos, A Florida Newspaperman’s Life,” I write about a several cases I have covered on the cops and court beat.
“How … do you explain cattle rustlers throwing ranchers’ bodies into a ‘bottomless pit’ so they could be eaten by alligators?” I wrote in the introduction.
“What was the woman thinking when she wrote a love note on her husband’s chest after she stabbed him to death? How did the cops bungle the case of a missing millionaire, allowing the killer to get away with murder? In what other job can you write investigative stories to pressure authorities to dig up a dead man to prove he was a murder victim?”
These are just a few a few of the cases.
The lead chapter is about the teen vampire cult leader who killed a members’ parents. Rod Ferrell of Murray, Ky., was only 16. The girl whose parents were bludgeoned to death was 15. She was arrested with the group three days later, but she was never indicted, which still raises questions years later.
One chapter is called “Senseless.” Another is called “Ruthless.” The titles speak for themselves.
I am always trying to peel back the layers of lawyerly smoke screens to learn why people do the things they do.
Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D., wrote a book in 1984 entitled, “Inside the Criminal Mind.” In it, he pokes holes in sociologists’ mish mash theories, like poverty causes crime, or that the perpetrators of school mass shootings pulled the trigger because they had been victimized, bullied, or unfairly ostracized somehow.
Many people who grow up in poverty don’t commit crimes, he points out. Many so-called “loners” are shunned because they are antisocial and in-your-face scary – because they want to be.
“The criminal simmers with anger because people do not satisfy his expectations,” Samenow wrote.
“They fail to confirm his perception of himself as powerful, unique, and superior. What most of us find to be routine annoyances, the criminal personalizes as threats to his entire self-image. A chapter is devoted to discussing anger that, in a criminal, is like a cancer, metastasizing so that anyone or anything in his path can become a target.”
Listen to his description of Jeff Weise, 16, who killed five students, a teacher, and a security guard before committing suicide at a small town in Minnesota in 2005. “[He] ‘wandered around by himself’ clothed ‘in Goth style,’ wearing eye makeup and dressed in a full-length trench coat. He showed fellow students ‘elaborate, disturbing drawings he made in his notebook, some of them depicting people with bullet holes in their head [and] of half-living people with blank stares.’”
That was Ferrell, right down to the trench coat. The only difference is that Ferrell was charismatic enough to attract a band of followers. Their shared bond was drinking each other’s blood. That, and Ferrell’s drawings were of demons and vampires.
Samenow was right about another thing: Ferrell killed because he wanted to. It was a “rush,” he told detectives, and he talked about wanting to kill someone for a while.
But there is a darker, even more terrifying explanation.
Ferrell practiced black magic, witchcraft, and the summoning of demons in a practice called demonology. He wore the sign of an inverted cross, a sign of devil worship.
It may sound like nonsense to logical, modern people, but his cult members believed it, as I point out in my book on the case, “Cold Blooded, A True Crime Story of a Murderous Teenage Vampire Cult.”
When I wrote my first book, “Unbroken: The Dorothy Lewis Story,” she recalls praying when carjacked by two teens who would later rape her, shoot her, and kill her children. “This ain’t Jesus doing this. This is Satan doing this,” one of the teens said.
Evil spirits are not unheard of, says Dorothy, who helped write the book. The Bible is filled with accounts of demonic spirits.
One of the chapters in “Wackos” was about Jessica Lunsford, a young girl who was kidnapped from her home, raped, and buried alive.
“I guess there really is evil in this world,” a fellow journalist remarked.
“Ya think?” I was tempted to say.