'Vampire Cult' Trial To Begin Today
'Vampire Cult' Trial To Begin Today
Feb. 02, 1998
TAVARES, Fla. (AP) _ Rod Ferrell was described by one friend as possessed with trying to open the Gates of Hell, and needing to kill a large number of people to do so.
Prosecutors say the Ferrell, 17, started by bludgeoning to death the parents of another member of his teen vampire cult.
Jury selection was set to begin today in Ferrell's murder case, which sounds like it comes straight out of a horror movie _ complete with accusations of animal torture and mutilations, teens drinking each other's blood and a corpse marked with occult markings.
Ferrell's lawyer was concerned about finding impartial panelists to hear the lurid case.
``I think it's going to be hard but not impossible,'' said defense attorney William Lackay.
Residents of this rural area are familiar with the case, hearing details like the statement by John Goodman of Kentucky, a cult member who didn't travel with Ferrell to Florida.
Goodman said his friend ``had become possessed with opening the Gates to Hell, which meant he would have to kill a large number of people in order to consume their souls. By doing this, Ferrell believed that he would obtain super powers.''
Important to the case is the testimony of Heather Wendorf, a 16-year-old cult devotee whose parents were killed in their home in November 1996.
That afternoon, Miss Wendorf and Ferrell performed a blood drinking ritual in a cemetery to induct, or ``cross over,'' her as a fellow vampire, according to investigators.
``The person that gets crossed over is like subject to whatever the sire wants,'' Miss Wendorf said in a deposition. ``Like the sire is boss basically. They have authority over you.''
Investigators say she and Ferrell talked about their plans to leave town. Ferrell allegedly discussed killing Miss Wendorf's parents, but she told him not to harm them, investigators allege.
Ferrell and Miss Wendorf were considered misfits at Eustis High School and found solace in each other's company. When Ferrell moved to Kentucky, they stayed in touch.
They and others had plotted for seven months through letters and phone conversations to run away together. When they finally did take off, they left behind the corpses of Richard Wendorf and Naoma Queen, prosecutors say.
The bodies were discovered at their home in Eustis, about 35 miles northwest of Orlando. Wendorf was beaten severely in the face; Queen was found face-down on a bloody kitchen floor.
A ``V'' sign surrounded by circular marks was burned into Wendorf's body. Police said it was the sign of Ferrell's vampire clan and each circular mark represented a clan member.
Only Ferrell is charged with the actual killing, which could bring the death penalty. Howard Scott Anderson, 17, is accused of being a principal accessory to murder by being at the house but having done nothing to stop the killings. He faces the death penalty despite the reduced charge.
Charged with being accessories to murder are Kentuckians Dana L. Cooper, 20, and Charity Keesee, 17. They do not face the death penalty and were not at the house at the time, but they later left town with the others in the Wendorfs' stolen car.
All five were caught a few days later in Louisiana. Miss Wendorf was cleared by a grand jury.
When questioned by investigators, Miss Wendorf said the only reason she went with the group was because she had no place to go and feared she would be blamed for the murders. She said she learned about the murders during the trip and was distraught to hear her parents were dead.