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Vampire Cult or Bizarre Game Gone Way Too Far?

December 2, 1996

MURRAY, Ky. (AP) _ The five teen-age murder suspects were just lonely, some say, and their vampire role-playing games strictly innocuous.

``You had a group of kids that just wanted to be a part of something, wanted to belong to a group,″ Calloway County prosecutor David Harrington said. ``They even paid membership dues.″

Others see a plot far more sinister: a cult in which members mutilated animals for their blood and body parts, and adults lured teen-agers with promises of sex.

Since the arrest Thanksgiving night of three Murray teens along with another youth from nearby Mayfield, tales of vampire children have been the talk of this southwestern Kentucky town of 13,000, home of the national Boy Scout museum.

``People are talking about it,″ said Greg Duncan, sipping coffee at the Hungry Bear restaurant. ``Some people are afraid.″

All five, including a daughter of the slain couple, were arrested in Baton Rouge, La., suspected in the Nov. 25 slayings of Richard and Naoma Wendorf. The couple was found beaten to death in their Eustis, Fla., home.

Police say Rod Ferrell met the Wendorfs’ 15-year-old daughter, Heather, when he lived in Eustis with his father. Ferrell, 16, moved back to Murray last year to live with his mother.

The teens were part of a group that sucked blood from each other and believed they were vampires, police say.

And they were later driven to kill, police say. Ferrell, Ms. Wendorf, Dana Cooper, 19, of Murray and Scott Anderson, 16, of Mayfield are all accused of murder. Charity Keesee, 16, of Murray was charged with being an accessory to murder.

Miss Cooper, the only one old enough to appear as an adult in court, waived her right today to an extradition hearing in District Court in Baton Rouge, clearing the way for Florida authorities to take her back. Officials said she may be moved later today, although the law gives the state 30 days.

She looked tired and said little during the brief appearance before Judge Duke Welch. Hearings for the younger suspects were scheduled later in juvenile court.

Authorities believe Ferrell was also involved in a break-in this fall at a Murray animal shelter in which two puppies were mutilated and their body parts taken.

``They had stomped one of them to death and one of them, they pulled the legs off,″ said Calloway County Sheriff Stan Scott.

It was the first time officials thought something unusual might be going on. ``We’ve had kids in the graveyard, vandalism, you know, seances, but nothing this serious,″ Harrington said about the break-in.

And the charges involving the group extend even to parents. Ferrell’s mother, Sondra Gibson, faces a charge of solicitation to commit rape and sodomy for a letter police said she wrote to a 14-year-old boy.

``I longed to be near you ... to become a Vampire, a part of the family immortal and truly yours forever,″ the letter reads. ``You will then come for me and cross me over and I will be your bride for eternity and you my sire.″

Harrington said he doesn’t think an organized cult exists or that Ms. Gibson was involved. He said it was Ferrell who began to take the role-playing game far too seriously, and was scaring the others.

Police have said there was no sign of any cult ritual at the scene of the slayings.

Ferrell’s grandfather, Harold Gibson, said Saturday that his grandson was not the leader of a murderous cult.

``They’re saying Rod is a monster. A monster! He’s not a monster. He’s not,″ Gibson said through sobs.

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