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Deputy Says Union County Is A Satanic Center

April 15, 1985

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ Officials say groups that worship Satan may be to blame for as many as 200 animal mutilations in Union County, and that teen-agers appear to be particular targets for recruitment by the cultists.

″I think what we’ve got to do is help these younger kids not to get involved in it,″ Union County Sheriff’s Deputy John V. Lala said. ″We have to get across to them that satanic worship is not what they are led to believe it is.″

Sheriff John G. Overly ordered Lala to work full time investigating an outbreak of animal mutilations here last December. In cooperation with the Union County Humane Society, he has identified the mutilations of about 200 animals during the past year as probable satanic sacrifices.

Lala said his investigation indicates cultists often torture lambs, dogs and other animals before sacrificing them, then eat the animals’ flesh and drink their blood.

They also have been linked to the desecration of a Civil War soldier’s grave, Lala said.

He said he has identified at least five groups of satanic worshipers, each with four or five members. He has photographed bookshelves in Union County homes showing titles such as The Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Knowledge, The Anatomy of Witchcraft, and Magicks and Ceremonies.

″In some of these homes, you’re talking about thousands of dollars worth of books,″ Lala said. ″To me, that’s more than curiosity.″

He said one Satanist boasted that as many as 1,500 worshipers from throughout Ohio participate in periodic rites in the county, about 20 miles northwest of Columbus.

″At first, we believed this number was too high, but as we progress into the investigation and come up with new information, we are realizing there are a lot more people involved than we thought,″ Lala said.

Satanists say Ohio has a widespread network of worshipers from all walks of life, some as young as 13, Lala said. The county apparently is popular with Satanists because of its remote areas where cultists run little risk of being sighted, he said.

Satan worshipers can claim protection from prosecution under an Ohio law that exempts religious ritual slaughter from prosecution for cruelty to animals, if they can prove they own the animals they kill, Lala said.

Overly is receiving advice from Dale Griffis, deputy chief of the Tiffin police department and a nationally recognized expert on occult practices.

″Only a few agencies handle the matter as professionally and diligently as they have in Union County,″ Griffis said.

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