On November 29, 1996, four teens and an adult from a self-described "Vampire Clan" in Kentucky were arrested in Baton Rouge, La., for bludgeoning to death a Florida couple. At first authorities feared the daughter of the dead couple, had been abducted by her parents' killers. Soon, they realized she too was a suspect, along with her former boyfriend and three other vampire friends. Eventually, authorities determined that Heather -- the daughter of the murdered -- did not know of her parent's murder until she got in the car with her buddies, and therefore was not a suspect in the case.
"They apparently like to suck blood. They cut each other's arms and suck the blood. They cut up small animals and suck the blood. They honestly believe they're vampires," a Murray, Kentucky., police detective told the media. The teens became attracted to vampires because of a best-selling role-playing game. However, this crew took their roles a little too seriously. Heather had told friends she was a demon in past lives and had talked with spirits during human blood-drinking rituals.
Rod Ferrell, 16, leader of the so-called Vampire Clan, told a friend had become possessed with the idea of opening the Gates to Hell, which meant he would have to kill a large, large number of people in order to consume their souls. By doing this, Ferrell believed he would obtain super powers. He also told friends that his sign was a "V" with dots on each side signifying himself and the members of his clan. Cigarette burns in the shape of a "V" were scorched onto the body of the adult Wendorf, along with two pairs of dots on each side of the letter.
Prosecutor Brad King said he wouldn't seek the death penalty against Dana L. Cooper, 19, and Charity Lynn Keesee, the two female members of the clan. However, he will seek the death penalty for Ferrell and Scott Anderson, 17, who allegedly did the bludgeoning. After defense attorneys requested separate trials, Circuit Judge Jerry T. Lockett tentatively scheduled trials for Ferrell, Anderson and Keesee in February 1998. Cooper has not waived her right to a speedy trial and could be judged as early as May.
The afternoon of the killings, Heather Wendorf and Ferrell performed a blood drinking ritual in a cemetery to induct, or "cross over," her as a fellow vampire. "The person that gets crossed over is like subject to whatever the sire wants... Like the sire is boss basically. They have authority over you." In the cemetery, investigators say, she and Ferrell talked about their plans to leave town. Ferrell allegedly discussed killing her parents, but she told him not to harm them.
Ferrell, Heather and others had plotted for seven months through letters and phone conversations to run away together. Considered misfits when they met at Eustis High School, the two found solace in each other's company. When Ferrell later moved to Kentucky, they stayed in touch.
Friends have described Ferrell as hostile and prone to animal torture. He may have had a troubled family life as well. His mother, Sondra Gibson, pleaded guilty in Kentucky last November to trying to entice a 14-year-old boy into having sex as part of a vampire initiation ritual.
John Goodman, a Kentucky cult member who didn't travel with Ferrell to Florida, 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."
When questioned by investigators, Heather 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 at hearing her parents were dead.