I’ve been working on a Statement against violent crime and vandalism for the Church of Azazel. We absolutely need to finish writing this statement now, because, on Saturday, March 13, America’s Most Wanted will air a show about an old cold case of a murder committed back in 1985, for which the currently suspected perpetrators are a local group of “Satan worshipers.”
Previously another person, Steven Barnes, had been convicted of murdering Kimberly Simon, a 16-year-old who had been attending Whitesboro High School in Oneida County, New York, back in 1985. Last year, Steven Barnes was exonerated after having spent more than twenty years in prison. So the investigation has been reopened.
Suspicion now falls on a group of “Satan worshipers” who had been interviewed by the original investigators and who were not charged with the crime back then.
Here are some relevant news stories:
- Satan worshipers possible suspects in Simon slaying by Rocco LaDuca, Utica (New York) Observer-Dispatch, March 9, 2010
- Cold case gains national attention, News 10 Now, Central New York, March 9. 2010
- America’s Most Wanted to air Kimberly Simon case on March 13, WKTV, Utica, New York, March 8, 2010
One thing strikes me as very odd here: 1985 was at the height of the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare, with Christian fundamentalist cops galore running around giving seminars on “Satanic cults.” Little or no serious debunking had been done yet. Back then, hardly anyone questioned the idea that if there were “Satan worshipers” afoot, they were most likely guilty of all manner of mayhem, killing thousands of people every year. That being the case, if indeed there was any valid reason to suspect these “Satan worshipers” of the 1985 murder of Kimberly Simon, why wasn’t this angle thoroughly investigated back then, of all times?
For now, let’s not jump to the conclusion that the new suspects are — or are not — guilty of the murder. Let’s wait and see what happens.
One of the alleged “Satan worshipers,” Richard W. Miller Jr. — died recently. According to the Utica Observer-Dispatch article, Miller was questioned back in the late 1980’s by attorney Edward Kaminski, who was representing Steven Barnes, the man originally convicted of the crime and recently exonerated. Kaminsky describes Miller as a pretty darned horrifying, scary guy. Perhaps Kaminsky’s claims about Miller are true. But we should note that Kaminsky is a biased source and that Miller can’t defend himself from the grave.
Anyhow, whether or not Kaminsky’s description of Miller is accurate, there’s still the question of whether Miller and his pals were in fact “deeply involved in the practice of Satanic Worship,” as is claimed in the News 10 and WKTV stories. According to the Utica Observer-Dispatch article, police investigators say they were “a group of young men who worshiped the devil, tortured cats, used hallucinogenic drugs and sexually abused women.” It remains to be seen whether this is an accurate description of these guys.
Be that as it may, as I noted on my page about Tabloid prophecy fulfillers: Satanism’s real-life criminal fringe:
As far as I can tell, the vast majority of criminals-in-the-name-of-Satan are teenage dabblers. I feel justified in calling them “dabblers” because, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of them do not remain interested in Satanism for very long.
For example, when Geifodd moved to the Bible Belt town where he spent his last two years of high school and his first two years of college, he ran into a clique of about 20 teenagers who killed stray cats in the name of Satan, in some cases torturing them. A few of these kids were sent away to mental nstitutions soon after Geifodd met them. The remaining kids all gave up their “Satanism” after a couple of months. Most became fundamentalist Christians, while a few others became neo-Nazis. Only Geifodd himself, the law-abiding Satanist, remained interested in Satanism.
Most likely this sort of thing has happened in quite a few Bible Belt towns, as a predictable teenage reaction to adult fundy Christian paranoia about Satanism. Quite a few fundies have warned that various popular children’s and young people’s activities (including rock music, role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, and reading Harry Potter books) will lead a kid to Satanism. Furthermore, in quite a few fundy churches, it is assumed that any non-Christian is automatically a Satanist, or at least in league with the Devil somehow. Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to advertise Satanism to kids than to (1) associate it with a whole big bunch of forbidden fun activities and (2) imply that Satanism is the only possible escape from the stifling religiosity that has been presented to these kids as the only “true Christianity.” Alas, the “Satanism” that gets thusly advertised to fundy Christians’ kids isn’t the Satanism practiced by most serious adult Satanists, but rather the “Satanism” of “Satanic crime” scares. So it’s only natural for these kids to conclude that, in order to liberate themselves, they too must become violent criminals.
Given the above, it’s surprising there aren’t more teenage tabloid prophecy fulfillers than there in fact are.
Utica isn’t in the Bible Belt, but some parts of upstate New York are rather Bible Belt-ish in their local culture. I’m not sure whether Utica qualifies, since I have not been there.
I should mention here that it should not be assumed that all “teenage dabblers” are criminals either. It is certainly possible for a “teenage dabbler” to explore law-abiding forms of Satanism.
However, I would suspect that most teenage cat-killers do not have a genuine religious motive of any kind. More likely they are just doing it for sick thrills.
P.S.: According to this blog post by someone who apparently has lived in the region, there were rumors that the killers were influenced by the Simon Necronomicon, which perhaps might be the “Book of Death” referred to in one of the news stories.