The Power of Fantasy

On Thanksgiving Day 1996, Roderick Ferrell, 16, from Murray, Kentucky, led a pack of kids to Eustis, Florida, where he killed the elderly parents of a former girlfriend. Ferrell had lived in Eustis for a year and had then returned to Kentucky, where he'd gotten involved with a fantasy role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade.

Roderick FerrellSince he wanted something more edgy, he formed The Vampire Clan. When Heather called him endlessly and asked for his help, he decided to go to Florida, make her part of his vampire coven, and take her away. Aphrodite Jones wrote a book in collaboration with Heather called The Embrace, while Clifford Linedecker worked on a similar project independently.

Somewhere along the line, Ferrell decided to kill the Wendorfs. He disclosed his plan to one of Heather's friends before he arrived at Heather's house in Eustis. While he and four other kids from Kentucky went out to a cemetery to exchange blood and "cross over" Heather into their vampire club, Ferrell figured out what he needed to do.

Heather remained with the two girls while Ferrell took Howard Scott Anderson with him to the Wendorf home. Inside, he clubbed the sleeping Richard Wendorf with a crowbar and then stabbed Naoma, Richard's wife, to death. On Richard's chest, Ferrell burned the shape of a "V" with some cigarettes. Then he and Scott went to meet the girls so they could run away to New Orleans.

One of the girls revealed their whereabouts to her parents and the police soon found and arrested them. Ferrell claimed that he was a powerful vampire and they wouldn't be able to hold him. He also blamed a rival vampire gang for the killings.

Even as prosecutors developed a capital murder case against him, Ferrell's mother, Sondra Gibson was indicted for allegedly writing sexually-explicit letters to a 14-year-old boy to entice him into a sexual initiation ritual. In the letters she stressed how she longed to become a vampire. She asked him to "cross me over and I will be your bride for eternity and you my sire." Gibson pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful transaction with a minor.

Since there is no "diminished capacity" law in Florida, the defense offered in pretrial motions the arguments to be advanced for mitigating the penalty phase. Among the points they raised were that Ferrell was mentally disturbed and had been allowed by his mother to participate in violent and self-destructive role-playing fantasy games, which impaired his judgment about what was real or normal. They claimed that he suffered from his beliefs in vampirism.

Apparently Ferrell had said that he had no soul and was possessed. He had devised vampire rituals that gave him an adrenaline rush. He liked to threaten others and make them believe that his vampire nature made him all-powerful. He believed there was a group of vampires that really existed and since they had chosen him, he had the power to do anything he pleased.

For him, role-playing a vampire had crossed over into the real word in a brutal manner and he soon found out that he was not only accountable for his psychopathic acts but was going to be executed.

While those who have been tried for their vampiric activities have looked into an insanity defense, it's clear that one man actually adopted vampirism after the fact as a means to plead insane.



Written by Katherine Ramsland.
Originally published online at The Crime Library.
Reproduced with the permission of the author.



Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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