MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
I got a phone call from a friend of mind that told me that here in the Northwest we have been seeing a spike in the variant load of COVID-19. In their panic, our government officials and scientific experts have raised the severity level and have passed more restrictions and lockdowns.
I guess we have to get along with this new normal and again find ways to stay at home but I am seeing that really no one is paying attention anymore.
I can tell you that I am not getting out as much and so I am either reading more or I am trying to find more things to watch on TV. I am so hungry for some good entertainment that I am watching the Derek Chauvin trial.
One thing that I am noticing during the lockdown is that there are now more streaming services that are popping up everywhere. I am seeing ads on networks where the latest streaming service is baiting people with shows that they think will get you to sign up.
I am noticing that the bait they are using are what are now being called, Murder shows. Maybe you have seen them. Netflix has been rolling them out lately and Peacock, the NBC stream has been pushing their latest John Wayne Gacy documentary.
Saturday Night Live recently did a send up of how people are now cozying up to the TV to watch the latest documentary featuring real killers and real terrifying stories of satanic ritualistic murder.
Netflix and chill takes on a new meaning as the nation’s lockdown past time is to watch documentaries about cannibals, severed limbs, haunted hotels and the devil that may be living next door.
I have to admit I have been watching a few of them.
I watched Murder Among the Mormons about the Mormon Bomber and forger Mark Hoffman, The Night Stalker – Richard Ramirez, Vice Season 2 of The Devil You Know, about Sherry Shriner, the Cecil Hotel series and of course the latest John Wayne Gacy documentary.
While I have always had an interest in these stories, because of my background in covering crime during my news reporting days — I am worried that perhaps these TV shows are some sick obsession with the “Good old days.”
Sure, we hear of the latest mass shooting and we don’t even flinch — but looking back at the butcher’s block of the 21st century and we wonder if at any time in the future we will see the trend of Satanic ritual killing returning — or mass murders terrorizing a nation of people who have already been traumatized by a virus that seems to be shedding and mutating.
Beyond the baiting and TV marketing of murder shows there is also the market for artifacts form crime scenes and from the killers themselves.
As I watched the John Wayne Gacy documentary, I was especially interested in the fact that people would actually ask him to paint pictures of himself as Pogo the clown and sell them.
In May of 2011, an art gallery is Las Vegas featured his paintings and sold them at auction — the money was later donated to charity.
Richard Speck the notorious killer who murdered eight nurses also sold his paintings, many of them fetching up to $2000 dollars.
Dealers call it “muderabilia” where everything from bricks from Jeffery Dahmer’s apartment to the death certificate of Eileen Wuornos is up for sale.
This begs the question — have we become desensitized to the horrors of ritualized serial murder? As we have discussed the secularization of America — has this contributed to the possibility that we have been traumatized so much that we are now appeased by looking back at what has happened with the same fascination as someone who is obsessed with the Nazi horrors of World War II?
Last night I touched lightly on the idea that perhaps Satanic Panic has never really left us and that while it was at t’s most terrifying in the last century — there is a bit of of coming back as we are hearing terrible stories about human trafficking, pedophilia and in some cases blood drinking of innocent children.
While the media downplays it as a fantasy of blood libel, the media tends to forget just how horrible we can treat each other. Every day we are subjected to hearing about the latest shooting and rather than focusing on the loss others may feel — we tend to turn it into a political argument over gun control.
What it boils down to is the person — the person who feels the need to kill.
Far flung from the idea of Satanic shoes and the unwarranted fears of Aztec gods is the very real nightmare of how man can turn on his own kind. Satanic panic brought into the forefront the idea of serial ritual murder, something that the media rarely focuses on.
However, there has been a resurgence of what can be called “the murder miniseries” where Netflix and other pay services have found gold in documentaries dealing with notorious killers and those ghouls among us that participated in what can be described as satanic ritual murder.
In the 1970’s we heard reports of some of the most bizarre ritual murders and murderers that terrified our nation.
The Zodiac Killer and the Alphabet Killer, both used ritualistic patterns in their killings, neither of whom were ever caught; Ted Bundy; John Wayne Gacy; the Hillside Stranglers; and David Berkowitz, a.k.a. the Son of Sam, also sparked a mass panic during the summer of 1977 in New York City.
Gacy is now being resurrected in a new TV series that is streaming on Peacock and it is eerie to actually see the executed killer being interviewed in what looks like it could have been conducted maybe months or a year ago. Gacy’s Killer clown, Pogo has now been considered one of the reasons why some people fear clowns and has been the inspiration for Pennywise the Kid-loving clown.
It is believed the Gacy is responsible for the deaths of 30 young boys. He allegedly buried them under his home in Illinois.
As the brazen anarchy associated with these kinds of high-profile killings grew, so did public fear.
In a 2005 book about that fateful New York summer, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning, author Jonathan Mahler writes of the impact that Son of Sam had on the media: “The frenzied [media] coverage fanned the growing sense of fear; the growing sense of fear fanned the frenzied coverage.” Mahler’s observation about the media fueling this mass panic would ring true well into the next decade, when heightened religious fears and the concept of stranger danger coalesced into a new breed of mass hysteria.
However, when we hear of these strange murders — there is often an element of alleged possession of what can be seen as something that or advanced ghoulishness or ravenous behavior.
It is as if they are possessed by the beast.
Modern ritualistic crimes are certainly horrifying and create a morbid interest for those who are now mesmerized by these new murder documentaries but there is one particular serial killer that has been the inspiration for movies like Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Many may not know about a killer from the 1950’s named Ed Gein.
Gein was a convicted murderer and a grave robber who had a malicious obsession with human flesh.
November 17, 1957 police arrived at Ed’s farmhouse outside of Plainfield, Wisconsin. Ed was a suspect in the robbery of the local hardware store located in town. Gein’s farmhouse was almost impossible to get through. Garbage and junk was all over the floor and counters.
The smell was overwhelming to the local sheriff, Arthur Schley. While he was inspecting the kitchen, he felt something hit his jacket.
When he turned to look at it he turned to face a carcass hanging from the ceiling beams. The carcass had been gutted, decapitated, and cut open. Schley at first thought it was the carcass of a dead deer. Soon he realized that it wasn’t a deer but the carcass of a person, Bernice Worden. She was the owner of the hardware store.
As the deputies searched the house they found more gruesome stuff inside this hell house. There was a funny looking bowl which was the top of a human skull. The wastebasket and lampshades were made of human skin. An armchair was made of human skin. They also found a belt made of nipples, four noses, a human head, and a heart. The more they looked through the house the more stuff they had found.
Eventually they found a suit made completely of skin was found. The officers tried to calculate the number of women that Gein may have killed.
When we look metaphorically at the acts of Ed Gein one needs to question if the spirit of a beast possessed him.
I have often wondered if Gein was a werewolf or vampire or even a shapeshifter.
It was said that Gein preserved his mother’s skin. He confessed that he often dressed up in it, wore his mother’s clothes, and ran outside the farmhouse to dance in the moonlight. He also wore belts of human nipples and would make furniture of human skin.
People can say that there are no such things as vile beings, shape shifters, or even werewolves but Gein the most horrifying butcher of them all was most certainly defined as a ghoul.
After the discovery of Bernice Worden’s headless body in 1957, the police thought that Ed could have been involved in more murders.
Gein then confessed to the murder of Bernice Worden. He stated that he was dazed at the time and only remembers dragging her to his ford truck. He also said he had took the body parts the police found from the graves and had not killed anyone except Bernice Worden.
Later he admitted to also killing Mary Hogan. The sanity of Ed was in question and was suggested that he plead not guilty, by reason of insanity. Ed went underwent lots of psychological tests which did say that he was emotionally impaired. While Ed was doing more tests the police continued to search his land.
On November 29th, police found buried, skeletal remains which were suspected to be of Victor Travis, who disappeared years earlier. After spending 10 years in a mental institution, he was put on trial. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
If you want to discredit Satanic possession as some superstitious explanation as to why people commit crimes – Ed Gein makes an excellent case that would have anyone thinking that the Devil was involved.
It can be argued that the devil is in every crime but the brutality of Ed Gein and many other devils little helpers – are a part of the terrifying reality of something wicked always comes.
If you look back over the crimes of the last century, some of the worst examples, including brutal murders and child abuse, will have Satan’s name attached to them—and that’s without having to go back to the Enlightenment era. The devil gets blamed for a lot. It’s an easy explanation for committing unspeakable acts: Satan made them do it.
One of the world’s most infamous serial killers, Richard Ramirez, was a Satanist and partly responsible for the hysteria in the 80s. From 1984-85, he would break into people’s homes in the middle of the night. Once inside, he carried out brutal attacks that often involved rape and sodomy, before murdering his victims by stabbing, beating or shooting them. Ramirez was a Satanist and made some of his victims ‘swear on Satan’ or swear they loved Satan during the attacks.
At 17, Sean Sellers became the youngest person to be given the death penalty after it was reinstated in the 1970s. His crimes: murdering a shop clerk who refused to sell him beer and later, his parents. Before the murders, Sellers had immersed himself in Satanism, signaling his devotion by carrying a vial of fresh blood around his neck, which he would drink from (naturally). On the night of his parents’ murder, Sellers had been performing his rituals. He later said he fell asleep and woke up to find his stepfather’s gun in his own room.
Sellers went into their bedroom and shot his stepfather then, when she woke up, shot his mother in the face. Sellers’ grandfather directed the police to him. Initially, he claimed to have no memory of the crimes, but later said he was two people—Sean and his demonic alter ego.
These stories are not for not for the fearful, faint of heart or squeamish, but they certainly continue to haunt our dreams. They paint a gruesome picture of the unthinkable — torture, mutilation and human sacrifice in the name of Satan.
Satanic Panic has not left us – it has become a marketable commodity.