On June16, 1970, a hiker stumbled upon a shallow grave off a highway near El Cariso, in southern California. It held the body of Florence Nancy Brown, 29, a schoolteacher from El Toro who worked with handicapped children. Thirteen days earlier, Brown told her husband she was going to a PTA meeting, got into her car and vanished.
About a month later, July 11, 1970, a man fishing on the Yellowstone River in Montana cast his line into the rushing waters and, instead of a trout, snagged a corpse. It was the remains of James Schlosser, 22, a social worker from Roundup, Mont. On the previous Friday, the young man had cheerfully set off in his yellow Opel Kadett, after telling his mother that he was looking forward to a weekend hiking in Yellowstone National Park.
Both victims had been stabbed multiple times, and their bodies mutilated. Brown's right arm had been hacked off and Schlosser's legs, arms and head were missing.
And the most chilling detail: Neither corpse had a heart.
Although separated by 1,000 miles, the two killings sparked fears that Schlosser and Brown had fallen prey to a deadly fad – the devil cult. It had been about five years since a one-time carnival worker, Anton LaVey, came up with the notion of worshiping Satan for fun and profit. He opened the Church of Satan, penned the "Satanic Bible," and attracted a few thousand followers.
Suddenly, Satan was chic. Most of it was harmless ritual. But sometimes the hell-raising turned deadly, especially when mixed with LSD and other mind-bending potions. In 1969, the world was horrified by the Manson family bloodbaths, the work of the followers of one such anti-Christ.
Now, less than a year later, two separate murders suggested more devils were on the loose, and even worse, that cannibal clans of Satan-worshiping killers were popping up all over the country.
Working on a tip, California police nabbed Brown's murderers by the end of June. They were part of a loose cult of grubby drug addicts, some teenagers, who called themselves the Sons of Satan. They scraped by day-to-day, sleeping where
they could, stealing and wandering around in search of their next fix.
Group leader Steven Hurd, 20, called the devil "father," and boasted that he had eaten Brown's heart to honor Satan.
The young mother had been the group's second killing in as many days. The first, on June 2, was Jerry Carlin, a gas-station attendant working the lobster shift. It started as a robbery, but Carlin, 20 and a newlywed, wasn't cooperative enough. One of Hurd's acolytes, Arthur (Moose) Hulse, 16, 6 feet tall and 260 pounds, got annoyed. Hulse would later tell a jury, "He kept bugging me."
To quiet him down, Hulse whacked Carlin once in the head with the dull edge of a hatchet. When that failed to silence the victim, Hulse turned the hatchet around, and hacked Carlin to death. The take: $73.
The next night, Brown, an attractive mother of four, stopped at an intersection, and was attacked by Hurd's band of killers. They forced their way into her car and drove her to an orange grove, where Hurd stabbed her 20 times.
After another short ride, Hurd and his accomplices buried her at the secluded site near the highway.
Hurd told investigators that he returned later, alone, dug the body up, mutilated it, then cut out the heart and ate it.
The Yellowstone killers – Stanley Dean Baker, 22, and Harry Stroup, 20, were nabbed after a traffic accident near Salinas, Calif., on July 15. They had been speeding along an isolated road 20 miles south of Big Sur, in Schlosser's yellow Opel.
Upon his arrest Baker made a startling statement. "I have a problem," he said. "I am a cannibal.
He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a few small, white objects – finger bones. Baker said they came from Schlosser's hands. He had hacked them off the victim and put them in his pocket, in case, he said, he wanted a snack.
Along with the severed digits, Baker had a copy of the "Satanic Bible" in his pocket. Baker freely confessed to what had happened. He told police that he and Stroup had been dropping acid and hitchhiking on July 11 when Schlosser pulled over to offer a ride. They stopped to camp for the night.
Sometime after dark, a thunderstorm set Baker's LSD-addled brain into a demonic trance. He could not help himself; Satan told him to stab Schlosser and cut out his heart. "I ate it, raw," he boasted.
Baker pleaded guilty to Schlosser's murder, and was given a life sentence. Stroup was later convicted of manslaughter and sent to jail for 10 years. Behind bars, Baker apparently forgot about the devil and behaved like a little angel, and by 1985, he was paroled.
In California, Hulse was quickly tried, and his defense team tried to argue that years of blowing out his brains with booze and drugs rendered him incapable of taking responsibility for his actions. The jury found him guilty and sent him to jail for life.
It took five years of psychiatric treatment before Hurd was declared sane enough to stand trial. His attorney portrayed Hurd as a helpless pawn of delusions that Satan was forcing him to kill, and that his addiction to Seconal and LSD had scrambled his brain.
After three days of deliberation, the jury decided that Hurd had no one but himself to blame for his actions and that this devil deserved no sympathy. He was sentenced to life in prison and is still behind bars.
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