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Title: Jury: 'Vampire' Leader Should Die / Vampire Leader Sentenced to Death

Source: Associated Press, 2/23 and 2/27, 1998 (respectively)

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Jury: 'Vampire' Leader Should Die
Associated Press

TAVARES, Fla. (AP) -- A teen-age vampire cult leader should die in the electric chair for the crowbar slayings of a couple in their home, a jury recommended Monday. 

Rod Ferrell, 17, of Murray, Ky., showed little emotion as the jury announced its decision. His mother and other relatives wept. 

"There is no comfort except that we as a society hold people accountable for what they do," said prosecutor Brad King. 

Ferrell pleaded guilty to killing Richard Wendorf and Naoma Ruth Queen, who were beaten with a crowbar in 1996 in their home in Eustis, 35 miles from Orlando. Police found a "V" surrounded by circular marks burned 
into Wendorf's body. 

After the slaying, Ferrell ran away the couple's daughter, Heather Wendorf, now 17, and three others in a car belonging to the girl's parents. Police caught up with them a few days later in Louisiana. 

"Ruth's and Rick's honor have now been restored," Bill Wendorf, fraternal twin brother of the victim, said after the verdict. 

Circuit Judge Jerry Lockett will have the final say on sentencing. Defense attorneys tried to persuade jurors to recommend a life sentence without parole, saying Ferrell was forced to live in a fantasy world created by a sexually abusive family obsessed with the occult. 

According to investigators, members of the cult took drugs, engaged in group sex and drank one another's blood. 

Three others, Howard Scott Anderson, 17, Dana L. Cooper, 20, and Charity Keesee, 17, await trial later this year in the slayings. Miss Wendorf told police she did not know her parents were dead when she left town. 

She was cleared by a grand jury last year. 

Published Monday, February 23, 1998 
Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.
 

Vampire Leader Sentenced to Death
Associated Press

TAVARES, Fla. (AP) -- The teen-age leader of a vampire cult was sentenced to death Friday for killing a couple with a crow-bar after traveling to Florida with cult members to help the couple' s daughter run away. 

Rod Ferrell, 17, showed little emotion as state Circuit Judge Jerry Lockett followed the jury' s recommendation. 

" I think you are a disturbed young man, " Lockett said. 

Ferrell pleaded guilty to killing Richard Wendorf and Naoma Ruth Queen of Eustis, about 30 miles northwest of Orlando, on Nov. 25, 1996. Ferrell and three members of his blood-sucking cult left Kentucky for Florida to help their daughter, Heather Wendorf, leave home. 

She was then inducted into the cult, whose members took drugs, engaged in group sex and drank one another' s blood, investigators said. Ferrell told a friend that he needed to kill people to open the " gates to hell, " according to police. 

Charges against Miss Wendorf were dropped when a grand jury failed to indict. Lockett urged the prosecution to try again. 

" It is the strong suggestion of this court that the grand jury be reconvened, " Lockett said. " There is genuine evil in the world. There is dark side and light side competing in each of us." 

There are still some unanswered questions in Miss Wendorf's role in slaying, the judge said, adding that some witnesses who testified in Ferrell's sentencing hearing did not speak to the grand jury. 

Ferrell's mother, Sondra Gibson, said her son didn' t deserve the death penalty and she endorsed the idea of pursuing charges against Miss Wendorf. 

" There's one person walking around who's just as guilty as he is, " Ms. Gibson said outside the courtroom after the sentencing. 

State Attorney Brad King said he doubted he would ask the grand jury to reconsider the case. " You don't indict someone if you can't prove they're guilty, " King said. 

Published Friday, February 27, 1998 
Copyright 1998. All rights reserved. 

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