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Title: Teens Face Court Quietly

Source: Orlando Sentinel, 12/8/96

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The vampire cult members were ordered held without bail in the deaths of Richard and Ruth
Wendorf of Eustis.

By Lesley Clark of The Sentinel Staff

Sunday, Dec. 8, 1996
(c) The Orlando Sentinel

OCALA -- Biting her lip and gazing at the floor, Heather Wendorf stood shaking in a tiny jailhouse courtroom Saturday as a judge ordered the 15-year-old and three of her vampire cultist friends held without bail in the bludgeoning death of her parents.

Rod Ferrell, 16, the alleged ringleader of the cult, was quiet and withdrawn. That was in marked contrast to his arrival at the Lake County Jail Friday night, when he stuck his tongue out at reporters and kissed a jail window as news crews filmed the teens' return to Lake County.

Marion County Judge Frances S. King found there was enough probable cause to hold the teens, who are accused in the killings of Ruth, 54, and Richard Wendorf, 49, in their rural Eustis home and  of  fleeing to Louisiana with the victims' Ford Explorer.

None of the teens' family members appeared at the 15-minute hearing. King gave each of the teens a court-appointed lawyer after they told her their parents couldn't afford private lawyers.

Heather Wendorf; Ferrell  of Murray, Ky.;  and Howard Scott Anderson, 16, of Mayfield, Ky., are expected to be formally charged with first-degree murder by a Lake County grand jury that will convene Dec. 16.

Sarah ''Shea'' Remington, 16, of Murray, identified in court documents as Charity Keesee, faces a charge of being an accessory after first-degree murder.

The teens, extradited Friday from Baton Rouge, La., after a week of legal wrangling, were booked at the Lake jail Friday and driven to the regional juvenile detention facility in Ocala.

They  will stay in Ocala at the center unless the grand jury or prosecutors decide   they should be tried as adults. If so, they will be taken back to the Lake jail.

The beating death of the Crown Cork & Seal Co. purchasing agent and his homemaker wife, who volunteered at her daughters' high school, drew national headlines when police said the teen suspects consider themselves vampires and participate in human bloodletting rituals in rural western Kentucky.

Although police said there is no evidence of vampirism in the Wendorfs' deaths,  a friend of Ferrell's said that the teenagers drank their own blood at her home minutes before they left, saying they planned to kill the Wendorfs. The bodies of the couple were found just hours later.

The teens filed into the basement courtroom of the Marion County Jail shortly before 11 a.m., iron shackles around their ankles and leather belts around their waists. Each teen was assigned a guard.

They raised handcuffed right hands to take an oath after King told them that the detention hearing was ''not the time'' to discuss their case. ''You needn't make any statement about the reason you are here,'' she said.

Keesee  and the bespectacled Anderson, who had at least one cut on his left arm, stood quietly and looked at the floor. Ferrell stood with his head cocked to one side, long black hair covering half of his expressionless face. His short-sleeved orange jail top exposed three cuts and the tail of a tattoo on his left arm.

Wendorf stared at the floor but looked up several times as four television news cameras
positioned behind the judge zeroed in on her.

King asked each teen whether his or her parents had money for a private attorney.

''Not that I know of,'' Ferrell said.

The former Lake County resident told the judge his parents were moving back to Florida.

''Because of all this,'' he said, motioning with his hands.

Assistant Public Defender Bill Stone was appointed to represent Ferrell.

Private attorneys were appointed to represent the other teens to avoid a conflict of interest, Assistant Public Defender Michael Gourley said. The  Public Defender's  Office typically represents ''the most serious defendant,'' Gourley said.

The teens, along with a fifth suspect, Dana Cooper, 19, of Murray, were taken into custody on Thanksgiving night in a motel parking lot in Baton Rouge  after a three-day, four-state flight. They were thought to be headed for a video arcade that Ferrell was known to frequent in New Orleans.

The teens were found with the Wendorfs' blue Ford Explorer, from which investigators say they seized hundreds of items, including a bloody bedsheet and paper towel, two books about vampires, a paperback book that gives spells for conjuring demons   and a backpack with a dismembered doll hanging from it.

The Eustis/Kentucky link is Ferrell, who dated Heather  Wendorf  until he moved to Kentucky last year. His mother said he became interested in the vampire scene in Lake, but his interest became an obsession after he met older youths in Murray who were into vampirism.

Police wonder if the teens, who played a role-playing vampire game, Vampire: The Masquerade, blurred the line between fantasy and reality.

Ferrell took the vampire name Vesago.  Heather Wendorf, who told friends she took part in blood-drinking rituals and had been a demon, took the name Zoey.

Fans of role-playing games said the hobby spurs creativity and the teens' interest shouldn't be an indictment of the games.

''If we're playing baseball and later I go and smash your windshield with a bat, is the bat bad? Is baseball bad?'' said Troy Pope, general manager of Enterprise 1701, an Orlando store that sells fantasy role-playing games. ''It's the person that's doing the act that's at fault, not the game.''

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