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The Shocking True-Life Adventures of the Kentucky Teenage Blood-Sucking Vampire Thrill-Kill Cult

Dateline: BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, Friday, November 29, 1996

'Vampire' Teens Held In Deaths

BATON ROUGE (AP)--Five teen-agers believed to be members of a Kentucky "vampire cult" were being held in jail Friday in connection with the bludgeoning deaths of the parents of one of the youngsters.

Dateline: HOLLYWOOD, California, Today...

Four Networks Roll Out 'Vampire Cult' Movies for 1997

HOLLYWOOD (TeeVee)--NBC announced today plans to dramatize the story of five teenagers arrested for murder in Louisiana last week. The teenagers are alleged to have been part of a "vampire cult" which engaged in animal torture, grave desecration, and blood-drinking. They are charged with bludgeoning deaths of the parents of one member of their group.

"America is gaga about vampire cults," said NBC Entertainment President Don Ohlmeyer in a press conference today. "We wanted to get on this story while the bodies were still warm, so to speak." The four hour mini-series, "Mother, May I Sleep With Vampires?," will star TV exploitation-film regular Tori Spelling and former "Blossom" leading man Joey Lawrence.

Spelling will play Heather Wendorf, daughter and alleged accomplice in the murder of her parents, Richard and Naoma Ruth Wendorf, who were beaten to death by the vampire teens the day before Thanksgiving in Florida last week. The movie will likely air early next spring, Ohlmeyer said.

NBC's announcement brings the number of vampire cult-inspired films headed for the small screen next year to four. Earlier this week, ABC, CBS, and Fox announced their own plans to dramatize the case.

ABC will be the first out of the gate next March with "'Tell Me About the Blood Lust, Heather': The Vampire Cult Murders," starring TV's "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," Melissa Joan Hart as the occult-obsessed, homicidal Wendorf. Jenna Elfman ("Townies"), David Conrad ("Relativity") and Daniel J. Travanti will co-star.

In April, Fox will offer "Running With the Devil: The True Story of the Kentucky Vampire Thrill Kill Cult" starring former "Party Girl" Christine Taylor as the blood-sucking, cudgel-wielding Wendorf. Fox President Peter Roth said Taylor was his first choice for the role. "I kinda felt sorry for that cutey from the Brady Bunch," Roth said Tuesday. "I cancelled her show, you know."

A CBS spokesman said Wednesday that a vampire cult movie of the week was already in development. The project, tentatively titled "One of Us, One of Us: The True Story of the Teenage Vampire Death Cult," will probably air in April. Drew Barrymore, Heather Matarazzo ("Welcome to the Dollhouse"), and Carla Guguni ("Spin City") have been approached to star. "We really hope Drew can do it," the spokesman said. "Nobody does deviant freaks better than Drew."

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So it may not be true, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility, either. The boys down in the Entertainment Division would be crazy to pass up a story like this. Get Chris Carter on the phone!

I, for one, have been captivated by the Kentucky Teen Vampire Cult story all week. What could be more ripe for a TV movie treatment? It has "ratings monster" written all over it. You have your disaffected youths innocently get involved with a fantasy game that gets horribly out of hand and ends in murder. You have your human blood-drinking rituals, your animal sacrifices, your graveyard sex under a full moon. You have a disturbed girl who hates her parents so much that she and her friends decide to kill them and steal their Ford Explorer. They go on the lam. Only when one of the accomplices calls her mother can the authorities track them down and arrest them at a Howard Johnson hotel in Louisiana.

The facts of the case are these: On Monday, November 25, Roderick Ferrell, 16, Dana Cooper, 19, both of Murray, Kentucky, Scott Anderson, 16, of Mayfield, Ky., and Heather Wendorf, 15, entered the Eustis, Florida home of Richard Wendorf, 49, and Naoma Ruth Wendorf, 53, and beat them both to death with several blunt instruments, including a crowbar and a "heavy blade chopping-type tool or kitchen utensil," which were later discarded in the Mississippi River. The four, accompanied by Charity Keesee, 16, of Murray, then stole the Wendorfs' 1994 Ford Explorer and drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The five juveniles were apprehended in Baton Rouge after Keesee called her mother in South Dakota for money. The authorities, acting through Keesee's mother, convinced the fugitives to go to a nearby Howard Johnsons where they were arrested without bloodshed.

Evidently, Ferrell and Wendorf dated for two years and, according to the locals, "both stood out in their rural communities." Ferrell sported shoulder-length black hair, wore a black trench coat, carried a wooden stick and boasted of immortality as a vampire. She wore "purple hair, black fishnet stockings and a dog chain around her neck," and "told friends she was a demon in past lives and had talked with spirits during human blood-drinking rituals," according to AP reports.

It turns out these kids got into this fine mess because of a game--a popular role-playing game called "Vampire: The Masquerade." Which immediately brings to mind another popular role-playing game that gained notoriety not so very long ago.

In the 1980s, pop culture watchers and hard-core geeks will recall, America went gaga over Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role-playing game in which players sit around a card table littered with dice, Coke-stained notebook and graphing paper, rule books, and little lead figurines and assume--more or less--the parts of knights, elves, magicians and rogues who battle mythical monsters and seek treasure.

It was all in good fun, of course, but there were always a few who took it all a bit too seriously. So from time to time, the news reported a story about some moody youth in Sackinaw, Georgia or Cedar Grove, New Jersey sacrificing chickens or stabbing one of his pimply-faced pals in the eye as proof of his fidelity to Orcus, Lord of the Abyss.

Parents groups flew into a blind panic. The clergy and various Bible Belt fundamentalists denounced the game as "satanic." Eventually, the hysteria ran its course and the republic survived, little worse for wear.

But not before CBS made a movie of the week about it. You may have seen it. It was called "Mazes and Monsters," and it starred a young, big-haired Tom Hanks.

Hanks plays a disturbed young man who takes the game so seriously that he loses his mind. He actually thinks he is a wizard. So he takes to the streets of some nearby metropolis and before long happens upon some common street thugs who make him for an easy mark, with his big hair and his fruity-looking robes. The aforementioned thugs are not prepared, however, for Hanks' "spells." "I got my spells!" he warns. But when all the thugs do is laugh (along with the home audience--the line is funnier than anything in "Punchline"), Hanks is left with no choice but to attack them with the 12-inch dagger hidden under his robe.

Needless to say, much wackiness ensues. The rest of the film has Hanks' friends tracking him down in a nearby forest and trying to coax him back to reality. Perhaps the only virtue of the film is that they fail--Hanks is left hopelessly mad. The film ends with him blissfully strolling the majestic wooded grounds of his rich parents' country home, contemplating his "spells" and no doubt plotting new adventures.

"Vampire: The Masquerade" is not your regular role-playing game. Unlike D&D, it's not played around a table. Players act out roles in full vampire garb, usually at night on city streets, according to one J. Gordon Melton, who spent four years studying vampire culture and runs the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

``Instead of a group of people sitting around and rolling dice, the dice have been eliminated, costumes have been added and staging has been added," Melton explained to the AP. "It's quite an event.''

"The more serious players belong to clans -- the Tremere or the Assamite Antitribu. Women submit to sires. They casually mention omens like the Coming of Gehenna. But it's all harmless fun, some players say." I bet.

The Kentucky story gets a little weirder. It turns out that Rod Ferrell's mother may be involved. The AP reports that Sondra Gibson faces a charge of solicitation to commit rape and sodomy for a letter police said she wrote to a 14-year-old boy.

``I longed to be near you ... to become a Vampire, a part of the family immortal and truly yours forever,'' the letter reads. ``You will then come for me and cross me over and I will be your bride for eternity and you my sire.''

Whew. Anne Rice only wishes she could be that hokey.

I expect this whole sordid saga will turn out rather badly for these kids, as it should. But that doesn't mean someone shouldn't make a fortune exploiting it. I am not ashamed to admit that I want to be that someone. Sure, it's been done before, but compared to the whole "Give Back My Kids" genre, the teen vampire cult realm is still relatively unexplored territory. So Mr. Roth, Mr. Ohlmeyer, Ms. Tarses, Mr. Moonves: have your people call my people. We'll get together, talk business, maybe have a few drinks. The first round of Bloody Marys is on me.


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