NOTE: Transcript of first section of article follows

The Buffalo News/Sunday, July 21, 1985


The scene had become a familiar one in the Town of Tonawanda, near the Kenmore border, on Friday and Saturday nights. Up to 90 young persons, 13 to 20 years old, gathered in a badly overgrown area dubbed “Snakeland” to drink beer, smoke marijuana, engage in some sexual activity and chant satanic messages from “heavy metal” rock-music albums.

“Sa-tan, Sa-tan, Sa-tan,” the group chanted.

Dead or unconscious pigeons that had been shot with BB guns were burned on an open fire near an altar. And at least one member of the group either ate part of a snake or put the snake up to his mouth, according to differing accounts of the incidents.

Police and the young people themselves agree on those points. But the strangling of a 15-year-old Kenmore girl, whose body was recovered about 500 yards away from Snakeland on July 1, has ignited a controversy over whether the young people have been involved in actual satanic rituals.

While police have found no direct link between the death of Katherine Herold and any satanic-like cult, her friends say she was a participant in the events that some police call satanic rituals and that the participants call large beer-marijuana parties.

“She did the same as everybody else,” said one 18-year-old who attended the Snakeland “parties”. “She just went up there to party, to drink.” Police also say the girl attended some of the parties.

“Everyone that was there came to party,” one boy added. “It was a lot of fun. It was a way to get away from the cops and all the hassle."

Even police who witnessed the parties are cautious about labeling the group a true satanic cult.

“As far as I can determine, there are about eight of them that are into Satanism,” said Officer Tom Hinchey of the Kenmore Police Juvenile Aid Bureau. “I’m not sure they’re into Satanism per se. They may be just in it to seek attention.”

Hinchey was one of several police detectives from Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda who crawled through the high weeds off Woodward Avenue to within about 50 feet of the parties.

“It was mostly a beer blast, and I could smell pot,” he said. “They were screaming ‘seance’. They’d have a séance, and then go back to drinking. It was a good excuse to have a party.”

Referring to the eight ringleaders, Hinchey asked, "Are they heavily into the satanic part of it or are they into the attention-getting part? I don’t know.”

Whether or not Kenmore and Town of Tonawanda young people are into devil worship, no one can deny that satanic messages – contained in “heavy metal” albums by Led Zeppelin, Venom, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and other groups – have become the graffiti rage on park benches in Mang Park* and on the abandoned grain silos off Military Road.

The word “Satan”, written with an upside-down “t” (representing an inverted cross), can be seen all over, apparently written in blood in


* John Justice - “Jeremy Janks” - lived at 308 Mang Avenue, facing Mang Park.