NOTE: Transcript follows
YOUTHS’ SATANIC WORSHIP CONCERNS POLICE By Annemarie Wess
It may not have come as a surprise to Town of Tonawanda police that Katherine Herold’s mother wanted them to look for her teenage daughter in the area of the grain silos, on Military Rd., after the girl had been reported missing last week.
Teens have been drawn to the vacant grain silos and nearby empty warehouse for at least the past 20 years. During that time, two boys fell to their deaths while exploring the gutted buildings. Efforts have been made by private citizens and area legislators to have the structures demolished or permanently sealed, but the complicated search for the facility’s owner and the lack of money has stalled speedy action.
Within the past two months, town police have heightened their efforts to break up gangs of youths at the site because of recent evidence of devil worship there.
Police say they have seen as many as 90 youths between the ages of 13 and 19 assemble at the area which is known as “Snakeland” by the youths. Drinking alcohol and doing drugs seems to be a common practice by the youths, but satanic actions appear to be creeping into the purpose of the gathering, police say.
According to Officer Tim Hinchey of the Kenmore Police Department Juvenile Aid Bureau, evidence of animal sacrifice has been found at the site.
Members of the group eat snakes, burn pigeons alive and once hung a stray dog, Hinchey said. Investigations of the area has turned up decapitated pigeons and mutilated snakes as well as graffiti written on the walls of the silos “presumably in blood” and paint that label the area as belonging to the devil and entry to “devil land,” town police said.
“Not all of them are into Satanism, some just come and watch,” Hinchey said, noting there are eight who form the nucleus of worshippers.
Those who are involved are “troubled youth” according to Hinchey.
“They’ve never done well at anything and have been involved in crime, drugs and alcohol,” he said, adding they perform bazaar (sic) acts to be noticed by their peers.
Their gatherings, in addition to the animal sacrifice, include “marijuana, beer and sex in the grass,” Hinchey said. He said the youths abuse substances more than worship Satan.
“I’m not so sure the kids know what they’re getting into,” Hinchey said.
He said the leaders are vying for attention rather than following a cult religion, although the situation is “something to be concerned about.”
“The 17, 18 and 19 -year old kids are luring the juveniles and putting them into an environment we want to stop,” Lt. Robert Little of the Town of Tonawanda Police said.
Little noted, however, the police legally can’t stop any sort of worshipping the group may be doing without violating their freedom of worship. But the town police have been putting “positive pressure” on the area to stop the trespassing, alcohol and drug consumption and animal sacrifice, all of which are violations of the law.
Town police regularly patrol the area now for youths or loiterers and bring them back to the station, when their parents are called and informed of where the youths were and what they were doing.
Hinchey said his department was first made aware of possible Satan worshippers in their area a year ago when the (sic) responded to a call and found a youth sleeping in a homemade coffin. Satanistic acts then became common knowledge among the teen population.
“If you mentioned certain names to area youths, they would say, 'Yes, he’s into Satanism,'" Hinchey said.
Information about devil worship is beginning to infiltrate presentations before town parents, Little said. He tells parents to be watchful of mood changes and behavioral changes and be aware of different symbols of Satanism, such as the inverted cross or the “666” symbol. Little said the town’s approach to the problem is low key.
“You don’t want to blow it out of proportion.”
Both officers agreed while various rock groups have Satanistic themes, owning albums or wearing tee-shirts of these groups do not necessarily mean the youth is involved in a cult religion, but may be going through teenage phases.
“Find out what your kids are doing on the weekends,” Little said.
He added, however, the group has a tight code of ethics dealing with squealers.
1985, Date unknown, Newspaper unknown (Not Buffalo News, perhaps Tonawanda News)