HOWTO investigate a Satanic ritual killing

Are you a murder investigator who is secretly ashamed of your inability to spot the signs of a Satanic ritual killing? Fear not: this gentleman will help you spot subtle signs like inverted pentagrams gouged into the victim's torso, as part of a video called "The Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults."

The Victim's Body (via IO9)


  1. This is like the ridiculous convo HST has in Fear And Loathing (and variants in other pieces) where he tries to convince some poor conservative sap that long haired satanists are really everywhere (and out to get your adolescent daughters) – sometimes aided by Oscar Z. Acosta.

    Funny stuff. Except for when the above mentioned fools really believe what they see in Hard Copy and freak out, ruining it for the rest of us in the process.


  2. That’s a nice close-up of her… pentagrams. Rawr.

    I love how he keeps repeating the word “oftentimes” as if this sort of “satanic ritual killing” was a daily event is his town.

      1. Yep, the entire video is actually about that one case. All the “often”s and “frequently”s and “usually”s are extrapolated from one deranged killing into an imaginary phenomenon.

  3. “How to make your murder look like a Satanic Ritual Killing© so police will suspect someone besides you.”

  4. This would seem funnier to me if I hadn’t watched that documentary “Witch Hunt” about the families whose lives were destroyed by a few loons who imagined Satanic ritual abuse and murder everywhere in the 1980s.

  5. So I gather satanic killers dress up their victims in chess-board-bikinis?

    Is that a clue?

    Should we not ban chess?

    I mean — A2 B4 – R2 D2 – Rook takes Knight. -That’s obviously code, ain’t it?

  6. I believe the case he was referencing was the murder of a John Doe in 1985 that Clifford St. Joseph was convicted for. (Google Books link)

    Disclaimer: I don’t know how accurate this information is.

  7. In possibly interesting news, this is not “originally” (whatever that means, exactly) from io9. They got it from Laughing Squid who got it from Nerdcore in Germany, who got it from MetaFilter, who don’t say where they got it from. All this took from 11 AM yesterday till 10 PM today. Ain’t the ‘net neat?

    As for the video, it was uploaded on the 9th, about a week ago, by an account that hadn’t uploaded anything for the last 3 years. The only context was the link to the WorldCat entry for the video, which persisted in most, but not all, the re-posts above. No, I’m not sure why I (or anyone else) cares.

  8. I thought for sure after saying “another thing that is often done after ritualistic homicides, is a penis is placed in the mouth of the deceased” (or something like that), that we were going to get a an example…

  9. “another thing that is often done after ritualistic homicides, is a penis is placed in the mouth of the deceased”

    We should get 5 mins on that alone! Isn’t that kind of weird he throws that in almost as an afterthought?

  10. Why do I keep hearing the opening chords of Sonseed’s “Jesus Is A Friend Of Mine” as I watch this video?

  11. This guy seems to be the inspiration for Dr. Steve Brule! Actually I would LOVE to see this re-done as one of Brule’s rules.

  12. I have on file a letter from Ken Lanning (look him up), verifying that he did indeed write an article in Police Chief magazine dismissing the Satanic panic phenomenon, and clarifying the FBI’s position. According to Mr. Lanning, at the time of the article’s publication, the FBI had seen zero cases where child abuse, sexual abuse, or other crime had happened secondary to a Satanic ritual. In all cases, Satanic or other occult trappings were used secondary to the crime, in order to cause confusion, intimidate the victims, or enhance the experience for the perpetrators. In other words, there had been no actual rituals, just people wearing masks and robes for the atmospheric effects. While I appreciate this video being held up for ridicule, which it justly deserves, I am concerned about the resulting attention and hit count it’s receiving.

    1. I actually got to talk to Lanning at one point. A very level-headed guy and what you’d hope that all FBI agents were. One of his points was that the figures being tossed about in by the Satanic Abuse people would seem to indicate that there were more American casualties of that then there were of the Vietnam war. One of the things he’d do when speaking to public groups would be to ask everyone who was within two degrees of separation from someone killed or permanently wounded in Vietnam. Four or five hands at least always go up. And how many are that close to a Satanic ritual victim? Always zero.

      The other interesting thing was that, as you say, gangs of child abusers often silence their victims by threatening reprisal from some mythical or semi-mythical group that the victim believes in: Mafia, Satanists, Aliens, whatever. This is often done with some playacting and cosplay. (In the case of Satanism their knowledge is pretty much limited to what they see on Heavy Metal album covers.) It’s not all that hard to fool traumatised little kids. So there are people who’ve grown up believing that they were victims of an authentic bunch of Satanists and that they didn’t get sacrificed because they clammed up. Dig down into any of the big Satanic Abuse witch hunts and you’ll often find a law enforcement officer who went into that field because of that happened to them as a kid and they’ve really lost perspective on the issue.

      1. So, uh, @Nadreck, what you’re saying is that relatives of victims of Satanic ritual abuse are too terrified to speak out? My God! The problem’s even bigger than we thought! Satanic ritual abuse crime is being under-reported on a massive scale!

        I’m glad to see that the nice lady in the video is rather obviously breathing. I’m also impressed that she manages not to giggle while it’s going on: she’s obviously a real trouper.

      2. “Dig down into any of the big Satanic Abuse witch hunts and you’ll often find a law enforcement officer who went into that field because of that happened to them as a kid and they’ve really lost perspective on the issue.”
        You’re being far too kind to the investigators. The cases of abuse where the perpetrators used Satanism to scare their victims were very, very rare and only happened as a response to the highly publicized Satanic panic. Law enforcement was most likely influenced by media reports, rumors and the huge amounts of training done by people who either believed in the Satanic conspiracies or were con-men, cynically claiming to have been in Satanic cults until they “converted to Christianity” in order to sell their “expertise.” The Satanic conspiracy has been a Christian myth for so long, in one form or another (see “blood libel”) that various Christian groups were all over the panic, producing “educational” products that further spread misinformation (Wicca=Satanism!). Many law enforcement organizations paid a good bit of money for this misinformation, so that they would “know what was going on.”

  13. The “penis in the mouth” seems to have only been mentioned in passing. I would have thought it would be a central feature of the discussion.

    Slightly underwhelmed.

  14. Typical. He forgot to point out how to identify unicorn horn stab wounds, chupacabra bite marks, alien abduction anal probe evidence, stray bigfoot hairs and the obvious marks left by killers with hooks for hands. (oh, wait, that last one got left hanging from the door of the car. Never mind.)

  15. Don’t you often find a Dungeons and dragons board near the body and a video game machine nearby too?

  16. “..a penis is plced in the mouth of the deceased.”
    *dodgy music starts*
    what is this, some low budget satanic-ritual-killing-themed porn film?

  17. I’ve been looking all over the interwebs for some tutorial on satanic rituals. Thanks for the tips! Now back to the basement.

  18. I can’t believe no one’s referenced the classic X-Files ep “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” with Scully repeating Lanning’s points pretty much verbatim. The closing scene where Scully & Mulder find Mrs. Paddock’s message “It’s been nice working with you” on the chalkboard always kinda freaked me out–in a good way.

  19. Hey, so, now BoingBoing is like Wired magazine! Boobs on the front! I, for one, welcome our new boob overlords.

    1. Given that he’s actually talking about one case, and that involved a male victim, the use of a bikini-clad female model (rather than a male model or sexless dummy) was clearly intended to have that effect, perversely enough.

  20. Of course the video features a shapely young woman in a bikini, and not just some dude. Got to keep the male audience’s attention somehow.

    Well, it worked on me at least ;)

    PS: Could the guy’s shirt be more goofy? I don’t think so

  21. Isn’t this sort of junk science and paranoia the basis for the West Mephis Three convictions, where a lone investigator’s unsubstantiated crackpot theory that the scene looked like a “Satanic sacrifice” became the backbone of a really weak case?

  22. Wait, this isn’t Tim and Eric?
    I kept waiting for the guy to break into a bit of Minivan Highway:

    He certainly has the same art director.

  23. It’s not just that it’s crap. It’s crap on which actual law enforcement agencies spent public funds for training purposes.

    Cops pride themselves on their cynicism, but a lot of them will believe anything if it’s marketed as some esoteric aid to investigation.

  24. That’s cool, I have a scar just like that on my neck from where my internal jugular vein was removed due to blood clots from Lemierre’s Syndrome when I was 16. I don’t know much about actual satanists, but it sure made me shiver when I saw that outline on her neck, just like mine. And the drainage spot.

    More interesting point to my story – when I awoke from surgery, I apparently attacked my doctors, nurses, and aunt and tried to tear out my drainage tube and IVs (I have no idea why). They drugged me and stitched a board to my arm to hold IVs in, and then I was in a coma for 2 weeks. I have no memory of that happening whatsoever! Neat, huh?

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