When we hear the word “cult” we often think of groups such as The Branch Davidians led by David Koresh or The Peoples Temple with Jim Jones at the helm. Some people would think of the Manson Family and Charles Manson. Others might think of organizations like Scientology or NXIVM, which operate somewhat as self-improvement programs with specific business models for making profit.
We also tend to think of cults as a newer, more modern societal problem. In reality, cults have existed for many, many years. They’ve also existed around the world, not just in the United States. The formation of current general recognized religions notwithstanding, cults can be traced back to at least the mid-fourteenth century.
One of the earliest documented cults was that of Thuggee. Active for about 400 years, their true impact wasn’t noticed by the masses until somewhere around the late 1700s or early 1800s (eighteenth or nineteenth century).
Let’s start with some background because this isn’t the kind of cult that normally comes to mind when we think of such a group.
The setting for this cult is in India, the vast subcontinent of Asia. In the mid-eighteenth century, the Mongol Empire (an Islamic dynasty that once ruled almost all of India at its peak) was quickly reaching a steep and slippery decline. Having become increasingly corrupt over its reign, the empire had become widely unpopular with the Hindu population. This caused many revolts and several regions had declared their independence. At the same time, Hindu rulers called the Maratha, who controlled most of central India by this point, began to grow increasingly aggressive and hostile while trying to keep their power.
This regional political uprising deeply threatened the extensive profits of the British East India Company. (The British East India Company was formed by the British after taking over a vast amount of land in northern India and along its eastern coast.) In 1757, a combined force of British soldiers and recruited native citizens called sepoys defeated the Nawab of Bengal’s forces, leaving the British to rule the newly conquered territory. After passing the India Act of 1784 the British East India Company was formally transformed into an extension of the British government. This afforded British India more power and more land. Then, in 1803, British India attacked the two remaining prominent Maratha leaders. With the heavy leverage that winning that battle gave them, The British East India Company forced the surviving Maratha into an alliance under their rule.
By now, the center territory of India is practically crime ridden and lawless, destroyed and demolished by decades of war. With everything in ruins, many are finding themselves without jobs and means of financial support for their families. In desperation and despair, many turn to robbery as a means of regular income and support in order to provide the mere necessities of life. Unfortunately, even with the vast wealth and land they are now in charge of, the British don’t want to invest the kind of money it would take to improve the local conditions in central India due to the severe increase in criminal activity.
The most common kind of thief is called a dacoit. This is a particular kind of robber that targets travelers, the wealthy and occasionally entire villages. They are considered very dangerous and extremely ruthless, willing to kill if need be. However, they did not attack in their own villages and were in fact often revered in a Robin Hood type of sentiment as they would frequently disperse their spoils amongst the people in their village, providing much needed income and relief.
However, by the early 1800s, a new variety of robber had surfaced. This new breed of criminals preferred strangulation as their main method of murder and they, without fail, always killed their victims which was unlike the dacoits who didn’t always murder. They more or less murdered as a last resort or a final means to an end.
The first to be documented as coming across this brand of robber was British magistrate William Wright in 1807. As a group of men were arrested just by chance, some of the men chose to boast about being part of many killings, ultimately confessing to such crimes. This led Wright to curiosity and he began to build a sort of preliminary profile of the organization and its members.
Wright found that this group (or gang), which had small active packs all throughout the territory, had their own slang language and had their own set of gang rituals and customs that they followed. Another surprising fact he learned was the amount of intelligence and forethought behind these types of killings. The murderers would slice their victims’ bodies open across the belly prior to burial. This was to reduce bloating and any amount of attention that may be drawn to the freshly buried corpses. In today’s investigative language, the killers were taking steps to counter forensic science and cover up or destroy evidence. This was both cunning and dangerous. It showed that they were intelligent enough to take countermeasures and that kind of intellect mixed with a criminal and murderous appetite make for an explosive combination, usually resulting in violence.
Another tactic of this particular gang which was perhaps the most cunning and most dangerous of all was the behavior that led up to the killings themselves. Their most popular M.O. was to target a particular victim and then gain the victim’s trust. Often times the killers would travel some considerable distance with their intended victim.
The way they would do this was extremely calculated. They would work as a team, starting with one posing as a fellow traveler having some sort of trouble. Their target would stop and offer assistance. The robber would then suggest that perhaps they might travel together to ward off marauders. Along the way of their travels they would pick up other gang members disguised as fellow travelers in need of assistance or protection. Once everybody was traveling together, the leader of the group would often use a ruse to get the victim into place, typically using an easily concealable length of cloth knotted at the ends (called a rhumal) to increase grip ability. Having the victim look up guaranteed an exposed neck plus increased the element of surprise. Then, after strangling the victim, they would slice the body, bury it and divide the profits.
Fast forward to 1808, another British magistrate named Thomas Perry arrives in northern India in the town of Etawah. This town turns out to be the flaming epicenter of a sprawling crime wave. Practically once a week, sometimes more, bodies were turning up in the wells that lined the roads leading into town. The bellies of the victims had all been sliced open. Additionally, it was clear that these poor and unfortunate souls were travelers as nobody in town knew them or identified them. With no way to solidify identification of the victims and no witnesses to any part of any crime, Perry could not arrest anyone for the killings.
At this time, the British East India Company was set up and divided into three presidencies. This meant, of course, no one was sharing information with anyone else. In turn, this caused Perry to have no access to Wright’s notes and findings on the Thuggee group, even though it would have been incredibly helpful at the time.
Perry decided to set up a checkpoint on one of the roads where a number of bodies had been discarded. Eighteen months later this led to the arrest of eight men. One man, Gholam Hossyn, gave his occupation as “Thug” upon questioning after capture. He eventually admitted to being part of more than ninety murders in the span of about three years or so. Other men of this group confessed to taking part in killings as well, one even laying claim to having personally strangled some forty-five victims himself.
After learning that hundreds of Thugs in various gangs existed in and around Etawah, Perry set out to change things and his men arrested some 70 gang members. Those captured were sent to Bengal for trial. However, a particular requirement at that time for prosecution of crimes was a formal complaint to be filed by the victim’s family. Since the victims were travelers there were no family members to file such a complaint. Thus, the captured Thugs were acquitted.
Also happening at the same time in 1808 is the arrival of William Sleeman. Sleeman decided to use the anti-Thug campaign as a way to make a strong name for himself and give himself notoriety. He developed a system to interrogate and flush out the remaining active Thugs. This system was so effective, it was soon adopted across India as general practice.
Thugs who gave up information were labeled “approvers”. They were promised their lives would be spared IF they would give specific information as to names, dates, events, locations of bodies, etc.
Now we are to 1812. Perry orders a group of British soldiers and sepoys to go to Sindouse, where intelligence has said is the base of operations for the Thuggee group. Apparently, this is where the Thugs have been able to operate with impunity and under the protection of a wealthy land owner naked Laljee.
After many battles and lives and livelihoods lost, Perry is was able to drive the Thugs out of Etawah.
Simultaneously, the East India Company still does not want to expend the resources for what they deemed a lost cause and a waste of funds and said resources. Worse yet, some British didn’t even believe that the Thugs and the Thuggee cult even existed. Eventually, having finally recognized the threat the Thugs posed to the fortune and power of the Company, they decide to share information and issue formal warnings to their men about the group.
Fast forward again to 1829 and we come to the William Borthwick capture. British Officer William Borthwick convincingly lured seventy Thugs to a village near Indore (central India) and arrested them. Upon being detained, some confessed. Others did not.
All this led to the new Governor-General of India to change policy, effectively allowing officers to pursue Thugs not only in their own territory, but in other native states as well if the need arose.
In 1836, Sleeman is appointed Superintendent for the Suppression of Thuggee. He announced is success of the suppression four years later in 1840.
His capture of Feringeea, one of the most successful Thuggee leaders, procured a wealth of information that led to the arrests of hundreds of Thugs. Various statements made by captured gang members about the depth of their belief, devotion and involvement led Sleeman to be convinced that these particular criminals could never be rehabilitated. Once imprisoned, they were never released. Not even the “approvers” were set free.
During the suppression campaign somewhere around 4500 Thugs were brought to trial. Of this 4500 about 500 were hanged, the remainder sentenced to life in prison, somewhat on display like exotic animals or some kind of attraction. Some who were considered extremely unlucky were branded or tattooed with the word “THUG” and transported in chains and shackles to the worst penal colonies in all of the East Indies.
There is some controversy about whether this group was truly religiously motivated or if they were more crime and greed driven. They used their undying belief in Kali (the Hindu goddess of death and destruction, but also of creation) to justify their behavior and make themselves feel righteous.
The word “thug” comes from the Hindi word “thag” which may quite possibly be derived from the Sanskrit word “sthag” meaning “to conceal”. The earliest reference to Thuggee is in the 14th century. However, most believe that gangs like what Perry encountered were around for about 150-200 years. Some oral traditions, folk tales and legends trace some Thugs back to seven original families from Delhi during the Mongol Empire and the reign of Akbar the Great. Those seven families fell out of favor and good graces of the Emperor. They were cast out and dispersed across the entire subcontinent as punishment.
Generally, the Thugs (even the Muslims among their members) worshipped the Hindu deity Kali. (This is the same group bad guys and the deity they worship in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, ya know, with the glowing sacred stones and the fire pit and all that Kali Ma chanting and ripping out hearts...yeah, that stuff…) The Thuggee group believed their actions were commanded by Kali and that they would not be punished for any of them. Considered to be deeply spiritual and very religious, Thuggees were always on the lookout for signs or omens from their deity Kali. These were usually found in the behavior of animals, like birds and such.
Many of the followers considered their chosen profession a holy and honorable path which was virtually opposite from the dacoits. Although some were born into the life, others would adopt the lifestyle for a year or two in order to make ends meet. Plus, the Thugs had strict rules they were to follow that prohibited them from killing all women and foreigners, members of particular social orders, lepers and people they deemed crippled (presumably out of mercy, at least that’s my guess), goldsmiths, potters, oil venders (probably because they were merchants they needed to do business with), elephant drivers (yes, this is true, likely for the same reason as the merchants) and a plethora of others. (Additionally, in the cases where the followers did kill women, they never disrespected the women before dispatching them.)
The Thugs had definite rituals they would perform before going out on what they deemed as missions. These rituals were usually done in prayer for strength, protection and guidance in the coming journey.
Typically traveling in gangs of ten to forty men for each mission, the followers would sometimes reach numbers up to two hundred in order to complete a mission. At other times, different gangs would band together in order to pursue and achieve a bigger prize. Once the bounty was won, the spoils would be divided evenly amongst the group, which was typically fairly organized with a system and a method for stealing and killing. Their usual pattern would be:
Many times, the gang members would take on new roles or personalities to better fit in with their chosen target or targets, who would more often than not be people who looked like they had something worth taking.
Though there were various methods of murder used throughout the 18th century including hanging and poison, the method of choice became strangulation by the 19th century. As stranglers, they would be known as bhutortes. Assistants to the bhutortes called shumseeas would hold the victim’s limbs during the attack to ensure little struggle.
Finding suppression of the Thugs the perfect reason for trying to settle in India, the British soon used it as the main excuse for what they would deem altruistic means of imposition. Although the Thugs reported never actually attacked the British, they still seemed it necessary to protect themselves from the dangers of the gangs of Thuggee followers and their practices, eventually leading to the dissolution of the Thugs by the late 1830s.
Recently, historians are starting to question just how organized this cult-like group actually was AND exactly how much of a threat they truly were. Just like anything else in history from that long ago, things can get, shall we say…misconstrued, over time. I wonder what the final determination will be.
Thanks for reading!!! More to come!
Okay guys, so here’s the real of my situation. I’m under a stay at home order by my local government, in case you haven’t been reading my new blog section, listening to or watching the news or have been living under a rock for the past seven weeks. All non-essential businesses have been ordered to shut down.
This is also happening on both coasts of the country. This means that nothing is shipping out of the country and nothing is coming in…like comic books, graphic novels and such.
My comic book store has been closed and it looks like it will be through the month of April. Now, I have a HUGE stockpile of comics that I can still read and review. But I won’t be able to get anything new until the owners and I figure out some sort of shipping arrangement or something. My standard pick-up order is fairly extensive so shipping would be rather costly unless it was one of those flat rate box deals.
Anyway, I also cannot go to the movie store and buy any new movies to review. Again, I have a fair amount to still get through and review for you, but with no way of knowing how long this way of life will last, I don’t know when I will be able to replenish my resources. Regular shipping on online shopping and eBay has slowed way down already and if that is going to be the only way to get a lot of things for a while, things might get a little bumpy.
But don’t you worry. I want you guys to have something fun to read and do while you are all cooped up as well. The good news is a lot of the movies I have and choose to review are older and can usually be found online somewhere to watch. I will do my best to try to find links or suggestions of where to find the movies if I can so you can watch while you are asked to stay at home as well.
I also will be doing my best to post as often as I can to keep new content coming. Please keep in mind I am the only one doing everything on this website so have a little patience. I just want to publish the best content I can for you, my readers.
Lastly, I am going to take this moment to extend my deepest wishes to all of you, hoping that you stay safe, stay healthy, take care of yourselves and loved ones. Remember that we are all in this together. We all live in this nation. We all share the burden of responsibility to care for each other and we share the burden of responsibility in the failure of that care. Each of us can and should be doing our part, what is being asked of us, the common sense exercises that will save countless lives. Including yours and mine.
I appreciate ALL of you for being loyal fans. I have some ideas for a new section coming up this month for Horror TV. I hope you guys and gals will get a kick out of the new stuff.
Thank you all so much.
So, please know that I fully understand I very well could be starting a war here with this post. I fully admit from the beginning that I don’t know all the story lines from the beginning and I don’t read every Marvel comic book that comes out. I’m not an X-Men fan and I really only like Wolverine. SO, there’s my disclaimer. So, if you are going to get on the comments section and bitch at me or attack me…take all that into consideration FIRST. Okay? Thank you.
Now, the other day I was watching what I believe to be the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. I was all into it at first. I even recognized Stryker from my Punisher comics. I was diggin’ the whole two brothers thing, fighting side by side through all the years, neither can die. Wicked shit, right? Then, in Vietnam, during the war, they formed a special team under the command of Stryker. At first Jimmy and Victor, ummm…that would be Wolverine and his older brother, are totally down to work for the government, because they believe what they are doing is just and is right. But Victor starts to enjoy killing just a little too much for Jimmy’s taste and Stryker sees this, thus starting to use Victor’s bloodlust as a viable weapon. Jimmy vehemently disagrees with THAT kind of work and chooses to walk away and live a regular life…well, regular for a mutant that is hiding amongst us "Normals".
The team that he leaves behind includes Wade Wilson, our friendly neighborhood Deadpool. Keep in mind that the Marvel Universe is supposed to all mesh together in perfect harmony. Back to the movie…
Wade Wilson is NOT Deadpool yet. He has NOT gotten El Cancer yet. He doesn’t even know Vanessa exists. Okay? You got that? That’s important shit. Right now, in this movie, he’s just a badass assassin. Alright?
Now, Wolverine is the product of Stryker’s experiment called Weapon X, where they infused his skeleton with Adamantium, making him visually indestructible. That’s Wolverine…Weapon X. It actually means Weapon 10, but since young people these days don’t know what Roman numerals are, it’s just like with iPhone X, they called it iPhone “ex” instead of iPhone “ten”. But that’s him.
Weapon Ten = Weapon X = Wolverine…got it?
Later on, in the movie, Stryker says he has taken all of the mutants’ powers and none of their weaknesses and put them all into one weapon…Weapon XI (that’s weapon 11 young peeps)…which happens to be…wait for it…Wade Wilson.
Now, here is where we get to my MAJOR issue in the Marvel Universe. In this Origins film, Wolverine and Victor BOTH have to fight the new mutant Wade Wilson, who interestingly no longer has a mouth (not funny, Wade’s sarcastic jokes and smart mouth are two of his best qualities). So, now, in this origins film, he’s already been mutated, he’s got no mouth AND he dies.
So how in the holy hell does he ever meet Vanessa, get cancer, go to the superhero mutant clinic (wink, wink) and become Deadpool???? How is this even possible???
Does someone want to nicely explain this to me? Am I the ONLY one who has noticed this incredible plot flaw? You superfans have to have either noticed this inconsistency or have the answers to the perplexing plot mistake.
I have to say, until this is explained with some real reason to where it makes actual sense, I have lost sooooo much faith and respect in Marvel. Which sucks because I’m not that much of a DC fan. But, completely mutating and killing off a character and then bringing them back for their own series is just insulting to my intelligence.
Unless there is a viable explanation as to how Wade survives the nuclear cooling tower collapse, along with all the wounds from Wolverine and Victor, regains his mouth and becomes a non-mutant again…
Need to look it up? Go ahead, I’ll wait…
… … … …
Yeah, I think that’s gonna take a while. You’ll let me know though, won’t you?
I thought so. Thank you.
As you all know, a while back I posted an article about how the makers of The Walking Dead had their boxers in a bunch because the guys at The Toking Dead were, and I’m paraphrasing here, going to cause confusion among consumers between the brands AND that the guys at The Toking Dead were, in their minds, making money off of The Walking Dead success and riding their coattails, so to speak.
I have to be honest, ever since I found out about this, it hasn’t left my mind. Now, I don’t usually use my website as a forum to spout my opinions from a soapbox but, I am truly just in shock that this whole thing is even going to trial.
When I posted that first article, I felt compelled to voice my disapproval and frankly, my disgust for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I still believe in free enterprise, which I consider to be one of the vital cores of the foundation of this country. Second, I found the allegations against The Toking Dead were not only petty but, outright ridiculous once I read the complaint myself. Third, I am a HUGE supporter of small business. I like to support the little guy and, in all actuality, I tend to keep my money pretty local, because for the most part, I want my money to go back into my community.
When I found out that the guys were being sued because of their name The Toking Dead, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How many products do we see day in and day out that have similar names and do similar things or have similar content? It’s called a competitive market.
In my original article I used an analogy to try to get people to stop thinking of this as strictly ZOMBIE related or strictly MARIJUANA related. We are too intelligent of a species to allow ourselves to focus a decision on a LEGAL matter based solely on our personal feelings about the subject at hand. I feel that, in the horror community (and please, correct me if I’m wrong), zombies are a very personal issue to a lot of fans. It’s almost like one of those things where you either love it or you don’t. I feel that although we’ve come a long way in a number of states, the general consensus about marijuana is still a very heated topic for people as well. It seems you have to be on one side of the line or the other, you either fully support or you don’t.
I decided to use soda (pop, to some of you folks) as a general product of replacement to take the personal fire out of the equation. The fact is, common sense doesn’t really exist anymore, so I don’t address common sense as much as I used to. But logic DOES exist, we have proof after proof of logic in math and in science. So, I tried to apply LOGIC to the situation, instead of emotion. And yet, to my amazement, what I considered to be logical in this situation seemed to go unacknowledged by the complainant’s representative in this matter. I’ll get to that in a minute. But it became clear to me that this law suit was not about LOGIC and more about ego and money, if anything.
Shortly after I posted that article the guys at The Toking Dead were very appreciative (and continue to remain so, by the way) and asked if I would be willing to submit a witness statement for their defense in what I consider to be this ridiculous legal battle. I said I would and after reading the plaintiff’s claim (which is public record once it’s filed people), I spent a couple of days working up my statement. I sent it to them and they were once again very grateful, kind and beyond appreciative. My statement basically consisted of my article, altered to be appropriate for a legal document, with some additions about myself, my opinion and I even submitted pictures to refute the plaintiff’s claims. Of course, I had to include my personal contact information as well. This was going to the other side’s attorneys.
Well, lo and behold, not but a few days after my name is submitted as one that will be preparing a witness statement, a lawyer from the plaintiff called me directly. He had NOT gotten my statement yet, which WAS on the way to him, yet he still felt the need to call and “touch base” (as if we are on the same side) and see what I was going to be testifying to. I told him pretty much my witness statement word for word, because truth be told, I have a pretty damn good memory, especially when I wrote it myself.
Now, this lawyer was nice enough, polite, clearly not trying to intimidate me or anything, just wanting to ask me some questions. I don’t know if he recorded this conversation. Usually the law requires that you inform someone if the conversation will be recorded, but I just assumed he was because lawyers like to record things, especially to go back and make notes. I also don’t know if he was truly just asking me questions or if he was interviewing me now in the hopes that when he got my statement there where be contradictions. Who knows? But I grew up around law enforcement and that included lawyers so, I kind of knew what to expect. But what else can I say except what I put in my statement?
Regardless, I felt it odd and premature for him to call me when he hadn’t even read my statement yet. He went on to tell me that the basis of the lawsuit was specifically about the Mark (Trademark) The Toking Dead being too similar to the Mark The Walking Dead and that it will cause confusion. He asked me outright if I thought with the two names being so similar, did I think that it would cause confusion, with it being ‘The’ and then a word with ‘ing’ and then ‘Dead’. I had to almost chuckle as I said, “No, are you confused between Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola?” He repeated his question if I thought it was confusing. Again, I said no and thought to myself, “how many different ways are you going to make me say it, it’s not gonna change the meaning no matter how you try to get me to change the words. I’ll still pick words that mean what I’m wanting to say.” (Insert eyeroll here)
Also, when I started talking about the content in the comics, which is specifically stated item by item in the plaintiff’s complaint, he maintained that that was not part of the lawsuit and that wasn’t a concern. Well, if it’s not a concern then why is it mentioned in the complaint? I think if I’m supplying you with a witness statement of my opinion as to the asinine claims of YOUR client, I think I should be allowed to address anything I deem relevant, including what was cited in the complaint against The Toking Dead. I also mentioned that the logos are anything BUT similar. He didn’t think that was important. I basically asked him that if they are worried about confusion, wouldn’t it start at the sight of the logo on a particular product? He quickly moved on.
Now remember, this guy called ME. I didn’t call him. He wanted to talk to me. I didn’t seek him out. He wanted to ask ME questions. I was raised that if you ask a person a question, you let them answer it completely. You don’t know what they are thinking so you don’t know when they are done speaking on the issue. He seemed to think that HE was going to tell ME what was important enough for him to hear. Oh no no no, my friend.
Rule #1 of talking to me…don’t ask my opinion if you don’t really want it, because it might not be something you want to hear.
I don’t think this lawyer liked what I had to say. And I think that he started the conversation with a certain air about him because he was talking to what I think he presumed to be just some comic book fan. I don’t think he was prepared for the fact that I had much more knowledge, education and experience than what he thought. There were a few times I seemed to catch him off guard with my responses.
After we got off the phone, the subject still seemed to continue to eat at me and eat at me.
How is it that after getting approved for the Mark, these Walking Dead guys can come in and say they shouldn’t have it? The Toking Dead guys went through every correct and legal channel I’m aware of in order to get the Mark. Which I have had to experience myself with a personal business in the family. I witnessed the process of getting the Trademark and Copyright to secure your intellectual property. And even then, our images were stolen and published under someone else’s name.
But here’s the thing…we didn’t have the money to sue the creeps who were using our actual images. AND THAT is real Trademark and Copyright infringement. It wasn’t like they did something similar. They straight stole the intellectual property and printed it and made money on it. Probably still are to this day. All we could do was send a Cease and Desist letter and hope that they stopped. Because we didn’t have millions to intimidate and drive them away, the thousands it would have cost to go through the legal process when we were just starting out in our business. Eventually, we ended up liquidating the business.
The makers of The Walking Dead don’t even have THAT to base their case on. They are complaining about a name, a moniker. Something that is still be all measures, unique to them, just as The Toking Dead is unique to the guys there. And that’s how the government agencies saw it. So, the Mark was granted. Now the makers of The Walking Dead are trying to corner the zombie market in every sense of the phrase.
On the flip side, “The Walking Dead” has been a general term to describe zombies since at least 1968. And they think they coined this phrase. To me it’s descriptive…and that’s what I told the lawyer. When I hear The Walking Dead, I think it to be too general of a term referring to zombies as a whole and therefore cannot be argued as their own corner on the zombie market.
I mean, let’s look at the dictionary definition of zombie.
1 a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft,
especially in certain African and Caribbean religions.
• (in popular fiction) a person or reanimated corpse [this would mean a corpse brought back to life] that has been turned into a creature capable of movement [capable of walking, reaching, touching, grabbing, etc.] but not of rational thought [braindead], feeds on human flesh = THE WALKING CORPSE THAT IS BRAINDEAD
In other words, a walking dead body…hence, the walking dead. So how can these guys think that just because they called a comic book series and a tv series The Walking Dead that that phrase is somehow so specific to them, their product, their content and their intellectual property, that it lost its GENERAL descriptive purpose, which has existed longer than they have?
Now I know this probably doesn’t seem like me and it probably sounds repetitive. But you have to understand. This corporate conglomerate is trying to stifle the free speech and creativity of a smaller company. They are trying to bury these guys under a mountain of paperwork in the form of motions and depositions and statements. They are forcing the guys to use capital defending their already approved Mark instead of allowing them to put those funds into their business. They are using up hours and hours, days and days of time that the guys could be creating, selling, educating, building their own brand. And yet they claim that The Toking Dead is somehow getting rich and fat off of THEIR zombie idea, which is not even really their idea…I mention that in my first article. (I’ll put a link to it down at the bottom.)
Just imagine what the soda industry would be like if Coca-Cola had been allowed to continue to drive out any competitor with “cola” in their name. Think about all the cheaper brands that we grew up on that wouldn’t have been there if Coca-Cola had been allowed to corner that market. Coke would be the only cola brand. No Pepsi. No RC (Royal Crown). No Sam’s or Shasta. Just Coke. And they would have been able to charge whatever the market would allow because they would be the only cola product. Imagine that. How much would you pay for a Coke when it was the only cola product on the market???
If that had been allowed, we’d have only one version of everything, one brand, one choice. That’s not capitalism. That’s not free enterprise. And that surely isn’t the American Dream that so many come to this country looking for.
So now go back to zombies. How boring would the horror genre be if we only had The Walking Dead’s interpretation of zombies? Only Bram Stoker’s version of Dracula. Only one version of a werewolf movie. No other slasher films except Halloween.
The whole world of the horror genre is built on those who had ideas before the ones now. Those previous creators inspired and motivated others to develop a love for the genre and want to be a part of it. In order to do that, you take things that have ghosts and ghouls, zombies and monsters, vampires and werewolves, the evil and the dark, and you build something with it. You create something that you hope will entertain the masses.
Imagine if John Carpenter had come to Wes Craven and said, “Nope, you can’t make a horror movie where the killer wears a mask and uses a knife. I did that. That’s mine. I’m suing you.” The entire horror community would have been appalled and Carpenter would have looked like a petulant child acting like an ass…hmmmmm, remind you of any recent behaviors? But Carpenter realized that it was a general idea and that anyone could use it and build on it and still create something that the community could love.
Rest assured that in the horror community there are enough customers for every type of zombie, every type of monster, every kind of demon and psycho, every sort of paranormal activity. There’s plenty of customers to go around. Fact of the matter is, you can’t please everyone with just one product.
I’m a perfect example. I never jumped on The Walking Dead bandwagon. Haven’t read a comic or seen one episode of it. But, it’s not hard to figure out the story. Yet, I love the whole idea behind The Toking Dead. I felt it was finally a fresh and new take on zombies, another thing I included in my conversation with Mr. Briefcase.
Bottom line is, to be so greedy, so arrogant, so stingy and so narrowminded as to try to crush a fellow member of the very horror society you have made billions off of, just seems so over the top to me. It is more like bullying out the little guys. I can’t abide that. That’s why we have laws against allowing people monopolies in business. We NEED competition in business. As consumers we deserve options, choices. We need competition in life. It’s what pushes us to go farther, be better, try harder, be more creative.
It’s such a shame that instead of being happy for the guys at The Toking Dead as fellow horror lovers, these millionaires are pissed that they are even in business. To me it’s like the equivalent to a race being run and although The Walking Dead finished first, they are still sore that they had to work at the win because they weren’t the only ones competing. It’s like they’d be bitter that they had to run the race in the first place, like it should just be known that they are the best and no one should ever come along and try to test that. And that my friends, is just the worst way to be.
There’s always someone better than you and there’s always someone worse. And even if you do make it to the best that is only permanent as long as you continue to earn it and work for it. Best is only temporary if you just sit on it and don’t strive to be better.
Now that I have gotten everything out of my system, I’m going to end this with a shout out to the guys and their crew at The Toking Dead. I know they have tons of support and I just hope that this whole mess works out for them. I admire their willingness to fight against the big guys and I respect not only that, but I respect what they do and why.
MUCH LOVE TO MY FRIENDS AT THE TOKING DEAD!!!!
For my original article click the link below:
So, it seems the creators of The Walking Dead think they should have some kind of corner on the entire “zombie” market. I have remained in contact with the makers of The Toking Dead ever since I received their first issue, which I thought was fantastic. Yesterday, Jeff Homan, co-creator with Benjamin Bartlett, brought to my attention an article that had posted on digboston.com. You can find the article HERE.
It seems that TWD creators are alleging that because TTD has a zombie theme it is too close to the theme of their content and will basically, create confusion amongst the masses. I have to say this has to be the dumbest thing I think I may have heard all year.
Let’s first address the fact that Homan and Bartlett applied for and received all patent and copyright approvals from the appropriate government agencies BEFORE publishing their comic. Now, if their idea had been considered too close to TWD, they never would have gotten approval for those. Period, the end. But wait, there’s more.
The Walking Dead is centered around zombies coming after humans and attacking them during the very common idea of a zombie apocalypse. It also has the age-old idea of the surviving humans banning together in small tribes with the idea that within each tribe they hold their own set of laws and morals. Now, if you want my HONEST opinion…
TWD people stole the zombie idea from George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and modernized it, then combined it with a modernization of Lord of the Flies. SO NOT ORIGINAL.
Now, as far as I’m aware, this is the first comic book that fuses cannabis and zombies together in this particular fashion. THAT is ORIGINAL. This comic series in NOT just about smoking pot and a bunch of zombies running rampant and biting people. Homan and Bartlett know that one very excellent way to communicate AND educate is through an entertainment medium. They are passionate advocates for the medicinal benefits of cannabis and truly felt that a comic book would be a better medium for informing the masses than some dry old boring textbook of sorts.
But let’s get to THE REAL abhorrent nature of this lawsuit. How about we put it into a formula EVERYONE can understand. Not pot related.
We all know about the huge soda conglomerate, the Coca-Cola Company, introduced in 1886. We also all know they aren’t the only cola product out there, although they WERE the first (unlike The Walking Dead with their zombies). In the 1980s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola went head to head, spending millions of dollars in advertising campaigns in what were called “The Rock and Roller Cola Wars” to prove who had the best product. At the same time, products like Shasta Cola (1960s), RC Cola (Royal Crown Cola around since 1906), and Sam’s Choice Cola (1990s) were all on the market while Coke and Pepsi continued to battle it out. Yet, I need you to notice one major thing.
THEY ARE ALL COLA DRINKS.
Coca-Cola tried to do the same thing by suing other cola companies claiming that because they used “cola” in the name that it would be too confusing and ruin their sales. Unfortunately, there were a lot of underdogs that lost that ridiculous fight.
But these are new times. I hope that people nowadays are more rational in realizing that this is truly a ridiculous lawsuit, probably aimed at depleting time, money and further resources to push the little guy out of the market.
But here’s the thing. First off, these guys don’t want in TWD’s market. They aren’t in this for the money and if you read the article you will see that they only make $2 on every issue printed. They also go to trade shows and fundraisers, and that is coming out of THEIR pockets, NOT profit, I guarantee you.
Unless you’ve worked in trade show business, you have NO CLUE what it costs just to get a booth at those places, let alone get any kind of advertising in their show brochures, etc. Then, you have to add the cost of travel, inventory, hotel stays, food expenses, paying people who work for you there, their expenses…it just goes on and on. If you want the Union guys to haul pallets in for you, that costs money, a couple thousand dollars actually. If you want carpet in your booth, that costs money, again a couple thousand. If you want the convention to provide a sound system or A/V equipment, put drapes on your booth tables, that costs money, and again, it's thousands. Then, you have to understand that these guys are finding TOP QUALITY artists to work with them on their issues. By the time it’s all over, these guys are probably just barely keeping their heads above water just wanting to get information out in a more appealing way, they’re not making any money off of anyone’s coattails (as TWD is claiming). I’m wondering if these guys are making any money at all. From what I can tell, they are passionate advocates and they love what they do.
Now, if there IS someone that should probably get sued here, maybe it should be TWD people for doing a modern-day rip-off of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Or am I the only one who has put the basic premises of these two stories together like that??? Maybe I’m just the only one not caught up in the hype of the masses. I tend to think that if EVERYONE is on the bandwagon about something (anything), that’s usually my cue to step back and re-evaluate for myself, get my OWN thoughts.
(Side note: Believe it or not the FIRST actual zombie film ever made was in 1932 called White Zombie by Victor Halperin.)
So, I ask you? Should everyone who ever made anything zombie related be sued by Halperin’s heirs because it “might cause confusion”??? Or do you think there might be enough zombie material for everyone. Besides, Homan and Bartlett were at least creative and did something different. How many times do we need a typical zombie apocalypse theme before people get over the hoopla?
I’m a staunch supporter of small business and indie filmmakers and writers. I’m also pro-marijuana. I am also for free enterprise as that is the cornerstone of our economy. We have laws to prevent monopolies to keep big bad Goliath-like money wranglers such as Coca-Cola and TWD from pushing out the Davids of the world like The Toking Dead and RC Cola (which by the way, tasted so close to real Coke you couldn’t tell a difference.)
If TWD gets away with this, even though the guys went through all the proper channels and got approval for everything, they’ll continue to go after ANYONE who has any idea that involves zombies that walk. That is just too broad of a spectrum to sue someone over and much too broad of a market to try to corner. These guys need to get over themselves and realize that they’ve made so much money already and that these Toking Dead guys aren’t going to affect that.
I mean, when did you last hear about Nordstrom’s complaining about Macy’s or Wal-Mart selling clothes too and that it was going to confuse their customers and impact sales??? Nordstrom’s doesn’t give a shit what Macy’s or Wal-Mart does. And vice versa. And do you know why? Because they know those stores aren’t cutting into their sales. Sure, it’s clothes. But it’s a different kind of customer, there’s different brands, etc. Just like this is a zombie comic but a different kind of comic, with different details and quirks.
Look, in the retail market there are all kinds of customers. That means there’s plenty to go around for everyone who wants to put in the work and effort to service THOSE customers. Obviously, The Toking Dead has found a client base that TWD hasn’t tapped and now won’t be able to. Poor babies. But they really should back off and realize that they didn’t create the zombie idea, they don’t own the zombie idea and they can’t corner the zombie idea.
Much love to my awesome friends and crew at The Toking Dead!!!
In 1964 there was a brutal double attack on a young woman named Kitty Genovese that resulted in her death. The attack was not covered in the press for around two weeks and when it finally got some ink, it was grossly misreported. This crime and the behavior of witnesses reported by the newspapers led professionals in the psychology community to conduct a number of experiments to determine what went wrong in the response of bystanders and why people seem to be so reluctant to help in such situations.
Kitty was born Catherine Susan Genovese on July 7, 1935. She was kind of a wild Italian girl at times with a confident attitude and a pleasant disposition. She lived with her parents and then her grandparents all the way up until she got married in 1954 at age 29. But, the marriage was short lived and was annulled towards the end of that same year.
She moved in her own apartment in Brooklyn and worked clerical jobs, which she didn’t like, until the late 1950s when she found a job as a bartender. While working behind the bar, she also made money on the side as a bookie. Unfortunately, she got busted for this in 1961 with her girlfriend, Dee Guarnieri. They each had to pay a $50 fine and Kitty lost her job.
She quickly got another bartending job and soon she was managing the place because apparently, the owner was hardly ever there. This allowed her to work a lot of overtime. She saved as much money as she could and planned to open her own Italian restaurant.
On March 13, 1964 at about 2:30am, Kitty left Ev’s Eleventh Hour Bar where she worked and headed home to her apartment that she shared with her girlfriend at the time, Mary Ann Zielonko, whom she met sometime in 1963. Genovese arrived home at around 3:15am. She parked her car in the apartment complex parking lot which was about 100ft from her apartment building’s front door. She exited her vehicle and began to walk to her building.
At this point a man with a knife approached her. When Kitty saw him she started running towards her building and the man gave chase, running after her. He quickly caught up to her. Once he got her, he rapidly overpowered her and thrust his blade into her back twice. Kitty screamed in pain, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!”
A number of people heard her cry out but, only a few identified the sound as a cry for help. One of her neighbors, a gentleman by the name of Robert Mozer, even yelled at the attacker trying to scare him off and it worked. Once Mozer hollered, “Let that girl alone!” the attacker ran off leaving Genovese seriously injured and to fend for herself. She made her way toward the back of the building at a snail’s pace. At this point, she is bleeding profusely and quickly losing strength. She is also now in a more secluded area, out of the view of any witnesses.
This is when witnesses say they saw the perpetrator enter his vehicle and leave the scene only to return 10 minutes later. This time he was wearing a hat with a wide brim. This allowed him to obscure his face from any onlookers. He began to carefully and systematically search the area for Kitty. Eventually, he found her. She was lying nearly unconscious in a back hallway at the rear of her apartment building. To her heartbreak and dismay, once she had reached the building, a locked door had forbidden her from entering to safety.
Now out of earshot and eyesight of any and all would-be onlookers good samaritans, the attacker proceeded to stab Kitty Genovese several more times. Then, in a very cold and brutal act of savagery, he raped her as she lay there bleeding to death and crying. Once he was finished defiling this terrified young woman, he added insult to injury by taking $49 from her wallet and then bolted off like a coward.
The vicious attacks on Ms. Genovese spanned the period of about a half an hour, during which time defensive wounds suggest that Kitty put up a hell of a struggle as she fought the assailant for her life. In the end, one of Kitty’s neighbors, a Ms. Sophia Farrar, found her a brief time after the second attack and held Genovese in her arms until emergency services arrived.
Kitty Genovese was put in an ambulance at 4:15am. She died on the way to the hospital.
Almost a week later, on March 19, a guy by the name of Winston Moseley was picked up for being suspected for robbery when the cops found a TV set in the trunk of his white Chevrolet Corvair. At the time, a detective remembered that a white car had been reported as being seen leaving the scene of the Genovese murder just a week before.
Once the interrogation started, Moseley admitted not only to killing Kitty Genovese but, also to killing two other women, Annie Mae Johnson, who he had shot and burned to her death in her apartment a few weeks prior and Barbara Kralik, who was murdered in her parents’ home in July the previous year.
Moseley had been sitting in his car when he spotted Genovese driving home. He had seen her as she was stopped at a stoplight. He began to follow her home and when she arrived and parked her car, he parked his car a little ways away, armed himself with his hunting knife and began to pursue her on foot.
Two weeks after the Genovese murder happened, it FINALLY made headlines. If it hadn’t been for the NYPD Commissioner making a comment about the murder to an editor of the NY Times, this story might not have made the papers hardly at all.
However, when the papers did get around to reporting the horrifying tragedy, they got it all kinds of screwed up. Whether it was for the purpose of selling papers or whether they were just that bad at getting the facts straight, both are something that I can make a case for either way.
The papers stated that thirty-seven people stood by and watched this sadistic attack go down and nobody did anything to help. Once word of THAT got around people were even MORE horrified with what had happened. It’s bad enough that a young lady would lose her life in such a callus and heinous way but, for all those people to just stand by and watch, to look out their windows and stare and do nothing. To open their doors and see a woman in such desperate need of help and turn around, close the door and go back to what they were doing before they heard the blood curdling screams.
Another thing in the news report that people seemed to really focus on was a quote of a witness that stated “I didn’t want to get involved.” Many saw this as a clear representation of the decaying sense of care from one common human to another and the lack of empathy throughout large cities across the country, specifically New York.
In reality, there were at least two phone calls to the police, a man that yelled at the assailant and a woman that held the victim until help arrived. At the time this incident happened there was no established centralized emergency services number, so 911 didn’t exist. What people did was dial ‘0’ for the Operator and ask for the Police, hoping they weren’t too busy to transfer you in your time of need. Hardly an efficient way to render aid to someone who is having a heart attack or being stabbed several times and raped in the back of an apartment building.
In 1968, 911 officially became the national emergency services number for the United States. And it would not have happened had it not been for the Kitty Genovese murder case.
Research on the behavior of the witnesses was also a result of this case. It came to be known as “the bystander effect”. The most basic definition of this social psychological phenomenon is the more people that are around when an emergency situation presents itself, the less likely those people are to render aid themselves or make effort to seek aid for the person in need. Amazingly, there is a lot more psychologically to it than just how many people are around.
Research found that a number of factors go into the decision making process of whether or not to become someone’s hero in their time of despair. Some of the elements that influence the decision are things you would naturally think of, others not so much.
For instance, not only does the number of people around the bystander affect whether or not they will help (or even consider the event an emergency, we tend to base OUR reactions off of the reactions of others when we are in groups so, if everyone in the group doesn’t acknowledge an emergency, chances are we won’t either or will take longer to step up and do so) but, whether or not we have things in common with the person in need can play a part in it as well.
Say you are at a pro football game. The majority of the crowd is in the home team’s jerseys, t-shirts and game gear. The fans that support the visiting team are proudly sporting their jerseys and such as well. You have a great time and your home team wins. You’re feeling happy and lighthearted as you walk to the parking lot to leave. As you exit the stadium, you see a man and a woman. They are down on the ground. There is some stumbling, some struggling to get up, a few unintelligible words and arms flailing. You see spilled beer and empty cups. And you see the opposing team’s jerseys. As you as you walk by, what do you do???
If you are like the majority of the human race, you would most likely look with curiosity, perhaps strain to hear or even take your phone out to video the incident and continue walking. Many would assume that this was likely two drunk fans that after watching their team lose for over three hours, probably knocked a few too many back and now these chuckleheads can’t stand up on their own. It might never even occur to you that this could be a domestic dispute or an intoxicated woman in trouble trying to flee or even a man being attacked by a sloshed date that he wishes he had cancelled.
However, had they been wearing the home team’s jerseys we would have been much more likely to at least stop and watch to see the event unfold, to see if there was an emergency, to see if help was needed. We would have seen that jersey as a symbol of a teammate, a comrade, a friend. The opposing jersey would have psychologically represented an enemy. After all, we did just watch over three hours of a total sanctioned war being played out on a field in the model of a true just society. (Look, football is the model for true justice if you think about it. I mean in theory, people. There’s a specific set of rules and everyone knows them. There’s people there to monitor that the rules are followed. And the moment someone breaks the rules, a swift and just punishment is handed out and it’s the same for that infraction pretty much every time. JUSTICE.) Likewise, we are more apt to help people we feel have similar likes, lifestyles, opinions, etc. Especially psychologically as we seem to always have this “us vs. them” mentality when it comes to difference of opinion.
Next, people are always afraid to “get involved”. It can be for a number of reasons. At the time of the crime people are often scared of being hurt themselves or that their aid will hinder rather than help. (We rarely think that we are qualified to help in an emergency.) In women’s defense classes they sometimes teach to yell, “Fire!” instead of, “Rape!” because people are so much more likely to come to look at the horrors of a blazing person or building and so much less likely to intervene on a violent sexual assault. (That’s messed up, seriously. That’s just plain horrible and disgusting, thinking that carnage garners more curiosity than cries for help garner aid. Humans can be so heartlessly morbid sometimes.)
People are often afraid of the police and don’t want to talk to them. We often get nervous around police or maybe look at them a little sideways, perhaps. They also don’t want to have the police coming back to their home over and over to ask questions, thinking it looks bad to neighbors. They don’t want the publicity of their names in the papers or their faces on the news and these days, everything is online first. They are reluctant to be part of a trial. That’s a big one. Everyone knows that when you become a witness for a trial, your opposing side is going to try their hardest to discredit you and rip you to shreds. It takes a lot to sit in that witness chair and go through the criminal event, what you know and then for THEM to go through what they now know about you. And as a witness, yeah your side can object but, two things you gotta know. One, the jury still hears it and remembers it, even when they are told to forget it and two, there are no WITNESS shield laws (like the rape shield laws that protect rape victims) that protect you from being exposed, exploited, hounded, followed, vilified, embarrassed, whatever they want to do to make you look like a bad witness.
Now, I don’t want you to take this as set in stone. As with pretty much all research, for every study showing one conclusion, you can find one showing the opposite. Such is true for this topic as well. There are studies in later years that have concluded that the number of people around when an emergency occurs does NOT affect whether or not someone will help. I would like to point out though, that these studies were done after the year 2000 and all research concluding the former was done prior to pretty much 1990.
In addition to all of that, despite the facts being proven to be different than that of the story in the papers, that exaggerated tale is STILL the account that is used in psychology textbooks everywhere to this day. It is used more as a parable now rather than represented as fact but, that is RARELY noted in the texts and students are led to believe the fictitious account is the truth.
We live in a different time now. In the 60s, nobody was opposed to minding their own business and even the President was given latitude with his personal indiscretions not being printed in the daily paper or read on the morning news like they are now. In fact, White House aides used to call reporters and tell them things like you’re gonna find out that the President was out at a certain hotel this evening with a certain young lady. He’d really appreciate it if you didn’t print that tomorrow and for your discretion he’ll give you exclusive access to BLANK, or whatever the appropriate offer of thanks would be. Nowadays, there is no reasonable expectancy of right to privacy with all the technology we have. Privacy is a reasonable right that has been turned into a variable myth. As such, our behavior out in the open changes as well as behind closed doors.
In the wake of so many mass shootings and the rise of outward violence hitting our streets once again, we tend to be somewhat desensitized to horrors that confront us every day. In fact, I just found out today that a man who murdered one of my close friends and my friend’s girlfriend in high school, and was acquitted, was just found guilty of five robbery/homicides in my city that he committed almost five years ago. I had been following the case rather closely hoping he wouldn’t escape justice this time. And yet, the news was presented the same way the rest of the news is presented, with the same emotional void or fake emotion, the same lack of realization that there are real people behind these headlines, real victims.
We all want to think that we know what we would do or how we would react in certain high risk/high stress situations. And while we HAVE grown in some ways as a society, we still lack the general cohesiveness that pushes us to look out for a fellow stranger in addition to our family, friends and loved ones. As these mass shootings and other horrific events continue to take place we see that there ARE people that are willing to help people they don’t know, willing to put themselves in harm’s way to render aid in times of need and emergency. And we see that even within an average, everyday person can emerge the greatest of heroes. People who don’t care what is viewed as right or wrong, what is being filmed or not, and what credit they would get or what fame would be given. They help because they are there, they can and someone needs it. And when it comes down to it, isn’t that really what it should be about?
Now that Charles Manson is dead, some of the mystique of his persona has fizzled out. We no longer see his past interviews played over and over again on television every time the anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders comes up, every time one of the followers dies, or every time one of the remaining Manson women in prison gets put up for parole. Slowly but surely, Charlie Manson is becoming a thing of the past.
With more important crimes and criminals facing the country and the globe today, Manson is hardly what I would describe as the criminal mastermind he’s been made out to be over the past oh, fifty years. Over the decades, with the help of Vincent Bugliosi and the constant retelling of the Helter Skelter theory, Manson has been portrayed as one of the greatest, smartest, most conniving and carefully manipulative cult leaders ever to walk the earth.
I maintain this is a myth. I submit to you that Charles Manson is no more than a two-bit hood with a severe inferiority complex and a major insecurity issue compounded by an ego that was blown into massive proportions. ALL of which drove him to be the incredibly weak schmuck that ended up in prison pretty much his whole life. Can I back up this theory? Oh, you bet I can.
I have long been interested in Charles Manson. Ever since I was in single digit ages. His was the first cult I ever heard of. I found it absolutely baffling that anybody would follow this jackass anywhere. So, I had to learn more. And over the course of MY lifetime, I feel I finally found enough information that I can generally explain who the REAL Charlie was. And he was far from a genius criminal mastermind. But, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
We have been led by Manson himself to believe a number of things about his birth and early childhood. These things were gathered from interviews Manson gave throughout his incarceration AFTER being sentenced for his commanding role in the Tate-LaBianca murders. We as the American public are supposed to believe the following: that Manson was born in 1934 as No-Name Maddox to his young prostitute mother, Kathleen Maddox. We have been told by Manson himself that he never had any family and that he was abused from an early age and was never loved by his mother. He has said that the only home he has ever known is a prison cell or a reformatory dorm room. He has repeatedly blasted the system for beating, cutting, whipping, molesting, raping, starving him, anything and everything horrible that you can imagine, Manson said it happened to him as a child, and it happened in the confines of OUR youth and adult penal systems.
Charlie has gone on in filmed interviews to explain that since his parents were a jailhouse and abuse, we as a society should expect nothing less than what we got as a result in him. For decades Manson spun a long winded tale about how he was abused and neglected by every person at every turn in his life. How he never got a break. How nobody ever cared about him or loved him or tried to help him. He constantly fed us the “oh poor me” pity party and expected a rough and troubled upbringing to be the end all be all excuse for every bad act he ever perpetrated on anyone throughout the entirety of his life.
The truth is, from his own mouth in a book that he wrote with Nuel Emmons, Manson In His Own Words, that Charlie’s childhood and adolescence, while tough and not perfect, was not near as bad as he made it out to be. The fact is that Manson repeatedly bolstered and embellished, and often outright lied, about his past in order to “justify” his actions or words.
After reading the above book cover to cover, watching countless interviews with Manson so many times I could probably repeat them to you verbatim, reading Bugliosi’s book Helter Skeltertwice and watching every documentary and fact-based movie I could find, I found that Charles Milles Manson was no more than a frightened, scraggly, insecure little man who hated himself so much he felt he had no choice but to build himself up with lies until he believed them himself.
Manson was a man filled with self-hatred and self-contempt. He felt deep down inside that he was an insignificant human being. He saw himself as nothing, which he stated in his book many times. The psychotic, wild-eyed killer persona that he embodied for the last 50+ years was an act, a role that he played and perfected for the cameras, the courts, the followers and the onlookers, all intended to distract and conceal the fact that he really had almost no self-confidence, self-esteem or self-worth.
So, let’s look at this horrible childhood he had. Charlie has repeatedly stated in interviews that he had no family, that his mother was a prostitute, that he was given away to a pimp to pay a debt, that he was beaten and raped. He even stated that his first sexual experience was in a juvenile reformatory when he was molested by a fellow young male detainee and it didn’t bother him. Thus, he became the perpetrator in violating other boys during his time in such places as a youngster.
The truth is, Charlie was born to fifteen-year-old prostitute Kathleen Maddox on November 12, 1934. Initially, yes, he was No-Name Maddox. That was only until Kathleen gave him a name. Standard law, not to mention common sense, dictates that a name MUST NOT be left blank on a birth certificate, whether one has been chosen at the time the document is typed up or not. Since Kathleen had not chosen a name yet, No-Name was inserted until one was provided. Within weeks he was given the name of Charles Milles Maddox. However, Charlie used this temporary space filler as an attempt to tug at the heartstrings of the American public from the moment he knew the information, using it as an example of proof that he was unwanted and unloved from the moment he was born.
Next, Charlie was not abandoned by his mother and given to a pimp for a debt. Charlie spent a good portion of his childhood, when he wasn’t breaking the law, with his grandmother (Kathleen’s mother). She cared for him and loved him just as any grandmother would. This is not to say that she didn’t have rules, wasn’t strict at times and didn’t punish him. While there is a lot of information about his childhood and the life he had with his mother, her drinking and running around with different men, it seems that Kathleen DID try at many times to give Charles as normal of a life as she could in her destitute circumstances.
She married a man before he was born, which was where the Manson last name came from, in an effort to give her newborn son some semblance of a family life. When he screwed up, she tried to follow through with the punishment the law set for him. Although she made many mistakes and fell into countless drinking binges and bad choices of lovers, it is clear that she did make effort in her moments of clarity to do right by her boy. There were quite a few times that Kathleen would take Charlie back into her custody after she would get released from incarceration but, her freedom and their time together would often be short lived.
So, fast forward thirty years. Charlie, by this time, spent approximately seventeen of his thirty years of life in boy’s homes, reformatories, jails and prisons. It is over the course of these seventeen years that Charlie used his time in incarceration to educate himself at the “Crime University” as it is sometimes called. Prisons are well known for being breeding grounds for making criminals better criminals. I mean, let’s face it. If they were good at what they did they wouldn’t have gotten busted and ended up in the slam to begin with. So, they often trade tales and tips, hoping to learn something from each other and their mistakes. This can be true and not true. In Charlie’s case, it was both.
On one hand, while incarcerated he was able to learn various things that made him better able to move about in the free world and function easier in and out of prison. In his book, Manson boasted that he wanted to learn how to be a pimp, that he idolized the ones he met in prison and that he wanted that kind of power and access to money and girls. This isn’t what I would consider a lofty aspiration, even for a career criminal. Still, he spent all his time with these characters, talking to them, asking them questions. He learned all he could about turning girls out, how to control them, how to exploit their weaknesses. This would be the beginning of his lessons as to the art of the con and what it would take to be a cult leader. On the other hand, Charlie remained fairly inept at thievery and his many other crime endeavors. Perhaps he wasn’t an outstanding pupil in all subjects, only pimpology.
Although I don’t believe Manson actually actively set out with the intent of being a cult leader when he got out of prison in the 1960s, I do think he had the distinct goal of becoming a powerful pimp with a lot of women and money at his fingertips. And interestingly enough, during the late 1960s, it wasn’t difficult for him to find young women looking to “live a little outside society’s norms”.
Now, before I get into all the Helter Skelter jazz, there are some things from his book I want to mention. First, Manson was always well aware of the impact his persona had on the public. He even stated in the introduction of his book that he wasn’t too thrilled about being part of it, baring things about himself, because it would detract from his known persona that he’s spent years building for us.
There are many times, in interviews and in his book, that he spouts off about how we the public have our own picture of him, this scary, horrible psycho that has been painted as a liar, a cheat, a killer, a maniacal cult leader, a rapist, a drug dealer, all by the lawyers, judges, police, etc. He then goes on to paint the picture of the abused child no one wanted in a way that implies we should feel sorry for him because he was “pushed around” all his life. But, then he contradicts himself saying that no one should feel sorry for him because he doesn’t pity himself. That is an outright lie if you pay attention to his words.
He also bad mouths his mother for being a drunk and a prostitute in his rants and then in the next paragraph he commends her for doing what she had to in order to make ends meet and professes his love for her. In an interview in the 2000s he stated that the only thing his mother ever taught him “was that everything she ever said was a lie.” Yet, in the 1980s he defended his mother vehemently for her efforts and behaviors. He bounced back and forth like this constantly throughout his entire life. He even blamed his mother’s promiscuity for ruining her marriage to his stepfather, leaving him fatherless yet again. But again, contradicted himself moments later in the book when he said, “But hey, I like my mom, loved her, and if I could have picked her, I would have. She was perfect! In doing nothing for me, she made me do things for myself.” Yet this would be the same thing he would use as the foundation for his entire case as to why he began his life in ruins.
Charlie also took the time to point out that he didn’t want to talk about his failures in the regular world. In my opinion, doing so would mean that he would be seen as something other than the crazy, ultra-manipulative madman we’ve always seen him as. He seemed very content in speaking of his failures as a criminal. This would still add to his character and mystique even if he wasn’t a successful thief or burglar or conman. After all, nobody starts off as a perfect criminal, do they? Everyone makes mistakes. And believe me, there were many. Though Charlie spoke of his criminal exploits as if he were some sort of diabolical kingpin heading up a high class escort service, the reality was he was penniless, dirty, homeless and hungry with young runaways following him around because they either wanted food, drugs, shelter or just plumb didn’t know any better.
He constantly bragged and boasted about everything from who he knew to the girls he slept with to the crimes he committed and much more. One of the biggest problems with someone like Manson is that their ego. Now, any career criminal worth their salt knows that in order to keep their career going they have to remain in business and the first rule to staying in that line of work would most likely be to keep your mouth shut. Nobody is going to stay in a business like that for very long if they run their mouth to everyone they come into contact with. I would think another rule would be to be good at your crime of choice. Charlie wasn’t very good at anything when it came to breaking the law. That’s evident by his criminal record stemming from his childhood through his death. If he was good at that lifestyle, he wouldn’t have spent sixty-nine of his eighty-three years on this earth incarcerated. Period. Obviously he would have probably been better suited for something OTHER than thief, pimp or murderer.
One thing Charlie did put SOME effort into was his music. He didn’t have talent really but he had some passion. However, he had no patience and no will to work his way through the ropes like most musicians have to, earning their way into a recording contract. Instead he thought he could buy his way in with drugs, girls, sex, charm (which I feel he had very little of) and when that all failed to work, he tried to threaten his way in with violence.
In his book Charlie stated that he felt like an equal in prison. I find it interesting that out of all the places in his life, prison is the place where he felt he was amongst his own. This could have been because he felt this was where he could learn the most. It could also be because this was where he felt the most comfortable. Anywhere you have spent the majority of your life is probably going to be where you feel the most comfortable. Especially if it wasn’t always a bad experience for you. Manson expressed time and again that he liked being in prison. He said that it was a constant place to sleep, he had clean clothes and a shower, food to eat and for a long time he had his guitar. He said that was really all he needed in life.
Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s very easy to say that’s all you need when that’s all you are allowed to have. If you will remember the beginning of this article I told you Charlie wanted to learn to be a pimp because he wanted that power and money. Well, he craved it. His gift of gab was also there not to please anyone but himself. Charlie had an incessant need for attention, a need to be idolized and adored.
There was a small stint in 1955 when Manson got married and had a son. He was living a “normal life” but it didn’t last. Charlie hated not having any money and always being in need. Charlie said, “The patience, willingness to struggle and earn that normal life demands wasn’t part of my make up.” So, he went back to the life of a thief and landed back in prison.
Now, to me all his ranting and raving about being abused, abandoned, unloved, unwanted, created by the system, all that jazz is just a bunch of excuses. There are a ton of people that grow up way harder than poor little Charles ever did and they don’t turn into total douchebags. They don’t abuse women, become criminals and wind up morally questionable idiots known for orchestrating mass murders. No. They grow up, end up recognizing that they didn’t like how they grew up and try to do everything in their power to never have to live that way again OR put their families through anything even remotely close to that in their lives either. But, Charlie has a real problem with taking responsibility for anything when it actually means something bad will happen to him.
And the kids Charlie went after for his followers, well, he had a type, at least for the girls. He looked for girls who were “mostly young, not too pretty and without a lot of smarts”. This would not only make them easier to control but, also easier to read from the get go. For instance, upon meeting Susan Atkins he determined that she had self-esteem issues and daddy issues. This was easy to determine as most girls in their teens are self-conscious and a good portion of teen girl runaways would have had problems with their father (or lack thereof) or father figure. Then, you have someone like Leslie Van Houten. She was a very good girl, good grades, from a good family. It is easy to assume Charlie pinpointed her as a “goody-two shoes” who was looking to rebel against her straight laced family. He would easily catch onto things like this and while the kids and others around his would see it as some sort of mind reading or fantastic insight into their drugged out souls, all he was really doing was paying attention to their needs and exploiting them.
So, Charlie couldn’t’ make it as a musician no matter how hard he tried. Even when he tried to impress Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys and record producer Terry Melcher and flopped, he ended up becoming more of a nuisance and was actually told to go away. A guy like Charlie would have hated being rejected in such a fashion. But that’s not entirely made him feel the need to send people out to kill, according to him. In truth, I believe there were a number of things that conspired together to launch the tragic events of August 8 and 9, 1969.
I suppose, if you follow what Manson said in his book, it all began when Susan Atkins and Tex Watson robbed some bikers. It’s not as if this was anything new but, these particular bikers decided to come looking for their money at Spahn’s Ranch. When they arrived, there was a man named Crowe with them. (I do not know if Crowe was a biker or a friend of the biker gang’s or what.) During the argument that ensued, Charlie shot Crowe. He said it was in self-defense.
Now Charlie is scared that the bikers are going to somehow bring the cops down on them at the ranch, because you know, that’s what criminals do when they get jacked, is rat out the other criminals. Cops are definitely going to spend time and effort finding the scum that robbed a criminal of his money. (Not that all bikers are criminals. Some of my best friends are bikers, so relax peeps. But, I think we can all agree that bikers that come to your house with people and guns to get back money you stole would probably not be considered an upstanding citizen.) Anyways, Charlie also somehow gets it in his head that this Crowe fella is a Black Panther and that it’s only a matter of time before that organization comes looking for revenge on The Family.
To top it all off, one of the guys in the room at the time of this shooting was connected to the recording industry and Charlie was convinced that THAT ruined his chances for ever recording an album. Yet he had already been denied by Melcher AND The Beach Boys, not to mention random people at various studios and auditions. This caused Charlie to begin to stew endlessly in hatred and contempt.
He was always very generous with the drugs. He often just gave away whatever he had access to. There were many nights when he would lead massive campfire LSD trip parties where he would perch himself on a big rock and sit higher than his flock and preach to them as they left the world of reality and crossed into the world of whatever Charlie shaped for them that night. He often used scripture and reenacted scenes from the Bible while everyone else was stoned, drunk or tripping out of their minds. And here’s the kicker. While Charlie would be the only one to dole out the drugs, he would often give his followers two sometimes three times the amount he would take, just so he could better maintain his faculties and more easily control theirs.
So, Crowe was dead. Charlie was a failed musician and hating it. His ego was being slammed and he felt disrespected. He was still getting a lot of admiration from his followers though as his nighttime preaching was going over very well. He was focusing on The Book of Revelations and the end of the world. Now, a lot of people think this is a big deal, I’m about fifty-fifty on that. I mean, a lot of cult leaders use End of Days fear to intimidate their followers and conversely, a lot of regular average non-cult members are still scared about the end of the world and judgment day. Either way, he’s pissed off and drugged out. Needless to say, he’s paranoid and irritable by this point.
Enter the Gary Hinman fiasco. Gary Hinman got killed, truly at the behest of Manson, over $2000, after being tortured for days. Hinman was a slight and meager type fellow who wasn’t going to let Manson or his people push him around. He refused to give The Family ANY money when they came to rob him and it got him killed. Later Bobby Boselie was arrested in connection with Hinman’s murder because he was pulled over driving Gary’s car (like I stated before, these people were never criminal masterminds or geniuses to be reckoned with…felony stupid maybe…but not geniuses).
Now there’s a lot of pressure in Charlie’s eyes. First of all, Charlie had been running the family for a long time by now, at least in his mind. He never wanted the family life even though he had more than one child with more than one woman. It’s not like he was actually father material. The pressure of being responsible for all these people was starting to get to him. Yes, they were allowed to come and go as they pleased but, these were really just lost flower children of the 60s with nowhere to go and very little knowledge of the real world. I think that’s one of the reasons they not only stayed with Charlie but stayed out on the ranches. They didn’t have all the rules of society and it’s hard to live by rules you don’t know, don’t understand or don’t agree with. Then there was the Hinman murder, Bobby’s arrest, Crowe’s murder, the bikers, they’d been stealing auto parts and cars for some time. Manson knew things were starting to get too complicated, too hot.
With Bobby in jail, it is suggested by SOMEONE (there is disagreement as to who) that they should commit some copycat murders so Bobby will be released, as the police will think they have the wrong guy. (I know, but they were on copious amounts of acid so, they weren’t thinking 100% clearly.) So, they all agree that THIS is the banner idea of the century to get Bobby out of jail and thus the skeleton plan to commit the Tate murders is hatched.
On both nights Charlie was not present at the murders. He also admitted to his co-author that while he never explicitly forced anyone to kill, he did know that me made suggestions that lead to those events and that he was the only one that could have stopped those events from unfolding. Even after the murders Charlie left the ranch immediately because he was sure that the police were going to be hot on their trail. Especially since he told them where to go for the night of the Tate murders. They knew that was Melcher’s old house. Manson picked that house not only because it represented a place of personal rejection to him and he could get some sort of satisfaction by the murders being there but, also because he knew the layout of the house and was familiar with the grounds.
Also in the days after the August murders of 1969, Charlie started to really dive into his theory of the end of the world and the need for The Family to relocate to the desert to hide and wait for the war to be over. While Charlie talked a lot about this “race war” and supposedly linked it to “Helter Skelter”, this was a theory he made no mention of in his book, nor did he mention much of The Beatles except that he liked their music. No, his explanation for the crimes for which he was convicted is much more believable, plausible and provable.
The Helter Skelter theory is as follows:
Charlie supposedly wanted to start a race war during which he and his followers would hide out in the desert until it ended. He also said that the black man would rise up against the white man and would win said war. This is where things become laughable and ridiculous. After the war is over, Charlie believed that the black race would be too inept to run the world on their own so they would still need white people to tell them what to do. (This is some of the dumbest crap I’ve ever heard.) As he felt such instruction would be needed and all the other white people would be killed off in the war, Charlie and his followers would be the only white folks left, there would be no choice but to have Charlie lead the world in their new way of life. However, Charlie got tired of the American public being too civilized especially after general society began to accept the Civil Rights Movement and Equality for All (which I agree, is unfortunately still in progress). So, he decided he would jumpstart the whole ordeal by committing some horrifyingly gruesome murders in a rich, upper-class white neighborhood. He then assumed by trying to leave Black Panther clues and a wallet in a black neighborhood that the Keystone Kops that made up LA’s finest at the time were going to somehow come to the conclusion that this was ALL racially motivated and THEN publicize it and THAT would cause a race war to break out.
Needless to say, that’s a very flimsy plan that hinders on a lot of what-ifs and a lot of variables that were way out of their control. In my opinion, that just further lends more credence to the much more plausible story Manson gave in his book.
I commend Bugliosi for getting his conviction on the Helter Skelter theory and the sensationalism it brought. That man lived and breathed this case for two years and then countless interviews and books, movies, documentaries, etc. after that. This was his legacy. I don’t want to take away from that. He did a fantastic job with what he had at the time and that was very little considering that none of the Manson followers had become disillusioned and deprogrammed yet.
Here is what Charlie said about himself toward the end of his book:
“I was a half-assed nothing who hardly knew how to read or write, never read a book all the way through in my life, didn’t know anything except jails, couldn’t hold onto my wives, was a lousy pimp, got caught every time I stole, wasn’t a good enough musician to hit the market, didn’t know what to do with money even if I had it and resented every aspect of family life. But a week after Sadie’s story, I was a charismatic cult leader with a family, a genius who could program people into doing whatever I asked of them.”
All his life Charles Manson blamed the system for his shortcomings. He also blamed the system for driving its youth into his criminal arms. He remarked that he was disappointed that so many would just eat up whatever they were fed, that people would be so gullible. Still, had it not been for that very gullibility he wouldn’t have had his little moment in the sun, his time living as a leader, an idol, the one who was adored.
Over and over he criticized everyone who wasn’t him. But all he really wanted was to be accepted and successful. And those were the two things he just wasn’t willing to work with society for. Society and life are both all about compromise, negotiation, effort. And Charlie was only willing to compromise other people. He never compromised on anything. He wasn’t willing to work for anything. And the only effort he was willing to make was the effort that was going to give HIM immediate gratification…and nothing more.
So, was Charlie Manson REALLY a criminal genius? Was a REALLY a masterful manipulator that carefully concocted a plan to murder seven people so he could lead the free world?
No. He was a tiny little nobody who wanted nothing more than to be somebody. And no matter how hard he tried, the only somebody he ever was, was selfish, evil, full of anger and hate, jealousy and resentment towards anyone who had anything he didn’t. He didn’t want to try. He didn’t want to work. He made excuses and felt entitled. All because he had a chip on his shoulder and couldn’t get it off. Between that chip on one shoulder and his ego on the other, I’d say they crushed his brain in the middle. If Manson had put in half the effort into working that he put into being “an outlaw”, the man could have had a freakin; career and a family easy. He just didn’t like that life. And I mean, let’s face it. Nobody would have REALLY wanted him as a neighbor anyways, would they?
The first time I ever heard any reference to a cult was when I was a kid. I think I was around ten or eleven but it could have been as late as thirteen or fourteen. And while there were things going on in the current era such as David Koresh or the Tokyo Train Sarin Attacks, I first heard about Charles Manson and The Manson Family through the movie Helter Skelter…and my fascination, bewilderment and need for more explanation was born.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary lists five definitions of “cult”. The first and most popular definition of the word is “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious”. But, just because something isn’t mainstream doesn’t mean it’s bad, evil or harmful. The second definition is a more explanatory definition, broken down into three parts, that basically describes a profound devotion to a person, idea, object, movement or work (such as a film or book) which usually involves said particular object of devotion and small group of people characterized by such devotion. Then, we finally get to what seems like a simplified meaning of the term with “a system of religious beliefs”. (Wait, what? Uh huh, that’s what it reads. Yes, that means it basically could apply to any religion.) After that, it gives a vague and more antiquated definition with “formal religious veneration”, which basically just means worship. But, the last definition has to go back a long time and I think is the strangest and yet it still makes sense to me, given that it too is obviously an antiquated definition. The fifth read, “a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator (promotor)”, so basically, health cults.
Anyway, the whole idea that people could subject themselves to the complete control of another human being was just baffling to me, even at a young age. I asked my father when we watched Helter Skelter how it was that Manson was able to get these people to do whatever he said. Now, Dad tried to explain but, there’s only so much you can grasp at that age. But we kept the conversation going over the years. As I got older I learned about more cults that have existed, even just in my lifetime. And over time, more information continued to come to light.
With the interest always being there, over the past nine months to a year, I have spent a great deal of time focusing on various cults and learning more about them, the leaders and their traits, the commonalities they all hold, the kinds of people that join them and what happens within them. (No, I haven’t gone out and joined any cults and No, I’m not looking to join so no recruiting, please.) I am going to share with you what I have learned and the observations I have gleaned from the information I have gathered. I do hope you find this as fascinating as I do. So, let’s get started. (Note: This information is based off of casual research from countless hours reading books, articles and watching documentaries on television and the internet.)
With those definitions in mind, there are two basic kinds of cults. One is benign. While their thoughts and beliefs may be different from the mainstream folks, they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else and they aren’t a danger to themselves or anyone else. They pose no threat to society or National Security. The other kind of cult is the one we always seem to hear about. I would say these are malignant, which we know would be the opposite of benign. These cults would still have different thought and belief systems but they would also employ strategies and behaviors that would be considered harmful (either physically, financially, emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually) by the average human being. These kinds of cults pose a possible threat…to everyone. They also often produce “Doomsday Cults” like The Manson Family, David Koresh and The Branch Davidians, Jonestown, and the Heaven’s Gate Cult. The interesting thing I found is that the most simplified definition of the word ‘cult’ can apply to ALL organized and unorganized religion. In fact, the first known use of the word was in 1613 in reference to some manner of worship. And yet, when we hear the word today, we automatically give it very heavy and negative connotations, assuming it is a “Doomsday Cult” the second we hear about it (or we were informed that from the very start). It is this type of cult I want to focus on.
These groups always have some sort of leader. This is usually a very charismatic person that exercises complete and utter control over the flock. Usually a male, although there have been women cult leaders, this person is likely a master manipulator and skilled liar. These leaders tend to be good speakers, they have a way with words and engaging with others when they talk. They tend to label critics and detractors as enemies and use other buzz words in their vocabulary that are specific to their group faith to impact their followers. They are good at memorizing and reciting scripture, also at interpreting it often using scripture and religion to manipulate their followers into doing whatever they want to fit their needs.
These characters are a special kind of con-artist and are typically very adept at reading people and identifying general weakness, specific vulnerabilities and needs and exploiting them for their own gain. Cult leaders may very well lack a conscience of any kind. If they do have one, it’s almost non-existent and they function under the idea that “the end justifies the means”. Many cult leaders, if not all of them, are ego-centric but still highly insecure. Many of them had issues in their childhood ranging from abuse to abandonment, unloved to overprotected. They seek adoration and the feeling of being needed. They like feeling important and powerful.
I also found a number of them who were either failed musicians or once in a music related field as a profession. For example, Charles Manson and David Koresh were both failed guitar musicians and Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate) was once a music professor. Hitler also was a failed musician and artist. These kind of people can’t handle rejection so, being a failed “anything” is a real slam to their ego. Many of the male leaders are thought to be handsome and charming. Many of them turn out to be some kind of sexual predator. I’ve also found that they tend command a lot of manual labor and reap its benefits but, they never do that kind of work themselves. A large number of these leaders can also end up showing a violent or, at minimum, an aggressive side over time, making their followers more frightened of them. And ALL of these leaders are motivated by three things: power, money and sex…and in that order.
So, it’s clear the leaders tend to follow a formula in their personality composition. But, who would listen to and follow a person like that? Who would give up their lives, their thoughts, their families and their freedoms for such a person? Well, just like any other type of predator, these animals look for a certain type of prey.
I have found that there is one thing that all cult followers seem to have in common. They all feel that they are missing something in their lives. The fascinating thing about this missing element is that it can be anything. It doesn’t have to be a religious aspect that they feel is void from their lives. While there are some that are indeed looking for that spiritual faith and connection to a higher power and the guaranteed path to their salvation, many lack a sense of general belonging and acceptance. Others crave a sense of family unity or a need to fill a family member’s role, such as a mother or father figure. There are also a number of people who join up thinking that they are working towards not only their own eternal salvation but, a common goal of the betterment of the world and humanity. They can believe they are saving the planet and the human race. In addition to that, they may also be religious zealots that believe the current doctrines are not strict enough and a more concentrated devotion to the higher power of choice is required. And last but certainly not least, cult followers might be seeking answers to problems in their lives or to profound eternal questions such as “Why are we here?”, “What is my purpose on this Earth? In life?”, etc.
It is a very common misconception that those who are sucked into cults must be stupid and idiotic to fall for such blatant trickery and outright lies. This is just simply NOT TRUE. The people who join cults come from all walks of life, from all around the world, all races, all economic backgrounds. Some hold PhDs while others never attended a day of actual accredited school in their lives. David Koresh had not only a lawyer amongst his followers but, he was even able to convince a scholarly theologian to join his flock. David Miscavige, the leader of Scientology, has everything from doctors and lawyers to contractors and brick layers in his “congregation”. (I put that in quotes only because there is a lot of controversy going on right now, and has been for over a decade, about whether or not Scientology is a cult or a religion. Although the organization continues to maintain tax exempt status from the IRS, they also continue to battle repeated claims made by former members alleging not only abuse but that the organization is a BUSINESS of personal profit for L. Ron Hubbard when it was founded and now David Miscavige which goes against the requirements for tax exemption status.) So, clearly while these people who join may be suggestable in some fashion, they are not ALL lacking in intelligence.
There’s also a specific type of personality within these “incomplete” people that cult leaders will zero in on. They look for a certain set of traits, a set that suggests their prey will be easily suggestible, easily influenced and easily controlled. These traits would include things like a desire for spiritual meaning or connection, unassertiveness and/or an unwillingness to speak up or voice an opinion, especially if it were to be a dissenting opinion. They would possess a need for a black and white answer couple with a need for things to be resolved and answered quickly. Ideal recruits would be gullible. This could mean they were naïve or perhaps uneducated but, either way they would be easy targets for swindlers and the like. This means they will believe more and question less. Prospects would often seem to have a dependency issue, relying on someone for their well-being and care, whether it be health or financial or living quarters, something, somehow always depending on someone else.
Many leaders look for followers from other already established groups. They want these followers to be disillusioned with the current belief practices, the current culture climate, the current government, whatever their complaints may be, this new leader has the solution. The leader can then use that displeasure and disillusion to convert the member to the new group.
Finally, (as if all that wasn’t enough) a cult leader will dig into the basic goodness of a human being and use that against them. There are so many people out there that believe in the basic goodness of a person and that there is good in every human being. This is called “naïve idealism”. A leader can tap into that and by manipulating it, use the follower’s own belief in that very same goodness against them to create inner guilt if they do not follow the leader’s wishes. This would be like if the leader asked a follower to do something and the follower declined and the leader replied with, “GOOD people understand that this is required for salvation, for protection, for God. I know the good in YOU wants to do the right thing. Don’t be like our detractors, those non-believers. God will not love them in the end. You want to be on the side of the Lord when Judgment Day comes, don’t you? Then you must reach for the good inside you and do what I and God are telling you to do. We know what is right. You must trust and listen to me. And to God, who speaks to you through me.”
Sounds pretty whacked out huh? The thing is, after they’ve been listening to this person tell them for months (or years) that they are either God or are talking directly to God, they don’t even think to question it. But I’ll get to that in a second.
Now that we know who these cults are looking for, where do they find their victims of unwitting participation? When modern cults first started really actively recruiting members, what they basically did was type or draw up posters and flyers, get the copied and post them all over town stating meeting places and times. Then word of mouth would get around and the group would grow that way. Nowadays, with the advent of the internet, recruitment is in many ways a lot easier because the reach is so much farther is less time. However, the critics of the cult groups have just as far as reach in just as little time.
Most of the places the groups look for new members other than word of mouth still remain the same because the types who frequent these places remain the same. The main go-to recruit hotspots are college campuses, religious gatherings, self-help and support groups, seminars for spiritual and social change (regardless of what changes are being proposed in these seminars) and the unemployment office. That last one really tugs at me because that’s like kicking a person when they are down. I mean, what? You grab a seat next to some poor, struggling person at unemployment office and start selling them on traveling to space on the tail of a comet named Hale-Bop while they are trying to figure out how they are going to afford to feed their family of five that night and pay the mortgage payment that Friday…something you and the comet are obviously not concerned with. It just seems so cruel to try to snag a person when they are depressed and struggling and at their lowest but, I know that psychologically, that is also when they are likely the most vulnerable. So, that would be prime pickings for a cult leader. They would also be much more agreeable and pliable in that mental state as most people hit a wall and feel like giving in at some point during depression, even if it’s a fleeting thought and they never follow through. It’s a moment of weakness that a cult leader can easily pinpoint and capitalize on.
Okay, so now that we know about the creeps that run these groups and the people that follow them. Let’s talk about how these jokers get these normal everyday people to abandon all hope and reason for the lunacy they label their new faith and religion.
It always starts basic and innocent enough. A promise of peace and spiritual growth, a new holy foundation that will lay the path of righteousness to their eternal well-being and happiness…in general. They all have variations. Heaven’s Gate members thought they were aliens trapped in human bodies and were meant to go back to their planet on a mothership. Jim Jones preached he was God and could finally give his followers a society of total equality. Koresh said he was the Messiah and God was talking to him. Manson is said to have claimed to be the second coming of Christ. They all (well, almost all) start with the basics of already organized religion. Why? Because it’s what we are all already somewhat familiar with. Even Scientology doesn’t come out in the very beginning and tell their followers, “You are buying into a belief structure that relies on a galactic overlord named Xenu and that your mission is to clear the planet of everything we tell you to.” If they said that at orientation, there would be no Scientology, regardless of what Tom Cruise and John Travolta say.
So, once they get you to start showing up to meetings, it’s not like they just kidnap you and you belong to them. They have to make you think this was your idea, the idea to stay, to leave your life. First, they make you feel very comfortable and welcome. So welcome in fact, you will wantto stay and never leave. At that point, the real indoctrination begins. Followers are often separated from the outside world and sometimes from each other. Isolation is a key element in the breakdown of a person’s psyche. The cult will use sleep, light, food and water deprivation, all of which will drastically affect a person’s ability to think and function. It also creates a very heavy dependency where the follower must now choose between their life or their principles and while we all like to think we are very stand-up, principled people, when reality sets in the truth is we are still animals and survival instinct will knock out principles when you haven’t eaten or slept in days. They will control access to TV and radio, magazines and books, and of course, the internet, to prevent the follower from being indoctrinated against them in any way. Public humiliation, abuse and torture are very common ways to break people down AND to keep the flock in line. It quickly instills fear among everyone in a short amount of time.
Once the leader has full devotion of a follower, there really are no limits. At that point the leader can control when this person eats, drinks, works, sleeps, has sex (and with whom), when and if they have children, what they eat and drink, how much they get, who they talk to, what they say, what they wear, where they go, their money (if they get any at all, if they have any income by now it goes directly to the leader), when they can shower, EVERYTHING. The goal is that by dehumanizing the follower and leaving them with no identity of their own, the leader can then mold them into whatever they need that follower to be, like a soldier for their cause.
ALL religions practice some indoctrination. It doesn’t mean they are all bad. Like I said in the beginning, just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s evil. The government does something very similar to cults with our military service people. Those eight to thirteen weeks of basic training (depending on the branch of service) are really weeks of the military breaking down the civilian behaviors of the enlisted people and rebuilding them into trusted armed service men and women. The only difference is that the military has to report to the government and justify their actions to at least SOMEONE, even if the explanation is sometimes a crappy one. Those actions are still sanctioned by the government.
Cults leaders answer to no one.
One thing that has always fascinated me was that, with all the brains a lot of these people in these groups had, nobody ever thought to question God’s choice of prophet. In the Bible it says God gave you free will. Why then would he choose a prophet that would go out of his way to take away your free will? No one ever questioned that. And there are other things that puzzle me. I mean, for instance, (and although I was raised with a religion in my childhood, I am not a religious person) I know that God sent an angel to talk to his only son. An angel. To speak with his only child. If that’s true, then why would God choose to speak directly to someone like David Koresh or Charles Manson or Jim Jones? I mean, it’s not like these guys would be front runners for the Prophet of the Year Award before they were cult leaders (or even after, for that matter). I’ll let that marinate in your brains while I talk about something else.
In the Bible, where so many of these flakes find their arsenal of ammo, God repeatedly says he wants man to work and prosper. That rich preacher in Texas, Joel Osteen, he knows ALL about the prosper part. So, again I ask you, why would God repeatedly pick deadbeat lowlifes for his messiahs? I know that Jesus wasn’t a rich man but at least he worked as a carpenter. And while we are always told that God loves everyone and God forgives everyone, I find it very difficult to believe that God would choose pedophiles as his prophets and then direct them to rape children, marry and impregnate them.
And yet none of this every occurred to anybody. To me it’s just common sense to be looking at Koresh or Manson and ask, “And God chose you because…why?” I would have been like, “Okay so, out of ALL the schmucks on the face of the Earth, you mean to tell me that God found YOU so special, above all else, he decided to make YOU the next Lord and Savior?” Yet this thought NEVER went through anyone else’s mind when they met these fools. And Jim Jones? Did it never strike anyone as suspicious that this man always had dark aviator sunglasses on? I was taught to never trust a man that won’t show you his eyes. If he can’t show you his eyes, he’s hiding something. Well, Jones was hiding the fact that not only was he a complete fraud but he was also a complete speed freak and on his way to speed junkie…fast.
And nobody ever noticed that not one of these leaders ever had to follow the same rules as the followers? They never had to do the same work? That their prophecies never came to fruition? Here’s another example: L. Ron Hubbard stated with complete certainty that through the learning and practicing of Scientology, man could heal himself of all ills and sicknesses, thus virtually never getting sick and never dying. Hubbard died of a stroke in 1986. You would think at this point people would have been completely bowled over with reality but, NO. A simple explanation in a twist of words by Miscavige and they were content and drawn in even deeper.
While many of us strongly feel that we would never fall victim to such schemes, we simply cannot rule out that there might be someone out there slick enough to manipulate us in our weakest state, just waiting for the opportunity to exploit our flaws and break us down for no other reason than to serve their purpose. Watch out for those things that sounds too good to be true. They often are in the end.
Watch Gayle King's Full Interview with R. Kelly HERE
On Friday March 8, CBS aired a one-hour interview Gayle King had with R. Kelly. Now, please understand I don’t follow a lot of what is in the media. I certainly don’t follow a lot about celebrity news. But, I AM always interested in behavior and psychology, things like that and when I saw the preview for the interview I saw R. Kelly out of his chair, yelling at the camera and violently pounding his chest. Sooooo, the natural observer in me felt the need to watch this. And before anyone wants to jump on me about any movement or politics, that’s NOT what this article is about. And let it be known right up front, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an R. Kelly fan. I also am probably the ONLY person to ever live that truly hates the song ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. There. I said it. Now, you can hate me.
I watched this interview strictly from a behavioral science kind of point of view. So much is SAID when stuff like this comes up, I wanted to see what he DID, how he ACTED, I didn’t care so much what he SAID, although some of his responses could be considered damning. So, please, no hateful political or ideation chatter. This is different.
While I watched and listened, I looked to see if his body language matched his words. I listened to his word choice. I also listened for what he DIDN’T say. Now, I didn’t watch the “Surviving R. Kelly” series. I saw about fifteen minutes of it. Those poor women are talking about some very heavy emotional, physical and psychological abuse. That should NOT be ignored. And from what I can tell, he’s been accused multiple times over the last 25 years but has NEVER been convicted of any sexual offense. I think that in itself says something. So, I wanted to look at the man’s behavior and well, see what I could see…so to speak. So, here we go.
At the start of the interview Kelly sits down in his chair. As they slap the clapperboard he lets out a deep sigh as he looks up towards the ceiling, almost rolling his eyes. Then, once he’s seated, he has his hands folded in his lap and he’s sitting forward, more on the edge of the chair. He’s leaning slightly forward toward Gayle as if he’s interested in the conversation about to take place but the look on his face appeared to be one of sadness and, he even seemed annoyed about being there.
Then the questions start. Gayle King asked him directly, “Have you ever had sex with anyone under the age of seventeen?”
“No. No.”, Kelly replies. However, at the very moment he speaks he goes from shaking his head ‘No’ to some sort of weird head roll of sorts. It’s like he wants to nod ‘Yes’ but he’s consciously trying not to.
Then, when King is recounting some of the victims allegations about the rooms they were forced to stay in, that they were dark and demeaning, one gal said it was the most degrading place she had ever been. Kelly actually has to pull his lips into his mouth and press down on them with his teeth to keep from smiling. And just to add insult to injury, he shrugs nonchalantly as he denies these allegations.
Shortly after this we are told that Kelly had been arrested and spent a few days in jail at one point for, get this, not paying child support. He owed an ex $161,000 in back support and somehow, this music industry superstar doesn’t have what should be considered pocket change to pay for his children. I found this to be extremely telling. I mean, what is this clown doing with his money, besides spending it on the two current girlfriends and a crap-ton of lawyers?
Next, when asked why all these women over the past two decades would be making these accusations against him, his only response was that they are scorned and angry that “things” didn’t work out and now they are “lyin’ on him”. So, Gayle takes the opportunity to, shall we say, clarify things. King says to Kelly, “So, they’re lying on you?”
Kelly replies, “Absolutely.” It wasn’t so much the finality of the word “absolutely” that made me question his veracity. It was that while he was speaking the word so adamantly, he was again shaking his head ‘NO’. Now, it fascinates me that this guy can’t seem to get his body language to coordinate with his speech. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that he IS guilty. Keep in mind he has not been proven guilty of any sex crime in any court other than that of public opinion. If we assume that he did in fact assault and brutalize these women, that means he’s had years, two decades in fact, to master the art of lying about his dirty deeds. And yet, this man can’t hardly make one statement without his tone of voice or body language betraying him. In addition, throughout the whole interview he seems to become repeatedly exacerbated and puts his head in his hand and rubs his face. It’s an act of frustration and annoyance. We’ve all done it. Imagine those times you feel you are talking to someone who is receiving your information as if they were a brick wall. That’s how he acts. As if he is the only person that can understand his plight.
This leads me to my next observation. Shortly after he claims all of these women are lying and are scorned females (which I’ll address in a few minutes because to me that is a “non-denial denial”, an admission of sorts in the world of investigative journalism, if you will), Kelly leans in towards Gayle and in response to something she asks he says, “Listen to me clear”. Okay, could he be anymore condescending? Not to mention trying to be innocuously aggressive and somewhat controlling, he talks to this professional grown woman as if she is someone that is supposed to answer to him. He immediately takes a position of authority and tries to flaunt it in front of her.
Then, comes the big outburst. This was one of the most telling moments in the entire interview. Robert gets incredibly frustrated and launches himself from his chair as he rants angrily at the camera. He is pacing back and forth, violently pounding his chest and screaming so loud that his voice becomes high pitched and broken. He sounds like he is crying. The whole time he is coming unglued, Gayle is leaning far back in her chair, as if she’s wanting to get away from him. She tries to talk to him and tell him to calm down but, in his current state of upset, he doesn’t hear her or doesn’t pay attention.
His crisis manager steps in and gets him seated, although Kelly pushes even his own guy off of him and snaps angrily at him (it’s a sad thing in your career when you need a crisis manager on retainer to follow you around and keep you and your life in check). Once he finally settles down, and the camera zooms in, you can clearly see that although he is sweating like he has been running a marathon, there are NO tears. Kelly then starts talking about how there are REAL women out there that are REAL victims and that the authorities and everyone should be focusing on THEM. So, that brings me to his “non-denial denial”. Earlier he said that these women were all scorned and lying because “things didn’t work out” between them. To me, that’s an admission of a relationship, which he vehemently denies EVER happened in the first place at the start of the interview. Now, how can they be scorned lovers if they were never in a relationship to begin with? Tsk tsk tsk Robert.
There’s another small sideways rant Kelly goes on in an effort to distract viewers from the subject at hand. He spends a number of minutes portraying himself as a true victim of circumstance. He spends a lot of time spinning words and side-stepping verbal landmines, things that are a matter of public record such as the fact that Aaliyah was only fifteen years old to his twenty-seven when they married. That’s pretty much a felony in any state.
Kelly also seems to have a really hard time making true eye contact with Gayle King when answering her questions. It’s not like these are hard questions. Well, they wouldn’t be hard if 1)You were telling the truth and 2)If you hadn’t done anything illegal. He looks down and to the left a lot. I’m not going to speculate whether he’s remembering or creating things just by the direction he’s focusing his eyes however, the mere fact that he does NOT maintain eye contact during such a serious conversation leaves room for doubt as to whether or not he is telling the truth.
Later in the special, King makes a comment about how people have suggested that Kelly has a “cult” of sorts, like a harem. Kelly not only denies this but, he denies even knowing what a cult is saying, “I don’t even really know what a cult is but, I know I don’t have one.”
How do you know you don’t have something if you don’t even know what it is? This guy has been around for a long time, he has made tons of money (even though his current net worth is only estimated to be about $100,000 because of “legal troubles”) and I assume she can read and write because he is a musician. It’s not like cults are a new thing that just recently popped up. They’ve been around for a while. He can’t TRULY be THAT dense.
Moving on, because I get aggravated when people play stupid to avoid accountability. The special had a segment where they interviewed his two current live-in girlfriends. They seemed healthy enough. I couldn’t see any bruises or signs of abuse except that both of these girls sounded extremely rehearsed seeing as how they each said almost the exact same thing.
Another thing I noticed is that Robert was constantly asking for clarification about if Gayle was talking about him and if the cameras were on. Seriously? First of all, who else would she be talking about, this is a Gayle King interview with R. Kelly about R. Kelly. Again, is he really that dense? And yes, the cameras are on, you jackass. They are going to try to get every bit of your antics on camera they can. What a fool.
Next, R. Kelly talks about how he thinks it’s strange that no one else is dealing with the same allegations!!! Where the hell has he been??? Living under a rock? Is he not aware that his accusers are part of a huge movement called #MeToo??? He can’t possibly believe he’s the only person in today’s world that has been accused of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior over the last 20+ years. I’m not going to go through the huge list but I think it’s safe to say that if Kelly really believes that he is the only famous person under fires for sexual misconduct then he obviously lives in a bubble that only his ego and vulnerable women can penetrate.
Then, as we are afforded the magnificent opportunity to listen to him talk about how wonderful he is (and obviously how much in love with himself he is), we find out that not only does he fully believe that the only effect years of sexual abuse has had on him is the ability to channel the emotion into his music but, we also find out that he considers himself to be a lover of ALL women.
Gayle takes a moment to address the two decades of allegations, specifically those from the past and past court cases and Kelly says, “I beat my case.” I found this response interesting. Most innocent people would say something like “I was found not guilty” or “I was acquitted” or even “I won that case”. No. He chooses the word “beat”. That implies, to me, that he beat the system, got away with something. It just seems like an odd choice of words. I hear defeat, conquer, overpower. Not innocent. It sounds like a guilty person saying “the State didn’t prove their case so, I’m not guilty.”
Gayle King also asks him what the problem is, why so many women seem to find him so unlikeable. Robert maintains the problem is that he’s likeable, not unlikeable. There’s that ego popping out again, rearing its ugly head. That ego is probably one of his biggest problems and probably gets him into trouble the most, other than his mouth. He seems to have little to no filter between his brain and his mouth.
By the end of the interview, as Gayle King is winding things down and thanking him for showing up, Kelly looks like he’s been put the wringer. He looks sad, depressed, worn out and defeated…almost beaten down even. I will say the only time I saw REAL TEARS were when Gayle asked him about his children. At that point, he seemed genuine and heartbroken that he didn’t have the kind of relationship with his kids that he wanted to have.
Now, I don’t know if he’s guilty or not. Frankly, we will probably never REALLY know the truth. Based on his behavior in THIS interview, I lean towards him being guilty of SOMETHING. I don’t know what. But, if he ISN’T guilty, I am having a hard time figuring out what all these women are going to get out of coming forward, humiliating themselves, putting their personal and private lives and intimate secrets out for the world to know other than them seeking justice. He has no money. And even if he did, I think he’s made it pretty clear that he’s not very willing to part with his funds. So what do they stand to gain? No one wants to be known and famous for being one of the many girls R. Kelly violated. That’s not the claim to fame that most people aim for. And the girls’ parents maintain they’ve received no money from Kelly.
I’m not ready to render a final judgement on this man’s actions and maybe I never will be. But if he’s looking for sympathy from the court of public opinion, he did himself NO FAVORS by appearing on that Gayle King interview.
Holmes is dubbed America’s First Serial Killer. This bothers me somewhat because after watching true crime for twenty years and more, I know this not to be entirely true.
First of all, when defining a murderer as a serial killer the authorities and mental health professionals look for three things: victimology, modus operandi, signature. Yes, at the very basic level of the definition they have to kill three or more people but, it’s much more qualitative than quantitative. There’s almost nothing of Holmes murders that overlaps to qualify him under these three categories. His victims were not all the same kind of victim. He killed men, women and children. He did use the same mode of murder each time nor did he use the same ruse to disarm them. Some of his victims he gassed, some he suffocated, others he poisoned and some we have no idea how he came to take their lives. But, as far as I can tell, there was absolutely NO signature, his own personal mark or message, etc., to his murders whatsoever. So by very definition, we CANNOT call him a SERIAL KILLER. People make this same mistake with Charles Manson all the time. If anything Manson was a multiple-murderer. That is what Holmes should be categorized as, a multiple-murderer. One journalist got it right back in 1895, calling Holmes just that after the horrors of his murder castle were discovered and he had been arrested.
Second, there is actually record of an entire family that were true serial killers in 1872 that lived and operated Kansas, the Bender family. Since this is before anyone ever heard of H.H. Holmes (he would have been 11 and hadn’t changed his name to Holmes yet), he CAN’T be the first American serial killer. (This family would also be my argument that Eileen Wuornos is not the first FEMALE serial killer. She’s just the first to get that kind of attention. There were MANY before her. In fact, in the Bender family, the DAUGHTER called the shots and ran things and everyone else followed her orders.)
So, now that I have clearly made my case, moving on because Holmes is STILL one of the most successful and most amazingly competent psychos you will EVER read about.
Henry Howard Holmes was actually born Herman Webster Mudgett in 1861 in New Hampshire. He was a slight, shy child with a strict religious upbringing backed by his disciplinarian father and god-fearing mother. He was often bullied and teased by his older classmates. This bullying would come to a peak with a pivotal event, changing young Herman forever and begin the formation of the monster we now call H.H. Holmes.
When he was ten he was terrified of the skeleton in the doctor’s office. Two older classmates knew this. One day they grabbed him and forced him into the empty office, pushing him closer and closer to the outstretched arms of the skeleton until he came face to face with its creepy, haunting grin. Clearly this could have gone one of three ways. It could have crushed this poor child’s psyche, crippling him forever in some way. It could have had no effect and the child simply might have run out and eventually outgrown the fear with age and education. Or, perhaps it could have backfired, extinguishing the fear, replacing it with a morbid curiosity bolstered by a newfound bravery and lack of empathy or feeling of any kind. This, my friends, IS what happened. Holmes found himself “cured” of his fear and instead incredibly curious about what lies beneath the skin of the human body and the many means that one could wind up dead. He had lost all feeling for fellow man or living things. Now, it was just him and his morbid curiosity. And each time he fed his curiosity, his ego and manipulation skills grew stronger.
Holmes was one of the few multiple murders/serial killers (I know, I know…) that actually finished college. He finished college AND medical school actually and earned himself a medical degree. He was always a good student throughout his entire life and he was an extremely intelligent man. Not only was he formally educated but, the man was a world class snake oil salesman. A real con artist. But, I’ll get to that in a minute.
Now, most serial killers or multiple murderers don’t get medical degrees. For most, it’s hard enough to finish high school let alone get all the way through a four-year college program and then go on to graduate school. There’s a number of reasons but, none apply to Holmes. He got degrees and did well so he’s kind of an anomaly as far as that goes.
Once he obtained his medical degree he immediately began the criminal art of the day known as “scamming” which was defrauding insurance companies for life insurance claims. He would convince someone to take out a large policy for which he guaranteed he could produce an unidentifiable cadaver and then fake the insured party’s death and collect on the policy. This would be a common ruse he would use throughout his life and it would come to make him a lot of money. Some of the people would live to split the life insurance money with him and move on and some would not. Ironically, this very ruse would also be his undoing in the end.
While running this insurance scam across the Midwest, he would also employ scams posing as a drugstore clerk, an asylum attendant, a teacher and a doctor. Eventually, things got too heavy and he needed a fresh start. Too many cons in too many places. He needed a new name, a new persona that nobody knew. And thus, Henry Howard Holmes was born.
He landed himself in Chicago in 1886 years after the Chicago fire and found a city booming with rebuilding and production. Progress was everywhere. So, Holmes decided to take advantage of the new booming growth. He settled in Englewood, a three square mile community in Chicago. (At its height in 1960, over 97,000 people lived in that small area. It has since dwindled. But it was once a very hoppin’ place.) Holmes found himself a job at a pharmacy owned by a man named E.S. Holton. Shortly after taking Holmes on, Mr. Holton sees him to be a valuable asset and eventually sells the business to Holmes. There is some speculation that Holmes killed both the owner, Mr. Holton and his wife but, there is little proof to that.
Once settled in his new business, Holmes purchased the lot across the street, the lot at 63rdand Wallace streets, which would later come to be known as The Murder Castle. Here, he erected a grand building unlike anything anyone had ever seen. He was very careful about how he did it too. First of all, almost everything was done on credit. This man hardly ever paid for anything. He was a true conman. Next, he would hire a number of men to do ONE JOB. For instance, one man would be hired to put in one wall in one room, then fired. The another man would be hired to put in another wall in another room, then fired. Often he would claim the work was substandard and would not pay them. He did this for the duration of the build until the work was complete. Like the Winchester House, he had doors that opened to brick walls, hallways that led nowhere, so on and so forth. It was a maze of doors and halls and rooms meant to confuse and disorient his tenants, making it easier to kill them.
Interestingly, at the same time that Holmes is finalizing his blueprints for his murder castle, Jack the Ripper is finishing his killing spree 4,000 miles away in London. Holmes surely reads about Jack in the papers and his narcissism was almost surely bolstered by the attention The Ripper was getting. Holmes was the kind of man that would not have wanted to be “out done” by any means. He most likely would have felt a need to “top” what Jack the Ripper had already done, seeing himself as a higher caliber of intellect, human, man, killer, entity.
Another brilliant yet dastardly con was how he obtained the vault/safe that he used to kill one of his mistresses. He bought the vault on credit, of course. He put it in the chosen room prior to the room actually being built and then had the walls put in around it. Once the creditors started calling on him and he refused to pay, they, of course, threatened to repo the vault. However, Holmes told them that was fine and to go ahead and take the vault BUT if they damaged his walls or building in ANY way, he would sue them for all they were worth. Now, how are you going to get a bank size steel vault out of a wall that it’s built into without tearing into the wall??? They had to eat it on that deal and Holmes kept the vault. Later, in 1892, he asked his second mistress Emeline Cigrande to go into the vault and get some papers for him. Willingly she did so and he closed the vault door, locking her in the airtight compartment. He then went about his business at his desk, listening to her pleas and cried for him to release her. She eventually suffocated to her death in that vault. Holmes would sell a clean female skeleton to a medical school shortly after her death.
Now, this Murder Castle wasn’t just that. The first floor was legitimate businesses. The second floor held all the murderous horror rooms. He started a third floor but it was never completed.
During all of this Holmes had mistresses and legitimate wives. Multiples of each in fact. His first marriage was to Clara Lovering in 1878. He would have been about 17. They had one child, Robert in 1880. Holmes abandoned this family to move to Illinois in 1886 and though the marriage had been estranged for some time, no one filed for divorce at that time. In late 1886, Holmes married Myrta Belknap, though still legally married to Clara. He did file for divorce a few weeks later citing infidelity on Clara’s part but, since there was no proof of that the petition was denied and divorce was never granted. (Not only a con but a polygamist now. Apparently Clara was most likely never even aware he filed for divorce. Wow, right?) Holmes and Myrta had a daughter, Lucy in 1889. Then, get this, while still married to BOTH Myrta AND Clara, Holmes married Georgiana Yolk in 1894. Wait, it gets better.
So, then his first murders in the castle would have been his first mistress Julia Conner and her daughter Pearl. Julia got pregnant by Holmes in 1891 and required that he marry her. He agreed with the condition that she let him perform an abortion on her. Christmas Eve 1891 Julia and Pearl were never heard from again. Then, poor Emeline met her demise in the vault in 1892. Next, when the World’s Fair hit Chicago in 1893 Holmes had countless victims at his fingertips as he rented rooms to visitors from all over the land as they came to see the the grand fair event. His true victim count is still unknown. Also in 1893, he is thought to have killed Minnie and Nannie Williams (sisters) in order to obtain some property they owned in Fort Worth, Texas.
Now, remember I said that the insurance scams would be his undoing? Well, in 1889 (approximately) Holmes crosses paths with Benjamin Pitezel. Pitezel is a hardworking man trying to take care of his wife and five kids but, just can’t ever seem to get ahead. He has a serious drinking problem that doesn’t seem to help his matters any. But that matters not to Holmes. They quickly strike up a partnership as Holmes is an elegant type of man and Pitezel, well, he functions as more the muscle. They become close and Pitezel learns firsthand of Holmes’ dark and morbid secrets. Over time, Ben does a lot of “dirty work” for Holmes. Eventually, his drinking gets to the point where Holmes thinks Ben is now a liability. So, he puts the squeeze on Ben to run the insurance scam so he and his wife Carrie can have the money they so desperately need. Carrie doesn’t think this is a good idea but, the two men convince her.
But, shortly before this in 1894, Holmes is actually arrested for the Texas property fraud involving the Williams sisters and the actual exchange of the property, though there is also evidence that he confessed to the insurance scam in St. Louis to avoid charges in Texas. So, he’s put in jail in St. Louis while an investigation bears out. While in jail, as almost all egotists do, he starts running his mouth to a cellmate, a man named Marion Hedgepeth (no, I’m not making these names up, I swear.) Holmes tells Hedgepeth the insurance scam in detail and says all he needs is a legit lawyer that’s willing to play ball to push the claim through. Hedgepeth gives him the name of a lawyer and Holmes promises him $500 in exchange for the referral when the claim gets paid. He is quickly bailed out of jail by his third wife Georgiana, who he spun a web of lies to convince her he was in for something innocuous, and away he went to start off in Chicago, met Pitezel, began a partnership and convinced him to be part of the scam.
Unfortunately for Pitezel and his family, Holmes never intended to provide a cadaver and instead killed Pitezel, had his fifteen-year-old daughter identify the body, had Carrie collect the insurance and then swindled her out of all but $500. He also never sent the $500 to Hedgepeth. Herein lies his undoing. When Hedgepeth reads of Pitezel’s death in the paper and he has not received his payment, he immediately goes to police and rats out Holmes. And an investigation gets underway.
Meanwhile, Holmes is shuffling not only himself but, Carrie and ALL of the Pitezel children around the Midwest to keep them away from each other, eventually killing three of children, two of the girls, Alice and Nellie and one of the boys, Howard.
As the police investigated the scene of Pitezel’s death, though forensics was very rudimentary at the time, there were still things that were contradictory to common sense, making investigators raise their eyebrows. They could tell very quickly that the scene was staged. Holmes also made his connection to Pitezel very well known, even when they used aliases. The insurance policy for Pitezel was paid for via money order by way of telegraph on the last possible day before it was to be cancelled just days before his death AND the policy had been open less than a year and opened under an alias, B.F. Perry. All of these things sprang red flags in the eyes of not only the police but also the insurance company.
Eventually, in October of 1895, Holmes was put on trial for Pitezel’s murder. He was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, which took place at Moyamensing Prison on May 7, 1986. (Apparently, death sentences had express lanes back then and didn’t have the mandatory 7-10 year appeal process. It took less than a year to execute him after his conviction. Nowadays, it’s a minimum of 7-10 because of an automatic appeal on ANY death penalty sentence, period.)
By the end of his trial, investigators had found evidence that he had killed the Pitezel children and others. At various times, Holmes confessed to different numbers of killings. Nine can be proven with a reasonable amount of certainty. He claimed up to 27 at one time.
At one time Holmes managed to juggle three wives, at least four businesses, a business partner, renting rooms to fair goers, scamming the people in his very town, evade creditors in his very town, evade being traced from previous crimes and victims, have mistresses AND kill at will and dispose of bodies, ALL without losing his cool or composure. Guys, I tell you, people think Ted Bundy is some sort of diabolical mastermind…NO. He’s a flopped out amateur compared to Holmes. I mean, any normal person with all that stress would have come unglued. The fact that Holmes was able to keep it together, that these women never questioned him not even once, that he was able to so quickly disarm people over and over again, that he was able to keep running the same scams over and over, that is a different kind of psychopath altogether.
Surprisingly though, for being as intelligent and crafty as he was, Holmes made some really rookie mistakes. The biggest was that he ran his mouth in jail. That ego, that need to brag, that was what ultimately got him caught. Next, he wasn’t much for keeping a low profile. He should have known better. Eventually people are going to know who you are, I mean, you are operating in a three square mile area, people talk. Hello? Next, all the women. I mean my god, did the man not know scorned women are dangerous? While none of them REALLY came back to bite him, Carrie Pitezel DID testify at his trial and she was VERY swaying for the jury, there wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom when she was on the witness stand. That was VERY damning for Holmes. And again, out of $10,000 she only got $500, a dead husband and three dead children. I’d think she was pretty bitter about getting the very short end of that deal. Plus, he left bones in the basement of the castle. Not smart. That’s evidence. He killed Pitezel with chloroform, enough in fact that it actually showed up in his stomach content at autopsy. Big mistake. And as a medical school graduate with a specialty in dissection, Holmes should have known that would have been possible. For crying out loud, they could smell the chloroform at the crime scene. So, he was really diabolical but, like so many incredibly intellectual people, lacked a degree of common sense due to the inflated ego pushing his thoughts that he was too good and too smart to be caught. Obviously, that wasn’t exactly true. Once the Pinkertons were on his trail, they found him in less than a month.
Still, Holmes is a fascinating character of evil in the annals of our country’s history. It’s hard to think of someone more deserving of the title of Evil or Monster or Madman than Holmes himself. Surely there were many that crossed his path and went on their merry way. But, there were some that we know did not. Holmes had big plans for that “castle” in Chicago. When he moved to Texas he planned to erect another “castle” there to continue his work, fleeing Chicago when things got too hot and he feared he was close to capture. The only way this man was going to be stopped was arrest and confinement or death.
Shortly after his arrest for Pitezel’s murder and the castle was investigated, the building itself was set ablaze by an unknown party. It was not rebuilt in Holmes’ image and was instead repurposed as a city post office until 1938.
Though there is still mystery surrounding much of Holmes true activities today, one thing is perfectly clear. He killed at will, without compunction. He took advantage of men, women and children alike. He ran away when things got to complicated or too hot. He was a master manipulator and he was a well versed conman. In fact, had he used his skills in a more positive way, Holmes could have very well been one of the most successful men in the country of his time. Instead, he’s remembered as one of the most loathed.