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Satanic cult may have had hand in ballerina's death, police say

A Swiss-born ballerina whose dismembered body was found in a New York bus terminal locker in 1989 may have been murdered by a satanic cult, police said Tuesday after arresting a second man in connection with the slaying.

Randy Easterday was picked up by New York City detectives at an Easton, Pa., public library Friday. He is being charged with attempted murder in the killing of Monika Beerle and tampering with evidence, according to a police spokesman.

Easterday faces extradition to New York and is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court this week.

Police said their investigation of the slaying led them to The Church of the Realized Fantasy, a cult in New York's East Village where members allegedly experimented with psychedelic drugs and studied devil worship and human sacrifice.

One year ago, a former mental patient, Daniel Rakowitz, was found not responsible for the murder of Beerle by reason of insanity.

"The cult that Rakowitz dealt with is under investigation by police," said Lt. Robert Nardoza, spokesman for the New York Police Department. "There is new information in the case that leads investigators to believe that more people than Rakowitz are involved in her homicide."

Beerle, 26, of St. Gallen, Switzerland, came to New York in 1988 and worked in topless bars to support her classical dance studies. She was living with Rakowitz when she was murdered.

Rakowitz, 31, is being held in a maximum-security facility for the criminally insane but is seeking a sanity hearing that could set him free this month.

He had been accused of dismembering and boiling her corpse on Aug. 29, 1989, after she kicked him out of their Lower East Side apartment.

According to police, Rakowitz, Easterday and another man still being sought took turns stabbing the dancer.

Police also are trying to determine whether the cult is involved in several other unsolved deaths.

In his videotaped confession, the Texas-born Rakowitz told police he struck the dancer in a fit of rage, hitting her in the throat, causing her to suffocate. He claimed that after he dismembered her, he boiled her body parts and fed them to the homeless.

Police now believe that Easterday and the other man police are searching for aided Rakowitz in the killing.

After Rakowitz was arrested, he led police to a bucket of bones that he had stashed in a Port Authority Bus Terminal locker.

During Rakowitz's seven-week trial last year, a homeless man testified that he got a cup of soup from Rakowitz in Tompkins Square Park with a human finger floating in it.

In another case Monday, a Milwaukee judge sentenced serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to 15 consecutive life terms for a string of murders in which he cannibalized and had sex with corpses of men and boys he lured to his home.