Witness: Cult head molested as a boy

Published Feb. 18, 1998|Updated Sept. 12, 2005

As a boy, vampire cult leader Rod Ferrell was sexually abused by his grandfather and the man's friends during rituals, a mental health expert testified Tuesday.

Ferrell's grandfather, Harrell Gibson, denied that he or his friends molested his grandson or participated in cult activity. Gibson has said Ferrell told fantastic stories and lived in a "teenage dream world."

"I don't know anything on cults. I've read no books on cults," Gibson said.

He spoke outside the courtroom where a jury is considering a murder sentence for Ferrell, the 17-year-old son of Gibson's daughter.

The sexual-abuse allegations are one of many factors the jury are weighing as they consider whether to recommend life in prison or death for Ferrell.

Two weeks ago, Ferrell of Murray, Ky., pleaded guilty to the first-degree murders of Richard Wendorf and Naoma Queen. They were beaten with a crowbar.

The couple, parents of a friend of Ferrell's, were murdered Nov. 25, 1996, in their home in Eustis, 35 miles northwest of Orlando.

Ferrell told adolescent psychiatrist Wade Myers that rituals of his grandfather's cult, the Black Mask, included sodomy, sadism, masochism, torn tissues, cuts and burns. The cult met four times a year and participated in animal sacrifice, Ferrell said. Myers testified Friday.

Harry Krop of Gainesville, a forensic psychologist for the defense, said, "The goal of the cult was to release evil into the world and extinguish light." Krop examined Ferrell three times after his arrest.

Ferrell was raised by his mother, Sondra Gibson, and his maternal grandparents, Harrell and Rosetta Gibson, in Kentucky and Florida. His father abandoned the family when Ferrell was a newborn and didn't have any contact with him until Ferrell was 7, Krop said.

Ferrell was 9 when he last saw his father, Krop said.

Ferrell's grandfather worked as a truck driver and his grandmother as a cook. They regularly attended Pentecostal church and were described by Ferrell as "diehard Christians."

While he described his grandmother as a "sweet All-American grandmother," he told Myers that his grandfather abused him and told Krop that his grandfather's friends abused him.

His mother believed him and tried not to let Ferrell be alone with his grandfather.

But the psychologist didn't spare Ferrell's 35-year-old mother from criticism.

Ms. Gibson was an "ineffectual" parent, who had a series of abusive boyfriends and last year pleaded guilty to trying to entice a 14-year-old friend of Ferrell's to have sex, Krop said.

He said Ms. Gibson suffered from the same personality disorders as her son. She told a Kentucky psychologist after her arrest that she was drawn into her son's vampire cult and believed they had supernatural powers.

After the murders, Ferrell fled from Florida to Baton Rouge, La., with the victims' daughter, Heather Wendorf, and three other cult members.

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