The small town of Arroyo Grande California was rocked by news of the July 22nd, 1995 murder of 15 year old Elyse Pahler. The fact that the murder was perpetrated by three of Elyse’s classmates and the motive behind it made the murder that much worse.
Arroyo Grande may have been a picturesque location, it in fact had a dark side. 100 violent crimes were reported by the residents of Arroyo Grande in 1995 which means inhabitants had a higher than average chance of becoming a violent crime statistic(6 Clarkson) Not only did the area have a crime problem, the problem seemed to revolve around the areas teenagers... Over the previous few years there had actually been numerous gang-related crimes including frequent shootings and stabbing. As a journalist Robert Dyer pointed out this place has a large Latino population and being a gangster is popular with many of these type of kids. The strange thing is that many of these gang members are from middle class homes...there’s a lot of peer pressure to join these gangs but you don’t have to be a Latino to jump in. If you’re a teenager in this town you’re either a jock a gang member or a homosexual it’s t hat simple(7 Clarkson)
Elyse was a happy-go-lucky 15 year old, that was active in sports, the theater and was a member of her church choir. She was out going and had aspirations of becoming an actress. However, Elyse wasn’t the perfect child, she had a history of sneaking out of her parents house to meet boys and had been known to experiment with alcohol and marijuana. She also had been sent to Mariposa Community Recovery Center where she met Jacob Delashmutt, one of the boys that would participate in her murder.
The three boys that confessed and were convicted of Elyse’s murder(Royce Casey 17 Jacob Delashmutt 16 Joseph Fiorella 15) were young men with problems. Jacob Delashumutt was the son of devout Mormon parents, he had a talent for art and a drug problem, he had done a stint in the Mariposa Community Recovery Center, and was a known amphetamine user. Kara Herrick, a neighbor of Delashmutt would state that she had heard that Jacob and his friends were interested in real devil worship, they were strange boys. They kept to themselves and hardly spoke but I could see there was something bad going on with them(18 Clarkson)
Royce Casey and Joseph Fiorella were also troubled teenagers, they had difficulty in school, were known drug users, and generally were considered social outcasts. All of these young men were prime candidates for occult involvement. They were outcasts that felt that didn’t have an identity before becoming involved in the world of Satanism.
There where rumors at school that some students were practicing devil worship and there had been talk of a couple of boys trying to snatch a young virgin off the streets of Arroyo Grande.
The boys growing interest in the occult was also informed by Joe Fiorella’s growing library on the subject. He also had copies of pamphlets by Satanists such as Aleister Crowley. In it the author described a ritual in which a toad was crucified after being kept all night in an ark or chest.
Fiorella and Delashmutt were undoubtedly intrigued and devised entire fantasies to recall to their fellow internet Satanists. As their obsession grew so did their perspective on reality. This was fast becoming the only world they knew and enjoyed. But it is clear the two youths didn’t appreciate the difference between fantasy and reality(32 Clarkson)
Fiorella only started to truly focus in on the occult when he realized that his friends were keen to get involved. Eventually his superior knowledge of the subject matter meant that despite being the youngest in the group he could be their leader.
Casey said all of them he, Delashmutt Fiorella and Travis Williams had got into Satanism and they had even broken into graveyard and circled the stones of graves that they eventually intended to rob or bodies.(73 Clarkson)
Casey’s family noticed that the teenager was far from happy. He would spend days on end locked in his bedroom writing pages and pages in a special journal he had kept since the disappearance of Elyse Pahler...he described how he was fighting on the other side now(where) Satan arose and shall conquer and reign...he suggested that psycho serial killers should build an alter of sacrifice noting that virgin meat is the ultimate sacrifice(74 Clarkson)
Sometimes the boys were tempted to return to the eucalyptus grove and take a look at the evidence of their spiritual supremacy. No one to this day know how often the group returned.(76 Clarkson).
Juvenile Occult involvement
Gordon Milton a religious historian at the University of California Santa Barbara found that perpetrators of violent crime involving Satanism are usually white kids who live in middle class suburban areas. Milton claimed one of the appeals of teenage Satanism was teenage sexual anxiety. It’s a teenage power trip(18 Clarkson)
The truth is that teenagers are drawn gradually into the occult ritual activity through interests such as heavy metal music, Dungeons and Dragons fantasy games and books on occult magic. It is also claimed that many secretive adult Satanists encourage these teenagers into black magic ritualism and satanic worship
Experts believe that once teenagers become obsessed with satanic magic and devil worship they are driven to commit increasingly serious antisocial acts such as abusing drugs vandalizing churches and cemeteries and killing animals in ritual sacrifices. The next appalling step is suicide or murder.
As author Pat Pulling asserts in her book. The Devil’s Web. Law Enforcement officials and mental health professionals now recognize that fact that adolescent occult involvement is progressive. The child who is obsessed with occult entertainment may not stop there but he often moves on to satanic graffiti and cemetery vandalism from that point he easily moves into grave robing for items needed for occult rituals and he is just a step away from blood letting. Bloodletting begins with animal killings and mutilations and progresses to murder if intervention does not take place. (199 Clarkson)
Dr. Ronald Holmes professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville has even devised a four step outline that he believes helps identify the essential stages of teenage Satanism:
• stage 1 the youth in the occult is immediately drawn into the world of black magic and the worship of the devil because he is told that great wordily power and temporary glory will be his for the asking.
• stage 2 the initiate is now exposed to satanic philosophies and becomes one with the demonic belief system...this new member learns the prayers spells doctrines dogma’s of the faith, holidays rituals and the importance of being baptized in the blood of Satan.
• stage 3 now that the youth has progressed into the world of the satanic he is now accepted into the secret and religious ceremonies of the coven.
• stage 4 in the final stage of total involvement in Satanism the young person becomes firmly committed to the occult lifestyle(199-200 Clarkson)
In 1991 a careful study of 55 so called teenage pseudo-Satanists incarcerated at the Texas Youth Commission Reception Center in Brownwood Texas made some startling conclusions. The delinquents differed from other inmates in several ways:
1. They were virtually all white
2. They were all from middle class backgrounds
3. They all had high IQ scores
4. They nearly all had used hallucinogenic drugs rather than substances such as cocaine and heroin
5. They all felt they had little power or control over their lives
6. Virtually all of them had participated in satanic ceremonies as part of a group activity. None of them could be classified as social loners(203 Clarkson)
The practice of Satanism is made up of a very diverse set of beliefs that has a few common philosophies. Its followers traditionally focus has been on total inversion of Juedo Christianity. Rituals, symbols and doctrines are reversed by the Satanist faith(72 kail).
Satanism is a very self-centered practice. Adherents are usually involved for what they can get from rituals as opposed to a deep spirituality. Most rituals are ego driven, preformed for the gaining of power for the destruction of others and are performed usually in a barter type fashion. The concept of the initiate giving blood sacrifices or his should for a spiritual gift is standard for the traditional medieval Satanists.
Medieval Satanism appears to have three common types of rituals:
1. Demonic Assistance
2. Necromantic Assistance
3. Satanic Assistance through distortion of traditional religions.(79 Kail)
The art of using the spirits of the dead is known as necromancy from the Greek words for dead and divination. This practice can be performed through rituals that harness death energy(82 Kail). While these groups may not be as organized as others it does not reduce the propensity for violence among these groups. In fact the lack of responsibility to a governing church or body makes these groups more susceptible to criminal activities.(82 Kail)
Most homemade groups do not have a concrete ideology. Most followers of these groups are fringe personalities who are hell bent on self-destruction or deviant behavior. Most of these members are not familiar with any ideology except the concept of Satan as a deity. This member is usually not patient or disiplined enough to seriously study the tenants of black magick. While the music, movies and literature that people in t his category use to create a religion are cultural fads their actions may be anything but harmless. These followers are usually 15-21 years old white males.(82 Kail)
Families that practice the religion of Satanism usually do so very clandestinely. These families include those that have practiced the left hand path for generations and those that have just picked up the religion.
Incidents involving sexual deviancy and criminal acts have been found in those generational Satanists families. The veil of secrecy surrounding the families religion also covers the criminal acts.(85-86 Kail)
Juvenile occultists tend to be on the outside of the social circles in their age groups. Those young people who are considered nerds or stoners find identity in belief systems that accept anyone.
Street gangs and juvenile occult groups maintain a family type of atmosphere. The group member feels wanted and protected by his family. There are rules and regulations in these groups that give a young person a feeling of boundaries.
Many juveniles who become involved in the occult are seeking power. Many occult religions promise power over circumstances. This is very appealing to those youths who have been victims of abuse. The rage and pain of the abuse can be released in rituals and spells. The power of magick can give them the feeling of protection. Juvenile occult involvement can provide an outlet for rebellion against authority parents and traditional religion. Many juvenile occultists have been hurt by traditional religion and have a need to act out against that hurt. Occult belief systems such as Satanism endorse reversal of Judeo Christian ideals and rituals which is quite appealing to juveniles who are trying to rebel.(90 Kail)
Young people who feel that they are not accepted by any other social group find acceptance in the occult. Magick plays no favorites and can be practiced by anyone. Those with violent tendencies and aggressive behavior find a niche in such occult belief systems as Satanism. With its philosophy of dog eat dog Satanism can provide troubled youths with a justification to act on their tendencies. Juvenile occult groups may come to an officer’s attention through school personnel juvenile probation officers or other agencies. Youth groups involved in the occult tend to be loosely structured when there is some sort of leadership it is usually a very charismatic leader who commonly has some basic knowledge of the occult and appears quite impressive to the rest of the group.(91 Kail)
The American Psychological Association has detailed some warning signs that a juvenile may exhibit before he/she becomes violent:
• Daily loss of temper
• Frequent physical fighting
• Significant vandalism or property damage
• Increased use of drugs or alcohol
• Increase in risk taking behavior
• Detailed plans to commit acts of violence
• Announcing threats or plans for hurting others
• Enjoying hurting animals
• carrying a weapon
Long Term Symptoms that violence may be brewing in a juvenile may also be present. Some of these symptoms may be the following:
• A history of violent or aggressive behavior
• Serious drug or alcohol use
• Gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang
• Access to or fascination with weapons
• threatening others regularly
• Trouble controlling feelings like anger
• withdrawal from friends and usual activities
• feeling rejected or alone
• having been a victim of bullying
• poor school performance
• history of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
• feeling constantly disrespected
• failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others.(92 Kail)
The following is a list of symptoms that may appear in these juveniles. The observance of a few of these symptoms does not make a teenager a Satanist. All of these indicators should be taken into consideration.
• Depression and withdrawal
• hatred toward traditional religion
• secretiveness about new friends and activities
• possession of occult books and ritual tools
• alcohol or drug use
• cruelty to animals
• self mutilation
• drawings of demonic imagery
• drop in grades
• display of occult tattoos or jewelry
• suicidal tendencies
• obsession with death, demons, Satan
• lack or emotion or uncontrollable anger
• nightmares and sleep disorders(96 Kail)
On the night of July 22nd 1995, 15 year old Elyse Pahler slipped out of her family home. She was planing on meeting some friends. Unfortunately for young Elyse, her friends had a different plan for her.
The three young men she had decided to meet had become involved in Satanism and had chosen Elyse to be their victim. They needed a virgin to sacrifice to Satan and she was it.
The boys led their young victim into a eucalyptus grove, a belt was looped around her neck to keep her quite and under control during the attack. The attackers took turns stabbing Elyse with the knife they had brought along for the occasion. In total the victim was stabbed 12 times. After they were finished the boys dragged the body further into the eucalyptus grove. Her cause of death was multiple stab wounds to her torso she also may have been tortured.
On March 13th 1996 Royce Casey confessed to the murder. Brought police to the body.
Many students at the highschool were not surprised that Delashmutt, Casey and Fiorella had been arrested because many of them actually knew what had happened to Elyse but were to afraid to tell the authorities(86 Clarkson)
On September 16th 1996, the boys plead guilty to rape and murder chargers, on February 5th 1997, Joseph Fiorella plead no contest to the murder and was sentenced to 26 years to life. And on September 16th 1997 Royce Casey plead guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
In the name of Satan Wensely Clarkson 1997 St. Martin’s
A Cops Guide To Occult Investigations: Understanding Satanism, Santeria, Wicca And Other Alternative Religions Tony M. Kail 2003 Paladin Press.