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Heather was a bright 14-year-old from a good home. What made her a vampire?; Cult murder trial told she slept with teddy.

WHEN detectives raided the bedroom of schoolgirl Heather Wendorf they discovered the usual debris of teenage life.

Like any other 14-year-old, there were school books, pictures of pop stars...and a teddy bear she called Squishy.

In a diary she confessed she could not sleep at night without cuddling her comforting teddy.

But it was the other contents of the room that revealed a chilling side to her character.

Police were horrified to discover drawings of demons, a video of the film Interview With The Vampire - and a letter she wrote revealing her taste for blood. Heather lived with her parents Richard, 49, and Ruth, 54, in Eustis, 15 miles from Disney World in Florida where she attended the local high school.

Eustis was shaken to its small-town core on November 26, 1996 - when Heather's parents were bludgeoned to death.

Heather's father Richard, a warehouse manager, and his teacher wife Ruth were battered to pulp with a metal bar in their dining room.

It was not so much the murders that shocked Eustis but the chilling sex and blood-lust cult known as the Vampire Clan that lurked behind it.

And among its young members was seemingly squeaky-clean Heather.

In the court case that followed, Heather was cleared of any involvement - a decision that caused uproar across America.

But the cult's bespectacled leader Rod Ferrell, 17, admitted murdering Heather's parents and is expected to face the electric chair.

Charged with being accessories to the murder are two other young girls and a teenage boy - 20-year-old Dana Cooper, 17-year-old Charity Keesee and Howard Anderson, 16.

Heather was in a car outside her parents' house with Cooper, Anderson and Keesee when her parents were slaughtered.

She was freed after claiming she had no idea that Farrell intended to kill her parents.

The key to the mystery lies with Ferrell. He started dating Heather at Eustis High School in 1995.

It was an unlikely chat-up line but he boasted to her that he was a vampire and therefore immortal.

In her naivete, Heather asked him to introduce her to his depraved world of vampire worship.

"She was a really nice girl but deep down you could tell she had emotional problems," explained Joe Barrett, one of her close friends.

"When she started hanging out with Ferrell she changed. She started dyeing her hair purple or red and she wore long black clothes.

"She went around telling her friends she had crossed over and become a vampire."

Letters she wrote chronicle her dramatic transformation from a well- behaved schoolgirl to the weird world of Farrell's blood lust.

In one she told a friend that Ferrell was her saviour who would rescue her from a "life of hell" in Eustis. She said he was King and she would become Queen.

On the day before the killings she was officially sworn in as a vampire when she bit Ferrell in a cemetery and sucked his blood.

Sex played a significant part in the vampire worship in which it was said that drinking blood fuelled lust.

Another friend, Jeremy Hueber, who dated Heather, confirmed how much she changed.

''She got pleasure from drinking her blood and other people's blood," he said.

"It grossed me out but she told me that you could have the best sex only after a blood drink."

To understand Ferrell and how he was able to convert Heather, we need to examine his roots in Murray in the state of Kentucky.

Around 250 miles from Eustis, the small town of Murray is best known as the home of the national Boy Scout museum.

Littered with run-down shopping malls and drab bowling alleys, the town is shaped by its deeply religious community.

The small churches which dot the largely rural landscape preach a Christianity that views the devil as a real and powerful force.

There is much concern among the Bible-bashing community that their beliefs turned Ferrell towards vampire worship.

During his childhood his Pentecostal family tried to instil Christian values in him and he was seen as a kind lad who loved animals. In his teens, Ferrell rebelled against his strict upbringing and indulged in fantasy role-playing.

Fantasy soon became reality as Ferrell craved the power and control he acted out.

He became friends with Cooper, Anderson and Keesee with whom he played vampire games.

It was Cooper who worked at a supermarket and lived alone in an appartment and who took him to what is known as the Vampire Hotel - a concrete skeleton of a building on a hill above the town.

Set amid dark woods, strewn with beer cans, the derelict hotel looks like a bunker. Daubed on the walls in blood-red paint are messages like "Me Killa" and "Follow Me To Death".

At the Vampire Hotel Cooper introduced Ferrell to drink and secret rituals. They would light candles and indulge in sexual torture."

Ferrell and the other members of the Vampire Clan also surfed the Internet where there are hundreds of websites dedicated to vampires.

Although Ferrell has admitted the killings, little light has been shed on exactly why he butchered the Wendorfs. In the weeks leading up to the double murder, Ferrell talked increasingly of killing people "to consume their souls".

"He became possessed with opening the gates of Hell, which meant killing a large number of people in order to consume their souls," explained a friend.

"By doing this Ferrell believed that he would obtain super-powers."

But despite repeatedly striking the helpless Wendorfs with a metal bar he clearly failed to fulfil his beliefs.

Ferrell also burnt a V-sign and circular marks on the bodies - both symbols representing the Vampire Clan - a sick movement which is believed to be on the increase America

Although Ferrell expects to die in the electric chair his friends insist he will proclaim his belief in vampires until the end.

As for Heather, she has never disputed her membership of the Vampire Clan.

She is now 16, lives with her relatives and has returned to Eustis High School.

But she has had blazing rows with relatives who are believed to have turned against her.

And she still sleeps with her teddy bear.


THE mother of cult leader Rod Ferrell was part of the evil vampire circle - and recruited young boys.

Sondra Gibson, 35, wrote erotic letters and sent photos of herself posing in a swimsuit to schoolboy virgins - offering sex in exchange for them joining the gang.

In one letter, she said: "I longed to be near you, to become a vampire, a part of the family immortal and truly yours forever. You will then come to me and cross over with me and I'll be your bride for eternity."

Gibson appeared in court last November charged with solicitation to rape. She was cleared but found guilty of a lesser charge and given five years probation.

Meanwhile in Murray, her home town near Eustis, vampire incidents increased with the release of the movie Interview With The Vampire.

The film starring Tom Cruise - which made blood-sucking glamorous - was the most popular rental at video stores.

Ferrell once had to pay a pounds 20 penalty for keeping the film out for more than two weeks.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Dudman, Graham
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 8, 1998
Next Article:SAM'S EX NABBED.

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