at Pulling, during her odyssey through the Satanic wasteland of
Richmond, has come across some truly interesting characters. Cassandra
"Sam" Hoyer is one who claims that she was raised in New England to
become a High Priestess for a Satanic Cult. Both she and Pulling appeared on
a KFYI radio show in Phoenix on Satanism.
In an article in INSIGHT (11 January 88) Sam says she was given over to
the cult at the age of 3 by her mother. She was "born physically perfect and
so was found acceptable to Satan. Her twin sister was born with a deformed
foot. The sister was ritually murdered, she says." On KFYI Sam elaborated,
saying she was trained until the age of 17 to be the High Priestess. At that
time she was sent out into the world even though she had witnessed
multiple murders. She confessed to having consumed some of her sister's
body at the time of her murder.
In a Richmond News Leader story (21 Sept 88) she said she was, at the
age of 9, "ritually burned and I was one who didn't [die]. By the grace of God
I didn't burn, which means I was chosen to be Satan's high priestess at the
age of 42." [Note: God makes Satan's draft picks for him!] She also said she
was tortured and abused for 16 years, then hypnotized into forgetting
everything later. "When I turned 39 they would attempt to tap back into my
In a News Leader article (7 April 89) Sam's psychotherapist said she
suffered from multiple personality disorder. The article goes on to relate that
Ms. Hoyer began to realize she was a Satanic cult victim while undergoing
psychotherapy in recent years.
In the KFYI radio program callers were allowed to as questions of the guests. The most telling question for Hoyer came when a male caller asked, "Do Satanists believe in an afterlife?" Sam answered, "Oh, no, I don't think so." This from a woman who was being trained to be a High Priestess?
It doesn't take someone in the College of Cardinals, or a seminary graduate to answer that question from the Catholic point of view. How is it, then, that a woman being trained to hold sacrifices couldn't answer that question? And why, if Cassandra Hoyer is so terrified of Satanists finding her, is she willing to go public with her story, letting people know she lives and has lived in Richmond for the past nine years. If these Satanists are so good at making all their other victims disappear, why has Hoyer survived?
As odd as it seems for Pat Pulling to be retained as a "jury trainer" and
expert witness in murder cases, odder still is her alliance with Larry Jones.
Jones serves with the Boise, Idaho police department and is the head of the
Cult Crime Impact Network, Inc. He is the publisher of File 18, a newsletter
that he claims reaches between 1,500 and 2,500 law enforcement
individuals. File 18 reports on occult crimes from all over the country, but
appears to use as its sources newspaper clippings sent by readers and other
A few excerpts from File 18 are in order to reflect BADD's ties with it, and the general slant of its editorial bias. While each issue bears the following, or some variation of the following disclaimer, the newsletter carries no copyright. Disclaimer: "CONFIDENTIAL: RESTRICTED ACCESS INFORMATION FOR OFFICIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY." The April 1989 issue expands this to read: "CONFIDENTIAL: RESTRICTED ACCESS INFORMATION. NOT FOR RELEASE TO PUBLIC, MEDIA, OR UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS OR GROUPS. INFORMATION IN THIS PUBLICATION IS INTENDED TO PRIMARILY AID LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND LEGITIMATE COMMUNITY PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE COMBATTING CULT-MOTIVATION CRIMES AND ASSISTING SURVIVORS.
The December 1988 issue notes the link with BADD.
XI. WHO HAS YOUR ADDRESS?
Over the past six months or so, a number of non- authorized publications and letters have been mailed to persons on the FILE 18 NEWSLETTER. With the exception of two mailings from B. A. D. D., Inc. about their upcoming seminars, the C. C. I. N. Board did not give prior authorization to use the mailing list. We have verifiable information that some law enforcement officers on the FILE 18 list are also members of occult groups. These people have apparently take the mailing list and copies of FILE 18 and passed them on to persons whose goals are to influence the reader's sentiments against the mission of C. C. I. N.
The February 1989 issue provides an interesting look into the thought processes of individuals charged with seeking evidence in criminal cases:
All across the United States, men sit in prisons and on death rows convicted of satanic sacrifice killings. Others have been imprisoned for gruesome abuse and victimization of infants, children, and adults. Adult survivors tell strikingly similar accounts of bondage, fear, mind control, and rituals accomplished for years under the noses (or with the complicity) of so-called "normal society" and its officials.
Those who deny, explain away, or cover-up the obvious undeniably growing mountain of evidence, often demand statistical evidence or positive linkages between operational suspect groups. At best, this demand for positive proof of a "horizontal conspiracy" is naive. At its worst, it is a red herring designed to misdirect the attention of the growing number of professionals who are convinced that we must effectively pursue and confront what could be the crime of the 90's.
Consider the possibility that the reason supposedly unrelated groups in different localities over various time periods are acting-out in a similar manner, is that consistent directives are recieved [sic] independently from higher levels of authority. Instead of being directly linked to each other, these groups may be linked vertically to a common source of direction and control. This "vertical conspiracy model" is consistent with the "authoritarian" (pyramid-type) structure seen in many cult and occult groups. Those who accept this theory as a reasonable possibility need to re-think the meaning, scope, and effects of the term conspiracy!
A growing body of evidence, intelligence information, survivor statements, and court convictions exert increasing pressure upon us to "reach the verdict" that hertofore [sic] 'unrelated problems,' are being orchestrated from a central source. Let's wake up and see the reality of what we've ineffectually fought for so long. Only by chopping at the tap root of the crime tree instead of just raking the leaves can we hope to stem or turn the tide.
In that same issue the following appears:
The solution [to Satanism]: The Editorial Staff concurs that the only true and lasting solution to "devil worship" or satanic involvement is a personal encounter with true Christianity and with the central figure of that faith, Jesus Christ. Only through this light can the deep and dangerous tentacles of satanic or occult enslavement be exposed and removed from a person's life.
Lastly, the two following quotes come from the April 1989 issue of File 18:
We believe that certain groups and interests either finally became aware of C. C. I. N.'s existence or decided we weren't going to go away. They devised active campaigns of infiltration and counter-information intended to intimidate, nullify, and/or eliminate the worked we started, the work we encourage among the many legitimate professionals in police departments, schools, treatment facilities, churches, and special interest groups across this nation. Wedges of distrust have been driven between credible resource groups and authorities. Today, the forces of opposition are hammering out volumes of information designed to confuse, mislead, and dilute the truth. Tactics including: character assassination, rumor, innuendo, ridicule, and threats of civil litigation are designed to halt the vital exposure of formerly secret practices, associations, and criminal methodologies.
A bit later in that same issue we get:
VIII. Acquino, Again:
In March, 1988... on The Oprah Winfrey Show, [Temple of Set founder Michael Acquino] said that if satanists were really committing crimes the police would know about them and investigate, putting the satanists under arrest.
In the File 18 Newsletter, Vol. III... we asked for confirmation that the United States Military had reopened an investigation on Lt. Co. Acquino. Confirmation came from no less than an article published in the San Jose Mercury News, December 23, 1988. Linda Godlston, Staff Writer, reported: "Six months after the U. S. Attorney's Office closed the Presidio child sex abuse case, the Army has launched a new investigation of one of the original suspects in the matter - a high ranking officer who founded a satanic church, according to those close to the probe.
We certainly afford Mr. Acquino the benefit of the legal presumption of his innocence, but...
This File 18 material needs discussion to cover only a couple of points.
The general tone of paranoia is disturbing within a document being
published by and for police officials and other interested professionals. The
idea that the solution to satanic crimes is a personal encounter with Jesus
Christ went out with witch trials. Flip Wilson's line "The devil made me do it"
brought laughs twenty years ago, now it apparently is a motive for crimes
from vandalism to mass murder.
Most of what appears in File 18 "is quoted from books and articles available on the newsstands... Most so-called 'police only' materials we now use have been developed by civilians!" If this is true, why does Jones publish it and thereby provide it with a veneer of legitimacy that it does not deserve? Newspaper accounts stress the unusual and always seek to have a unique angle, but that angle often fades to insignificance as a case is studied. Why then is some much emphasis placed on newsstand accounts?
The File 18 "vertical conspiracy" theory falls quickly when Occam's Razor is applied to it with even the barest of pressure. What need is there of an invisible cabal when Dan Rather or Geraldo Rivera inform everyone of any bizarre occurrence from coast to coast - making copycat antics not only easy, but a surefire way of getting publicity? Why does anyone need cultists propagating their rituals in secret when anyone can pick up a hundred different horror novels that describe things in spine-chilling detail?
The place where the most caution is needed for someone looking into the
"Satanism" phenomena comes when the above questions are answered. To
the people involved in the crusade against diabolism, the answer to our
latter question is that the horror novelists are part of the conspiracy. This
will not be said in such plain terms, but the veiled threats of a conspiracy
including doctors, lawyers, cops and other professionals covers enough bases
to leave one questioning who to trust. The conclusion will be left for you to
make, and placing people on the inside is easier than trying to sort out the
Face it, anyone who reads Stephen King has got to wonder where he
comes up with his ideas. That question leaves the lingering impression that
King must not be on the same wavelength as the rest of us. And because his
work is so exacting in detail, it is very easy to assume that he must have
special knowledge - he must be connected with all this nonsense in some
way. The fact that some misguided kids are found acting out a scene of one
of his books confirms that King is chronicling true rituals, ignoring the fact
that the kids were recreating his work. Not only does this put the cart before
the horse in a big way, but it leads to stereotyping that quickly lumps all
Where does a writer get his material? What he doesn't glean from
newspapers, magazines and research, he makes up. He uses his imagination
and puts things together to get the desired effect. If he wants a scary scene
he sets it at night with fog and the scent of decaying garbage. He includes
pentagrams and skulls, and whatever other trappings Hollywood and the
popular conception of a scary scene would contain. A splash of blood, a chant
or two, and suddenly an evil ritual is born.
Just like the reader, the writer does not have to know what is REAL, he
just has to know what people believe is real. Likewise, Pat Pulling does not
need to present real instances and evidence, she merely needs to give out a
few details and allude to darker, hidden knowledge that is too confidential
for the uninitiated to know. Our imaginations take over where Pat's leaves
As an investigator, Pat Pulling is not even barely competent. Her clients get their money's worth only when she's doing *pro bono * work.
Pat Pulling could be a writer of fiction, however. Professional fiction
writers, if you think about it, are paid liars. As can be seen from the cases
below, Pat's mastered the art of fictioneering or, more kindly, of creating a
revisionist history to bolster her in her crusade against a game she has
chosen to blame for the loss of her son.
I would do my best to present a detailed refutation of each and every one
of the 125 cases of suicide and murder Pat Pulling cites as having occurred.
"The list goes on and on. Well over 100 incidents have been widely
publicized in newspapers all over the country. A considerably larger number
of cases have not been made public."
Unfortunately, the cases that Mrs. Pulling has chosen to make public are
presented with so little detail that determining when and where they
happened is nearly impossible. Such cases, until evidence can be presented
to show they even exist, have to be considered anecdotes. As you will see in
the cases presented below, such anecdotes are easily refuted by evidence
often presented in the same newspaper article that reported them in the
first place. Because of that tendency with these cases, the urge to dismiss
anything anecdotal is overwhelming.
It should be noted at this point that what follows is not meant to be an
indictment of the press. While it as been asserted that journalism is merely a
suffix of the word irresponsible, the fact is that a reporter's job is to seek out
the unusual and inform us of it. A headline's purpose is to draw the reader
to that story. If there is a problem with modern news reporting it is that
articles cannot be inexorably linked to their follow-ups and clarifications
when they are quoted and republished.
The cases covered below are presented in no specific order. Many have been chosen because they are the cases that have been touted very heavily to justify BADD's actions. These cases, as you will see, fall apart rather quickly. If there is nothing to these seminal cases, then one has to wonder what could be there in the cases BADD does not emphasize.
James Dallas Egbert III Dallas Egbert is the first case of D&D being linked with bizarre behavior in a youth, and is the story that started all the furor back in 1979. Dallas was a brilliant yet troubled boy who graduated from high school at 13 and had entered Michigan State University at the age of 14. Pushed by his parents to excel, having a younger brother who was even brighter than he was, and being physically smaller and more frail than his older classmates, Dallas felt a great deal of pressure. By his Junior year he had discovered he was a homosexual and had become a substance abuser ; going so far as to cook up his own drugs in a lab on campus.
On 15 August 1979 Dallas decided to commit suicide. He took a drug
overdose while in the steam tunnels beneath his dorm. He awakened after
some time and ran away to stay with a friend in the homosexual community
in Lansing. By the time he regained his wits, the police had begun a massive
search for him and his parents had hired William Dear to find him. His
homosexual friends, being afraid of being charged with kidnapping a minor,
gave Dallas money and got him out of Michigan.
The police search for Dallas proved fruitless, though an arcane game map on Dallas' bulletin board in his room led them to believe he was playing a strange game. The press picked up on this and published the story concerning his disappearance and Dungeons and Dragons.
On 13 September 1979 Dallas called Dear at his Texas office and arranged
to be brought in. At that time, according to Dear's book The Dungeon
Master, Dallas said D&D had nothing to do with his disappearance. Dear
asked, "You really enjoyed Dungeons & Dragons, didn't you?" (The Dungeon
Master, page 268)
"Playing the game - for real, I man - was total escape. I mean, I could get into it. Scramble through those [steam] tunnels like a monkey. And you can use all your brains. There's nothing to constrain you except the limit of your imagination. When I played a character, I was that character. Didn't bring all my personal problems alone with me. It's a terrific way to escape."
Dear later writes:
On the morning of August 11, 1980, seated on a couch alone in the living room of his apartment, Dallas put a .25-caliber automatic pistol to his right temple and squeezed the trigger.
Dallas wasn't dead. He lay in critical condition in the intensive-care unit of Grandview Osteopathic Hospital...Six says later, on August 16 - a year and a day after he had disappeared - the wonderful brain no longer gave off waves, and the machines were disconnected.
Dallas's suicide, a year after his disappearance, continues to be linked to
the game D&D even though the game, in fact, had nothing to do with either
his death or his disappearance.
This linkage is in part due to William Dear because, to sell more books, he
hopped on the anti-D&D bandwagon, blaming the game for Dallas' death
despite what he himself had written in the book. Lest this accusation of
blatant opportunism seem gratuitous, the Dallas Times Herald, 11 December
1988, page K-4, provides more evidence to pinpoint Dear's mercenary
motives. An ad offering autographed copies of The Dungeon Master has the
header "True Story of Boy Genius Hooked on Danger & Drugs." With the
public's concern turning toward drugs, Dear shifted his emphasis to sell more
BADD seems willfully ignorant of the time lapse between Dallas'
disappearance and his death. In a radio debate on KFYI (14 July 87) with the
author, Rosemary Loyacano reacted as if the year's time lag in no way
severed the connection between D&D and Dallas' death. Dallas is still touted
as the first martyr created by D&D.
Daniel and Steve Erwin These two young men, 16 and 12 years old respectively, had a death pact and died less than four blocks from their home, with Steve shooting his brother through the head, then killed himself. BADD points out that in the first article on the death a detective says, "There is no doubt that D&D cost them their lives."(The Denver Post 4 November 84)
In an article in the Jainesville Gazette (18 Sept 85) the family denied any
connection between the game and their sons' deaths. "Two young brothers
carried out a murder-suicide pact last fall because the older brother feared
his sentencing in an auto theft case, not because of the Dungeons & Dragons
fantasy game, their mother said." The article went on to quote Daniel's
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry that it had to end this way, but things just came to a close. A man without his freedom is not a man at all. Therefore, this man is targeted for termination and my goodbyes are now, so shall it be.
Harold T. Collins is acknowledged in the NCTV release of 17 January 85
has having died on 30 April 83 of "auto-erotic hanging." He was 18 and lived
in Marion, Ohio. An article reprinted by BADD in Primer from The Lake
Country News-Herald (30 April 83) says the police confiscated letters from
friends in Kentucky that indicated many of them were involved in auto-
erotic hanging. It also notes that his sister did not think highly of Harold's
spending a lot of time playing D&D, but nothing indicates that the two items
are related in any way.
Timothy Grice killed himself with a shotgun on 17 January 1983 at the age
of 21. NCTV quoted a detective as saying, "D&D became a reality... He thought
he was not constrained to this life but could leave and return because of the
In a 20 September 85 letter to Dragon Magazine, his mother, Royce Grice,
There has been a great deal of publicity nation wide attributing the death of my son Tim Grice to the influence of Dungeons and Dragons. Nothing could be further from the truth and I have steadfastly maintained so to the press who have contacted me.
Dungeons and Dragons gave him many hours of pleasure. It was a delight to watch he and his friends play....
It would not have been his intent in any way to have his death reflect negatively upon you, your company, or your creative outlets for others.
Irving Lee "Bink" Pulling Bink was Pat Pulling's son. According to an
NCTV release (17 Jan 85) he shot himself on 9 June 82 "hours after a D&D
curse was placed on him during a game conducted at his local high school."
In BADD's Primer, Pulling reprints 14 of 20 column inches of a 13 August
83 story concerning the Pullings' lawsuit against the school where the game
was played and against TSR.
The article notes:
[Bink Pulling] had trouble 'fitting in' and became dejected when he was unable to find a campaign manager when he ran for school office. Shortly before his death, he wrote 'Life is a Joke' on the blackboard in one of his classes, one classmate said.
In the section of the article Pulling did not print the following appeared:
'He had a lot of problems anyway that weren't associated with the game,' said Victoria Rockecharlie, another classmate of Pulling's in the Talented and Gifted program.
Though she presents herself as taken utterly unawares by her son's
death, at least in BADD publications, Mrs. Pulling was aware of her son's
problems. During a seminar given at the North Colorado/South Wyoming
Detective Association 9-12 Sept 86 (and as reported in File 18) she said her
son had been displaying "lycanthropic" tendencies like running around the
backyard barking. Within the month before his death, 19 rabbits Bink had
raised were inexplicably torn apart, and a cat was found disembowled with a
It seems very clear that Bink Pulling was a disturbed youth.
Steven Loyacano Steven was the son of Rosemary Loyacano, the Western
Regional Director for BADD. According to his mother, on KFYI radio (14 July
87), an occult recruiter used D&D to lure her son into the world of Satanism.
After his death on 14 October 82 of carbon monoxide poisoning, Rosemary
said she found occult books, occult pornography, symbols from black masses,
including altar cloths and candles hidden in her son's room. She said that
friends of his said he had engaged in "rituals and animal sacrifices." As she
searched his room and looked in drawers she found his writings which she
describes as "horrible."
Ted Schwarz and Duane Empey chronicle Steven's case in their book Satanism. [Note: They withhold his name, but the age, location, method of death and details supplied in published statements by the family all clearly point to his identity.] Throughout his "journey through a maze of fantasy, isolation, and ultimate madness" they splice in selections from his diaries. While the entries are undated, they do seem consistent and certainly reveal a youth feeling increasingly isolated as he stumbled through his teen years.
The report his introduction to D&D came when he was 14 years old. His
introduction to the occult happened some time after he had started playing
Lonely, despite loving parents who would have reached out to him if he had expressed what was in his head, he began looking for ways to change. During one of the games, a friend called upon Satan as a way of winning. He asked for satanic powers, and he won the game.
As a result, the authors say, Steven made a pact with the devil, promising
him his own and 20 other souls within the next 30 years. In exchange Steven
was to be given invisibility, the ability to shape shift, to stop time, to fly, to
levitate objects and to cast hellfire. He began to browse occult bookshops
without his parents' knowledge and began to read on mythology, fantasy and
the occult. Unlike Mrs. Loyacano, the authors do not mention occult group
involvement - they only mention one other friend as going to the bookstores
to him and detail no ceremonies or sacrifices.
The book goes on to say:
In retrospect, his parents realized that they probably should have gotten more involved with their son, but they knew from their friends that all teenagers have a tendency to withdraw from their parents. And on the surface, he still seemed to enjoy family activities, camping, church.
Later they note:
He gave no warning signs to his family, his friends, or his teachers other than his declining grades...
What was important, the diary, his drawings, even ritual objects such as daggers he had purchased were all so carefully hidden that even a prying mother would probably not have found them. He used hollowed out books for many of his treasures, his actions were furtive, his pact with Satan too personal for him to want anyone to discover the truth.
The suggestion that he had given his family no clues that something was
wrong is contradicted by a quote from his sister in Newsweek (9 Sept 85):
"The family knew something was wrong when he took down his Cheryl Ladd
posters and replaced them with pictures of demons."
The family has asserted throughout that Steven killed himself because he
could not resolve the conflict between his desire to shed blood and his love
for his family. He was afraid that he would kill them and decided, instead, to
kill himself. His suicide note, as reprinted in Satanism only hints at that
being his motive in the last paragraph:
My death is one that could of been avoided. I could have lived for a long time here with you. Building the foundation for my future existence. But something went wrong. My sences [sic] began to sharpen rapidly and to live became a discomfort. I was caught between the hatred for this world and the thirst for blood. My plite [sic] for "evil" became stagnant. The only instinct was to act, and act fast. So, ending my life.
Steven clearly was a disturbed boy, but did D&D cause his death? I tend
to think not. D&D may have sparked an interest in the occult, but it did not
kill him. In fact, nothing in BADD or NCTV publications, the discussion with
Rosemary Loyacano or the book Satanism suggest Steven was anything
more remarkable than a teen ager who was consumed by isolation and
Michael Dempsey Michael Dempsey was the 17 year old son of retired
Seattle police man Patrick Dempsey. (Dempsey is listed along with Pat
Pulling and Rosemary Loyacano as the author of a BADD publication about
NCTV says of Michael's 19 May 81 suicide: "Parents witnessed him
summoning D&D demons only moments before killing himself." (17 Jan 85
release). The Chicago Tribune story of 7 Jan 85 clarifies that a bit, saying
"Michael shot himself in the head...only hours after his parents discovered
him in his room as he invoked demons from the game." Newsweek's 9 Sept
85 story said "...following an argument with his father, he shot himself to
death." Rosemary Loyacano, on KFYI (14 July 87) said she had spoken with
Patrick Dempsey and that the argument concerned Michael spending too
much time programming D&D into a computer.
BADD has assumed that because the argument concerned the game, that is the reason Michael killed himself. The idea that fighting with his father might have emotionally affected him and caused his suicide - whatever the cause of the fight - seems to have slipped away in importance. If he and his father had been arguing about sports or schoolwork, it is safe to bet that neither of those things would be blamed for his death.
Missy Macon was a clerk in a convenience store who was killed in a robbery by Cayce Moore, Scott Davis and Chris White. A 27 October 85 story from the Ragland, Alabama News-Aegis says that Moore told Chris White they wanted to live the life of "Top Secret." They procured guns, rode around in a car until they hit upon what they wanted to do, and even agreed the Cayce was to kill the clerk because "he [had] the small gun."
The detective who found the youths had to talk Moore and Davis out of killing themselves. He testified in court that he did not know what "Top Secret" was, but that the boys had told him it was a game "similar to Dungeons & Dragons." The newspaper account goes on to correct the detective and describes "Top Secret" as a game played on college campuses in which players try to assassinate targets with dart guns, squirt guns or similar non-lethal weapons. [Known as "Killer" or "Assassin," the game enjoyed a certain amount of popularity at the beginning of the '80s. It has largely be usurped by Survival or Paint-Pellet games in the countryside.]
In fact, the detective was correct. Top Secret was a role playing game
produced by TSR that allowed players to adventure as spies. As the object of
the game was recreate James Bond type adventures, it is hard to cast an
armed robbery as part of the game's milieu. Even more curious is BADD's
omission of Top Secret from the list of games Mrs. Pulling has published as
being like D&D and harmful.
In short, these boys decided to pull a robbery and ended up murdering
someone. If they had truly wanted to play the game, they would have just
played the game.
Roland Cartier was 13 years old when he hung himself on 25 April 84. The
Christian Information Council, a fundamentalist group, campaigned against
Dungeons & Dragons being played at school, blaming his death on the game.
But, according to a New York Times story (22 Aug 85) "At a meeting in May,
the state police trooper who investigated the suicide, Paul Roy, said,
'Dungeons and Dragons no way killed this kid.' He said the youth had become
involved with drugs....'I'm sick of them saying that Roland killed himself
because of D&D - it was drugs,' said Erick Bergeson, who used to play with
the dead youth."
USA Today, on 2 August 85, ran a story that said, in part, "Shawn
Dowling, 14, who was in Roland Cartier's class at Putnam (CT) Middle School,
doesn't believe D&D caused his death. Nor does Cartier's mother, Martha, who
moved from town last month."
Martha Cartier said in a letter to the Observer Patriot (reprinted in the
Norwich CT Bulletin) "My son also played Uno, Yahtzee, Monopoly and other
games and I'll say it again - it was not from any game that my son
committed suicide. Not even D&D."
Unfortunately, the pressure on the school to remove the game continued.
As the AP reported on 8 Oct 85 "After a six month debate, the teacher
supervising student participation in the game had decided against continuing
to oversee D&D. Because no activity is allowed without a supervisor, the
game will be dropped."
James A. Stalley killed himself with a sawed off shotgun during a school
drama class at Arlington High School. The headline reads "Classmates
stunned by youth's suicide in front of his drama class." The lead sentence of
the article, however, gives a different slant to the whole story: "A teen-ager
who killed himself with a sawed-off shotgun in front of his drama class *was
a devotee of the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons * and had a lead role in
this weekend's school play, friends said."[Emphasis added by BADD's
underlining in the reprinted article.]
The article goes on to note that James was a shy, intellectual who enjoyed
D&D, read science fiction and practiced Tai Chi Chuan. He had joined the
school drama club earlier that year and had already had a role in his first
play. Why the D&D angle was singled out for the lead line is unclear, but
nothing in the story suggests D&D caused his suicide any more than Tai Chi
or science fiction or being in the drama club.
Clifford Meling was a 17 year old weight lifter whose suicide was reported
in the Sunday Des Moines Register on 11 September 1988 with the headline:
"Dungeons, dragons and despair over illness before teen's suicide." The
coroner said, "I can't say [D&D] was the only factor [in the suicide] but it was
one of them. This particular game appears to lock into people's thinking. It
can mess up vulnerable kids."
Clifford's father Gary disagreed. He pointed to the fact that his son was
depressed about his inability to play football for the Green Mountain-Garwin
Wolverines. The previous year he had played on the state championship
team, but in July he came down with mononucleosis. He lost 20 pounds and
was left too weak to play football. "You could see it in his face," his father
said, "He was just drained."
Cliff tried to return to the team, but threw up on the first day of practice
and passed out on the second. "I talked to him a half and hour before [his
suicide] happened. He said, 'Dad, last year I was the strongest kid in the
class. This year I can't do nothing.'"
The coroner said Cliff's suicide note said nothing about D&D.
Darren Molitor, Pat Beach, John Justice, James Alan Kearbey, Sean
Sellers, Jeffrey Meyers, Daniel Kasten All these young men have been
arrested for and convicted of murder. At one of three points a role playing
game has been brought into their cases: 1) Mentioned by the press at the
time of the murder, 2) Mentioned by defense lawyers as the reason for the
crime (in an insanity defense) and 3) Mentioned after conviction as the
reason for the crime in a move for clemency.
Darren Molitor is the darling of BADD. Pat Pulling testified at his trial in
St. Louis. In The Devil's Web she says, "My role was that of jury education,
explaining to the jury members the game of "Dungeons & Dragons" and how
it is played." Despite several days during which the jury was excluded from
the court room while the prosecution objected to Mrs. Pulling's appearance at
the trial, she was allowed to testify.
In her writings, Pat has placed a lot of weight on the fact that Darren
signed his confession with the names "Demun" and "Sammy Sagar" in
addition to his own name. Those were the names of two game characters he
played. Molitor also described Mary Towney's death as a "prank." He said her
strangulation was a Friday the 13th trick gone wrong.
In spite of Mrs. Pulling's efforts, Darren was convicted of murder. From prison he sends out a five page letter warning children about the evils of gaming. The letter itself is remarkable in only two things. First, it appears to be the basis of Mrs. Pulling's understanding of the games. While his presentation of how the game is played is not substantially wrong, his presentation of it, as well his choice of character names, shows Darren is not one of the most imaginative players involved in gaming.
As can be seen from the two excerpts presented much earlier, Darren's
letter is virtually illiterate. I mention this not to run Darren down, but
because later in the letter, Darren becomes incredibly intellectual. Compare
Darren's rambling presentation concerning the game presented above with
...let's define occultism: the doctrine or study of the supernatural, magical, imaginary, etc. Stated concisely it is the participation or involvement in anyway [sic] with fortune telling, magic practices, spiritism [sic], or false religions cults and teachings. Within that category is using a ouija board, ESP, telepathy, horoscope, a seance, yoga, remote influence of the subconscious mind of others, self- hypnosis, following astrology and Dungeons and Dragons.
Dungeons & Dragons is based on magic and the supernatural. There is, in fact a hard bound book entitled "Deities & DemiGods" for the sole purpose of informing you of the "gods" that are involved in the game. It gives complete details of the "gods" and it expects you as a player character to pick a "god" to worship him/her. To pray to, to sacrifice to, to obey. And to die for if necessary.
Aside from this variation in style and choice of words - and the fact that
it and BADD documents prepared by Pat Pulling share the same punctuation
errors - there is no proof that Darren's letter was ghost-written or that he
was coached in the writing of it. It is important to note, however, that Darren
has a very big stake in his "doing the right thing." When he comes up for
parole, his obvious repentance and good works will help him obtain freedom
Pat Beach murdered Amy Boyle and Larry Brock. Villains and Vigilantes (a superhero RPG) books were found at the scene of the murder. Because of that Prosecutor Reid Pixler announced to the press that the game had something to with the murder. Seven weeks later, however, Pixler backed off that possibility. According to a Chicago Tribune story (6 Oct 85) "Beach pleaded guilty to murder, telling psychiatrist that, given the chance, he would do it again, but he would be more careful to eliminate the evidence....Psychiatrists who examined Beach 20 times during the course of the summer concluded that he is a 'schizoid-type' personality."
John Justice murdered his mother, brother and father on 16 Sept 85, then attempted suicide. According to a story in People magazine (18 Nov 85) Dr. Tim Rasmusson, Justice's doctor, said, "He told me killed his mother because she was against everything he ever wanted to do. He said he killed his brother and father out of love - so they wouldn't feel hurt when he and his mother were gone." The story also said, "A few bizarre rumors of his membership in a teenage satanic cult or that he was a D&D devotee who 'sacrificed his family on his DM's orders' are only bizarre rumors."
James Alan Kearbey murdered a junior high school principal and
wounded three others with a rifle. Twilight News & Views (Winter 1986)
said of this case, "According to the information 60 Minutes had, 'Police are
blaming D&D.' ABC's news magazine show, 20/20, did a report on this very
incident on January 2, 1986. Nowhere in the report is D&D mentioned or
referred to." Kearbey did not have an easy life - he was an outcast and
school and was beaten up every day. His teachers ignored him, his father
never gave him any approval and his mother just babied him. "Kearbey's
psychologist explained the occurrence as Kearbey's way of dealing with his
Sean Sellers is on Oklahoma's death row for the murder of his mother and
step-father and a convenience store clerk. This is another trial in which Pat
Pulling participated. In Web she says Sean became involved with D&D at the
age of 13 and that it started his interest in the occult, but it was meeting a
"female witch" at the age of 15, that started his occult involvement. She
"taught him much about the occult and peaked his interest all the more.
[Sean] said that he then formed his own 'coven' based on the D&D level
system and that, while most members were teenagers, some were in their
Schwarz and Empey, in their book Satanism, provide more background
to Sellers' life. His parents divorced early and when his mother remarried,
she worked with her husband - a cross-country truck driver. As a result,
Sean was left with a succession of relatives to be raised. While they do
acknowledge that he played D&D, they utterly de-emphasize it as a factor in
"his choosing the path of Satanism." They do not mention the female witch,
but do allude to a 15 year old girlfriend of whom his parents did not
If anything, Sean Sellers is a self-styled Satanist who created his own
coven and theology. Schwarz and Empey report that since his conviction and
death sentence Sean "came to see himself as having a dual personality ;
Ezurate [a murdering demon] and Sean. He finally turned to Christianity,
studying the Bible, and talking with others about the Lord." However, only a
couple of pages earlier they noted, "Sean made a show of going to visit with a
Catholic priest and even attended a Bible study class at the request of his
mother." Given Sean's track record, his conversion may be nothing more than
a convenient ploy to influence a commutation of his death sentence to one of
Jeffrey Meyers was a soldier who, along with a friend, was arrested in a
"ninja" costume for the murder of an elderly couple. In addition to a number
of weapons being found during the investigation was a copy of Advanced
D&D's Oriental Adventures rule book. Pat spoke with him before his trial and
said, "He discussed his involvement with D&D, weaponry, the martial arts
and Eastern Mysticism." She notes he had studied the occult as well as
"dabbled with drugs." She attaches importance to the fact that his character's
name was Manteiv - Viet Nam spelled backwards.
Dr. Thomas Radecki characterized Jeff's actions as in accordance with
things done during a D&D game. The jury was unimpressed and on 15 Nov
88 guilty and "Unanimously recommend that the defendant, Jeffrey Karl
Meyers, be sentenced to death."
Daniel Kasten was arrested for shooting his adoptive parents on 31 May 87
in Long Island, NY. His lawyer, William Nash, argued that his client was
innocent by reason of insanity - to whit, he believed himself under control
of a D&D monster called a Mind Flayer. The problem with that canard is that
in a videotaped confession, Daniel admitted to having plotted in the long
term to kill his parents. He said in the confession that D&D had nothing to do
with the killing. He also said he had hesitated to kill his parents for so long
"because it was wrong." (Newsday, 21 June 88)
While Nash attempted to show his client was schizophrenic, a state appointed psychologist and a psychiatrist both agreed Kasten was faking his psychoses. In a Newsday story of 30 June 88, prosecutor Randall Hinrichs said he was not surprised at the quick guilty verdict. "'[The jury] obviously realized the evidence that was there and that it was not a viable defense,' he said, referring to the Dungeons and Dragons argument."
Jeffrey Jacklovich shot himself with a revolver on 8 Feb 85 at the age of
14. His suicide note is reported to have said, "I want to go to the world of
elves and fantasy and leave the world of conflict." Because of this note his
death has been linked to D&D instead, as the note itself indicates, his desire
to escape "the world of conflict." Had the note read, "I want to go be with
Jesus and leave the world of conflict," would Jesus have been blamed, or
would everyone had said Jeffrey was just too frail a spirit to endure the
trials and tribulations of this mortal coil?
Sean Hughes was the subject of an article that Pulling edited and reprinted.
Though the boy's death was listed as a suicide, the police seriously doubted
it because neither his rifle or truck had fingerprints on them. In fact, when
Doug Dollemore checked back with the local police, they had a murder
suspect in mind in that case.
Two important points concerning that story should be mentioned. First,
the Police Chief was convinced of D&D's having something to do with Sean's
death because of his own hatred of the game. His son is entranced with it,
and his father does not like it. Second, and more important, Sean had not,
according to friends, played the game in years. Even so, Pulling circulated the
story about Sean, and edited the end of it so the Police Chief's condemnation
of the wrapped everything up.
Perhaps my favorite of the Pulling cases is the very first one that appears
on the NCTV list: Name withheld, details confidential at request of family,
age 14, 1979, suicide. This sort of reporting with vague details is
characteristic of 5 other cases on the list of 37 NCTV first presented. In yet
others, the fact that a person was reported to have played D&D, as seen
above in the Sean Hughes case, is enough to make his death related to the
game, even though the case has not be solved or closed by the police. In
short, if there is any way at all for BADD and NCTV to link anything to D&D,
they do it.
One of the "non-fatal" cases listed points this out in exquisite detail:
A 15-year old girl was reportedly raped in Angleton, Texas by Armando Simon, 33, a prison psychologist counseling inmates for sexual crimes. According to court testimony, the girl was enticed into sex through an extended D&D game in which she was given the role of "someone who would lose her powers after doing something wrong." Simon played a character constantly interested in women and his wife would often play a lesbian. The wife encouraged the sex by showing the girl photos of Simon naked with other women. She told the girl, "He always wanted a virgin as a gift." The psychologist and the girl first had sex after returning from a D&D convention in Houston (Houston Chronicle, 8 May 85)
Not only is it absurd to suggest that the above crime took place because of D&D, but it is ridiculous to even imply that it would not have taken place were D&D not around. In Web, Pat Pulling quotes Dr. Arnold Goldstein, Ph.D, director of the Center for Research on Aggression at the University of Syracuse, as saying, "We psychologists use role-playing in therapy... to bring about good effects." Simon's seduction of the girl was abuse of trust between patient and therapist and had nothing to do with a game.
In 1985, the BADD/NCTV list contained 37 dead individuals and 5 "non- fatal" cases of D&D violence. They note "...there are 8 more deaths (6 suicides and 2 murders) in which the information is confidential. Pat Pulling & Tom Radecki are investigating an additional 7 murders that have been recently reported to us in 3 separate cases. *Deaths are being reported at the rate of about 5 per month." *[Emphasis added.] In a January 1987 release, however, the list has only grown by two murders and the above rate projection has been amended to read, "Deaths are being reported at the rate of three to four per month."
In that two years a couple of changes were made to the list. They deleted one case (1985, #16, an anonymous suicide). They updated one case (adding the name Mike Cote to 1985, #37/1987, #36). They added two cases with a total of 3 victims (See Patrick Beach and Cayce Moore above). They also add the Roland Cartier case to this list, but have it under its own section: "Reported D&D related deaths with less information available."
Despite the shuffling, the fact is that 120 new cases did not materialize between 1985 and 1987. Likewise, 48 new cases did not arise between 1987 and 1989, despite NCTV's dire predictions. In fact, the only new cases to come to light are those of Sean Sellers, Jeffrey Meyers, Cliff Meling and Daniel Kasten. Adding the 8 deaths between those four cases to the 39 NCTV has already still puts us rather shy Pat Pulling's reported 125 cases.
As an aside, the 1985 release is the one in which Dr. Radecki quotes from
"the investigative book, 'Mazes and Monsters' by Rona Jaffe." Jaffe's book is a
novel, set at an imaginary college in an imaginary town in Pennsylvania. The
fact that it is fiction does not stop Radecki from quoting a letter written to
the school's newspaper about the dangers of D&D as if it were a testimonial.
For one who spends a great deal of time trying to determine if kids know the
difference between fantasy and reality, Dr. Radecki blundered rather grossly
Before I begin my summation, it is necessary to answer one charge that
can be leveled against me as if it will nullify everything I have presented
above. It is simply this: "Of course you're saying all that. We're talking about
your livelihood here. You only care about the money - you don't care about
the hurt families feel."
That charge contains two components to discuss. The first is that I (or
anyone else in gaming) is in it for the money. Nothing could be further from
the truth. The pay scale in the gaming industry is so low as to make serfdom
in the Middle Ages look like an upward career move. Most employees start
at minimum wage and do not rise very high above that during their careers.
Within the industry, when asked by neophytes what you have to do to
become a game designer, the most common answer is, "Take a vow of
poverty." I always add the quick caveat, "Don't worry, the companies will
make certain you keep it."
I stay, as do most of my compatriots, because the work is challenging and
intellectually demanding. With hard work a designer can become a
freelancer. He can pick and choose his tasks, answers only to himself and
gets to have his work published world wide. It is very satisfying to get a
letter from someone who has played and enjoyed a game you've designed,
and even more so when his version of the game is in a language you cannot
Game designers sacrifice many things for their avocation. If you marry
and raise a family it is because your wife works, or you've been fortunate
enough to go after and get a job with a big company. If you have a house or
car or credit cards it's because you've worked very hard or someone with
deep pockets has co-signed with you. It is not easy to remain chronically
impoverished, but when contrasted with the alternative of a dismal, punch-
clock existence, it is more than tolerable.
Game designers live for giving others pleasure and enjoyment. We seek to
make people use their brains, and we turn out products that are vehicles for
socialization within families and groups of friends. Being able to play a game
with someone else turns strangers into friends. Since that's something games
do, I cannot see how they can be described as evil.
As for the second half of the charge - that I don't feel the pain of families
; this I can deny as well. My cousin Richard was five years my senior and
lived only a block from my home. He was very much an older brother for me
as I grew up. I idolized him, as did my younger brother, and many of the
things we did were because Rick had once done them.
There were two notable exceptions to our following his lead. First, my
brother and I did not become involved with drugs. Drugs caused severe
problems for Rick and gave him an escape from his adult responsibilities.
Like a boat in a whirlpool, his lifestyle sucked him down, and drained him
dry of the wit and intelligence we had so admired.
During my sophomore year in college, Rick was in really bad shape, and
desperately wanted to straighten himself out. He came to live at my parent's
home and I found myself playing older brother to him. Rick always had a
ship coming in and tried to look beyond today's problems to tomorrow's
rewards, but he never realized that he was playing a shell game with
himself. In long conversations I recall being confronted again and again with
his certainty that he had an ace in the hole somewhere. Rick moved out after
only a week because he could not hack the rules of the house (like the
prohibition of smoking in bed).
Two things stick out in my mind from the autumn of 1977. The first was my lending Rick a copy of "The Dogs of War" by Frederick Forsythe. I'd enjoyed the book very much and recommended it to Rick. I gave him my copy. I thought he'd find some escape in the adventure novel.
I also recall one day in November when I was taking a shortcut through backyards to go to a class. I saw Rick walking toward our house on the street, but I knew no one was there and I knew he didn't see me. I didn't call out to him or stop to talk with him. I was late for class and I knew Rick would take more time than I wanted to give him at that point. I'd grown tried and frustrated because I knew he'd never change. I just walked on.
I never saw Rick again.
In the end of "The Dogs of War," the hero commits suicide.
In the end of his story, so did my cousin.
My family was notified of Rick's suicide at 9 pm on Christmas Eve. He'd
washed two handfuls of pills down with a beer, then laid down to go to sleep
in the snow at a baseball field only 500 meters from our house. He'd been
there for three days before someone found him half buried in a snowdrift.
Beside him was a list of everything he had taken - perhaps his last weak cry
for help in case someone found him in time.
I understand, desperately and painfully, what Pat Pulling, Rosemary
Loyacano and Patrick Dempsey have gone through. I, too, neglected someone
when I should have been there helping him out. Like Pat Pulling and her
son, I missed the signs that Rick was spiraling even further down into
depression. Like Rosemary Loyacano, I never reached out to Rick to find out
what was truly going on in his head, and I never visited his room to see if he
were hoarding pills.
In the Chicago Tribune story Patrick Dempsey is quoted as saying, "I keep
asking myself why didn't I take an interest in that [D&D] book?"
Paraphrased, that could have been my quote concerning Rick. Why did I give
him a book in which the hero killed himself? I don't know if Rick ever read
the book, but the possibility that he drew inspiration from it is not one I can
Understanding what they went through, however, does not make me the
same as them. I did not live with my cousin day in and day out for 16 years.
I wasn't there to watch the stresses build in his life, I wasn't there watching
his personality change. I didn't have years of clues that something was
wrong, and as a consequence my burden of guilt is no where near as massive
as is theirs.
My guilt has not consumed me. I have accepted it and resolved to pay more attention to friends and family members in need. I did not sublimate my guilt and channel it into a jihad against Frederick Forsythe or adventure fiction. I was able to realize that Rick had far more problems than I ever could have handled. By the end he was a juggernaut that I could probably only have slowed and, if my book sped him up, it was such a small contribution to his problem that it would have gone unnoticed.
Mrs. Pulling, Mrs. Loyacano and Mr. Dempsey have found a scapegoat for
their guilt. They've thrust their responsibility off onto a game that has done
nothing but bring enjoyment to millions of people. They have launched into a
holy war in which anyone who agrees with them - even self-confessed
murderers - are their allies, and anyone who opposed them is a minion of
I realize this is a very harsh indictment of three people who believe they
are on a God-appointed mission to save other children from the fates that
claimed their kids. I know they mean well, but good intentions cannot excuse
the falsification of cases, sloppy methodology and consistent use of
propagandistic tools in their crusade. They have manufactured an insidious
plot in which innocent games become the visible hooks that pull children
into a fatal attraction with Satanism and suicide.
As has been shown above, there is absolutely no link between games and suicide. Not only do statistics provided in a number of different studies explode that claim, but individual examination of case studies prove games innocent. If the suicide statistics for the 14 years since D&D's introduction show anything at all, gamers kill themselves at a rate that is a fraction of that of their peers. Numerical legerdemain aside, having a close group of friends to socialize with provides the sort of support network that experts agree provide help for troubles and warning of suicide.
Likewise there has been no evidence advanced to show games to be
primers on the occult. Aside from the claims of murderers seeking clemency,
or the 20/20 hindsight of people trying to figure out how their child came to
kill himself, nothing indicates games have anything to do with attracting kids
to the occult. In fact, if we took only 4% per year of the 4,000,000 D&D
players in the US for the past 10 years and made them all Satanists, we'd
have 1.6 million devil-worshippers running around. According to the 1989
Information Please Almanac, that would make them the 8th largest religion
in North America, about a million adherents behind Islam. Clearly this has
Equally false is the idea embraced by many fundamentalists that the games are an occult danger because they feature the use of magic. It is believed that using magic in a game transforms someone into a magic user, opening him up to Satanic powers and temptations. It is this school of thought that, carried out to its logical conclusion, says an actor becomes the part he plays. Not only is this clearly absurd on the surface, but the suggestion that magic functions in the real world brings with it a superstitious background dating from the time of the Crusades.
This is not to be unexpected: Reason clearly has nothing to do with the articles of faith to which the misguided so fervently cling.
Pat Pulling's claim of expertise on games has been shown to be
unsubstantiated. She has no clue as to what games are currently on the
market. Her explanation of how to play a game is taken from a description
by a murderer. She is obviously unaware of any trends within the game
industry since 1984 and has not made an attempt to stay current. Her
expertise in gaming is equivalent to the expertise of a geographer who still
believes the world is flat.
Her list of questions presented in Techniques for investigators to ask
suspects includes material that does not pertain to the vast majority of
games on the market today. The answers she supplies police officers do not
have explanations for their significance, nor does her material allow for the
possibility of different answers. In short, if you have another answer you are
lying, and you are lying because you are a Satanist trying to protect
Her reputation as an investigator sinks right along with her claims of
being a game expert. She has proven unable to keep up with market trends,
which requires nothing more than a visit to a game store from time to time
or obtaining a subscription to an industry magazine. Her sources for
casework appears to consist solely of newspaper clipping, which she
republishes in edited forms, without permission of the author. She accepts as
true utterly outlandish or entirely self-serving claims by individuals under
care for severe psychiatric problems or convicted murderers. She embraces
as an occult tome a work - The Necronomicon - that has been known to be a
joke for its entire sixty year history.
Her grasp of statistics is feeble indeed. She invests an incredible amount
of energy and emotion in her claim of 125 plus deaths related to the game,
and clings like Joe McCarthy to yet other "confidential" cases that she cannot
reveal. Given how well the cases she has made public hold up to scrutiny, it
is extremely doubtful cases beyond those already brought to light will ever
be revealed in any sort of verifiable detail.
In her quest to make sense of her son's death, Pat Pulling has set aside
truth, logic and fairness. She cites cases, but does not remove them from her
list when they are proven not to be involved with gaming. She has woven
rumor, innuendo and fantasy together and has bought into the whole
Satanist myth. She has expanded her crusade, accepting as part of it the idea
that Satanists are a slavering bunch of sadists just waiting to murder
children or, failing that, convince children to murder their parents. She has
become an expert in cults and Satanism, but really continues in her state of
No one denies the pain Pat has felt in her son's death, but sympathy for that pain cannot be used as an excuse to condone the abuses and excesses to which Mrs. Pulling has gone. There are times I don't wonder if her inquisition has increased parental panic, heightening the sort of family stresses that drove Michael Dempsey to kill himself. That is not to attempt to lay the death of anyone on her doorstep, but to point out that it does not take much for the hysteria she's stirring up to do some serious harm.
Gamers also have a duty to share the games with their parents. It is one
thing to rebel and become independent, but it is another to engage in
activities that cause parents undue anxiety. Let parents and peers know
what you're doing with your time when you play a game. Let them sit in on
a session or two. If that's not possible, ask another parent or adult who
understands the games explain it to your parents. The sort of horror stories
BADD sows about games only take root in ignorance.
The key is for everyone to willfully accept responsibility for their family
and friends. Only in that way can you avoid the sort of tragedy that leaves
you looking for a scapegoat. The way to avoid a lifetime of wondering why
you didn't do something in time is to choose to do something now. If you
don't, there are plenty of people who will come along and usurp your ability
to act by slicing away your options in the name of what they perceive as the
To learn more about RPGs, enter "role-playing+game" in the web search engine below
If you want to research deeper into this matter, we suggest the Yahoo listing of pro-D&D pages, and their listing of anti-D&D pages, but for real froth - at - the - mouth hysteria, try "The Game of Satan" page. There is a D&D FAQ available, and we also recommend Inside The Satan Scare Industry for further reading.
Michael A. Stackpole: The Pulling Report is another version of this page that is available on the net.
This site is located at: