tv Interview With a Vampire MSNBC December 11, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am PST
it was like seeing red. pure red. when i took the two lives, every adrenal gland was open wide, the endorphins were flying through my body. and it was just amazing. it was like pure amphetamine. that's what it felt like, only more pure. tonight on "msnbc investigates," rod ferrell talks from prison exclusively about his murders that shocked america and tells us what it was like to
be part of a modern day vampire clan. >> being a vampire is not an actual existence. if you shoot me, i'll die. i physically, to the best of my knowledge, will not live forever, but as far as living the lifestyle of a vampire, it's a raw fetish hunger, and the hunger wins out over everything else. >> she was struck four times in the back of the head as she was moving through the kitchen. some of the skull fragments lay in the dining room. >> in his extraordinary interview, ferrell tells of his involvement with a network of devil worshippers and witnessing a human sacrifice. >> how was he killed? >> with a dagger. ceremonial. >> and then what happened? >> then afterwards, the blood was ritually drank such as in communion. >> today, ferrell maintains that after dwelling on the dark side, he's now emerged on the other
side and says his bad choices should serve as a warning. and so this is his story. in here, you're surrounded in here, you're surrounded by other murderers, robbers, rapists, thieves. they still tend to kind of give me respect, give me space. and it throws them to a degree because they're like well, this guy was drinking blood, he's got to be crazy. something can't be right with this guy's mind. >> whether rod ferrell is crazy matters more than somewhat with the claims he will make in this film.
perhaps he just craves attention. his career as a teenaged vampire earned him a ticket to death row, but it's also brought him a kind of sinister celebrity as his despicable crime has been the subject of a movie, documentary, books and internet fan sites. >> i'm just me. i don't know about celebrity status. immediately i would say by the time i was 17, while i was sitting on death row, a few of the guys in the cells along the wing said that i should take a name, something that represented who i was, what i was, et cetera. i was like -- i lead a vampire cult and they called me the count from that point on, like count dracula. >> let her go. >> time was when vampires all looked like count dracula. >> destroy the cross! >> the lord of the undead kept the "b" movie industry alive. but vampires are now hollywood "a" list and have teens and the rest of us lining up to be
seduced by blockbuster movies extolling the vampire's bloody charms -- or at least those who play them. >> there are so many discrepancies between the mythological and fantasy vampire and the real-life vampire. the no pain being felt as they draw in their blood, that is an utter bold-faced lie. i've seen like a feasting where they literally bit and continued to bite at different various spots on different donors or people that offer themselves until they were just bloody ripped mess. if people saw this, it was like a pack of jackals gnawing on a kill.
>> murray, kentucky, seems an unlikely home for a vampire. it's a small college town, set securely in america's bible belt. >> i'm april lindsey. i dated rod on and off and on again and off again. i thought i was going to marry him at one point. i thought we were going to be a family. he didn't have a whole lot to hold on to. i loved him. but he was -- he had problems. >> life in murray is generally unhurried, but for young rod ferrell, it was far from idyllic. his mother and father divorced soon after he was born. >> we were married when we were
18 years old. we didn't live together very long. we married and divorced within the same year of rod's birth. we didn't have a bad divorce or anything like that. it was just that he went on his separate ways and so rod and i were alone. >> ferrell's boyhood as the only child of a single mother was a chaotic tour of low rent apartments and trailer parks, while shuffling back and forth between murray, kentucky, and florida. rod's mother had relatives in the small town of eustis, close to orlando. and it was in florida that ferrell's mother began to hang out with friends who called themselves vampires. >> they have clubs where you dress and all that. at one time, i was like a lifestyler is kind of what they call it. i'm i don't want to say a vampire advocate, but that kind of sounds like it, in a way, to say that we're for the ones who
are decent, you know. and, yes, there are the ones now and then who make everybody else look really bad. >> as rod ferrell grew into a teenager, his sketchbook records how he was drawn in to his mother's vampire circle. >> when i was staying in eustis, i met an individual who basically, for lack of a better term, was a vampire. the initiation took place as what they term the crossover. they had to take my blood and then feed me their blood, because they considered the blood to be the true life. >> i think all in all, i was a good mother, as far as vampires go and things like that, i did make some really bad choices at times, especially when rod was 15 and 16 years old.
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at age 15, rod ferrell and his mother returned from florida to murray, kentucky. they rekindled old friendships with the local vampires. >> my name is jaden murphy. i was the lead of the family, the vampiric house here in murray. rod's mentor/sire. we were glued together, man, every day, every day we hung out.
we stayed at my house or i would go crash at his, whatever. in eustis he was basically a blood doll. at least that's what he told me. normally with blood dolls, they are it -- they're people you feed off of constantly so that way, it's safer that way. you're not going and drinking random people's blood, contracting diseases. so you have this one person set aside that you will feed off of whenever you need to. he was basically just abused and used while he was in florida. that's all that they did with him. they never brought him into the family. he was, for lack of a better word, their bitch. >> by age 16, ferrell was a full member of a murray vampire clan, comprised of a group of teens who lived in a rented home. >> some of us actually lived together and some of us just sort of half lived there.
but anywhere from the normal five or six people to 20. >> it's not like it's portrayed on television. not like that. it's just everyday living with a little bit more sex, a little bit more blood. >> their vampire rituals of drinking human blood took place mainly at night, often in murray's graveyards. >> it's been 15 years, but this is it. wow. it's still beautiful. it really is. it's not really all about biting somebody's neck. we built a world around
ourselves that made us important and powerful and special. we didn't have to pretend for anybody. that was the appeal. for some people, it was a religion. let me make that very clear. there were some of them that it was very much a religion. in some, it was a lifestyle and in some, it was both. >> there are numerous forms of vampires. you'll find cannibals, blood drinkers, sionic vampires, those who fear the sun. they have numerous names, numerous manifestations. i took the name visago and i wrote it on the back of my neck. >> visago was a demon described in an ancient manual on sorcery. as visago, ferrell claimed to be hundreds of years old.
>> he would say that the dark side was pulling him in and he was losing to it. he would always say he was losing, like he was fighting a battle, and i would tell him just not to do it, to just not listen to it. and i don't think i realized that he was really fighting a battle, that it was real. >> the darkness, the sex, the blood, they're all intimate, mystical, magical, mesmerizing. the extraction of the blood can be done via usually razor blades or surgical scalpels. >> when you've got a house of, you know, five or six people, you know, there's always enough for everyone to go around. >> every once in a while, a couple individuals actually had teeth sharp enough that they could actually tear the skin. >> it can get pretty bloody at some of the rituals.
sometimes on the more intimate level, if you're feeding off of a lover, it doesn't normally get that bad. it's more the symbolic aspect of it. >> we had the individuals that we called donors, or in another tone, they're called, it means herd, animal, and they would actually offer their blood to us. they got off on the rush of being subjected to a domination that we would show over them. >> i've got friends and they've got scars that are every bit of an inch and a half, two inches long and about a half inch wide. they'll just lay themselves open. you just put your mouth over the wound and suck until it stops bleeding, basically. that's what you do. >> but after less than a year, the murray vampire family broke up. ferrell started to bring in his own new recruits, ansought to usurp jaden.
>> that's what caused the major separation with me and him, was him defying me. it wasn't so much defying me, it was defying the rules that were keeping us safe, you know. if you got a bunch of retards running around here, i'm a vampire and biting people at random, it's [ bleep ] about to go down and it's not going to be good. >> ferrell led a breakaway clan. its key members, 16-year-old scott anderson, 19-year-old dana cooper and a new girlfriend, 16-year-old charity casey. >> rod wanted little puppets which is what he ended up getting. >> thoughts of marriage with april lindsey, who did not join rod's new clan, had died as his obsession with vampirism and its bloody ways grew. >> it was a time where he was afraid of it and he tried to back away, and he asked me for help. and i failed.
i failed him so miserably then. because he asked me for help. and i didn't give it. >> in november 1996, the demon growing inside rod ferrell would be tragically unleashed. while living in florida, he had met heather wendorf. she was a year younger than him and eager to participate in rod's vampire culture. they'd spent many hours in a eustis graveyard and considered themselves bonded after tasting each other's teenaged blood. >> it wasn't about the gore. it wasn't, you know, the disgustingness of it. it was actually a really endearing thing to us. >> my name is jeremy huber.
in 1996, i was heather wendorf's boyfriend. she was kind of an outcast from the rest of the school, mainly because she was different from anyone in the things that she was into. she believed 100% everything that rod told her. even his story of being a centuries old vampire. and that he would take her away and become a family. >> will the murders always haunt me? yes, of course they will. i came down with the original intent to merely pick her up, take her back to where i was staying. instead, it led to the actual homicides.
on ferrell's orders, scott anderson stole his parents' battered buick. two other female members of ferrell's clan, dana cooper and charity casey, agree to join scott and rod on the 800 mile drive from murray to eustis. they bade farewell to their friends at their favorite hangout. >> we saw him at hardy's. i really wish i had had, you know, a vision or something that said, hey, stop them. >> heather's house sat at the
end of a quiet country road, five miles outside eustis. this is where richard wendorf, a manager at a packaging firm, lived with his wife, naomi and their two teenaged daughters. >> the day it happened, heather wasn't in school that day. she had met up with rod. i believe they came to greenwood cemetery. i didn't speak with her until that evening when she called me to tell me that he had showed up in town and we're planning on running away. it was tough because i had very strong feelings for her. i told her that i had wanted to see her and talk to her and at that point, she was driven to my house. they left rod and scott back near to the wendorfs' home and that's when he went in and did what he did.
>> ferrell told the girls that under the cover of darkness, he would steal the wendorf family suv. on november 25th, 1996, heather's 19-year-old sister jennifer returned from an evening out around 11:00. >> my mother and my father have just been killed. i just walked in the door. i don't know what happened. they're dead. >> what makes you think that they have been killed? >> there's blood everywhere. please, it's bad. >> okay. we're on the way. >> when i got the call, i was approximately two blocks away and got there within just a couple of minutes. up could see mr. wendorf laying face up on the couch and just covered in blood. his head was just bashed in. his glasses were all mangled, twisted.
his face and head looked like hamburger. that's the only thing i could relate to it. it was just a bloody mess. as i came back out through the living room, i could see mrs. wendorf laying face down between the kitchen and the dining room. >> she was in a pool of blood also. you could see the back of her head looked like a huge hole in the back of her head, like the size of a softball. >> my name is jay cardell. i heard the call go out over the radio. i arrived at approximately 12:30 a.m. this was one of the worst scenes that we have seen. ferrell found a tire iron that belonged to mr. wendorf on his work bench. >> when i entered into the house, richard was on the couch. and he was dozing.
when i walked in, i walked right past him. i had no intention of harming him at that point. it was only when i returned back to the living area where he laid, i guess my mind just shattered finally. >> the blows were so forceful, blood spatters were found 360 degrees around that living room. we even found tooth fragments on his shirt, where he was struck so hard that it had knocked his teeth out. >> i did not see naomi anywhere in the house at that time. >> mrs. wendorf was showering for the night. she came out of the bathroom, put her robe on and as she comes through the kitchen, she comes toe-to-toe with rod ferrell.
>> it was like seeing red, pure red. >> he told her in effect i just killed your husband and now i'm going to kill you. she had several defensive wounds on her forearms, where she tried to deflect the blows. he had scratches on the right side of his face. those scratches were delivered by mrs. wendorf when she tried to fight him off. i can't imagine the fright that she was feeling, the hopelessness. >> it was just amazing as far as the intensity of everything that you were looking at, you were listening to. it was like pure amphetamine. that's what it felt like. only more pure. >> she was struck four times in the back of the head as she was moving through the kitchen.
some of the skull fragments lay in the dining room. to see bone fragments traveling that far, it just -- it just -- >> now, they were on the run. heather wendorf joining the gang of four in a stolen wendorf family car. >> in the days immediately after the killing, really the most intensified part was a realization, an amazing -- it was an epiphany, really. you were like, oh, my god. i've done something that is relegated only to god as far as choosing who lives and dies, and i've just done it. >> the clan headed west, towards new orleans, the big easy. >> we got a call that they're
looking for rod and he's killed two people. and i felt like i was just going to hit the floor. >> i tried to find a few people that were linked in the occultic society, maybe finding refuge, sanctuary. whatnot. i found none of them. >> i said that no matter who catches them or whatever, he won't fight you. and i begged the police, don't shoot him. please, whatever you do, don't shoot him.
with the wendorfs dead in eustis, rod ferrell and his teenaged vampire followers were on the run in a stolen explorer, heading for new orleans in hopes of finding refuge with another vampire clan. but after three days on the road, hungry and broke, one of the girls, charity casey, phoned home. her mother immediately tipped off the police. >> it was thanksgiving evening. i had just gone to bed and i got a call from my lieutenant. rod ferrell was caught in louisiana. i drove 14 hours to baton rouge. >> i knew that he was being
interviewed. >> i knew that he was being interviewed. i asked one of the baton rouge detectives if they had a viewing area, if i might step in. i thought i was going to see a monster. >> across the temple of the head. i just kept beating him, beating him, beating him and took pleasure in it. >> did you strike them anywhere else with the crowbar or just in the head? >> i struck him once in the chest because he wouldn't stop breathing. i stabbed him in the heart. >> you stabbed him in the heart? >> i took the bottom of the crowbar. >> the straight end of it? >> he thought he was the worst criminal that this world had ever seen and he was proud of it. he appeared to be proud of it.
>> then she clawed my face and grabbed my wrist. that's when i took the straight end of the crowbar, i just started bashing the back of her head. her brains were just like oozing out of her skull. >> very cold, very callous. >> the three girls that were at the car, did they know what you were up to when you were going up to the house? >> i didn't tell them. because i wanted to keep them out of it. >> did scott do anything? watched you? >> he watched and smiled. >> by taking the blame on myself, i felt like only i would have to suffer, and maybe i could give the others a chance of life. >> when the case came to trial, in florida in 1998, rod ferrell's conviction was beyond doubt. the only question, would a jury sentence a teenager to death? >> a majority of the jury by a vote of 12-0 advise and recommend to the court that it
impose the death penalty upon roderick ferrell. >> death was simply an inevitability. when i told them that execution meant little to nothing to me, and that death would be preferable, i meant that. >> the rest of ferrell's cult avoided capital punishment. scott anderson was convicted of armed robbery and first degree murder. he is serving life without parole. dana cooper was sentenced to 17 years for armed robbery and third degree murder. charity casey received ten years for armed robbery and third degree murder. of those arrested, only heather wendorf went free. a grand jury deciding that she knew nothing of rod ferrell's murderous intentions. after three years, the death sentence was commuted by the
florida supreme court on account of ferrell's youth. >> i sat in my cell on death row and i questioned myself. i realized how far into the pit i had fallen. and i took that moment from then on. i said from this point on, i will be--i became a man who became a monster. i will become a man again. whatever it takes. now that i pieced my mind back together, i've had time to reflect, contemplate over every single moment, every single day. the murders had absolutely nothing to do with the occult or the vampiric subculture or any such thing. >> i'm candice hawthorne. i'm an attorney. i came to represent rod. there were two witnesses who overheard heather wendorf opining to rod ferrell that she
>> he just, you know, all of a sudden asks me, do you want me to kill your parents and i said, no, i don't. >> at the trial, jennifer wendorf testified that heather had talked to her about killing their parents. >> just like you can't remember everything that you say over a two-year period, i don't think anyone can remember exactly what happened on a specific date during a specific conversation. >> my personal belief is that a passing remark was taken the wrong way by rod, and he got the wrong idea. they didn't come off as being the type of people that would do that to heather at all. >> there was no evidence and heather denied that part. she admitted to talking to rod saying, you know, but it was just a teenaged thing.
that was heather's whole position. it wasn't serious. she didn't mean it. rod deserves to be in jail for what he did. it was wrong. it was horrible. i won't tell you that rod was a good person. but he's a passionate person. and if he thinks that he's taking care of somebody he cares about, he's going to act and then think. >> he knew his actions and he knew what effect would come from them. he knew, you know, the consequences. he just didn't care. >> it turns out the murder of the wendorfs maybe wasn't the first homicide rod ferrell witnessed. during our exclusive interview, rod ferrell made a startling admission. he says in murray, kentucky, as a child, he watched a human
sacrifice organized by a network of devil worshippers. he first claimed knowledge of human sacrifice during his interview with detectives in 1996. today, he reiterates that, and tells us that the killing took place three miles southwest of murray, at a place called clark's creek. >> at that time, i believe i was about 12. >> so who was sacrificed then, a man? woman? >> it was a man. i can tell you that much. >> how was he killed? >> with a dagger. ceremonial. it was considered high ceremonial magic. >> and then what happened? >> then afterwards, the blood was ritually drank such as in communion.
>> how would this victim have been chosen? where did he come from? >> they will find transients, mainly, because you can't miss what they don't know is there. other people that they would have to actually i suppose track. they will take their time to assure that it looks like a runaway or perhaps the way that they do sacrifice them, they might leave them as a suicide victim. just from the methods i've heard from murderers they house back in this area where i dwell, they have told me things that i could never believe. i imagine the people that worship the dark gods nowadays probably perform the same type of disposal of the person as the common serial killer might nowadays. >> we asked experts to delve inside rod ferrell's mind to discover whether what he says is fact or fantasy. clinical psychologist dr. harry cropp has interviewed more than
2,000 murderers, including notorious serial killers such as ted bundy and eileen warnos. spent many hours with ferrell at the time of his trial. >> i would say at least some of it is true. i think the idea of participating in various sacrifices and various rituals, particularly ritualistic sexual behavior, i certainly feel this a lot of that was true. i know he's recently talked about actual human sacrifices where there were bodies and so forth, and again, i don't believe that rod is purposely being deceptive about that. to this day, i'm not totally sure what was reality and what was fantasy on his part but i never felt that he was intentionally trying to be deceptive or lying about some of his past experiences. >> msnbc asked kentucky state police, murray city police and the local county sheriff's
office whether ferrell's allegations of human sacrifice made during the course of his confession in 1996 were ever investigated. they were not. >> when we went to murray, kentucky, it was a pretty interesting place. it is a transient area, where people pass through. there are a lot of woods. there are a lot of lakes. there was a whole underground culture that was apparent to those who looked below the surface. >> i have ran with some people that have been into some dark, dark stuff.
when i was a kid, everyone's animals started disappearing, the dogs or cats, and we actually found them out in a set of woods that we used to play in. we found cats hanging from trees, dogs gutted. all kinds of stuff. i have never heard anything as far as human sacrifices going on, but you know, that could be possible. >> that night i was fearful, something so out of the norm, so unbelievable that at the moment you witness it, you have to look and think like not just twice, three times. i was like my god, what are these people doing. i could be that person up there getting slaughtered. >> i was frightened by it, you know. i didn't want anything to do with that. who's to say i could end up a
sacrifice? >> boston university fellow joseph laycock is an expert on vampirism in the united states. in fact, he even teaches a class on rod ferrell's case. >> does anyone want to take the minority? >> many rituals are even more outlandish than what rob has said. i've encountered stories of being taken to a ritual where there's a dead babies are being eaten. it's a buffet where each will move down a line and selecting various bits of dead babies on their plates. the trouble is there's absolutely no physical evidence. >> rod ferrell isn't talking about rumors or childhood fantasies but real events he saw with his own eyes.
what. you don't have a desk bed? don't be left in the dark. get proactive alerts 24/7. comcast business. built for business. rod ferrell is facing decades of unchanging prison routine, though his life did change significantly in october of 2010. in the prison chapel, he married the woman he'd been corresponding with for two years, gina maria, a former nurse studying to be a crime scene investigator. >> he is the best husband i could have ever hoped for, but he's -- and then some. i mean, it's great. i got him. right there.
>> i could be looking at 50, 60 years. i could be looking at an indefinite term of years. what makes me get up in the morning, and to many, this might sound cliche, but it is the simplest truth. it's my woman. that's why. my gina. >> with a new woman in his life, ferrell says he has permanently severed all ties with his mother who he says introduced him to the world of vampires. >> i figure some day there is a possibility, and it may be many years from now, that we'll be able to speak again. i miss him. i really miss him. sorry.
>> the only person i contact outside of this place is gina. everyone else, i have severed all ties with. >> the murray vampire clan soon disbanded after ferrell's arrest. its one-time leader like rod says he's denounced vampirism for good. >> i'm a straight-up christian, man, 100%. i do not practice vampirism for anymore. i have not for a number of years. could i take that away from myself? no. that's not ever going to change. it's a butterfly denying it was ever a caterpillar. i can't. >> now in his 30s with twin terms of life without parole, rod ferrell could win the dubious prize of becoming the longest serving convict in u.s. history. >> i have not considered myself to be a vampire for many, many years. i definitely have purged all of that from my system by
contemplation. reflection. in my personal opinion, steer away from it or walk past it with caution, great caution. the hype is just that, hype. in real life, you'll find consequences, and the consequences, nine times out of ten, will be your undoing. so before having to suffer them, don't. let it be a fantasy. let it stay a fantasy. >> what about the possibility that everything you've been saying about sacrifice and so on is to show how messed up your mind is and what happened was less heinous and therefore is all fantasy? >> to begin with, nothing that i or anyone else could say in this world could make what i did in 1996 any less heinous,
approaches or cruel. it was what it was. that cannot be changed. so fantastical as it seems, or whatnot, nothing changes that fact. in 1996, i not only made the biggest mistake in my life by murdering ricky and naomi, i did something that was literally -- evil. honestly. you can't change the horror of that, no matter what one says or no matter what one does. my action at that time cannot be erased. it's blotted upon my life. it's blotted upon the subconscious of many people. whoever witnessed an interview such as this, they will always remember the murders, not the man. they will not remember the victims. they will remember the act. and i find it appalling. the victims should be remembered
has the jury reached a verdict? we, the jury, find the defendant -- i was totally swept off my feet. >> they had a lovely, lucky life. once an actress, she had met the man of her dreams, a charismatic son from a legendary family. three children in an enchanted country home. >> it is kind of like one of these fairy tale stories. >> and then it was gone. splendor turned to terror. >> immediately we're hit from behind. he just points the gun at my forehead. >> ambushe