Christopher Thomas Knight spent 27 years alone in the woods. He was not completely isolated by from human culture as it advanced over the decades, but he was almost completely devoid of human contact. According to Michael Finkel’s book The Stranger in the Woods, based on his conversations with Finkel after his arrest, the one time he spoke to someone was the only time he was spotted by a hiker in the Maine wilderness he called his home. Knight asked the hiker to make a pact that they would both never speak of their encounter. The hiker broke that pact, a sharp betrayal for Knight, after Knight was arrested for the over 1000 burglaries that kept him alive over the years.
“For a while I was the person I’d always wanted to be,” – David Thibodeau about his time at Branch Davidian compound Mt. Carmel during the 51-day Waco siege.
When we think about high-profile cult situations, especially ones that turn as dramatically deadly as David Koresh’s Branch Davidian group did during the siege at Waco, most of us distance ourselves from cult members. Whether we are believers in anything or not, we are convinced that our worldview is infinitely more rational than members of “cults.”
The truth is, however, that the psychological profile of people who join cults isn’t that different than most people. We all yearn for a place to belong, we organize mundane details into profound meaning, and can be easily swayed by a great storyteller with an intoxicating personality.
It seems like more than a coincidence that Gypsy Rose Blancharde shares her first and second name with the fabled burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee, who claimed she was ruthlessly pushed into showbiz by her domineering mother. Clauddinnea “Dee Dee” Blancharde was a stage mother of another sort.
Peter Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures takes its audience on a voyage through the twisted fantasy world woven by of a pair of adolescent girl murderers. The movie ends with a scene that stabs an icy stake through the heart of innocence: the gruesome slaying of one of the girls’ mothers. The movie’s dreamlike atmosphere feels like a dark, warped fairytale, but it was based on a crime committed by two real girls in 1950s New Zealand: Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme. The motive? Juliet was leaving for America, and Pauline’s mother was against Pauline going with her.
In the early hours of November 13, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. methodically shot six members of his family, including four of his younger siblings, while they were sleeping in their home on in the Amityville, NY. The family had moved into the sprawling Dutch colonial on 112 Ocean Avenue a few years ago, and though their home life was rife with abuse and drama, the house had been a symbol for a fresh start. The dad, Ron Sr., even named the house High Hopes, a chillingly ironic moniker for an estate that would be rife with such pain, horror, and a haunted legacy.
Krystian Bala was the author of an obscure book just a few years ago but now his novel, Amok, is pretty widely known for aiding in his murder conviction.
Maybe she drowned herself in The Silent Pool. That’s what they thought when they found her green car near the area, lights on and hood up. The Morris Crowley was still full of the writer’s things, including a fur coat, a packed suitcase, and an expired driver’s license.
Dennis Wilson ghosted Charles Manson in 1968. Before the Beach Boy quietly moved to a new address without telling Charlie and his gang, he had let the group crash at his Laurel Canyon mansion 24/7. They used Dennis Wilson’s laid back attitude to invade his home and take advantage of his resources. The Manson Family ran up doctor bills treating the constant waves of STDs that rippled through the group (Dennis himself had to take more trips to the doctor during their time with him,) and ordered huge amounts of gourmet food and juice on his tab. They even crashed Wilson’s uninsured Mercedes. It was time for Dennis to move on.
He emerged from the Las Vegas, Nevada desert in 1991, parched and confused, nameless and lost. He’d never be who he was again. Born again at 23, two decades of the drama of living was now erased from his mind.
During the summer of 1952, a rapist stalked the L.A. nights. Over 25 women were sexually assaulted and robbed in the same area during a three-month period, so the LAPD organized a complicated sting. On July 30, 1952 Florence Coberly, a 26-year-old officer, served as a decoy to tempt the offender, and it worked. Soon after the above photo was shot, another was taken of the alleged serial rapist dead on the ground.