SAN JUAN, Texas Ė A satanic scare is sweeping the Rio Grande Valley Ė at least according to school officials and counselors who warn that devil worshippers are snatching children and cutting up their bodies.
The corpses are never found because the killers pulverize the body parts, turning them to dust, said Ruben Garcia, 35, a drug counselor who warns of such dangers at forums for parents and students.
Cult leaders “are very organized,” Mr. Garcia said. “They know exactly what they’re doing. Like anyone with a criminal mind, they think about everything.”
So far, no one has come up with evidence of this perilous new crime wave.
“If large numbers of children were disappearing, we would be aware of that,” said Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. “We are not aware of any satanic cult kidnappings or ritualized murders that are occurring in the Valley at this time.”
No matter. Some school officials in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District are pressing ahead, telling parents that the dangers are real.
Many of the children seen on missing-persons posters in the Valley are probably already dead, the victims of human sacrifices, said Adelina Pena, a counselor in the district’s Parental Involvement Department.
“This is a national trend,” she said. “But it’s just now getting to us. Before we’re invaded, we want to give this information to parents.”
She joined Mr. Garcia at an evening forum on gangs and Satanism on April 12 at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School in San Juan. Forty or 50 parents and children watched as she projected details of a satanic calendar on a screen on the wall.
The calendar noted specific dates on which cult members were encouraged to kill people as part of sexual and satanic rituals.
Asked how she knows people are being killed, Ms. Pena said:
“We see the statistics on missing children. We see from the satanic calendar that there are many dates when human sacrifices must be made and, well, we link one to the other.”
Only when pressed did she concede that she has no evidence. Still, something suspicious is going on, she said, citing recent happenings in nearby Brownsville.
‘Vampire cult’ report
The 16-year-old boy reportedly had suicidal tendencies and was taken to San Antonio State Hospital where he was taking antidepressants, the mother told the newspaper.
Brownsville police have investigated the case and “have pretty much put it to rest,” said Drew Brown, a spokeswoman for the Brownsville Independent School District. She declined to provide any details, citing student confidentiality.
The boy told school officials he was part of a group of students that cut each other, drank each other’s blood and were plotting to sacrifice someone.
“Sorry if my blood isn’t yummy,” stated a letter by one of the students, according to the Herald. “I hope you don’t feel bad about cutting me. I liked it a lot. It doesn’t hurt.”
Sgt. Jimmy Manrrique with the Brownsville Police Department said a group did form and began researching vampirism on the Internet. The group grew to five members, said Sgt. Manrrique, and was rumored to be planning to sacrifice one of the student’s fathers and drink his blood.
But after interviews with students and parents and a search of lockers at schools, police were not able to substantiate the rumor.
Scattered satanic killings have been documented over the years.
But studies show that only a tiny percentage of the nation’s missing children are taken by strangers and killed, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In 1999, for instance, 115 of the estimated 58,200 child abductions were carried out by strangers. In those cases, 40 percent of the victims were killed and another 4 percent were never found. And while the center can’t say how many, if any, were satanic killings, its research has not uncovered significant numbers of murders by devil worshippers.
Undeterred, counselors in the Rio Grande Valley are warning parents to get help if their children start wearing black Gothic-style clothes and listen to heavy metal rock music.
“These things affect all of us. We have to be aware of what’s happening,” said Rene Ramirez, principal of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School.
“Satanism is growing more and more in the Valley,” particularly among middle school students, Mr. Garcia added.
“Satanism promises kids freedom, power, sex, drugs. You can have it all. You don’t have to listen to authority,” he said. “For students who don’t fit in, it’s very tempting.”
But it’s like bait, he said.
“It looks very pleasing to the fish. So the fish nibbles at it. But it never realizes that inside the bait is a hook. And the hook is deadly.”