Duncan, who claims to be a Satanist, was convicted of attempted capital murder.
Terry Dale Duncan, 30, says he tried to ‘disassemble’ his month-old son.
The Roanoke Times, Jan. 31. 2003
By TAD DICKENS
The suspect’s claims were wild – more than a thousand satanic murders in 43 states and Mexico, including two in Roanoke.
Police could not connect Terry Dale Duncan, self-styled satanic high priest, to those stories. But they could connect him to the attempted murder of his month-old son.
Duncan, 30, pleaded no contest in Roanoke Circuit Court on Thursday to what he told police was an attempt to “disassemble” the infant. Judge Charlie Dorsey convicted him of attempted capital murder, malicious wounding and felony child neglect.
“This is one of the most horrendous cases I’ve ever seen,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Neil Horn.
The child, identified previously as Terrence Alexander Duncan, likely would have died if not for intervention from a Child Health Investment Partnership nurse and a social worker who visited the Duncans after the boy missed a doctor’s appointment.
Doctors discovered the child had suffered fractures to a leg, a shinbone and both collarbones. Bruises covered his nose, forehead and eyes. They later discovered a wound that appeared to be a cigarette burn at the back of his throat.
In an interview with Roanoke police detectives, Duncan said he decided to sacrifice the boy because he believed Terrence was not his son.
“And so I knew for a fact that Terrence was not mine, but I figured maybe I can be able to raise him as if he was mine, so that way I can use him to do the things that I used to do,” Terry Duncan told detectives, according to a transcript of the interview. “But when I felt inside of me, and I knew that it wasn’t gonna work, I figured I’d try disassembling him.”
Duncan’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender John Varney, said after the hearing that the Department of Social Services determined through blood tests that Terry Duncan is the infant’s biological father.
What Duncan claimed he “used to do” with an Oklahoma-based satanic cult was to separate and break bones, eventually killing the victims.
“And the majority of those states that we done the sacrifices, some of them were immediate sacrifices to where the heart was busted or the throat was enclosed to cause breathing to stop immediately and cause instant death,” he told police. “And then disassembled … the bodies.”
Duncan claimed that two of the killings took place about 10 years ago in Roanoke, one at Wasena Park and one at the Hurt Park housing projects.
Those statements turned out to be empty braggadocio, according to court testimony. Roanoke police Detective Tim Spence told Dorsey in a hearing Wednesday that he sent out a nationwide teletype describing Duncan’s claims and asking whether they matched evidence in any unsolved homicides. He received no response. An investigation into the claims about the Roanoke slayings turned up nothing, Spence told the judge.
Duncan told investigators that he planned to apply pressure to the back of the baby’s head until he killed him. The nurse and social worker got to Terrence just in time, lawyers in the case have said.
In later letters to the court and The Roanoke Times, Duncan blamed the child’s mother, 18-year-old Katherine Duncan, for the injuries, and said he was “taking the fall” for her.
Katherine Duncan, who was never considered a suspect in the case, has the intelligence of a child, lawyers in the case say.
Terry Duncan has said the two were married in a Cherokee Indian ceremony in North Carolina, but lawyers in the case have said the couple were not legally married. The child has been in foster care.
In a plea agreement with Terry Duncan, prosecutors dropped two malicious wounding charges, and two counts of felony child neglect. Duncan faces a maximum sentence of life plus 30 years when he is sentenced March 20, Horn said.