An expert in occult activity met with Sgt. Jack Pike of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the possibility of cult involvement in recent reports of cattle mutilation in the county.
Johnny Purvis is on call around the clock for authorities in 30 states as a consultant in dealings with cults and gangs, especially when violence is involved. He relocated from Hattiesburg, Miss., where he retired as a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and was a deputy for the sheriff’s department.
Pike, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, walked with Purvis and an area cattle farmer last week to discuss the circumstances surrounding the suspected mutilation of three calves.
Purvis said he looks for patterns when it comes to satanic cult involvement to determine the “level of sophistication” used to commit these sorts of crimes. Under the waning moon, negative or black magic is usually practiced, whereas the waxing moon is a time for positive magic, Purvis said.
The calves died separately. The first two calves were found dead at the end of August, a day apart.
Juanita Burchfield, who lives south of Highway 286 and owns the herd, called the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 19 to report the third dead calf. The first two, she said, were discounted to the extreme heat until circumstances in which the third calf died sparked concern that perhaps a satanic cult was involved.
This idea is just one theory behind these cattle deaths. The Sheriff’s Office has added extra patrol to the area, Pike said, and urges the public to come forth with any information that may solve the case.
Purvis considers the phase and position of the moon and analyzes the characteristics of the circumstances in criminal activity to help determine the motivation involved.
The first calf was found dead with a small aerosol can in its mouth, Burchfield said. No signs of trauma were visible, she said. The calf, as were the following two, was on its left side with its head facing to the north.
“That’s not coincidental,” Purvis said of the positions of the carcasses.
Purvis explained that satanic groups normally specialize in certain animals, showing a preference toward the removal of certain organs.
Two of the calves were female and one was a bull, Burchfield said.
The second death was discovered a day after the first. The scene was bloody and it was apparent that the body had been dragged a short distance, Burchfield said.
The grass is visibly greener where this calf was found with remnants of bone remaining on the ground. An animal, quite possibly, drug the calf and scattered the bones, Burchfield said.
This calf was “gutted” and the scull was split with the brain removed, Burchfield said. The organs, including the brain, were gone. She showed Purvis and Pike the scull and explained the break in the middle and how the hide was pulled back to expose the brain.
The third calf was reported to the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 19, three weeks after the first discovery.
“When I looked at the third one,” Burchfield said, “there wasn’t a question in my mind what had happened.”
Deputy Bob Barham responded to the scene.
“It was a strange thing,” Barham said. He said it was “pretty evident” that the rib cage had been sawed in two.
Nothing edible was taken from the calf’s body. The eyes were removed from the sockets, Burchfield said. One eye was exposed to birds, but the other was underneath the calf’s head and was also missing, she said.
Barham said he doubted cult activity but seemed convinced a human was responsible for the “clean break” in the animal’s rib cage. Barham said he saw the calf’s body from about five feet away.
“It stunk to high heaven,” Barham said.
This third calf was found with no blood surrounding its body. A bucket missing from the barn, Purvis said, could have been used to contain the fluid to be used for satanic rituals. However, this theory is one of many being considered as motivation for the crime committed against this cattle owner.
Each time a calf died, Burchfield was out of town. Purvis seemed to think this was not an accident.
“That bothers me,” Purvis said. “Somebody knows your habits.”
He urged Burchfield to consider a perpetrator who may be someone she knows or who knows her habits.
This didn’t sit well with Burchfield. She said she hasn’t slept much since suspecting the violation of her cattle. She doesn’t suspect anyone she knows as being involved. Her circle of friends is small and considered close, she said.
Pike said in order to solve these types of crime, the public is necessary.
“The type of person who does this,” Pike said, “leaves little to no evidence behind.”
The Sheriff’s Office, Pike said, will “wait for a break” as information comes in from residents in the area.
“We didn’t catch them in ’79 and ’80,” Pike said.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Faulkner County and areas across the United States were reporting numerous instances of cattle mutilation.
“We were on the lookout for a brown van,” Pike said of the old case, “that was UPS-style and considered heavily armed and dangerous.”
Purvis said that the Halloween holiday is prime activity for satanic cult celebrations. The meeting between Purvis, Pike and Burchfield took place before the holiday.
The morning following Halloween, Burchfield did a head count of the cattle. Everything was normal and the cattle were all present. Burchfield is considering having a night light installed to brighten the area.
Purvis is transferring his accreditation to Faulkner County from Hattiesburg in order to volunteer as a local deputy.
He teaches academic leadership courses for the University of Central Arkansas Graduate School, specializing in school law and the legal responsibility of teachers. Purvis speaks to groups about gang violence and violence in schools relating to young people.
Most recently, Purvis is working on a case from another state involving an 18-year-old he said is suspected of being a “vampire Satanist.” Authorities faxed Purvis the man’s writings and analyzed them to determine “what the boy was into.”
Purvis is actively working on a novel, hopefully to be completed within a year. The novel, not yet named, is about “the most perverted cult I’ve ever worked” on, Purvis said.
Purvis considers his consultations as a service and works on a voluntary basis.
In June, Purvis will participate in two programs sponsored by the Continuing Education department at UCA. It will be a four-day institute primarily for educators involving student discipline and management techniques with a focus on safe schools.
Purvis was director of the Mississippi Safe School Center before moving to Arkansas.
One day of the seminar will be open to law enforcement, criminal justice and psychologist-types, he said, and will focus on gangs, cults, the occult, deviant groups and alternative beliefs as related to violence and crime in schools and the community.
Nov. 8, 2003