Officials Searching for Child-Abuse Suspect Traveling With Daughter
Washington Post, Aug. 30, 2002
By Paul Glader
For nearly 12 years, Russell J. Smith was known as a solid, hardworking Prince William County correctional officer. But in his off-hours, among members of a nationwide occult group he founded on the Internet, he was known as “Reverend Sorath.”
Today, he is also known as a fugitive. After allegations surfaced that Smith, 37, had repeatedly molested two girls, he resigned his job Aug. 14 and left the area three days later. He is charged with rape and forcible sodomy of a child and has been spotted, by an acquaintance, only once since then, with his 12-year-old daughter in Redwood City, Calif. The U.S. Marshals Service and the Prince William Police Department are looking for him.
Under the Virginia Code, rape and forcible sodomy are felonies that can bring a sentence of five years to life in prison.
Smith’s group, the Order of Perdition, which has about 100 members, has excommunicated him because of the allegations. “This is something, as Satanists, that we don’t stand for,” said Eddie Rankin, 18, of New York.
Group members said Smith started the group in January 2001 as an online community where people could trade viewpoints and information about rituals and what they call “the dark arts.”
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Taking a break?
The group’s Web site now states, “We are Proud to note The Council of Infernus & The Order of Perdition DO NOT promote or have anything to do with Child Abuse, Animal Abuse or Animal Sacrifice, Illegal Substances, or ANY Criminal Activities what so ever.”
In spring 1990, Smith married for the second time. He was sworn in as a correctional officer for the Regional Adult Detention Center in Manassas that June. His marriage eventually ended, and he obtained custody of a daughter born in 1990.
To his supervisors at the jail, Smith appeared to lead a normal suburban life with a mortgage, two daughters, a girlfriend and a job.
“Smith was the kind of guy who came in and did his job, and then he was gone,” said Glendell Hill, superintendent of the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center. “He was a good officer. If he needs help, I hope he gets help.”
Hill said that until mid-August, Smith never had an unexcused absence in 12 years as an officer. But after an internal affairs officer sought to question Smith about the abuse allegations later that month, Smith missed work for two days and then sent a letter of resignation Aug. 14. He disappeared three days later.
Two live-in girlfriends have accused Smith of molesting two girls in the past year. Police began investigating the complaints July 18.
Sue Jacobs, 29, had moved back in with Smith a few weeks before he and his daughter disappeared. She said she was not involved with Smith’s occult activity and was never alarmed by his pentagram necklace, his T-shirts with Satanic slogans or the license plates on his 1997 Red Nissan Pathfinder: 100P666. Sources told police that the vanity tags translated as “100 percent evil.”
Jacobs stayed out of the basement room, enclosed by a black curtain, where she said Smith performed rituals. But she put her foot down when he wanted to put a large demon-head brass door knocker on the front door of his house. “I told him it would scare people away,” she said.
Jacobs said she found a note from Smith on Aug. 17 that said he was going on a trip and that his daughter had decided to go with him. Police believe that he took a personal gun along and that his daughter may be in danger. Jacobs has custody of a 4-year-old daughter she had with Smith.
After obtaining a warrant, police searched Smith’s home on Kingswell Drive, from which they confiscated a computer along with the skull of a goat, which had a pentagram drawn on it. They also found black robes, young girls’ underwear and ceremonial candles.
Smith wrote several essays, posted on the Road to Perdition site, that express his antipathy toward organized Christianity and his espousal of Satanism.
“Satanism allows for indulgence in life and its pleasures rather than abstinence, as Christianity preaches,” Smith wrote as the Rev. Sorath.
Jim Richardson, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada at Reno, said the occult is sometimes an attention-getting hobby but is rarely connected to crime.
Prince William police said Smith and his daughter turned up last Saturday in Northern California at the home of an acquaintance. Smith told that person they were heading to New Mexico.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the television show “America’s Most Wanted” are trying to help law enforcement find Smith and his daughter.