She lived by his ‘Principles of Magic’
A combative Playboy centerfold model told a Contra Costa County jury Thursday that the mass murderer she fell for as a troubled young woman was so charismatic that his cult-like followers agreed to live by his “12 Principles of Magic.”
Yes. In Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves I write about some of my cases involving this form of personal control. Sometimes, it can be an authoritarian family system. Sometimes it can be husband, wife, “friend” or relative. Many times it can be someone in some other position of authority. Battered-wife syndrome and prostitutes controlled by an abusive pimp also fit this category. These situations are sometimes far more destructive than involvement in a larger group because all of the energy of the abusive authority figure is concentrated on the victim.
- Source: Steve Hassan’s Freedom of Mind Center
“It was special just to know him,” said Keri Mendoza, recalling the way she and others felt about Glenn Helzer.
Mendoza, 27, turned away when prosecutor Harold Jewett produced the guide-to-life manifesto that Helzer required anyone close to him to live by. It was scrawled on the back of a psychedelic poster and included the entry, “No such thing as right and wrong.”
“I hated them,” said Mendoza, weeping and covering her face. “That’s not who I am.”
Mendoza, known as Kerissa Fare to Playboy readers, returned to the witness stand for a second day in the capital murder trial of Helzer’s younger brother, 32-year-old Justin Helzer. Mendoza, who lives in Yorba Linda (Orange County), lived with the Helzers for nearly two years and testified under threat of arrest.
The brothers and Dawn Godman, a former roommate of theirs, are accused of killing five people in 2000 in a scheme to finance a prostitution and drug service for rich men who, if they were married, might later be blackmailed.
Glenn Helzer, 33, entered a surprise guilty plea shortly before his trial was to begin, but a jury must decide whether to sentence him to death. Justin Helzer has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorney, Daniel Cook, has called him a lesser player and the follower of a brother who, in Justin Helzer’s eyes, “spoke as a prophet of God.”
Jewett has said the trio killed and dismembered Annette Stineman, 78, and Ivan Stineman, 85 — a Concord couple who once employed Glenn Helzer as their stockbroker — while extorting $100,000 from them.
They killed Selina Bishop, 22 and the daughter of blues guitarist Elvin Bishop, in similar fashion after using her to deposit the money, Jewett says.
Glenn Helzer fatally shot Bishop’s mother, Jennifer Villarin, and Villarin’s boyfriend, James Gamble, at Bishop’s Marin County home after they learned of the alleged scheme, the prosecutor said.
Mendoza sparred with Jewett in nearly every response to his questions. She said “I don’t remember” 16 times in one five-minute span, told Jewett, “I don’t like you, and you’re not my friend” and was admonished once by Judge Mary Ann O’Malley to answer Jewett’s questions.
But Mendoza softened under cross-examination by defense attorney Daniel Cook. She described Justin Helzer as a childlike, quiet young man who meditated, ate organic food and released insects he caught indoors.
“I’m surprised I’m sitting here today,” she testified. She laughed for the first time on the stand while describing the eating habits of Justin Helzer, who began sobbing quietly.
Mendoza said the older brother would tell the younger brother, “I’m No. 1, and you’re No. 2.”
Jewett later pressed Mendoza to cite examples of Glenn Helzer’s dominating his brother. She offered just a few, but said, “It was everything in our daily lives.”
Mendoza said she was particularly open to Glenn Helzer’s influence because she had a troubled childhood and a past abusive relationship. She said she found him wise and energetic; he gave her half-hour-long hugs and the confidence to send naked pictures of herself to Playboy.
He also gave her a drug habit, she said.
“I said I had a headache one day, and he said, ‘Honey, here’s some aspirin.’ It was ecstasy. I was like, ‘This is the best aspirin I’ve ever had, ‘ ” Mendoza said.
When Mendoza moved to Southern California in early 2000 to pursue modeling, prosecutors say her place in the Helzers’ scheme was filled by Godman, who is now a key witness against them. Godman agreed last year to testify against the brothers in a plea bargain that will send her to prison for 38 years to life.
Mendoza declined to comment after her testimony.