A telephone call Thursday night led police in Baton Rouge, La., to five teenagers sought in the bludgeoning deaths of a Eustis couple, authorities said.
Among the arrested was the 15-year-old daughter of the dead couple, Richard and Ruth Wendorf. The others caught with Heather Wendorf included a boyfriend and other teens linked to a bizarre vampire cult in Murray, Ky.
Police across the country had been looking for the teens, who were at one point thought to be headed for Kentucky in the Wendorfs’ 1994 Ford Explorer.
But the five were arrested about 10:30 p.m. EST in Baton Rouge after one girl, Sarah ”Shea” Remington, 16, of Murray called her mother in South Dakota. The woman, who was cooperating with authorities, offered to help the teens by paying for a motel room.
After the teens checked in, the mother informed Kentucky authorities, who contacted Baton Rouge police.
”Would you believe, they fell for it?” said Stan Scott, sheriff of Calloway County, Ky. Scott said he called each youth’s family and asked them to alert him if there was any contact. Remington called her mother several times Thursday, and each time her mother called Scott.
”I figured sooner or later one of these kids, wherever they were, especially the youngest ones, would want to have contact with their family,” Scott said.
During the phone calls, Remington talked about an old battleship they had seen – the U.S.S. Kidd – and ”an old governor’s building,” the sheriff said.
”And most important was a Howard Johnson’s motel,” he said. ”The mother talked about hearing tugboat sounds, so we knew it was near water, and traffic noises. Interstate 10 runs right through there. The bottom line is, the kids needed money.”
Scott said he told the woman to have the five youths go to the Howard Johnson’s and ask the clerk to call her. She said she would pay the bill, then come to pick up the youths today.
When he called the Baton Rouge police, ”Buddy, they moved fast,” Scott said. ”Within 10 minutes, they were in custody. All five have been picked up, along with the Explorer, and no one got hurt.”
Scott said the woman hated to turn in her daughter, but she wanted to make sure the teens were captured safely.
Remington, also known as Charity Lynn Keesee, faces a charge of being an accessory to murder after the fact. But Heather Wendorf faces a murder charge, along with Roderick Ferrell, 16, Dana Cooper, 19, both of Murray; and Scott Anderson, 16, of Mayfield, Ky.
The Wendorfs’ Explorer was missing when the couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Jennifer, found her parents’ bodies in separate rooms of their rural home late Monday night, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.
The Sheriff’s Office said there was no evidence of satanic rituals in the deaths, but they said Heather Wendorf had told friends she was a demon in past lives and had talked with spirits during human-blood-drinking rituals.
”All I know is that they’re safe and they’re arrested and I’m relieved that it’s over,” said James Wendorf, Heather’s grandfather.
Deputies told Wendorf his granddaughter ”was in real good health” but revealed little other information about the arrests.
Investigators said Heather Wendorf and Ferrell dated while they attended Eustis High School. He moved back to Kentucky last year. The two kept in touch and Ferrell – also known as Justin Gibson – ran away to visit Heather Wendorf twice in the past six months.
Ferrell and Anderson also were charged last month with killing two puppies and beating 40 others in Calloway County.
The Kentucky teens were known to authorities as part of ”The Vampire Clan,” a cult group numbering about 30 who sliced their flesh and drank each other’s blood in bizarre ceremonies.
”They cut each other’s arms and suck the blood. They cut up small animals and suck the blood. They honestly believe they’re vampires,” Murray police detective Sgt. Mike Jump said.
Friends and schoolmates of Heather Wendorf and Ferrell said he boasted that he was a vampire with powers of immortality.