In the 80s and throughout much of the 90s, a phenomenon referred to as Satanic Panic gripped not only the nation, but the world. The fear that Satan's loyal followers were lurking everywhere in plain sight waiting to strike, was one held by many. No one was safe from "the panic." That includes the Texas panhandle.
The Texas panhandle even had high profile cases involving Satan in small towns.
The Devil's In The Details...Or Not
While researching another topic, I stumbled across a few news stories about Satanists, murder, and the Texas panhandle. It was shocking.
There were three stories that received wide news coverage. Only one of them had anything to do with a "Satanist." That person was self-proclaimed and many doubted the legitimacy of their claim to being in league with the Devil.
In recounting these stories, I have stuck with what happened and omitted names out of respect for those families involved who just want their lives back.
When The Devil Came To Childress, TX
This case took place in the late 80s, and early in the 90s. In 1988 a teenage boy was found hanging from a tree outside of town. Originally, it was determined he had taken his own life. That was, until 1991.
In 1991, his sister was found dead and it was determined that she died from choking on her own vomit. While rumors had been circulating for some time that the boy had actually been murdered by some kind of cult, the death of his sister in '91 kicked the rumor mill into overdrive.
According to reports, it didn't take long before residents were outing each other as Satanists. The town was firmly in the grips of the panic.
The stories and rumors grew stranger and more terrifying by the minute. Stories ranged from altars being built, to mutilated animals being found and cult members meeting in abandoned houses.
Nothing ever came of the allegations of some kind of Satanic cult lurking in the small town. No evidence was ever provided to prove one actually existed.
Foul play eventually became suspected after the bodies were exhumed and reexamined. I was unable to find news regarding any subsequent trials or convictions.
The "Witches" Of Easter, TX
In 1977, a couple appeared on area television regarding what was an upcoming seminar. The subject matter of the seminar is the kind of stuff you don't imagine going over very well in the Texas panhandle, especially almost fifty years ago.
According to reports, the seminar was to be over witchcraft.
This, supposedly, caught the attention of many thrill seeking teenagers. According to reports, the teens arrived en masse to harass the "witches" or possibly see some kind of ritual in action. Some shouted threats, obscenities, and even supposedly fired off guns.
The evening turned tragic when a teenage girl died from a gunshot wound.
There were several issues during the course of the trial that led to a not guilty verdict for the "witches" and charges being dropped. There were many inconsistencies in testimonies from the teens on what happened that night, and according to reports, a juror even stated that the evidence was lacking.
Self-Proclaimed Satanist And Murder On The High Plains
In 1990, one case rattled the small community of Panhandle. A 19-year-old boy, on a Friday the 13th, murdered another boy and attempted two other murders in the same night.
According to reports, in his confession, the murderer admits to reciting an incantation before the murder. He said it was part of some kind of ritual.
Supposedly, residents became worried that there were more nefarious cult members waiting to prey on their community.
Other reports quote those who knew the teenage killer as saying that he wasn't a "Satanist," but that he was really into horror movies and scaring people. He also had personal reasons to wish all three people harm that night.
In 2015, the killer was denied parole and was serving out a life sentence.