Archive for category Justice



In bygone years, journalists were supposed to stick to the “W’s” – Who, What, Where, When, Why …and How  to present a factual account of a journalistic piece.  However, as a survivor of crime, I now clearly see that reams of paper and ink are devoted to the “who” meaning the perpetrator and the “what” with a more than healthy dose of sensationalism, frequently at the expense of the crime victims. Victims’ families are nearly ignored in this process. The more grisly the better in journalism and viewers flock like a feeding frenzy.  Like it or not, that’s the way it is.

This leaves them as “second class citizens, “out in the cold”, “at the back of the bus” and “a virtual afterthought at best!”  Do journalists really give the public what they want?  Or, is this just rationalization or an excuse for reprehensible behavior in presenting such a skewed image of the people and circumstances involved? I would like to think that the general public, irrespective of their thirst for the immediacy of social media, would “take the high road” if guided.

What is “the high road?” The high road would include: presenting a balanced picture-not to sensationalize; to stick to verified factual information; to not “rush to judgment “ for the sake of beating to the punch  a competing news organization; to humanize the victims above all else, rather than used as a pawn in the ever complex judicial chess game.

The truth is, if journalists did a better job of humanizing the victims, I’m certain there would be positive “spill over effect” to court personnel and the enforcement of crime victims’ constitutional rights!

Enter, Stage Left, my customized victim impact writing service designed for victims “lost in the media swirl” who desperately need a cohesive, objective, experienced voice to convey the heart and soul of their loved one!

A prime example of getting caught in the abyss of the horror of mass homicide without as place to turn is Philip Russo, widower,  former husband of Shelia Russo passionate advocate for the downtrodden, working as the Tribal Administrator on tribal land in Alturas, California (although the mass shooting took place in the tribal office, the building itself does not sit on tribal land). In February, Phil’s entire world “faded to black’.  It all went horribly wrong in an instant!

In order to assist Phil in his quest to the correct the misconceptions of this tragedy, to focus on all victims, including the memory of Shelia, (as opposed to the press the murderer has received,) I submitted selected interview questions to Phil to reflect upon. Readers should keep in mind that his responses reflect a very new and early and very thoughtful perspective

In addition, in more than 30 years of working with crime victims, I have NEVER heard of a more egregious failure of “the system,” a more convoluted, complex, bureaucratic wasteland forced upon this man; lacking in sufficient resources for a crime victim in my life, all due to many circumstances beyond Phil’s control.        It is the proverbial “black hole “you would not wish upon your worst enemy.

This is the very circumstance, which calls for others to step up and step in, including assistance with victim impact, where applicable!

However, on the positive side, I must say at the outset, with people connections, resources and some support, Phil is just beginning to “see the light of day” ever so slowly, with his overwhelming sense of grief the most difficult part of his battle.

I am honored that he chose to participate and offer his voice for the benefit of others.

Questions and Responses for Phil Russo

Thus far, what is the one most difficult lesson you have learned about being a victim of violent crime?    

Personally speaking, it was the realization that all of the programs and people everyone thinks are out there to aid someone in my situation are either nonexistent or were or little to no help to me. I went through all of the traditional sources for victim’s assistance, not one was able to connect me with the help I was seeking.  I was thrown into a quicksand of red tape. Having to jump through hoops to complete paperwork and make phone calls. Dealing with bureaucracy is the last thing you want deal with when you’re experiencing debilitating grief. For me, the ability to speak with people who had experienced losing someone to gun violence, just as I had, was crucial. I’ve had the good fortune to speak with many other survivors, who tell me they all had the same experience. It was only through reaching out on my own that I was able to find people like you, who were able to put me on the right path.    I feel grateful for having come across the people I’ve met through social media. If it weren’t for all friends that I’ve made by striking out on my own for help, I don’t know where I’d be today.  I’m lucky in that whatever it was that possessed me to use social media to reach out has led to meeting so many caring people.  I hate to think about all the other victims who aren’t as lucky as I am in that regard.  On the positive side, one of the enlightening things that I’ve learned is that in times of tragedy, you need to surround yourself with caring supportive people. When Shelia was first killed, I was determined to make it through this on my own.  I realized though, that I was never going to make it alone. I needed help. So I opened my heart and reached out to others and it has made all the difference.

What is the biggest misconception that the media has concerning this horrible crime?  

article-2565664-1BB8DBDF00000578-661_634x826There are a few things. First, regarding Shelia’s role in all of this, Shelia’s job as Tribal Administrator was to implement the decisions made by the tribe.   Shelia had no role in the decision making process for the recall elections or the evictions.  Her job was to merely oversee the proceedings to make sure they were carried out per the tribe’s by laws.

Then, there are some who are of the opinion that this is just a common occurrence with Native American’s on reservations. I believe this is a misconception fueled by prejudice.

Regarding the matter of the embezzlement, it’s hard for me to believe that Cherie Rhoades would kill 4 people and try to wipe out the entire tribe merely over her eviction. There were 19 people in the building that day, and according to testimony by law enforcement, Rhoades made statements that she intended to kill everyone.  Remember, this is woman who was receiving $80,000 a year and living in her house for free, simply for being a tribal member.  She could have simply packed up and moved elsewhere very easily.  Sources put the dollar amount of the embezzlement at $50,000, but that was just according to the 2012 financial audit. The accounting records for the previous years were so poorly kept, that they were going to have to recreate them forensically.  Cherie Rhoades was the chairwoman for 10 years.   I believe that if they dig deeper that they would find a lot more.

Hypothetically speaking, do you feel that if but for multiple victims, victims within the same family and culture as the perpetrator, your wife’s murder would not have “gotten lost”? Why/Why not?

That’s a difficult question to answer.  I don’t know why this story, as a whole, has gotten very little attention. Even some of the activist groups that I’ve become a member of didn’t even know this shooting occurred.  I’m not sure if it’s because of all the reasons you’ve listed or our extremely remote location. Those all very well could be the reasons. Then again, maybe not. I’m not sure why.  I’m still trying to figure this out.

In your opinion, what can realistically be done to incentivize journalists to begin focusing on crime victims versus the perpetrators?

I’m not sure if it’s a matter of trying to incentivize or the need to humanize them…  People have commented to me that the media is just giving the public what it wants I think that’s a cop out. People are still going to read the stories to learn the facts. I believe that media can still report the news without glorifying the perpetrators and all of the sensationalism.  I can understand why some people are apprehensive about talking to the media. They’re afraid of being taken out of context and exploited and rightly so.  It certainly does go on, but I think that we as victims need to speak out more.  We need to talk about our loved ones.  We need to tell the stories of their lives and all the good things they did so that they are remembered for WHO they were and not by how they were killed.  Remember, for every positive story that we DON’T tell, the media will only publish the negative. I want people to see real cost of this violence, the human factor. I think that honoring the victims is something that everyone can relate to and hopefully, in some way, it may help to bring an end to this violence.  I think that we also need to hold the media accountable for what they publish.  If you see an exploitive news story, call the news director or station manager where the story appears and let them know that it’s insensitive to the victims. It’s just something that needs to be taken on one battle at time. That’s activism 101.

One of the ironies of this case is that your wife’s background was rich in accomplishments with much to be written about as a feature story. What would your feature story include about Shelia? 

The wonderful thing about Sheila is that for all of her accomplishments, she always remained just a humble country girl from Bakersfield. Shelia was one of the most caring, loving, non judgmental and down to earth people that you’d ever meet. She was driven by an innate passion to help others and it was her compassion that was really the key to her success.  Major accomplishments aside, it was all the little things she did in between that made Shelia who she was.  After her death, people that had known Sheila in the past came out in droves to contact me. People I never knew or heard of before.  They shared wonderful stories with me about Shelia had impacted their lives. They told me Shelia was a mentor to them, how Shelia gave them jobs when other people gave up on them. One woman told me how Shelia was able to “work her magic” and save her grandmother’s house from being taken away by the Bureau of Land Management. People were so compelled to reach out to tell me, they sent their cards and letters in care of the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office because they had no other way to reach me.  Even in her free time Shelia took every opportunity to write in public forums about issues that were important to her.  She was very well educated on the issues of the day and not afraid to debate on healthcare and immigration reform, environmental and climate issues, and marriage equality. In true Shelia fashion, always fighting for the underdog.  Not more than a week before she was killed, I asked Shelia the question if what she did for work seemed like a job to her, or if she loved it so much that it didn’t seem like work. She thought for a second and then answered me. She said that she loved what she did so much, that to her, it wasn’t work at all. In fact, she would do it even if she was never paid for it. It was just a way of life for Shelia.  That’s the kind of person Shelia was.Unknown
People have asked me if this tragedy has hardened my heart. The answer is no, and quite frankly just the opposite is true. It’s really caused my heart to open more. I hate to sound cliché, but it does make you realize what is truly important in life and how trivial most the things that conflict us really are.   Sheila already firmly grasped this “big picture” of life, even without suffering the tragedy. The things that meant the most in life to Shelia were her children, her family, friends, her love for nature and animals, and her desire to do good things in her lifetime.  A few years ago, Shelia posted on Facebook “What makes life worth living is working to create the mark that you leave on this world”. The people who have recently come to know Shelia through me all tell me how inspirational her story is. This is the reason why I try so hard to tell her story.  I know that Shelia will continue to inspire and open hearts.  This is the gift that Shelia has given to me.  This is the mark that Shelia has left on this world. This is the Shelia that I want people to know.

Comments and Conclusions:

I am truly touched at the thoughtful, sensitive nature of Phil’s reflections, revelations and truths regarding the circumstances and the character of his wife – even at this early stage in his journey.  There truly is no “right or wrong responses” when we try to access one’s intellect combined with places in the heart… It is only through the process of reaching out to others in times of need that we really begin to understand the richness of life itself. Sheila would have wanted it that way. I feel it! We will attempt to keep you updated on this story. To contact Phil Russo:;

Contact me for information about Victim Impact Statement Services available if you have the need:  Email

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The Rights of Crime Victims: A “Back of the Bus” Mentality 


As citizens born and bred in the United States, we often cannot appreciate our freedoms…unless they have been trampled upon in the most egregious of ways.

Some rights are considered  fundamental and “Universal,” recognized by the United Nations which  structurally has six arms –governing bodies  (See reference #57 for a pictorial summary)  These include:

 Right to self-determination

 Right to liberty

 Right to due process of law

 Right to freedom of movement

 Right to freedom of thought

 Right to freedom of religion

 Right to freedom of expression

 Right to peaceably assemble

 Right to freedom of association

Civil Rights include:  the rights that are granted to every citizen of the United States by the constitution and all of its amendments. Equal protection is guaranteed to every one regardless of race, color and creed.

In history and in current day, we can find a multitude of examples wherever we look to see egregious examples of human and civil rights violations!  What good are laws if they are constantly broken by the general public?  Even so, laws provide a framework and structure for the masses in which to conform. Without such order, lawmakers no doubt felt that without such rules, those without self-discipline would flourish and our very existence would be in a state of constant chaos!

The Matter of Laws With and Without Enforcement:

We all know that you can carefully craft and pass laws “until the cows come home.”  Poorly crafted laws aside, if those well researched, written and implemented laws are not ENFORCED, they serve no real purpose except for the “feel good nature of legislators” who believe that they have done their jobs to pacify their constituencies.

Case in Point:

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks [1913-2005] On December 1, 1955, at the age of 43, Rosa Parks, who was a trained activist for the NAACP  and a civil rights activist.  She was employed as a seamstress, and refused to vacate her seat for a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation.

The Jim Crow laws were in effect –   “Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people.  They were named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African-Americans, “Jim Crow” came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States”.  

They emerged in southern states after the U.S. Civil War. First enacted in the 1880s by lawmakers who were bitter about their loss to the North and the end of Slavery, the statutes separated the races in all walks of life. The resulting legislative barrier to equal rights created a system that favored whites and repressed blacks, an institutionalized form of inequality that grew in subsequent decades with help from the U.S. Supreme Court. The remnants of the Jim Crow system were finally abolished in the 1960s through the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Henry Ford Museum in which the bus is housed, explained further, “…Under Jim Crow customs and laws, it was relatively easy to separate the races in every area of life except transportation. Bus and train companies couldn’t afford separate cars and so blacks and whites had to occupy the same space.” 

Thus, transportation was one the most volatile arenas for race relations in the South. Mrs. Parks remembers going to elementary school in Pine Level, Alabama, where buses took white kids to the new school but black kids had to walk to their school.

“I’d see the bus pass every day,” [Rosa] said. “But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world”  

Montgomery’s Jim Crow customs were particularly harsh and gave bus drivers great latitude in making decisions on where people could sit. The law even gave bus drivers the authority to carry guns to enforce their edicts. Mrs. Parks’ attorney Fred Gray remembered, “Virtually every African-American person in Montgomery had some negative experience with the buses. But we had no choice. We had to use the buses for transportation.”

The Legacy of Rosa Parks

It wasn’t about being obstinate or that her feet hurt, her impetus blossomed into a very impactful, dangerous and courageous bus boycott for the imagesworld and Presidents to view. In my opinion, her act was the catalyst for real, effective civil rights. How often do you get the window of opportunity for change in this manner? President Kennedy, for all of his adoration, wanted the whole thing to  just go away “as he was “up to his ears “in the Cuban Missile Crisis.  As it turned out, the reluctant hero of circumstance, President Lyndon B. Johnson was forced to make history and received the credit for civil rights change.

Rosa and the “Back of the Bus”

Rosa may have been a seamstress, and considered a second class citizen, but she was an intelligent woman, a strategist, and saw her opportunity.  But, what was it actually like for her and all of the blacks in the South that were so oppressed?  No matter if it was the lunch counter, water cooler, separate restrooms or back of the bus.  Disrespect and lack of human-civil rights is the same no matter how you package it!

“Back of the bus” and second class status is such a violation of who you are as a person, especially if there are clear laws and protections in place! Rosa had had enough and chose to rise up in favor of her race, her personhood, her humanity and for civil rights that were “just out off her reach” at the time. She was a pioneer.

An Analogy. It all began with an Assassination Attempt:

President Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt, and realized there was no system to care for crime victims. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was created. In 1982, the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime produced a Final Report and 68 recommendations that provided the foundation for victims’ rights and services in years to come; Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice established in 1983.

The focus was treating victims with dignity and respect, implement their rights under law, and educate the public about the impact of to improve our nation’s law enforcement, criminal justice and community response to offenses that, previously, were considered merely “family matters.”

“Back of the Bus Status” with Crime Victim Rights:

There is no Amendment to the U.S. Constitution yet… and just 33 of 50 states have crime victim rights at the state level. For an excellent tutorial, see the “Shattered Lives” broadcast featuring Will Marling, Executive Director of NOVA.

If I were to make a laundry list, of excuses and injustices I know of, it would stretch from here to California.  However, the occurrences that portray the victim as “an afterthought” in favor of the States’ interest, who disparage the victim and their family members, particularly if they have not lived a “pristine life” [Who has?]; If communication and consideration are severely lacking such that it significantly impacts the case and family’s ability to cope and “go with the flow” of the cold, cruel judicial process; If there is a very prolonged resolution …or none at all;  If there is no support or resources, such that the victim is “in a jurisdictional black hole” based on geography, lack of access  or other circumstances beyond their control …or if the victim (if alive) or other family member is not equipped with the proper resilience necessary and choses a  destructive path,  these are the some of the most flagrant examples of “back of the bus mentality” that can do real damage.

A Judge’s “Back of the Bus” Attitude:

Those who are charged as officers of the court, who are compelled to treat others with fairness and objectivity and include all relevant information should hang their heads in shame reading the following account.  Although this is a very early example, we know that even in 2014, often many judges do not go out of their way to enforce victim’s right to be heard.

Victim advocate Jo Kolanda describes a sentencing hearing she attended in the 1970’s:

“I went to court for the sentencing of a defendant who had been convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. With me were the mom and dad of the young woman he killed. The offender’s parents, friends, and pastor told the court what a wonderful guy he was. The victim’s parents asked the assistant district attorney to ask the judge if they could tell the court about their daughter. The judge said they could not because “It would be inflammatory.” Then he added that….. “He couldn’t understand why this simple traffic case was cluttering up his court calendar in the first place.”

[Reference: Janice Harris Lord, ACSW-LMSW/LPC For Mothers Against Drunk Driving Copyright © 2003 Mothers Against Drunk Driving, James Rowland, founder of the Victim Impact Statement; Anne Seymour of Justice Solutions in Washington, D.C

The Crowning Achievement to “Get the Gore Family Outta the Back of the Bus”


Please do take time to listen to our amazing journey on The Roth Show! It is a day forever in my heart for good or for bad.


And finally, my attempt to “fill in the gaps and pay it forward” in a different and needed manner:

A Customized Victim Impact Statement Assistance Service ,one of the remaining avenues for crime victims to have a voice within the courts is through victim impact statements. Victim impact statements are usually read after trial as a way to get into the record the impact of the crime on the victims along with their friends and families.

  • Can you trust someone else to present a generic picture for you?
  • Can you trust that another relative  or friend will say what is needed?
  • Can you trust yourself to maintain control?

If the answer to any of these questions is doubtful, trust in me, a skilled writer and homicide survivor and advocate with over 30 years experience.  If you have been given sufficient time to prepare a victim impact statement, perhaps I can help.

For more information, please contact me about Victim Impact Statement Assistance.


I wonder what Rosa Parks would have said about this service?  Very good things, I hope!

We will not stand for “back of the bus” any longer!



Additional References:





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Arlis Perry Part II Skeptics, Satanists and Serials Murderers


Arlis Perry

Arlis Perry died October 12, 1974

I am far, far from a religious scholar and would never even consider delving into such waters of my own accord.   However, the “waters of fascination,” with the many permutations, rumors, myths, half-truths and factoids of the murder of Arlis Perry came calling recently. Just as my initial bare bones of a blog was unearthed to perk the curiosity, so too, the “other side of the story” may fascinate the masses.

Whether you believe in crazy cults, Satan or the talk of serial killers, it truly is a story of rich tapestry. Trying to sort out every detail is better left to others.  I will try to present information speculated or proven by others in a list kind of manner, interspersed with some detail. This story is like “the many arms and tentacles of an octopus,” Difficult to tie together. You are forewarned!

As with every homicide, particularly cold cases, they are victims of their own era combined with circumstance, with things left undone and, “coulda, woulda, shoulda.” Please refer to the initial blog “for a running start” An Unsolved Murder, the Mystery of Arlis Perry.

Did this unworldly newlywed, plucked from her North Dakota home into the influences of 1970’s California living, contribute to her own demise?  What was the common denominator that held her together when she made her first trek beyond the plains with her husband?  It was her Christian religion. That was the “glue of her existence.”  However, how did she become so bold to try to convert others to her side of the fence?  Why was this dangerous territory in an era of free thinking and constant change?

Cast of Characters Contributing to the Tapestry

Blogger, William Ramsey

Rumors and the chilling, brutal display of a killer

Rumor: Arlis’ murderer(s) actually laid her body on the central altar of the church, but that the authorities had her body moved to another location in order to maintain the sanctity of the church.

Fact: She was found on her back, naked from the waist down with her legs spread wide apart, her pants were carefully placed over her legs to form oppositional, triangular shapes.

Perry’s blouse was ripped open and her hands held a votive candle folded across her chest. Horrifically, another votive candle protruded from her vagina. Evidence indicated she was beaten, then choked. The savage blow of an ice pick behind her left ear caused her death. Its handle was seen protruding from her skull when a security guard found her body.

Maury Terry, author of The Ultimate Evil

Terry is an award-winning investigative reporter whose work has been prominently featured in both television and print media. In 1993 and again in 1997, he conducted the first television interviews with the confessed killer David Berkowitz. Currently, Terry operates his own TV production business, and he continues to investigate major criminal cases. The opening chapter in Maury Terry’s book The Ultimate Evil retells the awful story of Arlis Perry’s demise. The Ultimate Evil

Terry said Arlis most likely did something the group decided she had to die over. “She might have heard or seen something she shouldn’t have,” he said. “They may have feared she would expose them.”

Terry speculates Perry found out some prominent Bismarck residents were involved in cult activity. “Someone in Bismarck OK’d this, and someone had the hooks to get help on the West Coast,” he said. “This was a pretty sophisticated operation.” Further, why invest so much of it to assassinate an innocent young girl of no material threat to a huge drug-smuggling organization?  Maury Terry was convinced she knew or did something that threatened their drug distribution operation.

The Process Church  

They believed they were visionaries warning of the coming apocalypse. In the wake of the shootings at Columbine and with cult activity on the increase, this could have been ripped from the mainstream headlines throughout 1999. But at the end of the hippie dream, these were the charges levelled at one of the most controversial cults of the Sixties: the Process Church.

process_church_logoRobert DeGrimston Moore and Mary Ann McClean were both fascinated by auditing In 1963. They were who two people met at the L Ron Hubbard Institute of Scientology on Fitzroy Street, London. They were both studying to be ‘auditors’. The aim of auditing was to become ‘clear,’ to wipe the psychic slate clean and become, in effect, a kind of superman, no longer enthralled to neurotic fears and hang-ups.

They studied the work of Alfred Adler, a Freudian who had broken away to develop his own ideas. Adler, who developed the idea of the inferiority complex, believed that people were driven by what he called ‘secret goals,’ hidden agendas that gave rise to compulsions and neuroses. The idea was to discover these goals and make them conscious. Putting Adler and Hubbard together, Robert and Mary Ann created a new system – Compulsions Analysis.

The church has changed its name about five times and keeps a low profile. And in their current disguise, they have made tons of money,” Terry said. “And some of the original members are still in it. The legacy of The Process Church of the Final Judgment continues to prosper.”

David Berkowitz, “Son of Sam”

Berkowitz was said to have ties to The Process Church. He underlined a sentence in a section about the Process Church: “Thou shalt kill. They say they are dedicated to bringing about the end of the world by murder, violence and chaos–but they, the chosen, will survive to build a new world of Satanic glory.” (p.372)

At the time of his arrest, Berkowitz admitted the killing of  six people and injuring  seven more that took place in New York City from the summer of 1976 to August of 1977. In the mid-90’s he claimed that the murders were ritual murders committed by a cult.


crowleyArlis Perry was murdered on October 12th which was also the birthday of black magician Aleister Crowley. Followers of Crowley, also known as Thelemites, revere October 12th as a “holy day and refer to it as Crowleymas.”

Aleister Crowley died in Hastings, England on December 1, 1947. However, his legacy lives on in the Law of Thelema which he brought to mankind (along with dozens of books and writings on magick and other mystical subjects), and in the orders A:.A:. and O.T.O. which continue to advance the principles of Thelema to this day.”

Was Arlis Perry deliberately stalked by cult members affiliated with the Process Church and killed in a Satanic sacrifice specifically in honor of Satan’s Prophet, Aleister Crowley?

Jon Martinson

Martinson is a former psychology professor at Bismarck State College and lifelong Bismarck resident: “I believe it’s possible that people in North Dakota were involved in (Perry’s) murder in some way,” Martinson said.

Martinson reported that Arlis Perry’s in-laws, Duncan and Donna Perry, were shaken when told that she had attempted to convert members of a satanic cult in Mandan to Christianity.

A Mystery Person Visits Arlis

It was at the law firm’s office where she was visited by a mystery guest the day before she was killed, an appearance that continues to puzzle those who attempted to solve the crime.

Witnesses described this person as a man in his early 20s who was five-foot-10-inches tall. He wore jeans, a plaid shirt and had blond, curly hair of normal length. Co-workers reported that Perry seemed upset by the visitor, who they thought was her husband. However, the identity of the visitor remains unknown today, and may be an important clue in the murder mystery.

Martinson summarized, the Process Church was formed in England in the 1960s after Robert and Mary Ann De Grimston couldn’t resolve issues with the Church of Scientology. They developed their own church and soon were labeled Satanists because they worshiped both Christ and Satan. The couple believed that at the end of the world, Satan and Christ would collaborate; Christ would judge the living and dead, and Satan would execute the judgments.

Berkowitz, Charles Manson and William Mentzer, the convicted killer of Hollywood producer Roy Radin, were all believed to be members of the Process Church or one of its related spinoff cults.

A Bismark dentist stated: There were a lot of religious groups coming through town at the time,” who went to school with Perry. “I remember seeing people dressed in priest’s outfits. But instead of white collars, they wore red collars and sported upside-down crosses draped around their neck.

Jon Martinson pointed out that, It’s very important to know that it was Berkowitz himself who raised the connection to the University of Mary, and he did it in late 1979 – nearly eight years before “The Ultimate Evil” was published.

In a Book manuscript: “A story behind the story of Arlis Perry, Helter Skelter, the Son of Sam, and the Process Church of the Final Judgment”   we are provided with extensive details, theorizing the influence of Arlis’ experience between her Christian teachings and the clash of these cultish forces: (Chapters 5 & 6)

When Arlis First Met the People Causing the Downward Spiral

Process Church Ceremony

Process Church Ceremony

She met the six handsome young men while visiting her grandmother. “Are you priests?” she asked. The six men wore the black clerical garb associated with pastors in Catholic and traditional Protestant Churches, except their necks were adorned with red collars instead of white ones.  Three of the men also wore red ribbons and a silver coiled-snake ring on their ring finger.  These three, Father Christian, Brother Thomas, and Brother Joseph, were called “messengers.”  The other three were called “initiates.”

“No,” the men explained, they were not associated with any organized religion. In fact, they believed all organized religion was badly flawed.  “Anything that is organized will eventually be corrupted,” they explained, “if it isn’t already corrupted to begin with.  Society is never wiser than the individual, unless the individual lets society do their thinking for them.  Organized religion places unelected people in positions of power and provides them with the means to mislead and control the masses.”  The men invited Arlis to bring some friends over to their house next Wednesday night, where they would show them what the Bible says about organized religion.


Throughout the lesson, Arlis’ new teacher would jump from one book in the Bible to another; often taking things completely out of context.  To explain the meaning of a phrase embedded in a sentence in one of Paul’s letters, he might jump to an identical phrase found inside a different sentence in Ecclesiastics.  To define a word inside that phrase, he might jump to Mark’s Gospel or the Book of Job.

Father Christian preached what he called “Positive Christianity” and distinguished it from what he called the “Negative Christianity of Organized Religion.” Father Christian explained that “Negative Christianity” emphasized the passive, rather than the active, aspects of Christ’s life.  Negative Christianity stressed our Fallen World, the Passion of the Christ, His sacrifice on the Cross, and our other-worldly redemption.  Negative Christianity enfeebled people, leaving them weak and dreaming of the next life.

Father Christian’s mission was to replace this negative emphasis with a positive emphasis on Christ as an active preacher, organizer and fighter who opposed the institutionalized Judaism of his day.  A true Christian was liberated from the false Jewish God of organized religion, and came to realize an alternative and true Jehovah who desires the empowerment of the oppressed.

Arlis noted these men were obsessed with the Biblical Apocalypse. The End was coming, and they, as the Chosen People, were going benefit in a great way from the event.  The sooner they brought about the collapse of Western Civilization, the better it will be for the Elect.  Money was the root of all evil.  Poverty was the root of all grace.

Their made up religion espoused that there were successive lives, and  fate in each successive life through the exercise of free will.  Each person was consciously (or unconsciously) choosing their fate through each successive life.  Birth defects, etc. were the result of choices made in the person’s previous life

Several trips to the college library brought Arlis to the realization that the leader, Father Christian was inventing a false history to justify his beliefs.  She routinely out-debated Father Christian and the other young men from California at their “Bible Study” sessions.  When membership started dropping, Father Christian declared Arlis to be an “SP,” a Scientology term for a “Suppressive Person” or “antisocial personality” believed to make up about 2.5% of the population.  It is believed an SP can impede the progress of a movement by their mere spiritual presence which can cause other individuals to become a potential trouble source (PTS); a group believed to make up about 17.5% of the population.

Arlis’ Big Mistake

Despite being ostracized by the group, Arlis continued her mission to try to convert the Satanists in Bismarck back to Christianity.  Anat’s efforts to streamline the Process Church’s West Coast operations included detailed briefings on branch’s efforts in North Dakota. These discussions brought Arlis to her attention.

Anat placed Arlis, a nineteen year-old Christian, on a list of powerful SPs that needed to be eliminated as soon as possible, regardless of the cost to the regional organization.  She selected Bill Mentzer for the job.  She was now his boss in the West Coast organization.

Preparing for the Kill


Altar at Stanford Chapel

An associate of Mentzer took a picture of Arlis and sent it to the Satanists in Bismarck for confirmation that he had acquired the correct target.  The picture put the organization in a quandary, because the female pictured had wavy hair (Arlis’ hair was straight) and was not wearing glasses (Arlis had bad eyesight).  To settle the question as to whether she was the correct target, two Satanists were flown in from Bismarck to make a positive identification.  Guy Blase, an attorney at the Palo Alto law firm of “Spaeth, Blase, Valentine and Klein” (where Arlis worked as a receptionist) saw one of the men having an intense conversation with her in the waiting room, the day before she was murdered.


The killer may have been tracking his target toward a familiar rendezvous, Arlis often went to the chapel to pray.  Unfortunately, she stayed until closing that night.  The killer waited until she was alone in the chapel to make his move.

She was beaten and choked (the deep purple bruises imprinted on her neck matched the pattern of her brown wood-and-glass-beaded necklace) repeatedly, but not raped.  He was forbidden from “spoiling” this sacrifice to Satan.  He took a break from the violence to relieve his accumulated sexual pressure on a church kneeling cushion, leaving stains that the police would later find.  He promised the Christian an easy death if she blasphemed her Lord on a small tape recorder he had brought with him.  Arlis refused.

Killer with a Tape Recorder?

The torture continued.  He was surprised that her skinny little frame held such a strong spirit.  He straddled his victim and gave her one last opportunity to curse into his little recorder.  She looked at him with innocence and serenity despite the vicious imprints of his fist – and said, “God loves you too.”

He placed his young victim on her back and shoved her partially under the last pew in the left-side alcove, a short distance from where she was last seen praying.  Above her head, a large engraving of a cross had been sculptured into the church wall.

Perversion and Cult Symbolism

body “He couldn’t save you from the power Satan,” the assassin told the young martyr.  The killer turned Arlis’ face toward the altar, so she could see what he was going to do next.  He brought back two 24 to 30-inch-long yellow beeswax altar candles.  Arlis’ blouse was torn open and her arms were folded across her chest.  One candle was shoved between her breasts with enough force to break both bra straps.

Arlis was nude from the waist down, and her legs were spread wide apart: representing the left and right toes of the bird goddess’s foot.

The second altar candle was jammed into her vagina to represent the middle toe of the bird goddess’s foot.  (The killer shoved the candle so hard that he accidentally broke it.)

To enclose the bottom of the symbol, the legs of her blue Levis were spread-eagled upside down across her calves.

Maury Terry (who surprisingly never grasped the symbolic significance of the arrangement of Arlis’ corpse) stated, “Viewed from above, the resulting pattern of Arlis’ legs and those of the inverted blue jeans took on a diamond-like shape.”  He missed the significance of the candles between the legs and breasts – providing the third intersecting line of the witch’s symbol.

He arranged Arlis’ body in the shape of a “witch’s sign.”

The magical symbol for a witch is also known as the “witch’s foot,” and may take any one of several forms.  The “extended chevron” symbol has been found on Paleolithic pottery and cave paintings dated as early as 20,000 BC.  The most common form of the symbol in ancient Sumer was three crossed lines within a square.  Today, it most often takes the form of the symbol that is usually thought of as the “peace sign.”

The night watchman had locked the church around midnight, forcing the killer to break out and leave the door on the west side ajar.  He took Arlis’ glasses with him to prove to Anat that he had hit the correct target and to explain that she was wearing contacts in the picture taken by his female associate – headquarters was not happy with having to pay airfare, hotel accommodations and other additional costs associated with confirming the target in the last week prior to the hit.  [Hmmmm!  Religious cult or Mafioso]

Comment from the manuscript: The police never solved the murder.  Her body was sent back to North Dakota for burial.  One night in October, the local Satanists stole her headstone from the cemetery as a victory memento.

You could take Arlis out of the Dakotas, but you could not take the Dakotas and Arlis’ upbringing and her version of Christianity out of her.  It appears her desire to “convert the wrong people” was Godly, but not grounded in common sense.  What might she have become in later years? I don’t know, but it seems only just that she should have been given the opportunity!



Additional References:




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Leave it to me to find a “quirky” murder charge called murder by omission.  I read about it somewhere and wanted to know more. That’s usually how my writings begin.  Whether there is a plethora of material or not, I can usually make “somethin’ outta nothin’ “ if the answer is not-Naught!  In this case, such a legal concept appears to be few and far between in the United States.

Someone online known as known as “Coragraph” stated his opinion as: “Murder by omission is very rare — it can only be found where the person had a significant affirmative duty to act, and choose not to act when required to do so by law. The courts will rarely find such a duty to act, absent special circumstances.”

Two such circumstances are the custodial parent of a child, who refuses to seek proper medical attention — and someone who causes the original problem, and then does nothing (or not enough) to correct the harm done.

One such case frequently cited occurred in the Corpus Cristi, Texas in which potential adoptive parents Hannah and Larry Overton.  They met Andrew, a 4-year-old, at their Evangelical church, wishing to add him to their family of several children.  However, little did this couple know of his serious medical conditions, never revealed to them. According to an Express News account in September 2008 and recounted in a article, some of the salient facts of the case include:

  • An official diagnosis of acute salt poisoning was one cause of death
  • The State accused Hannah of feeding him salty creole spice AND neglecting to get medical attention promptly; Andrew may have consumed the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of salt or 23 teaspoons of a creole seasoning.
  • His birth history- Andrew was born to a drug and alcohol addicted teen that neglected him. Other problems included delayed speech, social immaturity and a voracious appetite- including PICA behavior.
  • Andrew had a disorder known as PICA – an insatiable need to eat inappropriate things (Cigarette butts, debris on the ground, human waste, cat food etc.)
  • (Sidebar: I saw such behavior when I worked in an institution for the severe-profoundly “retarded” and autistic persons.  Totally freaky! ) Andrew broke a glow stick and tried to “drink the liquid.’
  • Although the prosecution claimed Andrew was force-fed, they balked, as he was very strong. However, Hannah did say that she gave him stew with the creole spice and then water sprinkled with more of the spice. After which he vomited and lost consciousness.
  • She claimed he “had been acting weird and continuously eating inappropriate things for two days prior to his death.
  • Dr. Michael Moritz, an expert in salt poisoning never had the opportunity to testify. He believed that Andrew died of eating a very large concentration of salt all at once rather than his Pica or underlying medical condition. His salt level was the highest ever recorded in the literature.
  • There was no evidence of force, salt on his body or salt crystal in his mouth, no lacerations….
  • But there was omission …and the failure to call 9-11
  • Hannah had been in a car accident and was in much pain. She summoned her husband. They took him to an urgent clinic, but it was too little, too late.
  • On September 12, 2007, Hannah was convicted of a mandatory life sentence without parole while her husband, who was also charged with capital murder, pleaded no contest to negligent homicide and given two years probation.


Another Case in England-

  • Very similar in circumstances…  Angela Gay and her husband were wrongfully convicted of causing the death of their adopted son Christian. His birth history was very similar to Andrew’s. He was irritable with constant thirst with diabetes and other abnormal behavior, later attributed to brain damage.
  • Christian had lived with the Gays only one  month prior to him slipping into a coma and dying.
  • This couple was serving a five year sentence and accused of feeding him four teaspoons of salt.
  • The Gays were “slow to realize that their son was gravely ill.”
  • British child welfare officials did not disclose any health problems, as in Andrew’s case
  • The Gays were acquitted of all charges after MDs testified that a brain malfunction caused his salt levels to rise to fatal levels.

The Tragedy of the MV Sewol in Korea –

On April 16, 2014 288 passengers on board perished as well as others deaths, with still others missing in a disaster that was entirely preventable.

As reported in The Sewol Ferry Tragedy as a Warning

Article 34 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea clearly states, “The state must endeavor to prevent disasters and protect the people from their danger.” While the immediate cause of the Sewol’s accident might be attributable to the captain and the owner of the ship, the government bears the most direct responsibility for saving not a single passenger who was left in the ferry.

The Captain, 1st Class and 2nd Class Officers and the Chief Engineer are being indicted for murder by omission in Korea according to Kang-Ju won of the K-law (May 15, 2014.) Murder in Korea can include life in prison or the death penalty. However the death penalty has not been utilized since 1997.)

The author states that the elements of Murder by Omission include:

  •  A duty to act, to prevent danger and did nothing-left the ship early and did not try to save passengers;
  • The intent to kill another person where the perpetrator foresees that his act can cause death and yet persist-not caring;
  • Loss of life and Causation-Proof that the defendant’s omission-inactions were substantially related to all deaths

(Even though some were rescued after the defendants jumped ship.)

Reportedly, to date no person in Korea has ever been convicted of Murder by omission in a “calamity –accident related” case. Author Kang Ju won feels they will mostly likely be found guilty of murder (without omission) and serve long sentences.

Background of the Sewol Mismanagement and Incompetent Oversight 

  • The world watched helplessly as hundreds of lives drown to death because of the combination of corruption, ineptitude, and irresponsibility pervasive in today’s Korea.
  • The previous administration relaxed the regulations on a ferry’s life and safety, allowing the Chonghaejin Maritime Transportation, the Sewol’s owner, to import an aged ship and add more room for passengers and cargos;
  • The safety inspection and the certification of the ship were left to private entities formed or heavily influenced by ferry owners;
  • The Park administration allowed the Chonghaejin to hire temporary workers, including the captain, at a low wage and without adequate safety training;
  • The government turned a blind eye to the illegal overloading of the ferry.
  • The Park Geun-Hye administration fail to mobilize its resources to rescue the passengers in a timely manner:
  • The Coast Guard never issued an order to rescue the passengers, but only a call to salvage the ferry; and it relied on a particular private company for the rescue and salvage, and protected the company’s monopolistic operation.
  • The Park Geun-Hye administration also walked away from democratic accountability by abandoning its responsibility to protect the people, systematically controlling the media, and mobilizing the police to isolate and surveillance the victims’ families.



Whether we are speaking of overwhelmed, and unprepared parents, dereliction of duty by maritime officers, or law enforcement, murder by omission is attributed to deliberate actions or inactions causing death. It appears to be fraught with problems and may be incorrectly applied. Is it any wonder that few states have it on the books or apply correctly?  Is it semantics after all, or can it mean the difference between life and death for the accused? We must always consider the victim, as an omission in this context, is another life taken.



Who is there to be your voice to the court, or with Board of Pardons and Parole when you clearly are too distraught and consumed with emotion to convey your opinion on the fate of the murderer?

  • Can you trust someone else to present a generic picture for you?
  • Can you trust that another relative  or friend will say what is needed?
  • Can you trust yourself to maintain control?

If the answer to any of these questions is doubtful, trust in me, a skilled writer and homicide survivor and advocate with over 30 years experience.  If you have been given sufficient time to prepare a victim impact statement, perhaps I can help.                    

For more information, please contact me about Victim Impact Statement Assistance.



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