Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top Ten Evil Clown Stories of 2008

During the last year, coulrophobic reality was in evidence through events that actually did occur. Here are my top choices for the most sinister of synchromystic clown news items of 2008.

ledger joker long

(1.) The Joker Is Dead.


There is no bigger symbolic story for the year than the death of Heath Ledger on January 22, 2008. The actor would appear in The Dark Knight, which opened 07.18.08, in the most significant and iconic evil clown role of the year, The Joker.

(2.) Jokawild Is Decapitated.

On July 30, 2008, Tim McLean, who called himself Jokawild, was beheaded on a Greyhound bus in Alberta, allegedly by Vince Weiguang Li, 40.

The MySpace head shot of the victim McLean is below. This is where he told about how he called himself "Jokawild," had three tattoos, owned an iguana and loved loud music and motorcycles.


Todd Campbell writing of McLean at Through the Looking Glass revealed the victim was a big fan of Insane Clown Posse. Most fans of Insane Clown Posse call themselves "Juggalos."

[One repeating theme this year is the increasing presence of the Juggalo (male or female) and/or Juggalette (more commonly used for a female) in these incidents. These individuals are members of the fanbase of the Detroit hip hop group Insane Clown Posse and related recording artists at Psychopathic Records.]



(3.) Slipknot Clown Killer Strikes.

On September 1, 2008, in Johannesburg, Morné Harmse, an 18-year-old pupil in his final year of high school in South Africa allegedly killed a fellow student with a sword and then hacked up three others. Harmse wore a clown mask and carried other masks inspired by the group Slipknot. The killer also spoke in a voice to mimic the Joker in The Dark Knight.

slipknot masks

(Not specifically clown-related, but it is worthy of noting that this school event was proceeded by the Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2008, shooting on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, United States, which left five plus the shooter dead, and wounded eighteen. Steve Kazmierczak came to NIU with his gun in his guitar case, yet another scenario seen in cinema, such as Desparado. Kazmierczak, the dark knight dressed all in black, felt, it appears, he was in a movie. Kazmierczak had on his right arm a tattoo depicting the masked, clown-like character, the Jigsaw Killer, from the horror movie, Saw.)

SAW tattoo

(4.) Juggalos Attempt A Kidnapping.

On September 9, 2008 in West Valley City, Utah, two men with clown painted faces, identified as Juggalos, were arrested in an attempted kidnapping of a young boy.


(5.) Phantom Clowns Return.

During mid-October 2008, new sightings of "phantom clowns" in Chicago occurred near Wicker Park, which has a symbolic name linked to New York City's Son of Sam killings of 1976-1977. In the new Illinois incidents, the scary man was seen wearing clown make-up (in one report, with a teardrop on whiteface) and a wig. Allegedly, he used balloons to attempt to lure children into his vehicle (i.e. a white or brown van with the windows broken out) on the South Side. Police issued an alert about a week after a man with a similar description was spotted on the West Side, also trying to snatch kids.

scary clown

(6.) Juggalos Throw Man Off Bridge.

In Washington state, Joshua Smith was hit on the head with beer bottles, stabbed and thrown off of a bridge. Smith, a Juggalo, was attacked for breaking "gang rules." Smith was attacked by two other Juggalos and a skinhead, who were arrested after the incident. Trench Reynolds on said on November 8, 2008, "Talk all you want about family and carnival but I can’t think of any other music fans that enforce ‘gang rules.’"

(7.) Juggalos Almost Decapitate Teen.

Two 21-year-old men were arrested late in November 2008, by Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies after investigators said they attacked a 17-year-old Kearns youth with a medieval mace. The key to catching the men was their apparent affiliation with Juggalos, as some jewelry they dropped matched a symbol found on the bumper of their car.


During the altercation with the victim, one man stabbed the teen with a knife and the other man struck him with a medieval battle ax type of weapon in the back of his neck, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak. Doctors needed about 300 stitches to close the wound, he said.

"The detective investigating the case said the ax could have very well have decapitated him," Jaroscak said. The weapon used has also been described as a four-sided "warrior's ax," according to the sheriff's office.

(8.) Juggalos Kill on Olive Branch Lane?

Adolescent Matthew Silliman’s (= “silly + man”) allegedly was killed by his four teen friends in a trailer hangout on Olive Branch Lane, rural New Hill, about 10 miles from Apex, near Raleigh, North Carolina. Silliman disappeared two days before Thanksgiving, and may have been killed a few days later, after being held as a captive. Search warrants noted that before someone used a hammer to beat Silliman, the suspects read him his fate in tarot cards.


The four suspects are (1) Drew Logan (= “megalithic rocking stone”) Shaw, 16, who describes himself as a Juggalo (Insane Clown Posse devotee); (2) Aadil Khan, 17, whose My Space page includes Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf among his favorite books; (3) Ryan Patrick Hare ("going down the rabbit hole"?), 18; and (4) Allegra Dahlquist, 17, a reportedly suicidal woman whose is a expert equestrian from the exclusive neighborhood near the Prestonwood Country Club.

(9.) Clown City Shooting Kills A Baby.

Miami detectives arrested two teenagers on December 18, 2008, for killing a police dispatcher’s baby, in an apparent gang-related shooting. A masked gunman ran up to a group of men playing dominoes on the porch of their home, and began firing, hitting ten-month-old Derrick Days II who was sitting on his father's lap when he was killed. Pierre Roche, the apparent primary target, an alleged member of a rival gang named Clown City, was also fatally shot.

(10.) Juggalos Fear Spreads

Juggalo Hatchman

Members of the Juggalos are often seen wearing shirts bearing the Insane Clown Posse's "hatchet man" logo.

Police Detective Calvin Walker was quoted in the Las Vegas Sun of December 23, 2008, as saying, "Not every child wearing those shirts is a gang member. They will tell you 'Mom, I just listen to Insane Clown Posse.' But unfortunately, the Juggalos are a documented gang."

Police estimate there are between 3,000 and 4,000 Juggalos in Utah, and 15 percent of them are associated with criminal activity.

Juggalo vandal activity, likewise, is high in Washington State. For example, late in 2008, in Lynden, Washington, two self-described Juggalo boys, 13 and 14, were convicted of starting the fire (June 9, 2008) that completely destroyed Lynden's historic landmark block-long Delft Square Building. W. H. "Billy" Waples opened his general store there in 1897. [This is not to be confused with the Nieuwe Kerk (English: New Church), a landmark church building in Delft, the Netherlands, located on Delft Market Square. In 1584, William the Silent was entombed in a mausoleum there.]

Special Footnote:

bad santa

Not to be overlooked, in the ultimate evil twisted clown-like ending to the year of 2008, a costumed man, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, plotting revenge against his ex-wife, dressed up in a Santa Claus suit, went to his former in-laws' Christmas Eve party and slaughtered nine people. He then burned their house down before killing himself hours later. The Killer Santa killings took place on East Knollcrest Drive, Covina, California. Multiple episodes of the hit television series "Knight Rider" were filmed in Covina, and the city has the largest and busiest movie multiplex in the USA, the AMC 30. The television series "Roswell" was filmed in Covina, at various spots that served as locations for the fictional version of the town of Roswell, New Mexico, the 33° north latitude site of the alleged crash of a UFO and reported finding of alien bodies in 1947.

Top Ten Evil Clown Stories of 2008
© Loren Coleman, 2008


For more on "Phantom Clowns," see Mysterious America (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2006). For more on symbolic criminal behavior, see The Copycat Effect (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa Kills At Least 9 + Self In LA

December 27th update: Police recovered a second vehicle believed to have been rented by Pardo in recent weeks from a Pasadena company.

A sheriff's bomb squad robot examined the RAV4 and did not find any explosives, officials said. Investigators did find a canister of gasoline, water bottles, wrapped Christmas presents, two computers and a map of Mexico, police said.

A Dodge Caliber Pardo used to flee the scene Christmas Eve was found abandoned near his brother's home in Sylmar, boobytrapped with explosives and ammunition.

Buchanan said Pardo's body was found at his brother's home with $17,000 in cash and a plane ticket to Moline, Ill., with a stop in St. Paul.

From there, Pardo had planned to get picked up at the airport by a friend in Iowa, Buchanan said.

The friend knew nothing of Pardo's plans, he added.

December 26th, pm update: A ninth body had been found in the rubble, according to CNN.

Update: Stinging from an acrimonious divorce, a man plotting revenge against his ex-wife dressed up like Santa, went to his former in-laws' Christmas Eve party and slaughtered at least eight people before killing himself hours later.

Bruce Pardo's ex-wife and her parents were believed to be among the dead. Investigators planned to return to the scene Friday and sift through the ashes of the home, which Pardo set ablaze using a bizarre homemade device that sprayed flammable liquid.

Pardo chose to exact his revenge at the annual Christmas party his former in-laws held at their two-story home on a cul-de-sac in a quiet Covina neighborhood 25 miles east of Los Angeles.

[Covina has a connection to Roswell, of all things, writes author Robert Schneck. The television series Roswell was filmed in various location in Covina including the downtown area on North Citrus Avenue. City Hall, Charter Oak High School and several other businesses and residences served as locations for the fictional version of the town of Roswell, New Mexico (the site of the alleged crash of a UFO and finding of alien bodies in 1947).]

The massacre began when an 8-year-old girl answered Pardo's knock at the door. Pardo, carrying what appeared to be a large present, pulled out a handgun and shot her in the face, then began shooting indiscriminately as about 25 partygoers tried to flee, police said at a news conference.

A 16-year-old girl was shot in the back, and a 20-year-old woman broke her ankle when she escaped by jumping from a second-story window. Those two, and the 8-year-old, remained hospitalized Christmas Day. All were expected to recover.

The gift-wrapped box Pardo was carrying actually contained a pressurized homemade device he used to spray a liquid that quickly sent the house up in flames. Police said Pardo had recently worked is the aerospace industry.


Earlier Update:

Police say six bodies have been found in the ashes of a Christmas Eve party shooting at a house in a Los Angeles suburb that the alleged gunman subsequently set ablaze.

Police Chief Kim Raney says three people believed to have been at the party in the city of Covina remain missing.

The only suspect in the incident, 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, killed himself at his brother's house earlier Thursday.

The missing people include the couple who own the home and Pardo's ex-wife.

Police say the gunman wore a Santa Claus outfit during the shooting. Raney says he used a homemade incendiary devise to start the blaze after opening fire.


Original Information:

At least three people were found dead after a man dressed as Santa Claus started shooting at a Christmas Eve party in suburban Los Angeles. The suspect, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, later took his own life, police said Thursday, December 25th, CNN & AP reports.

It was hours later when police found the body of Pardo, at the home of his brother early Thursday in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles. Police said he died by suicide, but would not say how.

"He was going through some type of marital problems, and we believe that this residence is a relative's residence," Lt. Pat Buchanan said.

Police initally said three people were dead in the shootings and fire late Wednesday. Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said Thursday that investigators sifting through the ashes of the house found more bodies, but would not say how many.

The bodies were too badly burned to immediately determine whether they died in the shootings or the fire, Winter said. "We have multiple bodies inside," Winter said. "They're extremely charred and burned."

The gunman arrived at the party in Covina late Wednesday and immediately opened fire with a handgun, Buchanan said. Witnesses told police that the man took off the Santa suit and left the scene of the burning house in street clothes.

Winter said the search through the destroyed home would take at least until the end of the day.

An 8-year-old girl and a woman in her 20s were hospitalized with gunshot wounds that authorities do not consider life-threatening.

Crews took a third person to a hospital with an injury that wasn't life-threatening and wasn't caused by gunfire, said police in Covina, a city about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The shooting started around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

When police arrived at the two-story house, they discovered a fire that caused "significant damage." Authorities found three people dead inside but said they do not know how the three died. Their identities had not been released Thursday morning.

"There was some source of ignition that caused the fire," Covina police Lt. Pat Buchanan said at a news conference Thursday morning. "We've not been able to identify it yet."

Jan Gregory, a neighbor, said about 25 people were at the party when the gunshots rang out and people started running by the house.

She said she saw a teenage boy run from the house screaming, "They shot my family."

Buchanan says three other people were injured. A woman in her 20s and an 8-year-old girl had gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, and a third person had a broken ankle.

Police received several 911 calls with reports of shots fired at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and were still hearing gunshots after they arrived and found the house in flames, Buchanan said.

At first, firefighters were held back by police because shots were still being fired, though it may have been ammunition burning in the blaze, fire Captain Mike Brown said.

Firefighters had extinguished the blaze by about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, fire Captain Mike Brown said.

The two-story home on a cul-de-sac was destroyed in Covina, a quiet suburb 25 miles east of Los Angeles.

"This neighborhood is really quiet," said Jeffrey Barrientos, who lives half a block from the house that burned. Barrientos said the neighborhood's residents were mostly retirees and elderly people.

Lt. Pat Buchanan said Pardo was "going through some type of marital problems."

Police believe the residence where the shootings occurred belongs to one of Pardo's relatives, Buchanan said.

According to police, the gunman arrived at the party wearing a Santa Claus outfit but changed into regular street clothes before leaving.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Target: Orleans

Nine shooting incidents have occurred in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom in the last month. While the authorities remain in the dark as to the pattern behind the spree, is there an obvious link that connects the dots?

The shootings began on November 21st. They have included three Christian evangelical churches, specifically, the Grace Brethren Church of Coventry/Irasburg, the Assembly of God Church and Cornerstone Evangelical Church, both in Derby.

"It's disturbing, but we're not fearful," said the Rev. Scott Libby, pastor of the Grace Brethren Church, which was hit with 11 rounds.

The spree also targeted three homes, a vehicle, and then, on December 20th, the Vermont State Police barracks in Derby (hitting a display case). Most recently, a shooting occurred on December 22nd, at the Newport Country Club.

Seven of the shootings have occurred in Derby, with one each in Coventry and Newport. There have been no injuries, but lots of rattled nerves now exist in rural northern Vermont. The suspect or suspects remain at large.

Overtly, all the shootings seem to be aimed at symbolic auctoritas targets.

The Associated Press ran a national story on the Vermont shootings on Christmas Eve, December 24, at 2:25 PM EST.

All of the incidents have occurred in Orleans County, Vermont. It was in part of Orleans County where Gerald Bull infamously tested his giant guns.

In 1967, researcher and scientist (the so-called "supergun inventor") Gerald Bull constructed a laboratory for his Space Research Corporation (SRC) in Highwater, just north of Orleans County, Vermont's Canadian border. The property overlapped into the county in North Troy. His intent was to fire research packages into orbit using heavy artillery.

SRC was a corporation founded by Gerald Bull, after the budget for his research at Project HARP (for High Altitude Research Program, not to be confused with HAARP) for the United States and Canadian federal governments was cut in 1967, in order to commercialize the technology of long-range artillery. Project HARP's assets were then given to the newly formed SRC, the main facility of which straddled the U.S.-Canadian border between Highwater, Quebec, and North Troy, Vermont.

SRC's positive history was tied to selling ammo to Israel in 1973 for use in American-supplied artillery pieces. Bull was rewarded for the success of this program by a Congressional bill, sponsored by Senator Barry Goldwater, making him retroactively eligible for a decade of American citizenship and high-level American nuclear security clearance. With the change of administration in 1977, the US's policies on arms sales changed dramatically, and Bull ended up serving six months in a US jail in 1980. When he got out, he moved to Belgium.

Gerald Bull

Shown above is Dr. Gerald V. Bull. Image: M. Wade, Encyclopdia Astronautix, and Berliner-Ultrasonics. As Berliner notes, clearly with one of the 16" guns and, equally clearly, NOT in the Barbados!

Gerald Bull designed the Project Babylon "supergun" for the Iraqi government. Bull was assassinated, when shot five times in the back of the neck, by a gunman as Bull opened the door to his home in Brussels, Belgium, on March 22, 1990. Bull had been working on Scud missiles for the Iraqis.

Three theories as to the source of the assassin are most often mentioned: 1) Israeli Mossad; 2) Iranian Intelligence VEVAK; or 3) Iraqi agents of the Mukhabarat, under orders of the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, because Bull was no longer useful.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Synchromysticism's Godfather

Adam Gorightly's newest book documents the remarkable phantasmagoria that was the person named James Shelby Downard, an American theorist and pamphleteer who shared his thoughts about conspiracies, coincidences, synchronicity, and symbolism.

James Shelby Downard's Mystical War was released by Virtual Bookworm Publishing, in November 2008. The subject of the book, Downard, lived from March 13, 1913 to March 16, 1998, unless, of course, his death was a disappearing act and he's still alive somewhere, writing under an assumed name. (I'm joking, right?)

Downard appeared on the scene when many of my contemporaries and I were just beginning to have lexilinked thoughts and overlapping insights into coincidences. His influence, as Gorightly notes, today has spread far beyond this strange man's life and death.

I easily understand the reach of Downard's impact within my own life from this twilight realm. In the 1960s and 1970s, first in correspondence, and then later in Fortean Times columns, I wrote about the connections I found between names and weirdnesses. Some of those writings appeared (see Devil Names and Fortean Places) in my 1983 book, Mysterious America, along with another chapter, entitled "Name Game."

In the beginning, I pointed to names such as Devil, Diablo, Manitou, and Hockomock for locations, and people names like Hobbs and Wetzel to watch. These were early explorations on the edges of what today is a vast journey in onomatology (the study of names) and toponomy (the study of places).

In the 1960s, John A. Keel carried on a lively correspondence with me and others, in which he examined the frequent appearance of certain proper names, like Reeves/Reaves, McDaniel, Hill, Allen, Maddox, and Heflin, as eyewitnesses of anomalistic incidents.

Soon, I was corresponding with Bill Grimstad and Michael Anthony Hoffman II (both known for their alleged Holocaust denier views, btw), who were close associates of Downard. Many people feel they got letters from Downard, but mostly, it was Hoffman and Grimstad who were assisting in getting Downard's thoughts and words to the rest of us.

Exchanging ideas with Grimstad, about locations linked to Fayette and LaGrange, and names like Bell, Mason/Macon, Pike, Warren, and Lafayette, all went hand in hand with being a Fortean in the 1960s-1970s, especially if an interest in assassinations and strange suicides fit into the mindset.

Hoffman, who authored the modern notion of the twilight language (versus the ancient Buddhist understanding of the phrase) and Grimstad, who was the source of the Fayette factor, were interesting and stimulating correspondents who nicely intellectualized many of Downard's ideas. Hidden meanings were there for the finding, and Hoffman, Grimstad, and Downard were the miners.

James Shelby Downard, who wrote short tracts, which later were published in various anthologies from Adam Parfray at Feral House, examined his own perceived decodings behind historical events in the 20th century, on a parallel track to what was happening with Forteans, anomalists, and demonologists. Downard's approach was mostly cryptopolitical, and some of us drifted over into his world, as often happens in attempting to get a holistic view of history and current events.

How does a biographer working with a secretive subject capture the life of the hidden one? That was Gorightly's task.

As you begin to read this new book about Downard, you might think that you have opened a cryptocomedic LSD trip about a conspiracy-oriented Forrest Gump-like character, who amazingly finds himself in all the wrong places at the wrong times.

Gorightly escorts the reader abroad a rollercoaster ride in which Downard is a Freemason scapegoat being ritualistically abused, watching the KKK hang a person at a crossroads, seeing Alexander Graham Bell receiving homoerotic sex magik fellatio, visiting J. Edgar Hoover's office, and getting a phone call from FDR.

The opening sections of the book are so breathlessly delivered that by the time I arrived at the chapter noting that Downard was at the "first ever meeting of the Baker Street Irregulars on July 5, 1934" in a New York City eating establishment, I hardly was startled by the statement.

All of this made me flashback to what Gorightly observed in his second paragraph of the book: "Some cynics have gone so far to suggest that Downard never actually existed, the group creation of Michael Hoffman, William Grimstad and Adam Parfrey."


The publisher's tagline for James Shelby Downard’s Mystical War, tells us that author Adam Gorightly "chronicles the famed conspiracy researcher’s life long battles against Masonic Sorcery as an investigator and exposer of the Science of Symbolism, Onomatology and Mystical Toponomy."

Well, yes, but what is real and what are Downard's fantasies? We clearly can't tell from Gorightly's text, because, of course, who knows?

The book is an odd mix, at points, of biographical tales about Downard's unbelievable life, his intellectual perceptions in symbol decoding, and details of specific historical milestones along the twilight highway.

When you realize that James Shelby Downard's first published work was only released in 1979, via the short work, The Masonic Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, you do come to grips with the fact his overall output was limited, but powerful.

Downard's refined and well-edited King-Kill 33° had everything to do with the skills of Michael Hoffman channeling Downard. Combined with Grimstad's Sirius Rising reel-to-reel tapes of conversations with Downard, the two works had a ripple effect. “King-Kill/33: Masonic Symbolism in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy” eventually was published by Adam Parfrey in the first edition of the book Apocalypse Culture. The essay theorizes the Freemasons were responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Grimstad, writing even before it was published, was able to walk a wonderfully skeptical open-minded fence, as he passed along the following summary of Downard's JFK insights in Weird America in 1978:

Would you believe John F. Kennedy as a ceremonial king-who-must-die? I'm afraid there is a certain body of opinion, undoubtedly the farthest-out brain wave of assassinology yet, that maintains the killing was pulled off, not by the Russians, the Cubans, the CIA, or the Mafia, but by alchemists.

As I understand the hypothesis, President Kennedy was for some reason chosen as The King (remember "Camelot," "Macbird" and all that?) after the fashion of James G. Frazer and Mary Renault whose "The King Must Die" he had been given to read before his death. This killing of the king in Dallas was related somehow to the touching off of the world's first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site in New Mexico 18 years earlier. Apparently the Bomb was the "destruction of primordial matter" stage of the grand alchemical working, but these conspiracy buffs aren't much more specific on details than were the early alchemists in their recipes. Anyway, Kennedy represented the next stage of the process - the "Death of the White King" - when he was immolated on a trinity site of his own. For, aren't Dealey Plaza and the ill-famed Triple Underpass on the bank of the old Trinity River?

William Grimstad

Popular cultural outlets, such as Robert Anton Wilson's works (e.g. Cosmic Trigger), the music of Marilyn Manson, and the various books and movies about the numbers 23 and 33, have Downard living onward into the morrow. My own books, including The Copycat Effect, show Downard influences.

Everyone has the sense they "discovered" the significance of certain names or dates, or even factoids like Dealey Plaza being the first Masonic temple in Texas, but remarkably, most of these revelations track back to Downard.

Adam Gorightly, who authored the underground classic, The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture (with its foreword by Robert Anton Wilson), is a good person to be at the wheel for this biography of Downard. Oh, I wish it would have been twice as long, but I understand how difficult it is to write biographies of people that do not wish to be known.

Gorightly's book does an excellent job, nevertheless, in opening the door to a comprehensive world of symbol decodifications that may be new to many people. Today, there is much 21st century intrigue involving Downard's legacy, in new areas such as synchromysticism.

Several writers and commentators, including Todd Campbell, Robert Schneck, Theo Paijmans, SMiles, Michael Janitch, Mike Gos, Goro Adachi, Greg Bishop, Ben Fairhall, Henrik Palmgren, Richard Hendricks, Craig Heimbichner, Christopher Knowles, Fredrik Palmgren, Anthony Sutton, Kenn Thomas, the late Jim Keith, the late Ron Bond, and Jake Kotze inhabit the netherworld of conspiracies and synchromysticism, with the later being "an emerging field of study and subculture existing on the fringe of areas already considered fringe – primarily mysticism and Jungian psychology."

The word "synchromysticism" was first coined by Jake Kotze in August 2006, on his website-at-the-time, Brave New World Order. Kotze defined the concept as: "The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

Downard's modern influence on Forteana, assassination studies, occult symbolism decoding, twilight language research and synchromysticism is so deep that he must be acknowledged as the Godfather to many of the points of view that inhabit those arenas.

I'm not sure if I take even half of what Downard wrote about as reality, but to get caught up in that intellectual side trick in critical thinking misses the point. In realizing the reality behind the twilight language, the metaphor is the method and the Downard as revealed by Gorightly is the message.

Greg Bishop, Farah Yurdozu, Nick Redfern, and Adam Gorightly somewhere near Roswell, on 07/09/07. Photo by Sigrid Hudson.

Glossary ~ James Shelby Downard examined the world through a variety of methodologies, including the following:

Onomastics or onomatology is the study of proper names of all kinds and the origins of names. The word is Greek: ὀνοματολογία (from ὄνομα (ónoma) "name").

Toponymy or toponomastics, the study of place names, is one of the principal branches of onomastics.

Anthroponomastics (or Anthroponymy), a branch of onomastics, is the study of anthroponyms (anthropos, 'man', + onuma, 'name'), the names of human beings.

Etymology is the study of the history of words — when they entered a language, from what source, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. In languages with a long detailed history, etymology makes use of philology, the study of how words change from culture to culture over time. The word "etymology" itself comes from the Ancient Athens ἐτυμολογία (etumologia) < ἔτυμον (etumon), “‘true sense’” + -λογία (-logia), “‘study of’”, from λόγος (logos), "speech, oration, discourse, word."


If you have questions about the identity of Bill Grimstad: 

 See The Dirty Little Secrets of Twilight Forteans.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toole, Jonestown and Bundy?

What does Ottis Toole have to do with Jonestown, Ted Bundy, and Satanists? Or with the name "wood" and the Tescumseh Curse? A little or a lot? Who knows?

A press conference was held in Hollywood, Florida, on Tuesday, December 16, 2008, to close the Adam Walsh case. As you will recall, the six year old Adam was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, on July 27, 1981. Adam's mother, Revé, had left him playing in a video game section of the store with older boys. When she returned, he was gone. Adam's severed head was found in a Vero Beach, Florida, canal on August 10, 1981.

At the news conference today, the murder was blamed on serial killer Ottis Elwood Toole (March 5, 1947 – September 15, 1996). Toole had confessed and withdrawn his confession to the Walsh twice each, and did the same kinds of confessing and recanting with other killings throughout his life.

For more on the initial Adam Walsh "Case Closed" report, see here. For more on the questions being raised, days later, see here.

Ottis Elwood Toole has a bizarre history, including these quick tidbits from Wikipedia and other sources:

1) His father's name was Elwood Toole;
2) Ottis Toole claimed his mother was a religious fanatic who often abused him and dressed him in girl's clothing;
3) Toole's maternal grandmother was a satanist who exposed him to various satanic practices and rituals in his youth and gave him the nickname "Devil's Child";
4) In 1976, Toole met serial killer Henry Lee Lucas* (August 23, 1936 – March 13, 2001) while working at a soup kitchen in Jacksonville and they reportedly became lovers; [*Lucas also had been dressed as a girl as a child, Lucas at one time lived in Tecumseh, Michigan, Lucas claimed to have delivered poison to cult leader Jim Jones in Jonestown prior to the notorious mass murder/suicide of Jones's group, & Lucas's sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1998 by then-Governor George W. Bush. Lucas's was the only death penalty case among the 153 that came across Bush's desk in his tenure as Texas Governor in which he intervened and commuted the death sentence.]
5) Toole and Lucas claimed to have committed hundreds of murders, sometimes at the behest of a secret cult called "The Hand of Death Cult";
6) Toole briefly shared a cell with serial killer Theodore Robert Bundy (November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) in Florida's Raiford Prison, according to Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me.

Various "experts" feel that most, if not all, of what Toole and Lucas told authorities were fantasies of two mentally ill men. Some, in the law enforcement community, feel what they were saying were partial or full truths. As is obvious from what occurred today at the news conference, Toole is a strong suspect as a killer in various murders.

I find the timing of this news quite bizarre, considering what we have been hearing lately about the Tecumseh curse, the names Reeves (Revé), Wood, and all.

Oh, yes, and there's one more twist to the story. Some eyewitnesses identified Toole as the weird man they saw at the mall the day Adam disappeared. Years later, others said they recognized the kidnapper the second he first appeared on TV - infamous Wisconsin serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who lived in South Florida in 1981. Some in the community still believe the case is stronger against Dahmer, who was killed in prison 14 years ago.

Make of it what you will.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Harvey Milk's Kool Aid

Gus Van Sant's Milk does not deal overtly with the fact that Harvey Milk's assassination occurred only days after Jonestown. In the Sean Penn starring film, it is mentioned that there was Kool-Aid at Milk's funeral, but that's about the only reference.

Recently, I posted extensively here about the links between Jonestown, Milk, and Moscone.

The massacre at Jonestown was the precursor to the assassinations of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, which took place nine days after the Jonestown events, on November 27, 1978.

Milk certainly realized what was in the wind, as I note in The Copycat Effect and prepared for the link: "[Harvey] Milk’s less-than-a-month-old will requested that his body be cremated, and by his direction, the ashes were enshrined with a mixture of bubble bath (to denote his gay lifestyle) and Kool Aid (to signify the People’s Temple victims)."

To read this passage in context, see here.

© Loren Coleman 2004 ~ from The Copycat Effect (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Curses! It Is Almost December 12th!

Something is in the wind for December 12-19, but how does one prepare when you know a disaster might be coming? It seems forty years ago, when the Mothman curse supposedly began, it was treated with mostly disbelief. Please note that. Or, perhaps more correctly, it was viewed with total absence of knowledge that something might be amiss.


Today, I guess, there are limited exercises in writing about curses, more attempts at writing about them and some warning of others.

Take Mothman and the horrors associated with that phenomenon. Of course, the "Curse of Chief Cornstalk" has been linked with the disasters of Point Pleasant, West Virginia: Mothman sightings, cattle mutilations, kidnapping attempts, the collapse of the Silver Bridge, and the dynamite explosion at the Mason County jail. I am not saying there is a connection. I am merely pointing out that people have tied all these together, demonologically, sometimes. No judgments, merely an observation.

Think about it. It was a newswoman who was the source for John A. Keel of the tale of her nightmares of floating Christmas presents in the Ohio River. Did she ever write about those dreamworld appearances, before the event? Not to the best of our knowledge. But Keel made much of them, after the fact, in his books and the nightmares show up cinematically in the Richard Gere movie.

What of other curses, the ones today, that need to be discussed, before things happen?

Another Native American curse is out there, in a related vein, which may have foreshadowed tragedies as its underlying theme. Yes, the Curse of Tecumseh. This specific curse has now been mentioned especially for a period linked to a temporal window beginning on 12.12.08.

Earlier, last Friday, December 5th, I wrote elsewhere about "December Omens."

A research associate Philip Levine has now shared word that author/astrologer Gary Cohen has recently written about "The Curse of Tecumseh."

As most astrologers know, every 20 years from 1840 the U.S. President elected during that year has died in office. At least that was the case until Ronald Reagan, who was shot but, although nearly died, managed to survive. Some think the curse ended with him, while others, myself included, think not.

It is my belief that George Bush is in great danger of not living out his term of office. Let me say right away that based on astrology I think there are three main possibilities indicated: assassination, accident, or a serious heart problem.

During the course of Bush's term of office, I and others felt that the President had faced danger. He has survived many stressful times, although his prestige has steadily waned. The techniques that I use are to be considered as indications when a given set of energies have the strength, when taken together, to be a warning for all those who realize the value of astrology.

Around the Full Moon this December 12, 2008, there are indications in Bush's chart, the USA chart, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) chart, and the ACG lunation chart that all point to some major, tragic event in this country.

Cohen gives his reasons, quite technically, in private correspondence, which I will not share here. Let it be noted, certainly, his calculations overlap with what others are "seeing."

As rains, freezing rains, sleet and snow hit the East Coast of America, it will be intriguing if we discover there also have been some recent Mothman/Thunderbird sightings too.

Please, everyone be careful. This is significant data that indicates bridge jumpers, suicides, hostage situations, domestic violence, mall shootings, and workplace violence do increase during these times of spring tides, full moons, and the close approach of the moon to the earth. Tidal forces are strong during the next week. Humans are animals, and all animals are influenced by the tides.

Sadly, humans are left with the question, something horrific may occur for the period around and after this Friday's full moom, but how does one prepare when you know a disaster might be coming? Do blogging banshees and cursing curses really warn people or create crises? Of course, at least, I've taken the chance to mention all of this before the date versus recording this after the fact, as you will find, mostly, has happened in some of the so-called paranormal lore.

Friday, December 05, 2008

December Omens

As we ride a bumpy road into the last month of 2008, precursors all around seem to be pointing to troubling times immediately ahead. Twilight language read with care sometimes can give an indication of what may be in our futures. Sometimes chasing the dragon can be a fool's game. But there is no reason to ignore its fiery breath if you wish to not be burned.

On the evening of December 1, 2008, a 39-year-old man called a friend at 2:30 pm local time (twilight number = 23) and left a voice mail message, saying goodbye. It took the friend about 20 minutes to get through to the original caller, at which point, the suicidal man said he was "at the cathedral and I'm going to kill myself."

Moments later, running to the Guildford Catherdral in Surrey, UK, the friend found that the police had shot dead his suicidal friend. It appears clear that the victim had died by "suicide by cop." A fake gun was being carried, and the situation forced the police into shooting the man dead.

Several intriguing twilight details must be considered in this incident. The site is the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford, the Anglican cathedral at Guildford, Surrey, England. It stands in a commanding spot on Stag Hill, so named because the Kings of England used to hunt here.

The Guildford Cathedral was used in the filming of the classic Satanic/demonic movie The Omen as the setting for several scenes.

The 1976 film about the childhood of Damien Thorn (as in a "crown of thorns"?) was directed by Richard Donner. It followed a cycle of "demonic child" movies, including Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, and was itself followed by sequels and a number of copycat films such as the Italian-made Kirk Douglas movie Holocaust 2000. A remake of The Omen premiered on June 6, 2006, with a release date chosen to reinforce the "666" (6/6/06) motif.

As Ben Fairhall has noted over at The Daily Behemoth, regarding the use of the site for the movie The Omen: "When a young boy sees the spire and the building comes into view he is thrown into a rage. He foams and the mouth and tries to bite his mother."

While the Guildford Cathedral is used throughout the film, there is one pivotal scene at the end that somewhat bizarrely foreshadowed what happened on December 1st.

On a mission to end the life of the demonic 666-birthmarked Damien, his father, Robert Thorn takes the child to the cathedral. He lays Damien on the altar for a ritualized killing. Robert reaches for the daggers he must use and pulls the first one out. But just as he is about to stab Damien, the police arrive and order him to stop. When Robert does not comply and tries to stab Damien, he is shot dead by the police.

The police on Sunday, December 1st, asked David Sycamore, 39, to drop the gun they saw he had. He refused and was hit twice by gunfire, once in the right arm and once in the chest. The second bullet killed him. It was learned soon after that Sycamore's gun was non-lethal, one of the pellet guns the man had collected.

That this man who died in The Omen's churchyard was a Sycamore is noteworthy.

Since ancient times, the significance of the sycamore tree and its spiritual/predictive nature has been acknowledged. The use of the names "sycamore" and "sycomore" in the Old and New World is linked to the "specialness" of these trees.

The sycamore (or sycomore) of the Bible is a species of fig, Ficus sycomorus, also called the sycamore fig or fig-mulberry, native to the Middle East and eastern Africa. This tree was used in Ancient Egypt for medicine and mentioned in Egyptian mythology.

The Egyptian goddess Hathor was known as the Lady of the Sycamore. Many artifacts made from sycamore are known from the New Kingdom period.

The Bible says that when Joseph and Mary made their flight into Egypt they rested under a sycamore tree. The sycamore is mentioned in the Bible several times, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament (e.g. Amos 7:14, Jeremiah 24:2, Luke 19:4).

A tree in El Matareya near Cairo called the Virgin Mary Tree is said to be a resting spot of Mary, Jesus and Joseph and is a pilgrimage spot for Christians. The tree died in the 17th century and a new sapling in 1672 was planted. That died in 1906, and a new one was planted, which is what is present today. The tree is enclosed in a compound and the government charges admission fees to it. Both Coptic Christians and Muslims visit the site for healing by the Virgin (a practice that is unorthodox in Islam).

The sycamore of Britain and Ireland is a European maple tree, Acer pseudoplatanus, also called sycamore maple, great maple, or, inaccurately and leading to confusion, the plane tree in Scotland.

A sycamore tree is said to be the oldest tree in Cyprus, planted in the 13th century, making it more than 700 years old.

In the November 21, 1922 issue of The New York Times an article was published entitled "Raven of Ill Omen Reappears in Paris; Superstitious See Danger for Millerand in Return of the 150-Year-Old Bird. Heralded Many Disasters ~ Marie Antoinette, Marie Louise, Carnot and Faure Saw It Before They Fell."

The news item told of how the appearance of a certain famous raven in the gardens of the Élysée Palace (Palais de l'Élysée) - a bird of ill omen which for a hundred and fifty years has heralded various kinds catastrophes to the chief of State each time - had been seen again in 1922. Where had the bird specifically appeared? It had perched in a special sycamore tree in the President's ground. (Today, nearby Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, and is lined with sycamore trees.)

American sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) have touched United States history, as well.

Besty Ross' sycamore tree is famed.

In November 2007, in California, eyewitnesses said they could see the image of the Virgin Mary, in a sycamore tree that had been burned by recent wildfires, on the side of the Sierra Highway in Los Angeles County. The tree was a victim of the Buckweed Fire. Its trunk was then saved by county road crews.

Considering these times of dire predictions related to the Stock Market, perhaps it is worthy of mentioning that the terms under which the New York Stock Exchange was formed is called the Buttonwood Agreement, because it was signed under a Buttonwood tree (an early name for a sycamore tree in the USA).

Has a "Sycamore" shown up on the radar via the media, on December 2, to send out a twilight telegraph?

As I was reviewing all this on December 2nd, I received an email from a friend and colleague.

Former psychosynthesis psychotherapist and founder of Sirius Astrological Services, the insightful and creative Philip Levine wrote me that he sees "that this month of December 2008 is anything but quiet. It would appear the gods and goddesses are in conflict this month and that we can expect a higher degree [than normal] of hostility, conflict, struggle, and tension."

Levine points to the details of his prediction on his site, here.

One of the items he pinpoints for this "tough month" is the Full Moon on December 12th, 2008, at 11:38 AM EST/ 8:38 AM PST. For anyone that has been watching the sky, you have visibly seen what is occurring.

The Full Moon intensifies the Saturn-Uranus opposition as the Sun and Mars square Saturn and Uranus for a Mutable Grand Cross.

Other sites are talking about what is upcoming, as well. In 2008, the moon's closest perigee occurs on December 12 and coincides with a powerful Full Moon. At 9:48 p.m. Universal Time on December 12, 2008, the moon will be closer to Earth than it’s been in the last 15 years. It is the nearest and largest full moon since March 1993.

It signals "red-alert” dates, which cluster around very high tides (perigean-spring tides) that peak 1–2 days after this Full Moon when the Moon is in its perigee. When a Full Moon coincides with perigee, the Sun, Earth and Moon make a line in space, and the tidal forces are intensified.

During such events, it has been shown that this is a scientifically verified time of coastal flooding, strong storms (like a Nor'eastern in New England USA), and earthquakes any place around the globe.

It might be time to prepare for something big that is going to happen, in terms of human behavior or geodynamically. Clearly, tidal influences do have an impact on humans, so do not neglect this warning of "tough times" coming between December 12-19, in merely a few days.

Full moon: December 12, 2008 at 16:37 Universal Time

Moon at perigee (356,566 kilometers): December 12, 2008 at 21:48 Universal Time

Extreme Perigees: The last time the moon was less than 356,400 kilometers distant was on January 15, 1930 (356,397 kilometers) and the next time will be on January 1, 2257 (356,371 kilometers), p. 39, More Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, by Jean Meeus.

Friday, November 28, 2008

India's 911: Synchronicity and Coincidence in Mumbai

Astrology and a murdered astrologer. Synchronicity and a Synchronicity Foundation. An actor who had played a terrorist bomber was in the midst of one of the first waves of Mumbai attacks. One of the first people killed was the chief of the Mumbai police's anti-terror squad.

Synchronicity is the coincidental occurrence of events that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality. As we look more closely at the attacks in Mumbai, India, how does one separate the human planning from the synchronicity that apparently underlies these events?

The events will reveal many "coincidences" as the attacks are charted and deconstructed.

How does an actor who played a terrorist bomber find himself in the midst of a terrorist attack? Daily Mail photo, above.

Where, who, why?

A gunman enters the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, November 26, 2008, opening AK-47 gunfire and throwing hand genades, killing at least ten people immediately, including three railway officials. Teams of gunmen in coordinated attacks, storm luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, hospitals and a crowded train station across India's financial capital, killing people, taking Westerners hostage and leaving parts of the city under siege for three days. (Mumbai Mirror, Sebastian D'souza)

Before even an attempt at "why," first let's get straight to the "where" of the attacks. What sites have been hit? Of ten reported, these are the known targets:

1) South Mumbai Police Headquarters;

2) Metro Adlabs cinema (historic Art Deco movie theater; Mumbai is the center of the Bollywood film industry);

3) Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (railway station);

4) Cafe Leopold (a major tourist center in Mumbai's Colaba area);

5) Nariman House, site of the Chabad Lubavitch Centre (Jewish center);

6) Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel (above, a castle-like 1903 landmark, across from the Gateway of India monument);

7) Oberoi-Trident Hotel (five star hotel used by foreigners, such as former guests Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates);

8) Cama Hospital;

9) Vile Parle suburb, North Mumbai; and

10) Mazagaon docks.

It has also been reported that, "Low-intensity blasts were reported in Vile Parle and a grenade attack in Santa Cruz. Two blasts were reported in the Nepean Sea Road area of south Mumbai. Local Mumbai Suburban Railway trains on the Western Railway are running, whereas those of the Central Railway are suspended. More blasts were reported at the Oberoi as the siege continued. Meanwhile, police seized a boat filled with arms and explosives anchored at Mazgaon dock off Mumbai harbour."

I have privately been noting to associates that I think probably eleven sites were actually attacked, not ten. The twilight language use of "11" has been very significant in the history of such terrorist attacks, and sends a message to other founders. (Noted researcher Brad Steiger, "I will swear that the first announcement that I heard regarding the attacks stated that eleven locations had been hit." But even though his wife said she heard ten "10" all other mentions told of "10," Steiger still is certain he heard "11.")

The July 11, 2006 Mumbai train bombings were a series of seven bomb blasts that took place over a period of 11 minutes on the Suburban Railway in Mumbai, killing 209 people and injuring over 700. The reason the 2008 attacks are being called "India's 911" versus the 2006 attacks is due to the 2008 Mumbai's coordinated multi-attacks at several sites, the destruction occurring, the individuals killed, and, for the terrorists, the great media impact they were able to deliver. Media attention is very much a motivation for terrorists, and the wall-to-wall cable news coverage for over three days in the West was a goal, no doubt.

This is how artist Hemant Morparia remembered the earlier 7/11/2006 attacks on Mumbai. He entitled his work, "Mumbai's 9/11."

The site, The Daily Behemoth took a look at the name game apparent with "Mumbai.":

Its present name of Mumbai- used, formally, since 1996, and informally for many centuries before that by speakers of Gujarati- is combined from the local goddess Mumba, and a word meaning 'mother', 'Aai'.

According to Wikipedia, Mumba was the patron of the original inhabitants of the seven islands, the salt collectors and fisherfolk; and is still deeply venerated in the city's seventeenth-century Mumba Devi Temple.

Most intriguingly, Mumba is depicted inside the temple as a black stone sculpture: evoking obvious comparisons not only to the Black Madonnas of Templar-infused Catholicism and Isis, but to the origins of Islam in the pagan worship of the Kaaba at Mecca (a word related to Cybele.) Devi is a Sanskrit word, synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine.

Other insights can be gained by reading about the "Trident" name at Through the Looking Glass, where Todd Campbell points to the iconic "Indian trident or Trishula of the Goddess Shiva,"linked to the name of one of the major hotels attacked.

Also the astrology of the events is examined at Etemenanki. Indeed, Etemenanki has posted an elaborate astrological precusor chart (below) linking the time and space to the sites of India and Indiana, and a couple opposing temporal points on the calendar. (Bizarrely, on Friday, November 28, 2008, Indiana was in the news again, when five deer jumped off an interstate highway.)

Who are the victims? (Piles of bodies were found Friday after commandos stormed the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the last of three buildings that terrorists had occupied in the city. The death toll may be close to 300 killed, who were mostly Indians.)

Gunmen who burst into the Taj "were targeting foreigners. They kept shouting: `Who has U.S. or U.K. passports?'" said Ashok Patel, a British citizen who fled from the hotel.

Authorities believed many foreigners were prisoners at the Taj Mahal hotel.

Early reports on Wednesday night indicated at least three top Indian police officers — including the chief of the anti-terror squad — were among those killed. Indeed, most media accounts mention Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Mumbai police's anti-terror squad as one of the first people killed. These individuals were one of the first targets, apparently.

Officials at Bombay Hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a Japanese man had died there and nine Europeans were admitted, three of them in critical condition with gunshot wounds. All were brought in from the Taj Mahal hotel, the officials said.

Brooke Satchwell, an Australian actress who starred in the television soap Neighbours, said she narrowly escaped the gunmen by hiding in a bathroom cupboard at the Taj, where she was staying for a film shoot.

Only a little news is slowly being released on the victims, with, of course, the Americans being noted by the American press.

Who are the known Americans killed in Mumbai?

Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, and his wife, Rivkah, 28, died in the attack on the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement's center in Mumbai, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin said in New York. Their son, Moshe, was rescued by a brave staff member who had earlier been able to flee with the baby.

The group said three other victims in the building apparently had been visiting there. Shmotkin said the dead included Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual U.S. citizenship; Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum, an American from Brooklyn; and an Israeli woman whose name was not released. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the body of a fourth victim, an unidentified woman, was also found inside the five-story building.

Some of the victims had been bound.

Two other American individuals have been identified as Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13, both there on a spiritual trip with a group called the Synchronicity Foundation. Alan Scherr was a Vedic astrologer.

According to the foundation's Web site, the community is led by Master Charles, a former leading disciple of Swami Paramahansa Muktananda. He is described on the Web site as "one of the most popular spiritual teachers from India to build a following [in] the West in the 1970s." He taught a form of yoga.

The Washington Post says this about the Scherrs:
Twelve years ago, Alan Scherr committed his life to meditation and spirituality, moving his family to the Synchronicity spiritual community in Faber, Va., about 30 miles southwest of Charlottesville in the Blue Ridge mountains.

It was that spiritual journey that led the former art professor at the University of Maryland to be in Mumbai Wednesday evening, eating a late dinner with his 13-year-old daughter at the Oberoi Hotel, when armed gunmen attacked. Both Alan and Naomi Scherr were killed. Local media had reported that they were killed at the historic Leopold Cafe, but U.S. officials later said that the two died at the Oberoi.

The Scherrs were among 25 participants from the Synchronicity community who had traveled to a program in Mumbai. Four other members of the group were injured in the shooting, the Associated Press reported.

According to a statement put out by Synchronicity this morning, Scherr, 58, and his wife, Kia, had been part of the community since the 1990s. Kia Scherr and the couple's other children had not traveled to India on the spiritual mission, the AP reported.

"Alan committed most of his adult life to meditation, spirituality and conscious living," the statement from Synchronicity said. "He was a passionate Vedic astrologer and meditation teacher who inspired many people to begin a journey of self-awareness and meditation. He was committed to making a positive difference in the world and devoted himself to the community he lived in."

The Synchronicity statement described Naomi as "a bright and lively young woman who loved spending time with people and living life to the fullest. She was passionate, if not a little mischievous, and will be fondly remembered by many of us for colorful hair styles and radiant energy."

In an essay in the Web magazine Realization in 2000, Alan Scherr described his journey from college professor and follower of Eastern meditation to a member and full-time staff member of the Synchronicity community, led by Master Charles, described as a contemporary mystic and master of meditation.

After listening to Master Charles speak in 1994, Scherr wrote, he and his wife decided to join the community, which promotes high-tech meditation and a holistic lifestyle. They moved to Faber in 1996.

"For me, real freedom means living life in each moment, as it unfolds, without concepts or conditions." Scherr wrote. "It is a life very few choose because it requires an orientation and re-prioritization of life that is, in many ways, antithetical to our modern Western culture. And yet, it is always available whenever one is truly focused upon self-mastery. The miracle of this life continues to unfold for me on daily basis."

Bobbie Garvey, a Synchronicity spokesperson, told the Associated Press that other members of the mission narrowly escaped the armed attack.

Garvey identified those from the group who were injured in the shooting as Helen Connolly of Toronto, who was grazed by a bullet; Rudrani Devi and Linda Ragsdale, both of Nashville, who both underwent surgery for bullet wounds; and Michael Rudder of Montreal, who remains in intensive care after being shot three times. Other members of the mission narrowly escaped the attack.

The Baltimore Sun also noted:

"I would call them bright stars," said Bobbie Garvey, a spokeswoman for the Synchronicity Foundation meditation group, of the Scherrs. "Extraordinary, bright, very positive -- examples to the world."

The Scherrs had lived at the foundation all of Naomi's life, Garvey said. Alan Scherr's wife, Kia, and her two sons did not travel with them to India.

One captured individual (pictured widely from the train station attack), Azam Amir Kasav, a 21 year old terrorist, has told authorities that the terrorists arrived at Mumbai from Karachi via Porbandar. He reportedly said that he and other terrorists had received automatic loading revolvers, AK-57, bullet magazines and dry fruits from their coordinator.

Azam confessed to the police that they wanted to replicate the attack that destroyed the packed Marriott Hotel in the city of Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 20, 2008, and reduce the Taj Hotel to rubbles, replicating the 9/11 attacks in India. Pakistan's Human Rights Minister Farooq H. Naek said after the Islamabad attack: "This is 9/11 of Pakistan."

Azam melted in with the crowds, and reportedly wore an innocent looking "Versa" shirt, according to one reporter. Or did it say "Universal"? Probably it does refer to "Versace," as suggested by Todd, which is an Italian fashion label founded by Gianni Versace in 1978. Gianni Versace was killed by serial killer Andrew Cunanan on July 15, 1997.

The Versace logo does appear to be the "innocent" icon visible on Azam's shirt.

The television coverage appeared unreal, at times. The violent movies of Hollywood seemed to be playing out in reality on the same streets that gives us Bollywood, where violence like it is not part of their scripts.

Update: Some of the well-known victims have begun to be identified.

Ashok Kapur, chairman of Yes Bank, was killed at Oberoi Hotel (attacked in dining area, but found dead on the 19th floor).

Bollywood actor Ashish Chowdhury's sister, Monica Chhabaria, and her husband were killed at the Oberoi. Chowdhury has appeared in numerous Indian films. According to the Indian media, he reportedly had a small role in the U.S. film Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt. But this is incorrect. Pitt's Fight Club was a 1999 film. Chowdhury's Fight Club: Members Only was a 2006 movie, according to the IMDBb

The body of Sabina Sehgal Saikia, a Times of India consulting editor and food critic, was recovered from the Taj hotel.

Boris Rego, a management trainee at the Taj Mahal hotel, was killed in the hotel's restaurant when gunmen barged in and opened fire.

The Taj hotel's general manager lost his family in a fire that broke out in the hotel Wednesday night. The bodies of Karambir Kang's wife and two children were burned beyond recognition in the fire, but it was unclear whether they were killed in the blaze.

A military funeral was held Saturday in Bangalore for Maj. Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a National Security Guard commando who was killed at the Taj hotel.

The body of another Security Guard officer, Gajendra Singh, was taken to New Delhi before being transported for last rights in his native Dehradun. He was killed at Mumbai's Chabad House, a Jewish community center where American-born rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his Israeli wife, Rivka, were killed along with another American rabbi, Leibish Teitelbaum.

As mentioned before, Hemant Karkare, chief of Mumbai's Anti-Terrorism Squad, among 17 police killed.

IBN listed other slain police officers as:
Ashok Kamte (IPS), additional commissioner of police, East Region, Mumbai.
Vijay Salaskar, police inspector, anti-extortion cell, Mumbai.
Shashank Shinde, police inspector, CST Railway Police Station, Mumbai.
Praksh P. More, police sub inspector, LT Marg Police Station
Bapusaheb Durugade, police sub inspector, L.A.1, Naigaon
Tukaram G. Omble, assistant police sub inspector, D.B. Marg Police Station
Balasaheb Bhosale, assistant police sub inspector
Arun Chitte, police constable
Jaywant Patil, police constable
Yogesh Patil, police constable
Ambadas Pawar, police constable
M.C. Chowdhary, police head constable, R.P.F.
Mukesh B. Jadhav, Home Guard constable

Sources: Associated Press, IDN India News, CNN, MSNBC, Synchronicity Foundation, Mumbai Mirror, Times of India, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Yahoo News, Through The Looking Glass, and The Daily Behemoth.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coincidence 27

Late in November 2008, Showtime TV began screening the recent movie, Chapter 27. I suppose it is being shown now because its broadcast is tied to the anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon on December 8th. Timing is everything.

The movie has many intriguing moments.

First some background. Chapter 27 is an independent film depicting the murder of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman, starring Jared Leto and Lindsay Lohan. It was written and directed by J. P. Schaefer. Although it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007, it did not make it to a release in theaters in the USA until March 2008. It came and went quickly, as they say, because it was a box office failure. It retains its "made for television" docudrama feel, and so, perhaps, it is more fitting I saw it on cable.

The film's title refers to Mark David Chapman's alleged obsession with J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye. The title implies that Chapman's killing of Lennon was a continuation of the book, which only has 26 chapters, and which Chapman was carrying (as his "statement") when he shot Lennon. Chapman appears to have attempted to model (copycat) his life after the novel's anti-hero Holden Caulfield.

According to the December 2007 issue of the British music magazine Mojo and the Spanish language newsweekly Proceso, the film's title was further inspired by Chapter 27 of Robert Rosen's book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon. Rosen's book examines the numerological meaning of 27, “the triple 9,” a number of profound importance to John Lennon. Lennon was deeply interested in numerology, particularly via Cheiro’s Book of Numbers, and by the number nine and all its multiples.

Since the movie focussed just on the three days that Mark David Chapman spent in New York City, leading up to Lennon's murder, many significant items in Chapman's life were left out of the film. These included

1) that when young, Chapman fantasized about having God-like power over a group of imaginary "Little People";

2) he worked for the YMCA;

3) he visited Lebanon;

4) he once met and shook hands with President Gerald Ford;

5) he worked in Georgia as a security guard;

6) he traveled extensively, visiting such places as Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Israel, Geneva, London, Paris, and Dublin;

7) Chapman got a job as a security guard in Hawaii; and finally,

8) while in Hawaii, he told his "Little People" he intended to go to New York and kill John Lennon and they begged him not to, saying "Please, think of your wife. Please, Mr. President. Think of your mother. Think of yourself." Chapman says he told them his mind was made up, and that their reaction was silence. (Was Chapman's "Little People" the menehune?)

Also, we are shown throughout the movie that Chapman was obsessed by The Wizard of Oz, but not that he thought of himself as "Dorothy Gale."

In Chapter 27, I find the key focal point of the film is an involved sequence about coincidences, shortly after Chapman is made aware that Lennon's new album is called Double Fantasy. (See Todd Campbell's new blog posting on "Double Deception.")

In this scene, Chapman is seen making the links that included,

1) the Dakota Building, where Lennon resided, was the site where the movie Rosemary's Baby was filmed;

2) that Roman Polanski was the screenwriter and director of Rosemary's Baby;

3) that it was Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, who was murdered by Charles Manson and his Family;

4) that the killings were based on Manson's notion of "Helter Skelter," and

5) that Manson based his scenario on John Lennon's song, Helter Skelter.

Did any of this happen? Or is it movie fiction?

Or, perhaps, is this film placing into popular culture the overt dots that can be connected in what happened at the Dakota on December 8, 1980?

Forthcoming showings of Chapter 27 will occur on

Showtime Next, November 28, 2008, at 9:40 AM ET/PT
Showtime Next, November 28, 2008, at 6:30 PM ET/PT
The Movie Channel, December 7, 2008, at 8:00 PM ET/PT
TMC Xtra, December 14, 2008, at 11:15 AM ET/PT

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stock Market Suicides: Update

Will a rash of copycat suicides occur because of graphic wall-to-wall media coverage of future "celebrity suicides" linked to stock market collapses?

Reporter Kyle Martin surveyed this blog, The Copycat Effect, and interviewed me for Sunday's article in Hernando Today, a publication of The Tampa Tribune to attempt to answer this question.

Link Is Shaky Between Suicide And Economy
by Kyle Martin
Hernando Today
November 23, 2008

It's the kind of water cooler theory that has just enough credibility to sound plausible.

As the economy continues to post record losses, it's generally accepted that more people will commit suicide as their 401ks evaporate and unemployment rises.

After all, brokers jumped from windows during the market crash of 1929, right?

Well, yes and no.

Like many rumors, it's necessary to sift through the fiction to find the nuggets of truth that are often the genesis of these stories. First, take a look at the numbers.

Records from the medical examiner's office show there were 20 suicides in Hernando County in 2007. Through Oct. 31 of this year, there were 26.

Without examining each case specifically, there's no way to extrapolate that the deaths were specifically linked to an ailing economy. That leaves anecdotal evidence.

Darlene Linville, president of Hernando County's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, doesn't overrule the possibility that the economy played a part in recent suicides.

"I think it's pretty obvious that there will be some kind of link," Linville said, but she cautioned that it's hard to determine exactly how far that link extends.

There's global evidence to consider. On Monday, a Brazilian trader in the open outcry pit of Sao Paulo's commodities exchange shot himself in the chest, according to media reports.

In Calcutta, India, a man hanged himself on Nov. 15 with his wife's sari after losing a large amount on the stocks exchange. Also this month, a London investment-fund executive stepped in front of a train in what the local press called the "first City suicide of the credit crunch."

So what about the crash of 1929? Stories of citizens who had lost their fortunes plummeting to their death are exactly that - stories. Between Oct. 24, or "Black Thursday," and the end of the year only four of the 100 suicides or attempted suicides were linked to the crash, according to a contemporary New York Times account.

It seems there were two grisly jumps on Wall Street that kept the myth going, along with quips about hotels asking if their guests wanted their room for "sleeping or jumping."

Investors have since learned to diversify their portfolios so that a stock market crash does not wipe out their entire fortune, as frequently happened in 1929.

Linville said people with existing mental illnesses are particularly susceptible to suicide, especially people suffering from depression and bipolar disorder. But even mentally healthy people can be overwhelmed by a "life stressor," she said.

The economy is one of many stressors that can that lead to suicide, said Tricia Wilmouth, a psychologist with a practice on Citrus Way. But she adds that it's certainly something to be considered.

"People are losing everything, their homes, jobs and retirement," she said. "They're back at ground zero."

Then again, consider that veterans returning from war also have higher than average suicide rates, she said.

Historical studies show that suicides actually decrease during times of national economic and emotional stress, said Loren Coleman, author of the "Copycat Effect."

Coleman's research focuses on the perpetuation of violent acts and suicides, called the copycat effect. School shootings are a classic example of students mimicking their peers.

This cycle has grown stronger with the advent of cable news networks and the Internet, which can keep a story alive for longer periods, Coleman said.

Lately the media has been preoccupied with post-election coverage. But if they start reporting on suicides and the economy then the copycat effect will kick in and it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy, Coleman said.

The same could happen if a major CEO decides to kill himself in a graphic fashion, he added.

When evaluating rumors, "look for trends and rates, as opposed to anecdotal (evidence)," he said.

Although not everyone is on the brink of suicide, the tough times are impacting people in different ways. The amount of people suffering is piquing the collective conscience, said Wilmouth, citing a term coined by psychology pioneer Carl Jung.

That empathy on an unconscious level for the less fortunate is sparking more small acts of kindness, Wilmouth said. She attributes that to people feeling lucky and blessed, but also a touch of guilt.

Wilmouth has also noticed that many people in these tough times are reverting back to their most recent bad habit.

"Everyone is trying to find a moment of peace and serenity and it's real hard to find these days," Wilmouth said.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Suicide Attempt at Brazilian Exchange; Suicides in India & Korea

Reuters is reporting that a Brazilian trader shot himself on Monday, November 17th, in the open outcry pit of Sao Paulo's commodities and futures exchange in an apparent suicide attempt. Trading was halted for a few minutes after the shot was fired on Monday, right before the regularly scheduled closing time.

Paulo Sergio Silva, 36, a trader for the brokerage arm of Brazilian banking giant Itau (ITAU4.SA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), shot himself in the chest during the afternoon trading session, the exchange said, and hospital staff said he was in critical condition.

Silva was given first aid on the scene before being transported to the hospital, BM&F Bovespa SA (BVMF3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which operates the exchange, said in a statement without providing further details.

Traders said the incident happened in the interest rate futures pit, a raucous circle where on average $21 billion worth of contracts exchange hands every day.

Brazil's financial markets have taken a pounding in recent months as the global credit crunch has spread, causing massive losses for investors and companies alike.

Brazil's main stock index, the Bovespa .BVSP, has plunged more than 50 percent since hitting an all-time high in late May. The local currency, the real BRBY, has shed a third of its value since touching a nine-year high in early August.

Meanwhile, in India, The Telegraph of Calcutta has reported on a Gurgaon beverage dealer, apparently staggering under the weight of stock losses, who has died by suicide after leaving behind a note donating his eyes.

Rajendra Gupta, in his late 30s, hanged himself from the ceiling with his wife’s sari on Saturday night, November 15th, at his home in the Helimandi police station area of Gurgaon, near Delhi.

It isn’t clear how much money Gupta lost in the market crash but police said he had started investing in shares a few months ago, hoping to boost his earnings.

In his suicide note, Gupta, father of two kids, said he was unable to bear the huge losses following the crash.

“My last request to my family is to donate my eyes,” he wrote.

A police officer said it was possible Gupta had taken loans to invest and was finding it difficult to repay them.

Since the family accepted his request to donate his eyes, a civil hospital doctor removed them and conducted the post-mortem,” sub-inspector Hawa Singh of Helimandi police station said over the phone from Gurgaon.

Gupta’s soft drinks agency on Gurgaon’s Pataudi Road was said to be doing well, which has left his family struggling to understand what drove him to risk investing in stocks.

Stock market related suicides are being reported in Korea, as well. The gloomy stock market in South Korea has begun to claim victims with investors committing suicide after losing money in the recent series of crashes.

According to police reports, a 47-year-old man from Gwangju who suffered serious depression after huge losses on the stock market, died by suicide on October 25, 2008.

He invested 370 million won after taking out a mortgage on his house and using his life insurance as security for the loan two years ago, but the recent financial recession resulted in him losing about 60 percent of his total investment.

"When the nation's stock market index fell below 1,000 [earlier in October], he stopped eating and went on a drinking binge for days and finally decided to kill himself,'' his wife was quoted as saying to police.

On the same day, a couple in their 60s from Busan were saved by police during their suicide attempt.

They borrowed 100 million won from a security company last year and invested 130 million won on the stock market. But they lost most of the money in the recent crashes.

On Oct. 22, a 42-year-old branch manager of an insurance company was found dead in an apparent suicide on a mountain in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province. Police believe that he killed himself due to concerns over losses his firm recorded with various insurance products.

On Oct. 9, a 32-year-old employee from a security firm was found hanging at an inn in Seoul, which police claimed was also related to the stock market crash.

In the United Kingdom, rumblings about the "first" market crash suicide are still in the papers.

On a mild Thursday morning in late September 2008, Kirk Stephenson, a London investment-fund executive, ate breakfast with his wife and eight-year-old son, then drove to a train station about 30 miles from his Chelsea home.

As an express train approached, Mr. Stephenson stepped onto the tracks, according to British Transport Police. The driver applied emergency brakes but couldn't stop in time. Mr. Stephenson, 47 years old, died at the scene.

...wrote Ianthe Jeanne Dugan and Cassell Bryan-Low in the article "In a Suicide, Crisis and Life Cross," published in the November 15, 2008 issue of The Wall Street Journal.

Nick Cohen of London's Observer on November 9th, noted:

The Buckinghamshire coroner has yet to hear the case of Kirk Stephenson, but Fleet Street already knows why he threw himself in front of an express train. He was the "first City suicide of the credit crunch" (the Mirror). His death "evokes memories of the 1929 Wall Street crash" (the Mail).

(Reuters reporting by Daniela Machado and Filipe Pacheco, writing by Todd Benson; editing by Eric Beech; unnamed correspondent in India; Kim Tae-jong in Korea.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jonestown, Harvey Milk, and George Moscone

Few realize that the massacre at Jonestown is related to the assassinations of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, and to the murders of others more obviously linked to the People's Temple cult.

In the following excerpt from The Copycat Effect, the ripples from this 30 year old tragedy are examined and these dots are connected.

George Moscone, Jim Jones, and Walter Mondale (above).


One of the most discussed modern mass suicides occurred in the unique setting of Jonestown, Guyana.

Jonestown in the early 1970s was little more than a nine‑hundred acre island cut out of the thick South American rainforest. It was there that the Reverend James Warren “Jim” Jones relocated his People's Temple from the San Francisco area. Allegations were first published in the Guyana Daily Mirror that Jonestown was a “concentration camp” in which Jones’s flock were given psychotropic drugs, sexually abused, sleep deprived, and forced to work 18 hour days. Former members told of drills, called “white nights,” in which middle-of-the-night sirens called members to a line up where they were told they were going to have to take a poison.

Jonestown residents became pre-conditioned into expecting a coming invasion of the camp by Russians, the CIA, or other imagined “enemies” by the delusional Jones. In the wake of these claims, the pressure mounted for San Francisco officials to look into the Jonestown “cult.”

On July 26, 1977, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone announced that he would not hold an investigation of Jones. In a letter to President Jimmy Carter, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk defended Jones as a friend to minority communities. But soon, San Francisco family members asked their congressional representative to fly to Jonestown to look into the situation (and hopefully rescue their relatives). This finally occurred with a one-day delegation headed by Congressman Leo Ryan.

On November 18, 1978, supposedly frightened by the investigative visit of Ryan, cult leader Jim Jones ordered Larry Schact, a medical school graduate and designated camp doctor, to prepare a huge cyanide‑laced vat of grape Flavor‑aide.

At the Guyanese airstrip near Jonestown, Jones sent gunmen to ambush Ryan and about 30 newsmen, government aides, and relatives of People's Temple members before they could board their plane for a return to the United States. Ryan, three reporters, and a Jonestown defector were killed, and among the wounded were the area’s alleged CIA's Chief of Station Richard Dwyer, and Ryan aide, Jackie Speier. Later Jones, with armed guards at his side, had his followers drink the potion and kill themselves. Those that refused to take the poison were machine-gunned to death by guards who apparently escaped. Thus some of the Jonestown deaths were indeed murders.

By most counts, the death toll was 913. Initially, the general public could not believe that the news accounts were true, despite widespread press and broadcast attention bringing the details into American living rooms. Media reports about the People’s Temple suicides would drag on for years. (It was not until 1986 that one of Jim Jones's assistants, Larry Layton*, the only person prosecuted for any of the events in and around Jonestown, was convicted for his involvement in the Jonestown incidents and Ryan’s death. Layton was released from custody in April 2002, on parole, after 18 years in prison. Many believed he was an innocent scapegoat.)

As often happens after well-publicized suicides and mass suicides, the copycat effect took the form of follow-up murders. This happened quickly and in spectacular fashion in San Francisco.

Nine days after the Jonestown events, on November 27, 1978, San Francisco Bay Area residents would learn of the assassinations of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk. Law enforcement officials repeated the local rumors that some Bay Area residents believed that Moscone and Milk were murdered by the hauntingly named "White Night" hit squads said to have been sent by the Peoples Temple to avenge Jim Jones. As San Francisco Chronicle reporter Richard Rapaport observed, “When authorities went through the personal effects left behind in San Francisco by Jones, they found a hit list with the names of erstwhile political friends and allies like George Moscone and Willie Brown.”

The Moscone-Milk murders were carried out by a recently resigned former supervisor, Dan White, and were not directly linked to Jim Jones. White had impulsively retired from his position one year after his election and a mere two days after the Jonestown event. A former Vietnam vet, former police officer, and former firefighter, White would often go into trances during supervisors’ meetings and then impulsively goose-step around the room. His past was filled with mystery, including an enigmatic “missing year” of 1972. White’s murderous instability appeared to have been set off by the Jonestown murder-suicides and their link to San Francisco. The Chronicle’s Rapaport noted in 2003: “Part of the connection between the events came through media coverage. Each day between Saturday, Nov. 18, and Monday, Nov. 27, new and terrible video, photos and revelations emanated from the jungle retreat where many former San Franciscans had chosen, been coerced or programmed to join the man they called ‘Father.’”

In 1979 Dan White was found guilty of “manslaughter by diminished capacity,” despite opening arguments by attorney Doug Schmidt that linked Jonestown to the assassinations. Many still believe that the reason White was not convicted of first degree murder was because of what most of the media reported as the “Twinkie defense” – a phrase coined by well-known satirist Paul Krassner - that junk food had made White do it. While it was in reality HoHos and Ding Dongs, White’s defense claimed that his love of junk food was the result of his depression, not the cause of it.

The night the verdict was handed down, on May 21, 1979, the streets around San Francisco, especially near City Hall, erupted in violent protests. They became known, ironically, as the “White Night Riots.” Dan White would only serve five of his seven-year sentence. He was paroled in January 1984, tried exile in Ireland, and then returned to San Francisco despite requests from Mayor Dianne Feinstein (who had succeeded Moscone) not to do so.

On the morning of October 21, 1985, Dan White attached a garden hose to the exhaust pipe of his car, a yellow 1970 Buick Le Sabre, and died by suicide at his San Francisco home. Tom, his brother, discovered the body just before 2 p.m. White had died as an Irish ballad, “The Town I Loved So Well,” played from a cassette player inside the car as it filled with deadly carbon monoxide.

Milk’s less than a month old will requested that his body be cremated, and by his direction, the ashes were enshrined with a mixture of bubble bath (to denote his gay lifestyle) and Kool Aid (to signify the People’s Temple victims). On the 25th anniversary of the assassinations, Milk was remembered as the world’s first openly gay politician to hold office, the subject of the Oscar-winning film, The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, and the focus of operas, plays, and museum exhibits. An elementary school, a civic plaza, a restaurant, a gay cultural institute and a library in San Francisco bear his name, as does a one-of-a-kind high school in New York for gay students who were tormented in mainstream schools.

Milk and Moscone were not the only persons killed in the wake of the People’s Temple suicides and murder-suicides.

In 1980, news accounts told of an alleged People Temple “hit squad,” which were suspected of killing, on February 26, a family of three who had defected in 1975 and testified against the cult. Elmer Mertle (identified in early news accounts under the alias Al Mills), was found shot in the head, lying face down in his bedroom in the family's Berkeley home. The body of his 40-year-old wife Deanna Mertle (also known as Jeannie Mills, author of Six Years with God), also shot in the head with a small-caliber weapon, was discovered on her back in an adjacent bathroom. The couple's 15-year-old daughter, Daphene, was taken to Alta Bates Hospital with two gunshots in the head, and died there later. The Mertles were the founders of Concerned Relatives, and the principal organizers of Ryan's attempt to intervene in the Jonestown cult. Jones called them “white devils.”

Less than a month later, the ripples from the San Francisco murders reached civil rights worker Dennis Sweeney. On March 14, 1980, Sweeney shot seven bullets point-blank into his former friend, Congressman Allard K. Lowenstein, at Lowenstein’s New York City law offices. Activist Lowenstein had marched in the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi, campaigned for Robert F. Kennedy, authored the "Dump Johnson" movement, and ran the National Student Association, which was later revealed to be CIA-subsidized. After the shooting, Sweeney sat down, smoked a cigarette, seemed to be in a trance state, and calmly waited for the police to arrive.

During his trial, Sweeny testified that the CIA (with Lowenstein's help) had implanted a chip in his head 15 years earlier, and he could hear voices transmitted through his dental work. Sweeny blamed CIA “controllers” for his uncle's heart attack and the assassination of San Francisco mayor George Moscone. Sweeney was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and in 2000, was released from a mental hospital in upstate New York. (The media loved the Sweeney-Lowenstein story. Teresa Carpenter even won a Pultizer Prize for her Village Voice exclusive, quoting Sweeney saying that the shooting was a gay lovers’ quarrel. The only trouble was that Carpenter never interviewed Sweeney; she had made the whole thing up.)

Other deaths followed. Joe Mazor, the private detective hired by the Concerned Relatives to persuade people to leave Jonestown, was shot dead a few years after the Mertles/Mills deaths. Walter Rodney, an intellectual and renowned Caribbean scholar born and raised in Guyana, was assassinated there on December 13, 1980, via a bomb-implanted walkie-talkie. Paula Neustel Adams, Jim Jones's top liaison in the upper echelons of the Guyanese government, was murdered in suburban Bethesda, Maryland in October 1983. Her longtime companion, Laurence Mann, Guyana's ambassador to the United States from 1975-81, apparently killed her, their child and then himself, in a murder-suicide. Members of the Jonestown Institute and author Garrett Lambrev have written that many questions remain unanswered about the true extent of all the copycat suicides, murder-suicides, and murders that occurred since the Jonestown massacre.

The specter of Jonestown filled the newspapers for years and produced a made‑for‑television movie called Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980), starring the then-new and unknown actor Powers Boothe in a highly acclaimed performance as Jones. The Jonestown event had other broad cultural outcomes besides creating a model for mass suicides. For example, despite the actual use of Flavor-aide, the media had quickly mislabeled what was used as “Kool Aid,” and worldwide sales of Kool Aid crashed. Another lasting linguistic legacy of the People’s Temple tragedy is the expression, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” This has come to mean, “Don’t trust any group you find to be a little on the fanatical side.”

© Loren Coleman 2004 ~ from The Copycat Effect (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004).

*Please note, Alex Constantine has posted another point of view regarding Larry Layton. He says he was a Nazi, KKK member, and a glassy-eyed mind-controlled agent. "Layton was a member of the military family that actually controlled Jones and the People's Temple," writes Constantine in his blog. You can read his writings to decide if you wish to consider his facts valid and informative.