The Vampire Clan was a “family” of teens who drank each other’s blood, wore black, and listened to gothic and industrial music. Save for the bloodsucking, they might have been any emo teen group.
But then the clan turned cultish.
After the Vampire Clan helped Heather Wendorf “cross over” by drinking the leader Rod Ferrell’s blood, a gruesome night ensued in the winter of 1996. Her parents ended up bludgeoned to death.
This initiation process was how the monster of Rod Ferrell was born: he was “sired” by an older boy, Stephen “Jaden” Murphy, who appears in an exclusive interview in the premiere episode of “Deadly Cults” on Oxygen, Sunday, 8/7c.
“Rod had the same views, same principals in life. Sometimes it’s kill or be killed,” said the man who met Ferrell toward the end of his junior year at Calloway County High School. “We learned that at a very early age, as children raised in homes that were not so financially sound.”
Murphy and Ferrell began playing fantasy role-play games including ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ but then Jaden took to vampirism.
“To me, it reflected my soul, because the nighttime called to me and conveyed the power in human blood,” said Murphy. “This literally would send chills through my entire body because I finally found my spiritual haven.”
What did “crossing over” to become a vampire entail?
“I had Rod meet me at a tombstone…the birthplace. And we began the ritual. We just used regular razor blades…cut the upper arm,” said Muprhy, who had known Rod for about a year and a half at the time of the ritual. “After we cut ourselves, he would feed from me first until pretty much his heart’s content or until the bleeding stopped. And I would do the same as well.”
Blood, to Murphy, should only be taken to survive. But Ferrell would take his desire for blood to an extreme.
“Giving blood as a gift is one of the most precious gifts you can give to someone,” said Murphy. “It is a total commitment. There is no turning back once this is done.”
Ferrell performed the “crossing over” ceremony for Heather Wendorf, with whom he had a close relationship.
“Rod, when he ran up an eight-hundred and fifty-dollar phone bill talking to Heather Wendorf…I mean, that’s a lot of time on the phone, you know,” said Murphy, who claimed he heard Wendorf mention several times that her parents were abusive.
“Rod looked at her as this damsel he was going to rescue. To him, this was a modern-day romance,” said Murphy, who also added that Ferrell loved power and wanted people to “worship him.”
“The knight in shining, demon-scaled armor, driving to Florida to rescue this girl and bring her into the fold, into his house.”
Scott Anderson, another “vampire,” grew up poor, with an alcoholic father. He would often bring leftovers from his job at McDonald’s home so that his younger brothers would have food to eat, he told “Deadly Cult.”
“I guess you could say Rod had this social machismo about him…people would just gravitate towards him. I was just happy to be…his right-hand man,” said Anderson. “Me, Rod, Jaden, Charity and Dana, we all came from dysfunctional families that were barely making it.”
Charity Keesee and Dana Cooper were other members of the Clan. In Ferrell’s interrogation videos, he said Keesee was his fiancée, reported the Orlando-Sentinel.
“In our minds, it was us against the world.”
Ferrell’s behavior had become increasingly erratic over time. Jaden Murphy told “Deadly Cults” of a time where Ferrell flung a cat at a tree, causing it to convulse and die — revoltingly, Ferrell enjoyed it. “He just kind of grinned.”
The Clan, propelled by Ferrell’s desire to start a vampire family, wanted to move to New Orleans. Before they headed out, they made a pit stop at the new vampire Heather Wendorf’s home on November 25, 1996.
There Ferrell, 16, and Howard Scott Anderson, 17, went in, and beat her parents to death with a crowbar, reported the Orlando Sentinel. The father, Richard, sustained 22 hits in the face, and nine unexplained burns, and the mother was struck once in the face, and 20 times around her head, by blows so severe they broke her brain stem. She also sustained burns.
Prosecutors said Anderson watched as Ferrell committed the crimes, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Two days later, murder warrants were issued for all five teens, including the daughter of the murdered couple. After Keessee called her mother, the group was located, according to the Associated Press. While Ferrell first claimed he was being framed by a rival group of vampires, he pled guilty to two counts of murder in his trial starting February 1998.
Anderson received two life sentences, while Ferrell was sentenced to death. Other members received shorter sentences.
Wendorf was acquitted by two grand juries.
Ferrell became the youngest person on American death row, but four years later, a Florida Supreme Court decision that 16-year-olds cannot be sentenced to death essentially commuted him to life in prison without parole, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Anderson’s sentence was reduced to 40 years and he will be released in 2032, at the age of 51. Wendorf remains free, but estranged from family.
On Ferrell, Wendorf told the Orlando Sentinel in 2006: “He was charming…he could tell a lie like it was the truth.”
Watch the interviews and hear the full story of the rural Kentucky Vampire Clan on “Deadly Cults” on Oxygen this Sunday, 7/6c.
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