TROUBLE CITY

FACT CHECK: EXPOSING GERALDO RIVERA'S EXPOSING SATAN'S UNDERGROUND (Finale)

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aGetting to the home stretch. I think I'm done with the "my cat is Satan" jokes, mostly because I'm getting sick of writing about this subject. However, I am so close. I cannot give up. This is 10 parts already. I think I've stated pretty well how badly Geraldo botched this. At the risk of making this a TL;DR article, we're finishing this TODAY. Then I can get back to writing dick jokes about comic books that were written for children and all will be well with the world.

When we last left the mustachioed moron he was saying something stupid, that was poorly researched. Let's move on already!

Denver Death Cults?

How Geraldo Tells It:

Geraldo tells the story about a Satanic murder where a man was handcuffed and stabbed after being forced to drink his own blood.

Bzzt! Wrong! (Remember when I did this?)

I found two records of this in the books "Raising Hell: An Encyclopedia of Devil Worship and Satanic Crime" by Michael Newton. and "Dark History of the Occult" by Paul Roland. Unlike Geraldo, they actually give me some details to work with instead of just showing murder scene pictures. The murder in question happened on February 2, 1986. The killer was one Dana Jones, who confessed that she was a worshiper of Alistair Crowley. She performed a sex magic ritual with her victim and things didn't turn out as planned. What they don't say is that Dana Jones was mentally ill, was found not guilty by reasons of insanity, she then broke out of a mental institution and committed suicide in June 1988. First of all, Crowley's religion is not Satanism. Second, while Crowley style occultism practiced Eucharist ceremonies, the person drinking blood would be drinking their own blood, not somebody else's. Also, they were also insane. There are plenty of insane people who worship other religions (ahem, Christianity) you don't tend to see people painting an entire faith with the same brush as one lunatic.

San Francisco Inter-Satanal (Not all these subheadings are going to be winners)

How Geraldo Tells It:

 There's a million stories in the Satanic City, and this is just one of them...

There's a million stories in the Satanic City, and this is just one of them...

Geraldo interviews detective Prentice Saunders who explains how they found a mutilated body with a Pentagram carved in his chest. The accused killer was one Clifford St. John, who was alleged to be the leader of a Satanic cult. Geraldo then interviews Ed Spela, the star witness of St. John's trial, who claims that he was asked if he wanted to see a man die and if he wants to join the cult. Ed goes on to describe a ritual wherein the lips are cut and to pour wax on the victim's eyes to "seal them for all eternity".  Geraldo glosses past the more gruesome details committed against the victim a homeless man named "John Doe #60". Ed then admits that he brought a teenager to the apartment to be ritualistically abused. When Geraldo grills Ed on it, he says that he didn't take part on the ritual abuse and stammers to try and explain himself, saying "Ricky" (who is not mentioned up to this point) liked handcuffing people to radiators to have sex with them. 

Geraldo then goes back to Saunders and asks him about Devil worshipers and Satanists at large in this case. Saunders said there is at least one other person. When asked if this is a problem that is growing, Prentice says it is "all over the United States" and "probably" all over the world because it is "something people are experimenting with now."

The Reality:

This portion of the special make a lot of conclusion jumps and doesn't do anything to explain the case in any detail. Clifford was a gay man who opened his doors to other outcasts. The homeless, the troubled, drug addicts, and other members of societies forgotten. St. John wasn't a saint, he had check fraud and statutory rape under his belt before he was arrested for this murder. There was also Maurice Bork, an escaped con from Canada. The primary witness in the prosecution's case, he was granted certain immunities for testifying against St. John. Then there's this guy:

 A guy who probably smells like room temperature Bud Light.

A guy who probably smells like room temperature Bud Light.

Ed Spela, was by no means a credible witness. There's a reason he is stammering around trying to explain himself. His stories were never consistent. An assessment on Spela showed that he was mentally unstable. Which is the kind of thing people conclude when you claim to have had sex with Liberace, Elton John, and claiming you were involved in an assassination plot against Ronald Reagan.

You know who else gets a huge F in credibility? Detective Sanders. Don't get me wrong, Saunders did a lot of good things during his career in law enforcement. He fought for more minorities on the SFPD and even became the chief of police in San Francisco which lasted until he retired. However, his sloppy investigation procedure had led to at least two false convictions. Also, his book on his involvement in the Zebra Killings has been heavily criticised.

 

And Now Back to Charlie Manson with Sports

Because Geraldo hadn't got all the mileage out of Charles Manson footage, he goes back there, where we get this inspirational quote:

Satan means whatever I’m looking at. Whatever I want it to mean. It’s on my forehead. It’s me if I get back out on that highway. It’s everything human beings don’t understand. It’s all their fears. It’s what they’re not sure of. If you dig what I’m sayin’? Satan to me would be God.
— Charles Manson

Sounds pretty ominous doesn't it? However, it's a deceptive quote. It's been edited down, cropping out key phrases so it can be taken out of context. Here's the uncut version of the above speech.

The clip, by the way, was taken from Nikolas Shrek's interviews with Manson, and in it's full form, Manson isn't saying he worships the Devil like God. It's utter nonsense from a raving madman, but it's certainly not pledging an allegiance to Satan.

Murder For Souls: Satan's Pyramid Scheme

How Geraldo Tells It

 Fun fact: Charlie Gervais sounds like Elmer Fudd. Never trust anyone who sounds like Elmer Fudd.

Fun fact: Charlie Gervais sounds like Elmer Fudd. Never trust anyone who sounds like Elmer Fudd.

Back in the studio, Geraldo continues on his bullshit belief that Satanic crimes are a widespread problem. Geraldo then begins interviewing Charles Gervais, a convicted killer who is in a Louisianna penitentiary. Gervais claims that he is a Satanist and that he killed someone because the devil promised him, 10,000 souls. Gervais responds by saying he can't talk about his case, then he bites his lip.

Geraldo tells him to get to the point about Satanism, and Charlie tires to tell Geraldo that people are confused and don't understand what Satanism is. Geraldo, once again losing his narrative, cuts him off demanding to know more about the 10,000 souls. Charlie says that's why he got into Satanism because the Devil would give him power, in Hell. Flabbergasted by this, Geraldo asks Charlie if he's sick. Without blinking, Gervais simply says "No." Rivera then asks why he didn't get the death penalty, and if he used Satanism as a defense. Charlie says yes.

The Truth:

As usual, Geraldo skips over a lot of the details regarding the case. Gervais and two of his other friends beat Andre Daigle to death and stole his truck. When they were arrested, Gervais claimed that they did it to see if he and his friends had the nerve to become criminals. He only started. What became apparent, Gervais was seeking attention, as he idolized Charles Manson. He only started claiming he committed Satanic rites was after he was sentenced. There was no evidence that he was part of a cult, or he committed rituals to kill. He even attempted to sue the prison for not allowing him to perform Satanic rituals in prison. Charlie liked the attention and he changed his story until he couldn't get any more attention. What overshadowed Gervais apparent "Satanic" dabblings was the inclusion of Rosemarie Kerr, a psychic who claimed that she helped solve the case. Before Andre Daigle's body was found, her sister went to Kerr. Kerr stated that her brother's body would be found, in his truck, in a specific location. However, she was completely wrong. They spotted Gervais and his friends driving in Andre's truck and by coincidence they were busted in the spot where Kerr said they'd find the body. There was nobody there, it was stuffed in a discarded couch elsewhere. Kerr, and anyone else who claims to be a psychic detective and frauds who sometimes luck out and get enough facts correct so as not to compromise a case. 

Geraldo doesn't mention any of this. You'd figure the psychic angle would be a perfect angle for this dog and pony show. Also, the fact that nobody can see that Gervais is trying to keep back from laughing at Geraldo's questions like it's some kind of joke to him is really telling as to how gullible these people are.

Gunderson, That's Me!

How Geraldo Tells It:

 The 80's X-Files were not as sexy.

The 80's X-Files were not as sexy.

Geraldo asks Ted Gunderson if he thinks there is a network of Satanic cults operating in the United States. Gunderson says no, but then after talking about his "confidential sources", informants, and victims, he says that there is. That's right, in a single statement he contradicts himself. Also, they have a "vacation farm" and are part of drug operations.

Instead of getting Gunderson to provide some proof, Geraldo thinks it's more important to go to commercial.

Credibility F:

Ted Gunderson uses his credentials as a former FBI agent. However, he joined the FBI back in the 50s when they were starving for new recruits and the requirements were not as stringent as they are now. He never had any big cases under his belt, and his commendations were about how he appeared neat and clean. He then retired and became a private dick.

That's when he went batshit insane. According to those who dealt with him, there was not a single conspiracy theory he didn't instantly believe. All of his claims about Satanic Ritual Abuse were thoroughly debunked. Early on in his PI days, he represented Jeffrey McDonald, a man convicted of murdering his wife and children. Gunderson promised a drugged out hippie a home, new identity, and a role in a movie in exchange of claiming that a Manson-esque group called the Black Cult were responsible for the slayings. Remember, he wasn't an FBI agent anymore, he was just a private eye. He had no authority to provide those things, especially since he was only being paid by McDonald $100 an hour. As you can expect, this confession didn't pan out. Since then he has claimed the world is secretly being controlled by Satanic pedophiles, the Illuminati, secret governments, and the New World Order. He became a bit of a celebrity in conspiracy theory circles. You lose a lot of credibility when you're in the same field as nutjobs like Alex Jones and David Icke. Prior to his death, Gunderson was one of the driving forces of the #PizzaGate conspiracy. Which, was also greatly debunked. A few years back, Gunderson died of cancer. Of course, the tin-foil hat crowd doesn't buy that, claiming that he was poisoned with arsenic suggesting that he was silenced.  

Secret Satan!

How Geraldo Tells It:

 Look out "Jay", there's an Iron Maiden cassette in that stereo!!

Look out "Jay", there's an Iron Maiden cassette in that stereo!!

According to Geraldo, the main reason why we "never hear" about all the Satanic crimes happen, is because people don't recognize them for what they are. He refers us to a murder in Kansas City, MO, where a series of brutal crimes that the local authorities won't admit is the work of a Satanic cult. To prove his claims, Geraldo speaks to a 22-year-old named "Jay" who claims he escaped from the house in question after being "ritualistically tortured" by a man named Bob Berdella. 

Among those tortures, "Jay" claims that Berdella put a "transformer" on his genitals and took pictures. "Jay" managed to escape from the house wearing nothing but a dog collar. When the police searched the home, they found pictures of multiple young men being tortured and they apparently found a human skull hidden in the walls of the house. 

 Artists rendition of the infamous Transformer-Genital photograph.

Artists rendition of the infamous Transformer-Genital photograph.

 You see a Satanic symbol, but I see two grown ups kissing.

You see a Satanic symbol, but I see two grown ups kissing.

This photos are all confirmed by a tearful male prostitute that Geraldo calls "Joe". Geraldo goes on to explain that Berdella would pick up male prostitutes who were willing to do almost anything to turn a trick. Geraldo continues, saying that Bob's interest in Satanism was "obvious" given the "Satanic symbol" on the front of his house. His business card appeared to be "straight from Hell", and ran a "bizarre shop of horrors" which Geraldo suggests was being stocked with his own unique hobby. Bob was able to enter a plea deal so he was only convicted of one account of murder and got a life sentence. However, the locals were not happy with that. Geraldo then grills Albert Rierderor, the Kansas City Prosecutor as to why they didn't pursue the Satanism angle. Rierderor says that they brought in experts in the field of Satanism and witchcraft but felt that part of the investigation went nowhere. (I wonder if it was our pal the Satan Hunter?) 

Since he didn't get the answer he wanted, Geraldo went to country legislator Carol Cole about it. She says because they're in the Bible Belt, she wants to make sure there are no Satanists living next door. Since he wasn't getting the answers, he decided to cross over to Kansas City, Kansas to interview Detective Lee Orr, who also believes that there are Satanic cults operating in the area. He says that he believes so because of statements made by people who claim to have escaped Satanic cults. Back to Albert Rierderor, who reiterates that they don't have the evidence to pursue any further charges and invites people to report anything they might know . You know, the basic principals of a criminal investigation? 

Geraldo has more for these guys, but we'll get to that in a second. Let's go back to the Bob Berdella case for a moment.

Bob's Boners

Geraldo states that Bob Berdella is a "little known" story. However, the guy was a serial killer known as the "Kansas City Butcher". Geraldo makes it sound like the guy was only accused of a single murder, however, that's not accurate. He killed six people and agreed to plead guilty to one as part of a plea bargan. His crimes were not inspired by Satanism (he takes offense to this claim) he was inspired by the movie The Collector . As for his shop? It sold primitive art, and artifacts from all over South-East Asia, which he got from penpals he had from back in Vietnam. Nothing to do with Satanism. He sold his wares at a flea market and although it wasn't a successful business he did make good money when he sold things. This wasn't something he hid, people knew what he was selling, and people were buying it.

 "If You ever find yourself with a Transformer on your penis, you might just be a murder victim!"

"If You ever find yourself with a Transformer on your penis, you might just be a murder victim!"

Geraldo, P.I.

Thinking that the authorities in Kansas City were not doing their jobs properly, Geraldo does his own research. His evidence? Copies of police reports, and people who won't give their real names. One of which says that her ex-husband was a high priest in a Satanic cult. That Berdell was the VIP of a sacrifice, but she didn't report it to the police. Her reasoning? People don't believe her when she talks about those sorts of things. He goes on to say that police are still investigating and think Berdella was responsible for seven deaths. 

He also interviews Paul Howell, who thinks his missing son, Jerry, was a victim of Berdella. He also interviews Harriet Saunders who also thinks that her son, James Ferris was also a possible victim. Geraldo goes on to say that James Ferris was among the photographed victims in Berdella's home. Going back to the country prosecutor, Geraldo demands to know if Bob is going to be charged for the murder of James Ferris and Jerry Howell. Because this was still an active investigation, he couldn't confirm or deny this because that's how you compromise an investigation, Geraldo, you fucking idiot..

 Geraldo then goes back to Carol Cole, who says it's impossible for Berdella to have acted alone because he appears in pictures by himself, so obviously he's not acting alone, otherwise, who would have taken the pictures?

This is Really Irresponsible Journalism

First of all, Geraldo brings up all of those police reports, which date back to 1980. Ignoring the fact that the prosecutor said they hired an occult expert to investigate it with them and found no credible evidence. As it turned out, Jerry Howell was one of Bob's victims. Why wasn't the father told this? Well for a lot of reasons if you know anything about police investigation and forensics. As I said above, at the time of this video, the police were still searching Berdella's property for human remains. That could mean that either they hadn't found Also it was later discovered that Berdella chopped the boy up and disposed of his body in the garbage. Which is something that his father suspected, but couldn't prove it. This didn't come out until they found Berdella's detailed log book of his crimes. That aside, it was an ongoing investigation, not only did they have to find evidence connecting Berdella to the disappearance of Jerry, they also had to clear Jerry's father as a suspect. The reason they probably hadn't told Paul Howell any details is probably because he was still under suspicion himself. James Ferris was also a victim, buried in Bob's backyard. At the time of this interview, James' family identified him in polaroids the police discovered in the house, but they had yet to find his body (which was buried in the backyard). So it stands to reason that the same reason the family of James Ferris wasn't informed that their son had been killed by Bob was because at the time, they had found no evidence.

Geraldo's slap-dash investigations could have affected the outcome of the trial. Either severely delaying it by forcing the court to find a new location where a potential jury wasn't already tainted by Rivera's sensationalist special, or by a mistrial because of improperly admitted evidence.

Next, we have the unnamed ex-Satanist. If Geraldo was looking for people to come forward and give a statement to the county prosecutor, why didn't he bring her there? Probably because her story was full of shit. As for Carol Cole who can't believe Bob Berdella was able to act alone because he appeared in photos with his victims while they were being tortured. It was 1988, you'd have to be a complete fucking idiot if you didn't know that timers on cameras were a thing at the time. Hasn't this woman ever taken a family photo on the holidays? What an idiot.

Back to the Studio....

Geraldo then takes it back to the studio where he has Detective Orr (who wasn't involved in the case) and retired Detective Michael McKee, who was one of the first people on the scene of the Berdella house. He asks McKee directly if he thinks it was a Satanic crime. McKee believes it was because they found ceremonial robes and books on the occult, as well as a jar of feathers buried in the backyard with the bodies. Again, the guy purchased curios from Asia. Clearly this dumb-dumb didn't know what he was looking at.

 Satan Ate My Baby!

 

How Geraldo Tells It

Well, Geraldo puts on a parade of women who claim to have been breeders for Satanic Cults. That they were made to have children for the sole purpose of ritual sacrifice. Even though they were threatened with death, these women somehow escaped, usually finding the faith of God in the process. More on this later. However, one woman named Cheryl Horton, claims that the reason why the authorities can find no proof is that the cultists eat the babies. Bones and all I guess? Some of these women receive intense therapy from the same religious institutions that scoop them up.

He then says mainstream Satanism deny that they are involved in certain rituals. This follows with recorded statements from Zeena Schreck and her future husband Nikolas. Nikolas drops a sick burn:

These middle-class housewives that are worried that we want to abduct their children are barking up the wrong tree, because we would not want anything to do with their mediocre and corrupt lifestyle.
— Nikolas Schreck

He goes on to say that most mental health professionals stray away from Satanism. Then goes to Denver, Colorado to the Bethesda Psychiatric Clinic to talk to Wayne Van Kempen, who says that despite how bizarre these claims may be, they need to be explored because they are "incredibly consistent". When Geraldo asks if this is an epidemic, Van Kempen won't outright say so, but says that involvement is "definitely increasing". He then interviews a group of therapists who claim that they have received death threats for treating patients who claim to have been part of Satanic abuse rituals.

Credibility Check!

So this segment has a ton of people all making a lot of outrageous claims, it's time to do one of our patented credibility checks that we can conclude thanks to time and hindsight. Here we go down yet another rabbit hole!

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Cheryl Horton

The Claim: That she was a breeder for a Satanic cult that would force her to have babies that were used in ritual sacrifices. The cops could never find proof because the Satanists ate her babies, or chopped them up and dumped them in the ocean.

The Thing About Cheryl Horton: Other than her appearance here, Cheryl appeared on an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael in 1989, and was featured in an article in an August 1989 issue of the Weekly World News. You know the publication that claimed that there was a Bat-Boy running wild across America (who went on to battle Sadam Hussain in Iraq) that Elvis was still alive (and also died multiple times), as well as an endless sea of stories about UFOs, and Bigfoot. My all-time favorite was a story was a claim that David Koresh and the Branch Dividian were trying to resurrect an ancient mummy.

 Is Bat-Boy involved in a Satanic Cult? Sources say yes!

Is Bat-Boy involved in a Satanic Cult? Sources say yes!

Other than a few mentions on books about Satanism that regurgitated her story, Cheryl Horton hasn't made a peep since 1989. Either the Satanic Cults finally got her or she was full of shit.

Credibility: F

Who do we have next...

Sandy O'Connell

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Claims: She too was forced to breed babies and turn them over to a Satanic cult for sacrifice.

The Thing About Sandy O'Connell: There is nothing on her after this special. She sure is sweaty in this interview though.

Credibility: F

The only real criticism I can make is that she looks like Shreck in a bad wig. So to be fair, since I can't find anything else about this woman, there's not really much she can say about her credibility. However, she was one of the many women who hopped on the bandwagon of women who claimed that they were breeders for Satanic Cults. All modern accounts were all made in the 1980s , not before, not after. In the book "The Satanism Scare" points out that some of these alleged victims would have been abused as far back as the 1950s and their stories and outlandish claims would not fit the time frame they have provided when considering the number of births and sacrifices that were made. 

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Lauren Stratford

Claims: Another woman who claims that she was a breeder and subject to ritual abuse and child sacrifice. She gives a tearful story about how she has a nightmare about her little "Johnny", who was sacrificed to Satanists. She went on to write a book titled "Satan's Underground" to document her experience.

The Thing About Lauren Stratford: Her name isn't really Lauren Stratford, but Laurel Willson. She was a mentally ill fraud. An investigation by "Cornerstone" a Christian magazine actually did something everyone should have done: investigated her background. This piece of shit even went so far as got herself involved in the McMartin Pre-School Trial, claiming that she witnessed some of the abuses that were claimed to have been done. I wonder if she also fingered Chuck Norris as one of the cultists. 

Credibility F

In case you aren't fully convinced that Laurel Wilson is a human piece of shit when her Satanic Abuse story fell through, she reinvented herself as a Jewish Holocaust Survivor. Calling herself Laura Grabowski, she claimed she survived Auschwitz and bilked people out of money from charitable donations. Hot tip: Never claim you were a survivor of the most horrific act of genocide in modern history, especially since meticulous records were kept. Records that are publicly available no less. What really tripped her up was that she "recognized" another Holocaust survivor, which turned out to be another fraud artist. She was exposed once again by the" Cornerstone". So there you go, there is such thing as Karma. 

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Jacquie Balodis

Claims: Escaped a Satanic Cult, started the Overcomers Victorious Church to help other Satanists.

Credibility F

There's not much about Jacquie's Satanic abuse. There's a lot about that church she founded though. Seems pretty suspect to me. In fact, the book "Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism" points out that her claims lack credibility.

All Those Psychologists?

Credibility F

Their methods of treating their patients for "Satanism" have been routinely criticised. Here's just one article about it.

The Aftermath

To be honest with you guys, this is basically the end of the special. There's a back and forth between Zeena Schreck and Cheryl Horton, where Zeena points out that she has no proof. Closing arguments from most of the guests. By this point if I haven't convinced you this special is full of shit, then I'm not going to convince you of anything. 

I guess the only question left to ask is "Did Geraldo ever apologise for his hatchet job?" The answer is: Sorta.

He did apologise for his stance on the McMartin Pre-School scandal years later in 1995, but not for much else. To the surprise of nobody, a clip of this apology cannot be found online. But what do you expect from a hack journalist who does shit like this:

 Sorry for this reader, but I always hurt the ones I love.

Sorry for this reader, but I always hurt the ones I love.

Geraldo is a piece of shit, to the surprise of nobody. The fact that he still works in journalism is a travesty. 

Contemporary Satanism is just like any other religion, it's got a set of rules that basically says not to hurt anyone who isn't asking for it. It's got a bunch of silly rituals that are just as ridiculous as any other religion. Geraldo had a preconceived notion and he sold it to an audience without the mental maturity to understand it. The sick thing, we haven't learned a thing. Look at the persecution that Mulsims receive today just because of a handful of angry pieces of shit flew some planes into some buildings. Also, its a perfect example of accepting accusations at face value. I'm not trying to diminish legitimate movements like #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter. There are legitimate movements. However, with every movement, you're going to have charlatans who come out and make accusations for money, attention, and fame. A rational person should never take things at face value, wait for all the evidence to come out and make an informed decision on a case-by-case basis. False accusations are often more damaging than taking the time to get all the evidence and doing the job right. If you don't think so, just ask the many many people whose lives were literally ruined by the Satanic Panic and rotten in a prison cell for years, sometimes decades, before they were found innocent and released.