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Roderick Justin Ferrell (born March 28, 1980) was the leader of a loose-knit gang of teenagers from Murray, Kentucky, infamously known as the "Vampire Clan." In 1998, Ferrell pled guilty to the double slaying of a couple from Eustis, Florida, becoming the youngest person in the United States on Death Row. Originally sentenced to death, Ferrell's penalty has since been reduced to life without parole. Ferrell told people that he was a 500-year-old vampire named Vesago.
On November 25, 1996 (the week of Thanksgiving), Naoma Ruth and Richard Wendorf were found by their daughter Jeni Wendorf, beaten to death in their Eustis home. While 42-year-old Richard Wendorf was asleep on his couch and Ruth was in the shower, Ferrell and accomplice Scott Anderson had entered the home through the unlocked garage, picking up the murder weapon. Before Richard had even awakened, Ferrell beat him multiple times with a crowbar, fracturing both his skull and ribs, almost instantly knocking him out, and killing him shortly thereafter. When Ruth had found Ferrell and Anderson in the home moments later, Ferrell bludgeoned her to death, bashing her head with the crowbar. He claimed in his confession, however, that in his original plan, he was going to allow Naoma Ruth to live, but she first attacked him by lunging at him and throwing a very hot cup of coffee on him, which angered him and made him change his mind and kill her also. Richard was found bearing burn marks in the shape of a V. It was said that the V was Rod's symbol, which he accompanied with a dot for each person he considered to be in his vampire cult.
The victims were the father and stepmother of Heather Wendorf, a long-time friend and ex-girlfriend of Rod's whom he was helping run away from a home that she described as "hell." Heather and the other girls that were with Ferrell and Anderson were not at the Wendorf home when the murders took place, Charity and her friend Dana had driven Heather to her boyfriends apartment so Heather could say good bye before leaving for New Orleans.
After four days of driving through four states, the group was found in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is believed that Ferrell liked a video arcade in New Orleans, and they were headed there. One of the girls placed a call to her mother in South Dakota. The group needed money, and Charity Keesee thought her mother could help them. However, Keesee's mother informed the police about her whereabouts and helped police trick Ferrell, Wendorf, and the rest of the teens into going to a local Howard Johnson's hotel, where they were arrested by waiting law enforcement. The four were held at a Baton Rouge jail for a week before being extradited back to Florida, where they were initially booked at Lake County jail. They were later moved to a juvenile facility in Ocala.
On February 12, 1998, then-seventeen-year-old Ferrell pled guilty to the murders, claiming that the others travelling with him were innocent except Scott Anderson, who was simply an accessory. Ferrell pled guilty to two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and was sentenced to death (later reduced to a life sentence), while Charity Keesee and Dana Cooper were convicted of murder in the third degree.
For two years, Ferrell held the record as the youngest inmate on death row until September 1999, when the Florida Supreme Court reduced his sentence to life without parole.
References in popular culture
Four American television networks announced plans to produce movies in 1997 inspired by the Ferrell-Wendorf clan's case.
By April, Fox had planned to release Running With the Devil: The True Story of the Kentucky Vampire Thrill Kill Cult, in which Wendorf would have been played by Christine Taylor. It was never produced. NBC produced Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?, where Tori Spelling played "Laurel" opposite Ivan Sergei. CBS had announced interest in producing a TV movie with either Heather Matarazzo, Drew Barrymore or Carla Gugino playing Wendorf or another character based on her, but it did not occur.
In 2002, director John Webb made the movie Vampire Clan, in which the murders and the events leading up to them were shown. The cast included:
- Drew Fuller as Ferrell
- Marina Black as Dana Cooper
- Alex Breckenridge as Charity Keesee
- Timothy Lee DePriest as Scott Anderson
- Stacy Hogue as Jeni Wendorf
- Kelly Kruger as Heather Wendorf
- Spencer Redford as Jeanine Leclair
The song "Blood on the Bluegrass" by the Legendary Shack Shakers is about the killings and mentions both Ferrell and Wendorf by name
- "Vampire cult town shrinks under national spotlight", Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / Associated Press. December 2, 1996.
- Hallifax, Jackie. "Death sentence for cult leader reduced", Sun Sentinel. November 10, 2000. (archived by rickross.com)
- Florida v. Rod Ferrell - "The Vampire Cult Slaying Case", Court TV. June 22, 2001.
- Jones, Aphrodite. The Embrace: A True Vampire Story. June 1, 2000. ISBN 0-671-03467-7.
- Seigenthaler, John. MSNBC Investigates, MSNBC. October 26, 2002.
- "The Vampire Clan" profile provided by sacrosanctum.org
- Vampire Clan at the Internet Movie Database
|This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Rod Ferrell. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.|