Post by Graveyardbride on Oct 12, 2014 18:51:57 GMT -5
October 12, 1974: Murder on Crowleymas
October 12 is known by many practitioners of Thelema as Crowleymas because it is the birthday of Aleister Crowley, who was born October 12, 1875. Some observe Crowleymas by performing certain rituals. Others celebrate the day as they would any other holiday, with feasting, drinking and partying. But on October 12, 1974, someone, or so it is alleged, honored “The Beast” by ritually murdering a young woman inside a church on the university campus in Palo Alto, California.
Arlis Kay Dykema was born February 22, 1955, in Bismarck, North Dakota. She attended Bismarck High School, where she was a cheerleader and popular girl, but most importantly, she was a devout Christian, active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Following graduation, she continued to live at home while attending Bismarck Junior College and working in a nearby dental office. She continued her FCA activities, serving as a huddle leader – a college student athlete who works with small groups of campers – which are carefully chosen and required to pass a thorough screening process. Huddle leaders must be fully dedicated to Christ, not only while working at camp, but in their everyday lives. Arlis did her best to live a Christian life and did not hesitate to spread the gospel, as it were, at every opportunity. In fact, there are rumors the young woman attempted to convert several members of a Satanic cult in nearby Mandan, N.D.
Satan was no stranger in Bismarck. Beginning in 1972, there was evidence of what locals and law enforcement considered Satanic activity in Hillside Cemetery, behind a Catholic church and near a synagogue. However, their favorite haunt seemed to be a wooded area with caves near Mary College (now the University of Mary), a four-year institution of higher learning founded and operated by the Catholic Church. According to Maury Terry, a former New York Post reporter, in his book The Ultimate Evil, a nun he interviewed remarked, “My students knew all about it. They said the cult used to kill dogs in back of there, she told Terry. “We have a large cross here at the graveyard and the devil worshipers used to creep up the hill to spit on our cross.” Several people living in a nearby mobile home community confirmed dogs had gone missing in the 1970s and some of them were found dead and mutilated in the woods inside what some described as a “magic circle.”
On August 17, 1974, Arlis married Bruce Perry, her high school sweetheart and fellow FCA member, who had completed his freshman year at Stanford University, where he was a premed student. Following their wedding, the two set out for Palo Alto and moved into the Stanford dormitory for married students. Bruce was able to walk to class and Arlis quickly found a job as a receptionist at the law firm of Spaeth, Blase, Valentine and Klein in Palo Alto and used the car to drive to and from work.
The two had been in California just six weeks when, late on the evening of Saturday, October 12, they went out for a walk and to mail a letter. Around 11:50 p.m., Bruce complained that Arlis needed to check the air pressure in the tires on the car more often because the air was low in one (or more) of them. This prompted an angry retort from his wife, who was likely feeling homesick, and she walked away, indicating she was going to Stanford Memorial Church to pray. This wasn’t unusual for Arlis and as she made her way to the lovely Romanesque place of worship on Main Quad, Bruce headed back to the dormitory to study. Several people saw Arlis inside the cruciform church that night and when Stephen Blake Crawford announced it was almost midnight and the church was closing, she did not leave immediately. As the final few visitors were making their way outside, some of them recalled seeing what they described as a sandy-haired man.
When his wife did not return, Bruce went out and searched for her and around 3 a.m., called the Stanford police and reported her missing. Officers reportedly were sent to the church where she was last seen and found the doors locked.
Bruce waited anxiously, but it was almost dawn when police knocked on his door. By this time, he was a wreck and the officers insisted he accompany them to the station to complete a missing-person report. However, once they arrived, Bruce wasn’t given a form to complete, but instead was taken to an interrogation room where an officer began by growling: "We know your wife was having an affair and you found out!" Then he snapped: “She told you she was pregnant and you got angry!"
At first, Bruce was perplexed, but as the statements and questions continued, he became terrified. When the police knocked at his door, he was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt and wasn’t allowed to pull on a pair of pants or grab a sweater; they did not even allow him to put on shoes. “You want a cigarette?” a detective inquired again, even though he had already told them he did not smoke. “Where’s my wife?” he asked over and over again, but the men declined to answer. Finally, after more than two hours of intense grilling, a technician taking his fingerprints told him Arlis was dead. Later, Bruce Perry was administered a polygraph test and cleared of his wife’s murder.
At approximately 5:40 that morning, Crawford, the night watchman, discovered the body of a young woman in the east transept of the church. He immediately called police and they proceeded to examine the body and the gruesome scene. The lady lay on her back with her legs spreadeagled, partially concealed beneath a pew, where she had, apparently, been praying a few hours before. Her head lolled to the left and her right arm was palm-down beneath her waist. There were deep purple bruises on her neck matching the pattern of her brown wood-and-glass bead necklace. Her dark brown, double-breasted jacket was open and the tan sweater she wore underneath was pushed several inches above her waist and a 24-inch-long yellow beeswax candle had been shoved upward between her breasts with such force both straps of her brassiere had broken. Her blue Levis and panties had been removed and the jeans draped across her body. A second, identical candle had been rammed into her vagina so violently that it snapped in the process. Her wedge-heel sandals and panties lay nearby.
Initially, it was assumed Arlis Perry (above) had been strangled to death, however, during the autopsy, a 5½-inch icepick was discovered jammed into the base of her skull, tearing upward at a 45-degree angle into her right brain. Police had not seen the icepick because the attack was so intense the wooden handle of the instrument had broken off. The wooden attachment was not found at the scene, meaning the killer had taken it with him. The medical examiner determined Mrs. Perry had not been raped, but there was a semen deposit on a nearby kneeling cushion left by a man who could have had type O blood. A partial hand print was lifted from one of the candles, but because 101 other prints were found, it was virtually useless. Noteworthy is the fact Arlis Perry had terrible eyesight and always wore glasses or contact lenses, yet neither was found at the scene.
A door on the west side of the church was ajar, suggesting the killer had broken out after Steve Crawford locked the church around midnight and after the doors were checked by both Crawford and Bruce Perry. Law enforcement officers received the descriptions of seven late visitors to the church that night, one of whom was a man described as approximately 5'10"-tall, of medium build with brownish hair. No one knew the man, or had seen him before, and he was never found.
During the investigation, Guy Blase, an attorney at the law firm where Arlis worked, revealed he had seen Arlis engaged in an intense conversation with a man on the afternoon of Friday, October 11. Assuming the man was her husband, he thought nothing of it. His description of the white male was early 20s with curly, sandy blond hair, of medium build and approximately 5'10" in height. Her co-workers said the visitor was wearing jeans and a plaid shirt and recalled that Arlis seemed upset following her confrontation with the person whom everyone thought was Bruce Perry.
Bruce Perry’s full name was Bruce Duncan Perry and investigators soon learned there was another Bruce Duncan Perry listed in the local telephone directory and, according to Bruce, Arlis herself had remarked on the strange coincidence.
As soon as Arlis Perry’s corpse was released by the medical examiner, her parents had their daughter’s body shipped home to Bismarck for burial. She was laid to rest Friday, October 18, at Sunset Memorial Gardens. Less than two weeks later, on Halloween, her temporary grave marker was stolen and there are those who believe it was taken by local Satanists as a victory memento.
Son of Sam. Three years later, in August 1977, David Berkowitz, a 24-year-old postal employee, was arrested and charged with the “Son of Sam” murders which had begun in July 1976. Berkowitz confessed, but many – including Maury Terry – considered his confession scripted and contradictory and Terry started his own investigation. He finally convinced the Queens district attorney and Yonkers police that Berkowitz had not acted alone and Berkowitz himself claimed he committed just two of the Son of Sam attacks while other members of a Satanic cult, of which he was a member, did the others.
During his 10-year investigation, Terry discovered a link between the Son of Sam killings and the murder of Arlis Perry and that link was the Process Church of the Final Judgment, which was formed in England in the 1960s by renegade Scientologists Robert and Mary Ann De Grimston. Shortly after the De Grimston’s founded their church, they were branded Satanists because their new religion purported to worship both Christ and the devil. The couple believed that when the world ended, Christ and Satan would collaborate, with Christ judging the living and the dead and Satan carrying out his orders. Berkowitz, Charles Manson and William “Bill” Mentzer (who killed Hollywood producer Roy Radin in 1983) were all believed to be members of either the Process Church itself or one of its spinoffs.
Terry was also able to connect the 1978 death of John Carr at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to both the Process Church and Son of Sam murders. Carr, who was shot in the head at the home of his girlfriend, was initially listed as a suicide, but it turned out, John’s father, Sam Carr of Yonkers, was the inspiration for the term “Son of Sam.” Berkowitz told Terry the group likely killed John Carr, a user of illicit drugs and diagnosed schizophrenic, because of his bizarre behavior and the fact he was untrustworthy. Berkowitz also fingered Carr as one of the Son of Sam shooters.
Terry traveled to Minot, N.D., where he interviewed Lieutenant Terry Gardner of the Ward County Sheriff’s Department, who had received a book from Berkowitz during the time he was investigating Carr’s death. The book was the Anatomy of Witchcraft by Peter Haining and on page 114, Berkowitz (or someone) had underlined the following passage: “The shade of Aleister Crowley looms large in the area, but his excesses pale into insignificance compared to today’s devil worshippers.” In the margins, he had written: “Arliss [sic] Perry. Hunted, stalked and slain. Followed to California,” and scribbled at the top of the page was: "Stanford Univ." (Berkowitz later admitted the chilling notations were his.)
Many scoffed at Terry’s claims and his response was: “Why would he [Berkowitz] make it up? He had no motive, no reason. He’s confessed to three murders, he’s not getting out.”
Following his trip to Minot, Terry next traveled to Stanford where he retraced Arlis Perry’s steps that led to her death. He concluded that as many as four people were involved in her murder, including Mentzer, and one or more cult members from Bismarck. Terry was of the opinion that Arlis did something back in Bismarck that convinced the group she had to die. “She might have heard or seen something she shouldn’t have,” he surmised. “They may have feared she would expose them.” Either that or she discovered there was a person, or persons, involved in Satanism, who, if exposed, would be greatly embarrassed and possibly lose a position of authority. “Someone in Bismarck okay’d this and someone had the hooks to get help on the West Coast. This was a pretty sophisticated operation,” he insisted. “I think one of them was the law firm visitor. And one of those two still lives in Bismarck.”
In fact, there were rumors circulating in Bismarck about well-known men and women who were members of a Satanic club that sacrificed animals and drank blood. Brad King, a Bismarck dentist and former classmate of Arlis Perry’s, recalled: “There were a lot of religious groups coming through town at the time. I remember seeing people dressed in priest’s outfits. But instead of white collars, they wore red collars and sported upside-down crosses draped around their necks. I think they were called the Holy Order of MANS.” Nevertheless, he wasn’t convinced Terry’s theories concerning Arlis’s death were correct. King recalled being interviewed in his office by California detectives just before he attended his 10-year class reunion. “The police heard a rumor that someone in our class had set up an altar for her, but it was just a couple of photos of her along with other classmates who passed away,” he said. Around the time of his 30th class reunion, King called law enforcement officers in Santa Clara County to ask if there had been any breaks in the case, but was told there was no new information. Of Terry’s book, King said: “It didn’t surprise me that someone came out with some kind of conspiracy around her murder. I don’t know if I agree with the author that she was stalked from Bismarck to California. I remember a lot of weird religious stories going on around here in that time, like covens dancing under the full moon and rituals taking place down by the river bottoms. But in her case, I think she was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Jon Martinson, lifelong Bismarck resident and former psychology professor at Bismarck State College, remembered both the murder of Arlis Perry and alleged Satanic activity in the area. At one point, he actually assigned his students the task of tracking down cult activity in Bismarck. “I believe it’s possible that people in North Dakota were involved in [Perry’s] murder in some way,” Martinson asserted. “Over the years, however, that’s been very difficult to prove.” When The Ultimate Evil was published in 1987, many in Bismarck were skeptical of Terry’s theories, but Martinson was convinced the author was on the right track. “I heard most often, you have a New York City author trying to sell books,” Martinson recalled. “Folks would say: ‘If something like this was going on around here, we’d know about it.’ And that those who knew Arlis would have said: ‘If she was being stalked, we’d know about it. And how can the writer get information that we can’t?’ North Dakotans are often suspicious of the outsiders investigating their city.”
Recalling the time when he and his students were attempting to track down local Satanists, Martinson said: “It was like water running through your fingers. It was so elusive, you’d think there was something, you’d go, and there was nothing there. We would search for rituals in parks and cemeteries. In class we’d say that the [cult members] are one step ahead of us. Someone is telling them about us.” He believed it was possible someone in his psychology class was tipping off local cult members concerning the activities of the research project.
In late 1988, The Bismarck Tribune published an article with the headline: “Halloween sets off search for Satan.” The story briefly recited the ties to North Dakota mentioned in The Ultimate Evil, but concentrated more on the actions of police who escorted “carloads of teens” from the grounds of the University of Mary where they were searching for cult activity in the woods and caves. Kathleen Atkinson, a university employee, was quoted as saying: “There was never any activity on the hill until this book used it as a reference point. Talk only came as a reaction to that, making the rumors self-perpetuating.”
Jon Martinson remained in contact with Maury Terry and continues to believe there is a connection between the Son of Sam murders and the killing of Arlis Perry. The strongest link, he says, is that Berkowitz admitted to spending time with cult members in Minot, including John Carr, shortly after the Son of Sam murder spree began. This association was documented in Terry’s book. However, according to Martinson, what wasn’t documented is just as compelling: Berkowitz recognized a man from Bismarck during a jailhouse interview when he was shown a series of photographs of individuals whom Terry believed may have been involved in Mrs. Perry’s murder. Berkowitz identified the man in the photograph as someone he had met during a cult meeting in Minot. Martinson says he, too, has seen the photograph. “When Berkowitz identified the man in the photograph, it confirmed [Terry’s] suspicions that that may have been the visitor at the law firm the day before Perry was killed. And it’s entirely possible that Berkowitz met that person while he was in North Dakota.”
Shortly after the body of Arlis Perry was found, a church official commenting on the murder described the scene as “ritualist and Satanic.” No one can deny the sight of an attractive young woman lying on her back, her legs spread wide, with a 24-inch candle protruding from her vagina, is, indeed, a vision from hell. But the symbolism didn’t end there, for above the corpse was a huge cross carved years before into the wall of the Byzantine-inspired place of worship.
Although there were murders at Stanford before that of Arlis Perry and there have been others since, none has been so macabre or generated so much outrage. Yet, 40 years later, the killing of the young woman from North Dakota is as much a mystery as it was in the early morning hours of October 13, 1974, when her corpse was discovered and years of investigation has yielded nothing more than a series of unanswered questions.
Sources: The Ultimate Evil by Maury Terry; The Great Plains Examiner; Before It's News; The San Jose Mercury; The Bismarck Tribune; Spawn of the Sphinx; Tripod; and Chicago Reader.
Note: Bruce Perry went on to become a child and adolescent psychiatrist and is currently affiliated with the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas. He later remarried and he and his second wife have five children.