SHAKING with fear and breathless from running, 14-year-old Sebastian Guerrero ran into a Mexican police station babbling that he had seen 'vampires' drinking blood and cavorting in nearby caves.
While his colleagues laughed, one policeman agreed to go with the teenager to investigate. The pair were never seen again.
Far from being a figment of his wild imagination, Sebastian had stumbled on a sick cult, run by the self-styled ‘High Priestess of Blood’, who demanded human sacrifice and cut victims’ hearts from their live bodies.
Magdalena Solis held an entire village in her spell, presiding over drug-fuelled orgies and ritualistic murders, where she drank blood from a goblet and writhed over bleeding corpses.
The strange sect – which sprang up in 1962 in the village of Yerba Buena – is just one of the many revealed in a new book, Killer Cults, by Stephen Singular.
Others include a satanic group in Massachusetts which murdered three young women and The Order of the Solar Temple, which claimed 74 members in a mass murder-suicide.
Here, we look at some of the sinister cults that have led to grisly killings, self-sacrifice and twisted sexual exploitation.
'Prostitute priestess' with thirst for blood
The village of Yerba Buena, tucked away in a remote and barren part of north-east Mexico, had a population of just 50 and no electricity or telephones when Santos and Cayetano Hernandez rode into town in 1962.
The brothers, small-time fraudsters, convinced the mainly-illiterate villagers that they were prophets sent by Inca gods who would soon return to Earth.
If they handed over food and cash, they claimed, their followers would gain access to the Inca gold buried in the area’s hills.
The brothers, small-time fraudsters, convinced the mainly-illiterate villagers that they were prophets sent by Inca gods who would soon return to Earth
They fed the villagers psychoactive drugs and held orgies in the caves, but when some locals became suspicious they decided to bring in an outsider in to boost their claims.
Magdalena Solis was an 18-year-old prostitute who had been working the streets of nearby Monterrey since she was 12, along with her pimp brother Eleazar.
After literally producing her in a puff of smoke, the brothers introduced Magdalena as the reincarnation of the Aztec goddess Coatlicue and Eleazar as a high priest.
But they hadn’t banked on her own blood lust – and the delusional nature that led her to believe she was a real goddess.
Solis made villagers into sex slaves, forcing them to take part in orgies and getting followers to beat them or set them on fire if they refused.
Then she began bloodletting – cutting the cult members and drinking their blood from a chalice, mixed with hallucinatory drugs in a bid for “immortality”.
She also forced followers into fetishism, incest and even raping children to satisfy her own warped desires and, when challenged, she turned to murder.
Over six weeks, in 1963, she presided over the ritual sacrifice of at least four people, drinking their blood and cutting out their still-beating hearts, before standing over their bodies and writhing in ecstasy.
One warm night in May, teenager Sebastian was out walking when he heard screams coming from a cave and took a closer look.
There he saw Magdalena and other cult members cutting out the heart of their latest victim and romping in a blood-soaked orgy.
Solis presided over the ritual sacrifice of at least four people, drinking their blood and cutting out their still-beating hearts
Horrified, he ran 15 miles to the nearest police station in Villagrain, where his stories of vampires “gluttonously drinking human blood” eventually persuaded cop Luis Martinez to drive him back to the village to investigate.
Two days later, when Martinez failed to return, the police and army began a search and stumbled on caves containing six dismembered corpses.
At nearby Yerba Buena, the villagers barricaded themselves in as a gunfight broke out between police and the Hernandez brothers – who were both killed.
Magdalena and Eleazar were arrested and got 50 years for the murder of Guerrero and Martinez, whose mutilated bodies were found nearby.
But the traumatized locals refused to speak out against them – with some receiving 30 year sentences for being complicit in gang murder.
Human sacrifice and necklaces made from vertebrae
Human sacrifice and drugs also played a huge role in the brutal Matamoros cult, led by Mexican godfather Adolfo Constanzo.
Costanzo's mother was a priestess in Santeria – a mixture of Catholicism and ancient African religions – who was said to settle grudges with neighbours by leaving a headless chicken or goose on their doorstep.
As a child Constanzo traveled to Haiti to learn voodoo and at 10, he became apprentice to a priest who practised Palo Mayombe, which includes the ritual sacrifice of animals.
At 21, he began to worship the Devil and launched a drug-dealing cult with four other men, including his lovers Orea Ochea and Martin Rodriquez, conducting ritual killing of goats, lions, zebras and even digging up human remains from local cemeteries to use in their spells.
After meeting student Sara Aldrete – known to cult members as "the Godmother" and “the Witch” – the pair moved to a remote ranch in Matamoros where a sickening killing spree began.
Constanzo would show potential converts the Martin Sheen film The Believers, about a secret New York sect, before inducting them into the cult or killing them.
Victims were tortured and mutilated, with eyes, ears and genitalia sliced off and hearts ripped out of their chest.
Constanzo told his followers they gained the spirit of their victim through the sacrifices and would become immune to bullet wounds, with two cult members even making necklaces from human vertebrae, for “protection.”
Most of the dead were drug dealers, addicts or vagrants but Constanzo made a fatal error in 1989 when he ordered the kidnap of an American student, believing his last victim had not suffered enough.
Mark Kilroy,21, was on holiday with his friends at South Padre island, on the US-Mexican border when he was abducted, taken to the ranch, tied up and tortured.
A joint investigation was launched and, three weeks after Kilroy’s disappearance, a cult member drove through the road block in Matamoros and led police to his ranch.
After showing neighbours a picture of Kilroy they were directed to a corral – where they were overcome with the smell of rotting flesh and discovered 15 mutilated bodies in shallow graves, including Kilroy and two 14-year-old boys.
The victims had been shot, cut, burned and hanged and one had been beheaded.
Kilroy had been killed with a machete to the neck, his legs severed and his brain and spine removed.
In a nearby shack they found voodoo paraphernalia including a kettle containing a blackened human heart and a turtle, as well as an oil drum used to boil human remains.
Constanzo, Aldrete and five cult members went on the run and, three weeks later, they were tracked down to a Mexico City apartment.
Constanzo and Rodriguez had been shot dead by member Altaro de Valdez, on his leader’s orders.
Valdez and Aldrete got 30 years each for the murders – and cautious authorities performed an exorcism on Constanzo’s ranch in the aftermath.
Satanic stoning and sexual abuse
On October 13, 1979, the body of a 17-year-old runaway Doreen Levesque was discovered behind a high school in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Her wrists had been tied with fishing line, she had been stabbed in the head multiple times and there was evidence she had been sexually tortured by several people.
An inquest revealed there was a ritual element to her injuries and that she had been stoned before her death.
A month later, a man called Andy Maltias walked into the Fall River police station and reported his girlfriend, 22-year-old prostitute Barbara Raposa, missing.
He told police that he and Raposa had belonged to a satanic cult who controlled the vice trade, and he blamed them for her disappearance.
Maltias – a convicted paedophile, sexual sadist and rapist – claimed he had recently converted to Christianity and he arranged for police to meet with cult members Karen Marsden, 20, and Robin Murphy, 17.
The women, both prostitutes, lived together and were lovers, although it later emerged Murphy had been abused by Maltias from the age of 11.
After hours of questioning, Marsden broke down and told police: "Carl Drew killed Doreen Levesque."
A violent pimp, well known in the area, Marsden claimed Drew thought he was Satan who organised his prostitution ring like a coven and made sex workers participate in satanic rituals.
She claimed naked women were tied to a stone altar in a shack in the 5,000 acre woods and smeared with the blood of a freshly sacrificed goat.
He threatened to murder prostitutes who were arrested by “tying her to a tree to be sacrificed” and “offering her soul to Satan”.
They kill every 30 days or so, on the full moon
Another prostitute called Cookie claimed: “They kill every 30 days or so, on the full moon. It’s always a ritual that they offer up the victim as a sacrifice to Satan.”
The body of Barbara Raposa was found in a nearby river, a month after she disappeared. She had been raped and had her skull smashed in.
When Andy Maltias was arrested, Murphy came forward to testify against him, admitting she had been at both killings.
In February 1980, Karen Marsden disappeared and two months later, her skull was found by a walker, along with three dead cats, sheep bones and a high heeled shoe.
Carl Drew and Robin Murphy were arrested, and Drew admitted to the killing, saying the cult members had stoned the girl before slicing off her fingers and breaking her neck.
Murphy told police that the group spoke in tongues, conjured demons and offered human sacrifices to Satan, using torture to “force the victim to a maximum state of emotional arousal,” first.
She said her former lover’s hair and fingernails had been ripped out and her head was chopped off before being kicked around like a football – even claiming she performed oral sex on the decapitated corpse.
She was jailed for life for Marsden’s murder and Drew was given a life sentence for the murders of Donna Levesque and Karen Marsden.
Killer Cults, by Stephen Singular, is published by Sterling Books on Sept 8.
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