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The brutal murders of three young women left the small US city of Fall River convinced they were besieged by Satanists.
Between 1979 and 1980, three young sex workers died, their bodies discovered with grisly injuries and defilements that cops said were synonymous with Devil worship and human sacrifice.
But now, Fall River, a documentary mini-series on Amazon Prime, has revisited the cases, investigating further and even interviewing those convicted of the heinous crimes.
And the filmmakers' findings suggest the truth might be entirely different to what is on record.
Doreen Levesque, a homeless 17-year-old girl, was the first to be discovered.
On October 13, 1979, her naked body was found beneath the bleachers of the local high school, tied up with fishing wire, and impaled with a baseball bat. Her face and skull had been crushed with a rock.
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Barbara Raposa was the second victim to be found in January 1980.
The 19-year-old had been dead since November, and she had similar injuries to Doreen, being found tied up with a smashed in skull.
The body of the third and final victim Karen Marsden, 20, was never found – but remains of her head allowed her to be identified using dental records.
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One of the most distressing stories connected to the murders is that Marsden's murderer, Carl Drew, a 24-year-old pimp and suspected Satanic cult leader known as 'the Devil' had not only killed her, but used her decapitated head as a football, leading a demented kickabout with his followers.
The murders took place as a ‘Satanic Panic’ gripped the US, making them seem even more terrifying for local residents.
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Preachers warned about the evils of rock music, churches warned of the end of days – and so-called Satanists such as Carl Drew sacrificing women to the Dark Lord himself.
Drew was eventually found guilty of Karen Marsden’s murder and sentenced to life without parole.
Another local pimp, a 17-year-old girl named Robin Murphy, was sentenced to life for second-degree murder for her role in Marsden’s murder. She testified for the prosecution in exchange for a lesser sentence.
Her account truly shocking.
Court documents state that “[Robin] Murphy dragged Marsden by the throat and hair into the woods … Murphy and the defendant then began striking Marsden with rocks.
“After further brutalising Marsden, the defendant (Drew) ordered Murphy to slit Marsden’s throat and Murphy complied. The defendant then tore the head from the body and kicked it.”
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Andy Maltais, who was said to have raped Murphy when she was just 12, was convicted of murder in the first degree of Barbara Raposa in 1979.
Fall River residents tell the documentary how he was known for offering lifts to young women and girls. He died in prison in 1988.
In the final episode, Day makes a strong case for Maltais being responsible for more than the single murder.
No one was ever convicted of the killing of Doreen Levesque.
But were those poor girls really the victim of a Satanic cult?
Fall River, says that they were most definitely not.
Over a period of five years the filmmakers tracked down people who lived in the city at the time, found new evidence as to what might have happened in the woods, and even spoke to Drew and Murphy, filming their interviews in prison.
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Speaking to the Boston Herald, director James Buddy Day said: “When the medical examiner saw the first victim, young, beautiful, a traumatised sex worker who was brutally murdered, he concluded almost immediately that it was ritualistic.
“So ‘Satanism’ was in the air and became a framing device for the prosecution in the trial. Even though Satanic elements didn’t really contribute to anything; they were just colouring to frame the murder.”
Murphy is adamant she made up her story, under pressure from prosecutors.
“The stories I told I want to take personal responsibility for,” she says. “I tried really hard numerous times to tell the truth. No one cares.” She is up for parole in 2022.
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