Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Miami Zombies, Florida Vampires, and Snuff Films

Recluse was hard at work this past week taking in several concerts, most notably the 2012 Scion Rock Fest, for an upcoming piece on heavy metal to delve to deeply into the bizarre instance cannibalism reported in Miami on the 26 of May. While I was in the field the superb and prolific Loren Coleman has already published three excellent pieces, which can be read herehere, and here, on the international rash of cannibalism that has exploded since the Miami incident, popularly referred to as the Miami Zombie attack, came to national attention. Now that I've had the time to sit down and I digest (har har) the whole bloody affair I suppose I'll throw in my two cents. 

We'll start things off by briefly examining the religious and mythological significance of cannibalism throughout the ages. Of cannibalism, the legendary anthropologist James George Frazer states:
"Strange as it may seem to us, one motive which induces a savage warrior to eat the flesh or drink the blood of the foe whom he has slain appears to be a wish to form an indissoluble covenant of friendship and brotherhood with his victim. For it is a widespread belief among savages that by transfusing a little of their blood into each other's bodies two men become kinsmen and allies; the same blood now circulating in the veins of both, neither can injure the other without at the same time injuring himself; the two have therefore given each other the strongest bond, the best possible hostages, for their good behaviour. Acting on this theory, the primitive warrior seeks to convert his slain for into the firmest of friends by imbibing the dead man's blood or swallowing his flesh."
(The Golden Bough, pg. 518)

Legendary mythologist Joseph Campbell goes further than Frazer and breaks the act of cannibalism down to its Archetypal core:
"We all know the fairy tale of the witch who lives in a candy house that would be nice to eat. Indeed, we have seen already what a scare she gave to a child who conjured her up in play. She is kind to children and invites them into her tasty house only because she wants to eat them. She is a cannibal. (And for some six hundred thousand years of human experience cannibals, it should be born in mind --and even cannibal mothers --were grim and gruesome, ever-present realities.) Cannibal ogresses appear in the folklore of peoples, high and low, throughout the world; and on the mythological level the archetype is even more magnified into a universal symbol in such cannibal-mother goddesses as the Hindu Kali, the 'Black One,' who is personified of 'all-consuming Time'; or in the medieval European figure of the consumer of the wicked dead, the female mouth and belly of Hel."
(The Masks of God Volume I, pg. 68) 
this cannibalistic fairy tale is popularly known in the West as the tale of Hansel and Gretel

With this in mind we shall now examine several incidents of cannibalism being reportedly internationally this past week. Coleman, who is a big proponent of the copycat effect, theorized that the partial trigger for late May's rash of cannibalism was the re-emergence of Vince Li, a Canadian citizen who, on June 30, 2008, stabbed, beheaded, and cannibalized a human named Tim McLean on the back of a Greyhound bus. On May 22, 2012, CBC News ran this story, centering around Li's mental instability, that brought this grizzly incident back to public light.

There was, however, another recent incident of cannibalism that occurred a good month before Li once again made Canadian headlines. This incident came from Brazil and featured heavy cult overtones. To the best of my knowledge is was first reported on April 13, 2012. Raw Story reports:
"Brazilian police announced Friday that they had arrested a man and two women on suspicion of having murdered and cannibalized at least two women in what was described as a purification ritual. 
"The three defendants formed a sect called 'Cartel' that seeks to purify the world and reduce the population, police spokesman Democrito Honorato from the northeastern Brazilian town of Guaranhuns told AFP. 
"The three defendants, Jorge and Elizabeth Pires da Silveira, both 51, and Bruna da Silva, 25, intended to kill three women per year, police said... 
"Two bodies were found in the garden of the house occupied by the three defendants, which police believe were those of two women who disappeared recently: Alexandra Falcao, 20, and Gisele da Silva, 30. Both had been seen in the vicinity... 
"A five-year-old girl found with the trio is believed to be the daughter of the victim, police said. She was placed under the protection of a juvenile judge to find her a new family."
two of the Brazilian cannibal suspects

May 27 witnessed the first reports of a Chinese cannibal who has apparently been active for some time. The Washington Post notes:
"Authorities have arrested a man in southwestern China accused of killing 11 people and dismembering, burning and burying their bodies to destroy the evidence. 
"The Ministry of Public Security said in a statement Sunday that 56-year-old Zhang Yongming was arrested by police in Yunnan province on murder charges.  
"It said Zhang is suspected of attacking male victims who were walking alone on a quiet road near his home in Jinning county. 
"The case is believed to be related to media reports this past week that at least eight young people had gone missing in the county. 
"The reports sparked a public outcry because they cited relatives of the missing as saying that police ignored their pleas for help and prevented them from contacting the media."
Homo sapien, it's what's for dinner

On May 29, 2012, the hands and head of a Maryland man were discovered. This was just the beginning. The Global Post has the run down:
"A Baltimore college student, Alexander Kinyua, has confessed to killing his housemate and eating parts of his brain and heart. 
"Kinyua, 21, has been charged with first-degree murder for the death of 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, the Associated Press reported. He is being held without bail.
"Both men had been enrolled at Morgan State University and lived together with Kinyua's family in the suburb of Joppatowne, CBS Baltimore said
"According to charging documents posted by the Baltimore Sun, Agyei-Kodie had been missing for four days when, on Tuesday, Alexander Kinyua's brother Jarrod discovered two tins hidden under a blanket in the basement. They contained a human head and hands. 
"Alexander Kinyua told his brother that the remains were animal. After going to fetch their father, Jarrod returned to find the body parts gone and Alexander cleaning out the tins. 
"The family called police, who found the head and hands stashed in the house. Kinyua told them where to find the rest of the body: in a dumpster outside a nearby church.
"He has admitted to killing Agyei-Kodie 'by cutting him up with a knife,' the charge sheet says, and further told detectives that he had eaten his victim's heart and portions of his brain. 
"Kinyua's confession was 'matter-of-fact,' a police spokeswoman told the Sun, and did not shed any light on his motive."
One of the most curious instances of recent cannibalism comes from Canada, once again. It involves the bisexual porn actor Luka Magnotta, who was just recently arrested on June 4, 2012, in Germany. He stands accused of murdering, dismembering, and eating parts of a Chinese man. MSNBC reports:
"Luka Rocco Magnotta is suspected of murdering the man in Montreal, making a video of the attack and sending the victim's dismembered body parts in the mail - including posting a foot to the headquarters of the country's Conservative Party
"Magnotta is wanted by authorities in Canada for first-degree murder and other charges. Interpol has put Magnotta on the equivalent of its most-wanted list, The Associated Press reported Sunday. 
"Police believe Magnotta, 29, fled to France on May 26. Police identified the victim as Chinese university student Jun Lin, 33."
Luka Magnolla

There are a lot of curious aspects of this case, most notably Magnotta's relationship with Karla Homolka. For those of you unaware, Homolka, along with husband Paul Bernardo, was convicted of raping and murdering three girls, including Homolka's own sister, Tammy, in the early 1990s. All of these incidents were videotaped, not unlike Magnotta's killing (and yet snuff films are still widely described as an 'urban legend'). Years before Magnotta gained his current notoriety, there were internet rumors that he had been dating Karla Homolka upon her (inexplicable) release from prison. Canadian authorities have been quick to decry these speculations, naturally. The Inquisitr notes:
"Karla Homolka's link to accused murderer Luka Rocco Magnotta is false, according to Canadian Police, who state there is no evidence that the two ever dated. 
"Canadian Police stated, according to Macleans that: 
"'Montreal police backtracked Thursday on claims they made that Magnotta had dated Karla Homolka, one of Canada's most notorious sex killers. Police officials clarified that they were aware of them any rumors posted on the Internet, but had no proof to substantiate those stories. In 2007, Magnotta came forward to news media to deny that he had dated her, although many at the time suggested he was the one who started the rumors to gain attention...' 
"The link between Homolka and Magnotta was first brought to light in 2007, when internet rumors began saying that Magnotta, a struggling porn actor, was dating Homolka, an accused serial killer, who struck a plea deal with prosecutors that allowed her serve 12 years, instead of her original sentence of life in prison...  
"...Magnotta approached news media in September 2007, following claims from numerous internet gossip sites that they were romantically linked. He stated, according to The Montreal Gazette, that: 
" 'My whole career (as a model and adult film star) are going downhill... Nobody wants to talk to me --I don't have anybody, basically. Whoever's doing this, please stop, you're doing a lot of harm.' 
"He reported that he had been receiving death threats from people following the accusations, but that he had never met Homolka. Writer Amanda Krum with Web Pro News disagrees with Magnotta's assertion, writing that: 
" 'Although Magnotta has denied any involvement with the convicted killer, it certainly seems a strange coincidence that two people who have been linked in the past would share a dark love of perverse sexual pleasure tied in with murder and dismemberment.' 
"While it is unlikely that Luka Rocco Magnotta and Karla Homolka actually dated (considering that they were only in Montreal at the same time for a few months), the link between the murders, and how the two dismembered the bodies, is hard to dispute."
the husband and wife serial killer duo of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo

Indeed. What's more, this is not the first time the serial killer duo of Homolka and Paul Bernardo has been linked to a recent serial murderer. In fact, one of VISUP's very first (and not especially good)  posts examined the curious connection between Bernardo and Col. Russell Williams, who was accused of two murders in February 2010. Prior to becoming a serial rapist and murdered, Williams had been the commanding officer of the mysterious Camp Mirage, a Dubai-based installation rumored to be involved in sabotage, assassinations, and other black opts. It was suddenly shut down in October and November 2010, some eight months after Williams' arrest.

Russell Williams

Before his military days Williams attended the University of Toronto, where he allegedly befriended a young Paul Bernardo. City News Toronto reports:
"Days after the shocking arrest of the former commanding officer at CFB Trenton yet another dark revelation about the accused murdered has come to light.  
"A report suggests Col. Russ Williams and Paul Bernardo were friends in university.
"The Toronto Sun revealed the two men attended the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus at the same time in the mid-1980s, that they both studied economics and graduated together.  
"The report suggested the pair 'partied together' and that the joint forces probing the recent murder of Jessica Lloyd and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau are honing in on that alleged friendship. 
"Currently, there is no criminal link between Williams and Bernardo."
I doubt much effort was put into establishing a link between Bernardo and Williams back in 2010 and probably even less of an effort will be made linking Homolka and Magnotta in 2012. For if such a link exists, it begs the question: Why do other serial killers keep popping up around Homolka and Bernardo? And why do all of these killers (Homolka, Bernardo, Williams, and now Magnotta) display an obsession with photographing and/or videotaping their victims?

There has been a persistent rumor for years of an underground black market of snuff films available to the wealthy and powerful. Some conspiracy researchers have even linked some of the nation's most notorious serial killers to this black market.
"Serial killers Henry Lucas and Otis Toole, professed members of a satanic cult that dealt in drugs and snuff, have each described their trips carrying Anglo children kidnapped in America to a ranch in Mexico. A map drawn by Lucas placed the ranch close to Matamoros, in the same vicinity where Adolfo Constanzo's cultists sacrificed fifteen victims in 1988 and 1989... 
"In 1970, Charles Manson, Bobby Beausoleil, and other members of the Manson 'family' freely admitted that films were made of various cult activities around southern California. During the 'family' member trials, loops of Manson porn were selling for a quarter of a million dollars in New York and associate Vern Plumlee has also described films of Mansonites 'dancing with knives' and 'pretending to cut each other up.' Another informant, speaking to author Ed Sanders, professed personal knowledge of Manson films depicting both animal and human sacrifice. One reel portrayed the slaughter of a dog, he said, while another featured a cat blown apart with powerful 'M80' firecrackers. The final reel depicts a nude, decapitated woman lying on a beach while black-robed, hooded figures circle the corpse, 'throwing blood all over it.' 
"A decade later, in 1981, convicted 'Son of Sam' gunman David Berkowitz told prison confidants that at least one 'Sam' attack --the shooting of Robert Violante and Stacy Moskowitz --was recorded on videotape for the private collection of a Satanist 'Mr. Big,' later identified as millionaire Roy Radin. In October 1981, Berkowitz predicted the Halloween murder of photographer and suspected drug dealer Ronald Sisman, allegedly committed because Sisman planned to trade the Moskowitz tape for leniency on a pending cocaine charge. The tape has not been found, and Radin was himself assassinated before he could be questioned by police... 
"Following the June 1985 suicide of serial killer Leonard Lake, police found pits filled with human remains at his rural home in northern California. Also found were videocassettes depicting the humiliation, torture, rape, and death of several female victims --that is, 'snuff' tapes by definition. Unproven rumors suggest that Lake may have financed his paramilitary arsenal by selling copies of the tapes. However that may be, Lake's ex-wife recalls his enduring fascination with witchcraft, and neighbors in San Francisco report Lake describing himself as a member of a 'death cult.'"
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pgs. 343-345)

This makes Homolka, Bernardo, Williams, and Magnotta's photo and video habits all the more curious.  But enough speculation on Magnotta and company for now. It's time to get to the main event: namely, the Miami 'zombie.' For those of you living under a rock, here's the lowdown (via Raw Story) on the Miami cannibal thing:
"A man whose face was chewed off in a gruesome daylight attack was in a stable condition in hospital on Wednesday. 
"According to anonymous sources at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, Ronald Poppo, 65, is expected to live despite losing about 80% of his face, including his nose and left eye, in the attack by 31-year-old Rudy Eugene. 
"Eugene, from Miami Beach, was shot dead by a police officer called to the downtown causeway on Saturday after reports of a fight and of a naked man ripping strips of flesh from another person’s face. 
"Homicide detectives were continuing to try to piece together the circumstances of the bizarre incident on Wednesday as photographs said to be of the homeless victim at the scene and later in the emergency room appeared online. 
"In one picture, apparently taken in the hospital, all that is left of the man’s face is a beard and his right eye, with the rest of his features blurred into a bloody red pulp. The photograph’s source cannot be confirmed but the injuries shown match those described by police and eyewitnesses on Tuesday... 
"One theory is that Eugene, a divorcee with a history of mental problems and arrests for possession of marijuana, might have taken a mind-altering drug nicknamed “bath salts”, a popular LSD alternative said to give users superhuman strength and a sense of invincibility but which can trigger aggression, extreme paranoia and hallucinations."
Eugene and Poppo after the attack

Regular readers of this blog will know that Recluse has a keen interest in all things having to do with hallucinogens, so I was immediately intrigued by this substance known as 'bath salts' (there is still much debate as to whether or not the suspect even consumed this substance). Upon investigating these drugs further, I was quite disappointed. The Huffington Post reports:
"The dangerous drug, which is banned in many states, but so far has no specific federal ban (though there is a ban on the three main chemicals used to make the drug), is available on the street and also at many tobacco and drug paraphernalia shops under names like White China, Lady Bubbles, Dynamite, Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave and Cloud 9. 
"Bath salts, the drug's benign name, belies its actual makeup -- a toxic cocktail of the stimulants Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and pyrovalerone. The Drug Enforcement Agency groups bath salts with mescaline and ephedrine, while dealers market the drug as a replacement for cocaine or a synthetic form of the hallucinogen LSD, according to CNN.

"The drug can cause severe agitation, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, paranoia and symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions. The drug can also lead to overheating of the body, which is why so many users remove their clothing."
The Cloud 9 substance that Recluse has seen in several local smoke shops is actually marketed as a marijuana substitute. I'm guessing many of the other after mentioned brands are probably sold in such establishments as substitutes for magic mushrooms, ecstasy, LSD, etc. While I've heard of deaths being associated with these drugs, most people usually consider their effects weak compared to many of the after mentioned substances. What's more, I'm very skeptical of claims of superhuman strength and such being endowed upon the user.

There are of course other theories out there as to why Mr. Eugene felt the need to eat the bulk of Mr. Poppo's face. Some have chalked this incident up to a lack of a social safety net. Mr. Eugene's girlfriend even suspected that he may have been under some kind of voodoo curse. But the thing is, there was another attack in Florida not long ago that bore striking similarities to Mr. Eugene's, including mythological labels being applied to the perpetrator. This incident occurred in September 2011. While Mr. Eugene became the Miami Zombie, our next subject was dubbed the 'Florida Vampire.' MSNBC reports:
"A self-proclaimed vampire attacked an elderly wheelchair-bound man outside a Florida Hooters Restaurant just before midnight on Thursday, leaving him bloodied and in need of stitches, police said.
"Milton Ellis, 69, had fallen asleep on the porch of the deserted Hooters in St. Petersburg when he woke up to find Josephine Rebecca Smith, 22, on top of him, he told police. 
"Smith told Ellis she was a vampire and then proceeded to bite him, tearing off chunks of his face and a part of his lip, St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said, according to The St. Petersburg Times... 
"Blood dripping from bite marks on his neck and face, Ellis managed to scramble back into his motorized wheelchair and reach a nearby Shell gas station, where he called police. 
"Police found Smith on the blood-stained Hooters porch, half-naked. She was covered in Ellis' blood and said she didn't remember anything about the attack, according to Tampa Bay's Fox 13 News. She wasn't injured and hadn't been assaulted, police said... 
"The two had met earlier in the night. Ellis, who had no place to sleep Thursday night, said Smith, of Pensacola, had been dropped off at the Shell station by relatives earlier that evening. Because it was raining out, he suggested Smith take refuge with him under the Hooters overhang, according to The St. Petersburg Times
"Ellis offered to keep Smith company until someone came to pick her up, but he eventually fell asleep, reported The Times.

"Smith was fully dressed when Ellis last saw her, he told authorities, even though they had found her half-naked. 
"Ellis has been arrested before too. He has been cited for multiple offensives in Penellas County, including panhandling, trespassing, and disorderly intoxication, The Times reported."
Rebecca Smith, the 'Florida vampire'

Obviously there are more similarities between the Miami Zombie and the Florida Vampire than the state in which they lived. Both Eugene and Smith reportedly bit at the faces of their victims, though Smith apparently was only interested in drinking her victim's blood (despite taking a few chunks out of his face). Both targeted elderly, homeless people. And most strangely, both apparently disrobed to some extent before assaulting their victims.

And it is here that I shall wrap things up. So, what then are we to make of the rash of cannibalism across the world? The striking similarities between the attacks of Mr. Eugene and Miss Smith indicate some kind of overlap, at least on a subconscious level. The Florida Vampire was big news here for a while, and it may have planted a seed in the mind of Mr. Eugene. Reports of cannibalism in Brazil and China seem to have only added fuel to the fire, leading to the rash cannibalism we witnessed this past week.

And then there's Luka Magnotta, and the subtle indications he brings that there is something bigger at play here than even zeitgeist. For now we find ourselves stumbling upon other serial killers and rumblings of snuff films, which leads to some of conspiracy culture's most disturbing theories. Just this morning, as I was getting ready to publish this piece, I stumbled upon yet another possible piece of the Magnotta affair: Two separate packages, one containing a human foot, the other a human hand, we sent to a pair of Vancouver schools on June 5. There is already much speculation that Magnotta is behind this incident. To recap: Magnotta killed, dismembered and possibly ate a Chinese man, published a video (snuff film) of this grizzly event online, and then proceeded to mail body part's of said Chinese man to various institutions. There's something happening here, and what it is ain't exactly clear, as the old song goes.

As noted at the beginning of this piece, cannibalism and the drinking of blood were some of the most ancient rituals of humanity. Long after these deeds were driven underground, they still persisted in the popular conscious as fairy tales and myths of vampires and the undead. The vampire myths seem to have been a means of romanticizing humanity's dark past while the popular version of the zombie (as opposed to the vodou notion) has reduced the act of cannibalism to one of pure instinct, void of deeper meaning.

And yet we are witnessing the power of such an act, and the subconscious meaning that speaks to all us, first hand right now. Whether this is intentional on the part of the Cryptocracy or simply another manifestation of the re-emergence of ancient traditions, is impossible to say. All we are left with, then, is a striking sense of coming change.

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