Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The devil-worshippers' playground

Rumors of devil worshipping in Lufkin, many of which take place at Ellen Trout Park, have been circulating at school lunch tables since the 1980s

This week we travel into the dark woods across Ellen Trout Lake to a semi-circle of stone benches rumored to be a devil worshiper’s playground.

“I followed this girl dressed in black across the bridge and then hid behind a tree so she wouldn’t see me,” the teen told his circle of friends who leaned in around the lunch table, listening intently to his tale. “From where I was hiding I watched her and three others take a bunch of candles and light them. Then they stood in a circle around the candles and chanted while she took a rat and a dagger out of her backpack.”

“And then, let me guess,” one girl said huffily rolling her eyes. “She sacrificed the rat to the devil. You really expect us to believe that?”

“Well, she did,” he said firmly, trying to shrug off her doubt.

Stories like this one have been passed across East Texas lunch tables since the ’80s, likely stemming from the “height of the Satan worship movement,” according to a “20/20” expose.

Charlotte Henley, Ellen Trout Zoo director of educational services, has lived in Ellen Trout Park, not far from the stone benches, for the last three decades and had no knowledge of the devil worship rumor until she got a phone call from a Lufkin Daily News reporter last week. She didn’t have to do much asking around before finding a source close to home.

“I talked to both of my kids who are now grown and they had heard the same rumors — rumors of people being over there sacrificing animals and tying rags to trees,” Henley said. “My daughter told me that any tree they tied a rag on was supposed to die.”

Henley’s son, who is now in his 20s, told his mom about seeing something suspicious as a kid while riding his bike in the woods, as he often did.

“He said he rode his bike over there and saw some people sitting around the old fireman building,” she said. “When they saw him, he said one of them stood up. He said he didn’t stick around to find out what they were doing.”

The building Henley is referring to was a concrete structure used by the city for the fire department, she said. The stone semi-circle, Henley said, has been there at least 35 years. She said she believes it was put there as a Scout project.

Lufkin Police Det. JB Smith said he has no knowledge of any calls the department has responded to in regard to witchcraft or devil worship at Ellen Trout Park. He pulled a report that dated back to 1997 and found nothing documented in police record.

“I’ve never heard the rumor of witchcraft at the zoo,” Smith said. “But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.”

Lufkin Daily News, 10 July 2011