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2008 mug shot
Roderrick Justin Ferrell
March 28, 1980
|Criminal status||Incarcerated in Tomoka Correctional Institution|
|Conviction(s)||Felony murder, burglary, armed robbery|
|Criminal penalty||Life sentence without parole|
Roderrick Justin "Rod" Ferrell (born March 28, 1980) is an American convicted murderer. He was a member of a loose-knit gang of teenagers from Murray, Kentucky, known as the "Vampire Clan". Ferrell told people that he was a 500-year-old vampire named Vesago, a character he created for himself after becoming obsessed with the role playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. It was his mother, Sondra Gibson who first introduced this game to Rod (Brewster, R. A., 2018). In 1998, Ferrell pleaded guilty to the double slaying of a couple from Eustis, Florida, becoming the youngest person in the United States on Death Row. Originally sentenced to death, Ferrell's penalty has since been reduced to life without parole.
On November 25, 1996 (the week of Thanksgiving), Naomi Ruth Queen and Richard Wendorf were found by their daughter Jennifer Wendorf, beaten to death in their Eustis home. While 49-year-old Richard Wendorf was asleep on his couch and Ruth was in the shower, Ferrell and accomplice Howard Scott Anderson had entered the home through the unlocked garage, picking up the murder weapon, a crowbar. Before Richard had even awakened, Ferrell beat him multiple times with it, fracturing both his skull and ribs, almost instantly knocking him out, and killing him shortly thereafter. When Ruth had found Ferrell and Anderson in the home moments later, Ferrell bludgeoned her to death, bashing her head with the crowbar. He claimed in his confession, however, that in his original plan, he was going to allow Naomi Ruth to live, but she first attacked him by lunging at him and throwing a very hot cup of coffee on him, which angered him and made him change his mind and kill her also. Richard was found bearing burn marks in the shape of a V. It was said that the V was Ferrell's symbol, which he accompanied with a dot for each person he considered to be in his vampire cult.
The victims were the parents of Heather Wendorf, a long-time friend of Rod's whom he was helping run away from a home that she described as "hell". Heather and the other girls that were with Ferrell and Anderson were not at the Wendorf home when the murders took place. Charity Keesee and her friend Dana Cooper had driven Heather to her boyfriend's apartment so Heather could say good-bye before leaving for New Orleans, leaving Roderrick and Scott outside the Wendorf home.
After four days of driving through four states, the group was found in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is believed that Ferrell liked a video arcade in New Orleans, and they were headed there. One of the girls, Charity Keesee, placed a call to her grandmother in South Dakota. The group needed money, and Charity thought her grandmother could help them. However, Keesee's grandmother informed the police about her whereabouts and helped police trick Ferrell, Wendorf, and the rest of the teens into going to a local Howard Johnson's hotel, where they were arrested by waiting law enforcement. The four were held at a Baton Rouge jail for a week before being extradited back to Florida, where they were initially booked at the Lake County Jail. They were later moved to a juvenile facility in Ocala.
On February 12, 1998, then-seventeen-year-old Ferrell pleaded guilty to the murders, claiming that the others traveling with him were innocent except Scott Anderson, who was simply an accessory. Ferrell pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder. Ferrell's attorneys tried to argue that he was insane; he has been diagnosed with mental disorders including schizotypal personality disorder and Asperger syndrome. University of Florida further attested to the fact that Rod could sometimes witness spiritual things, like angels and demons (Stanfield, F. 2019). Judge Jerry T. Lockett sentenced Ferrell to death. Charity Keesee was convicted of two counts of third-degree murder, robbery with a gun or deadly weapon and burglary armed with weapon or explosives. She was sentenced to 10.5 years in state prison. Dana Cooper was convicted of those charges as well, but was given a 17.5 year prison sentence. Anderson was convicted of the same charges as Ferrell and was sentenced to life in prison.
For two years, Ferrell held the record as the youngest inmate on death row until November 2000, when the Florida Supreme Court reduced his sentence to life in prison. Because Florida had long abolished parole, the sentence is without it. Keesee was released from prison in March 2006 and Cooper was released from prison in October 2011.
In January 2013, an appellate court dismisses attempts by Roderrick Ferrell and Howard Scott Anderson to get a new sentencing hearing. however in December 2018, Howard Scott Anderson was resentenced by Don Briggs, to 40 years in prison. Anderson was given credit for the 22 years he’s already served. Ruth Wendorf’s relatives attended Anderson’s re-sentencing hearing and did not oppose his early release. Speaking with the Daily Commercial, they said they are more concerned about Ferrell, who was scheduled to face his own re-sentencing hearing in July 2019. Ferrell's resentencing hearing has been moved to November 18. Anderson is currently incarcerated in the Calhoun Correctional Institution while Ferrell is currently incarcerated in the Tomoka Correctional Institution.
In the media
- 1998 Anglia Television TV crime documentary "Kentucky Teenage Vampires" is about Ferrell and his clan
- 2002 film Vampire Clan is based on and named after Ferrell's cult
- 2003 Legendary Shack Shakers song "Blood on the Bluegrass" is about Ferrell and his clan
- R.A.Brewster, ~ (2018-12-15). "Human Monsters: Rod Ferrell, The Vampire Cult Killer". R.A.Brewster. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
- "COURT TV ONLINE - TRIALS". web.archive.org. 2005-12-06. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
- "Chronology Of The Wendorf Slayings". Retrieved 2 June 2018.
- "Doctor: Ferrell's Lies A `Game'". Retrieved 2 June 2018.
- "Vampires in America". Monsterquest. 6 August 2008. History Channel.
- Staff, Frank Stanfield, of The Sentinel. "DOCTOR: FERRELL'S LIES A 'GAME'". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
- "vampire killers appeal". Retrieved 2 June 2018.
- "Vampire cult town shrinks under national spotlight", Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / Associated Press. December 2, 1996.
- Hallifax, Jackie. "Death sentence for cult leader reduced", Sun Sentinel. November 10, 2000.
- Florida v. Rod Ferrell - "The Vampire Cult Slaying Case", Court TV. June 22, 2001.
- Jones, Aphrodite. The Embrace: A True Vampire Story. June 1, 2000. ISBN 0-671-03467-7.
- Seigenthaler, John. MSNBC Investigates, MSNBC. October 26, 2002.
- "The Vampire Clan" profile provided by sacrosanctum.org