Florida vampire cult leader, Rod Ferrell, was given the death sentence in the slaying of a cult member’s parents, Richard Wendorf and Ruth Queen, but a high court ruling said he was too young — 16 when he committed the crime — so he was given a life sentence.
TAVARES — Prosecutors will be allowed to have a psychologist examine vampire cult leader Rod Ferrell in his bid to have his life sentence reduced in his 1996 double murder conviction, a judge has ruled.
Ferrell was given the death sentence in the slaying of a cult member’s parents, Richard Wendorf and Ruth Queen, but a high court ruling said he was too young — 16 when he committed the crime — so he was given a life sentence. A recent Supreme Court decision now gives juvenile defendants a chance for a lesser sentence.
Ferrell’s lawyer filed a motion to prevent the exam in September, claiming the state has no right to a mental health expert examination.
“Mr. Ferrell does not intend to present mitigating testimony that he suffers from a mental health disorder,” Terence M. Lenamon stated in his motion.
Ferrell’s trial lawyers in 1998 did present a mental health defense, however. They called three experts to claim that he was “under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance.” They also argued that his capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct was “impaired” by his upbringing, drug use and his interest in the occult.
Assistant State Attorney Rich Buxman, in his counter motion, said that Ferrell’s lawyer has listed a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist as expert witnesses.
The prosecutor also noted that the experts in the trial had done a lot of testing and “rendered opinions about various psychological diagnosis, such as schizotypal personality disorder, polysubstance abuse, dysthymic disorder, as well as having depressive and narcissistic traits.”
Circuit Judge G. Richard Singletary issued a ruling allowing prosecutors to have their expert examine Ferrell. The resentencing hearings have been scheduled for Nov. 18, but that could change.
Buxman and Lenamon are currently locked in battle in an Orange County courtroom in the case of Markeith Loyd. He has been found guilty of killing his girlfriend Sade Dixon and her unborn child and he now faces a possible death sentence. Loyd will later be tried in the slaying of Orlando Police Officer Lt. Debra Clayton, who tried to arrest him.
The vampire case sparked international headlines when the parents of Heather Wendorf were bludgeoned to death in their Eustis home. Heather’s 17-year-old sister, Jennifer, came home to discover the bloody murders and called 911 in shock, adding that “My sister is gone. She should be here. She’s only 15 and she’s gone.”
She was arrested with Ferrell and three other blood-drinking cult members three days later in Louisiana. All were convicted but Heather, who was freed by a grand jury.
One of Ferrell’s co-defendants, Howard Scott Anderson, recently had his life sentence reduced to 40 years. He was 16 when he went into the home with Ferrell, but he was not the one who landed the flurry of blows on the couple’s heads with a crowbar. Anderson pleaded guilty and got a life sentence to avoid the death penalty.
Charity Keesee, 17, was sentenced to 10 ½ years in prison and Dana Cooper, 21, to 17 ½ years.
Ferrell, of Murray, Kentucky, had been a former classmate of Heather’s at Eustis High School.
This story originally published to dailycommercial.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.