Vampire cult killer to have sentence reduced

Daily Commercial, Florida/December 2, 2018

By Frank Stanfield

Tavares — Vampire cult murder codefendant Howard Scott Anderson is scheduled Monday to have his sentence reduced from life in prison to 40 years.

He wrote a letter to Circuit Judge Don Briggs on Nov. 11 seeking a 30-year sentence with credit for the 22 years he has already served.

″... if I have to accept a 40-year sentence I will be 51 years old and will have to depend on disability and family members to get by. Because I don’t know anyone who would hire a 51-year-old ex-con to work for them,” he wrote.

He cited case law, insisting that 30 years is the proper term for juvenile resentencing. He has a court-appointed attorney who will be present Monday.

Prosecutors are not budging, however. Assistant State Attorney Rich Buxman said the Wendorf family is willing to accept a 40-year sentence for Anderson.

“I’d rather see 30, but if it’s 40 it’s better than what I got,” he told the Daily Commercial Thursday in an exclusive interview.

Anderson was 16 when he and cult leader Rod Ferrell broke into the Eustis home of Ruth Queen and Richard Wendorf to steal the couple’s Ford Explorer and take off with the couple’s 15-year-old daughter, Heather, to start a vampire “family” in New Orleans.

Once inside, Ferrell pummeled Heather’s parents with a crow bar in an attack so horrific the first sheriff’s deputy on scene said Wendorf’s face looked like “hamburger.” Detectives at first thought Queen had been attacked with an ax.

Anderson said he “froze.” Ferrell confirmed Anderson’s account in his confession.

He said he didn’t know Ferrell was going to launch an attack.

“Not a clue,” he said Thursday. “I just thought we were going to do a burglary.”

Ferrell was tried and sentenced to death. Anderson pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and received a life sentence.

Ferrell’s death sentence was commuted to life. The Supreme Court ruled that 16-year-olds were too young for death row.

That ruling meant that Ferrell and Anderson were serving the same sentence, even though Ferrell did the killing.

The Supreme Court later ruled that juveniles are too young to receive a life sentence, or at least they should be given a chance to receive a new sentence.

Ferrell will get his chance for a new sentence later.

“My only concern is me,” Anderson said. “He kind of screwed up my life 20 years ago.”

Ferrell had attended Eustis High School for a time before moving back to Murray, Kentucky, with his mother and grandparents.

It was while he was at the school that he met Heather. On Nov. 25, 1996, Ferrell and cult members Anderson, Charity Lynn Keesee and Dana Cooper traveled from Kentucky to Lake County.

Heather, 15, left with the group but was not indicted after the group was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She said she did not know her parents would be harmed.

Ferrell testified that she gave him permission to kill them. She has denied it.

The case sparked a media frenzy and drew worldwide attention.

Keesee was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Cooper 17.

They later told authorities that Ferrell was talking about killing somebody while traveling to Florida.

“I never heard that,” Anderson said.

Ferrell told the group that he was a vampire hundreds of years old, and he induced the group members to drink blood in occult rituals.

Did Anderson believe it?

“Originally, at first. I was a kid looking for acceptance,” he said.

Growing up in prison, he has found a different kind of acceptance.

“I have received my G.E.D., graduated the faith/character-based program in December 2007, and have been a productive employee of PRIDE Enterprises at their North Florida Graphics Division ...” he said in his letter to the judge.

He has been a press operator at Calhoun Correctional Institution since 2014.

He has spent almost two years at the Lake County jail awaiting his sentencing. Because he is not working and not taking advantage of the limited exercise available, he has packed on the pounds.

The long wait will be over on Monday.

“I’m definitely ready for this whole fiasco to be over with,” he said.

“I’ve talked to my brothers and they tell me even if it’s 40 years at least you’ll be able to come home.”

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