Witchcraft Group Described

Mother: Cult Got Son

Phoenix Gazette/September 19, 1977

A Mesa mother today disclosed her son was recruited off the Northern Arizona University campus into an Arizona-New Mexico witchcraft cult.

Then the parents got a court order, rescued him, and had him deprogrammed by Ted Patrick, an anti-cultist and former governor's aid to Ronald Reagan.

Mrs. Virginia Friese, a Mesa public schools nurse on leave, said her son, Mark, 20, was "hypnotized and mind-controlled" by the cult, known as the Druids. She says the Druids, who vary in number from 50 to 14 members, not including children, are headed by a couple whose first names are said to be Laura and Norman, in their mid-30's.

Mrs. Friese and her husband, Raymond, a carpenter, won a court order to obtain release of their son and he was deprogrammed July 29.

Mrs. Friese said that the group practiced "non-violent witchcraft" and performed costumed seasonal ceremonies eight times a year at which wine was consumed.

She said the group does not engage in drugs and drinking, but does practice astrology, Tarot card-reading, herbology and living in nature.

She said that the woman leader went to England on a 30-day trip and returned with new rules for the communal group.

All are given new names, and are taught alienation from their parents, she said. The seven women are employed in a Gallup, NM motel which is said to be operated by the two leaders. Their wages go to the communal group, but they receive food and commute to the camp for housing.

Mrs. Friese believes that her son was deteriorating at the damp and decided to rescue him.

Besides recruiting members in their 20's at NAU, the group operated in Denver at one time, Mrs. Friese said she learned.

Until that time he had been missing from NAU since Mother's Day 1976, and the Frieses only discovered his whereabouts in June of this year.

The nurse described her son's state, and that of others, as "dazed, staring and lethargic."

She learned that the group lived about 2 ½ years at Witch Wells between Sanders and St. Johns in northeast Arizona.

Last January the cult moved to Ramah, NM, where members reside in a U-shaped communal house - males on one side, females on the other and the children in the middle. The two leaders reside in a separate cabin.

The dwellings are on 1,280 acres of leased, wooded land.

When located in Arizona the Druids had about 50 members, some living in camp and others in nearby towns, Mrs. Friese indicated.

Most recently the adult members, evenly split as to sex, number about 14 with children. The cult has members known as the "out-Druids" residing in the city and "in-Druids" who live at the country camp.

In a telephone interview today, Mrs. Friese said her husband and son and a family friend left by car to recover the son's personal belongings from the Ramah camp.

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