crimes and consequences

The Vampire Cult Killer- Rod Ferrell

rod ferrell

Roderrick Justin “Rod” Ferrell is not only an American murder and cult leader but, according to him, a 500-year-old vampire named “Vesago.” In 1998, Rod would plead guilty to a double murder and become the youngest person in the United States on Death Row.

Rod was raised in Murray, Kentucky by his mother, Sondra Gibson. He never knew his father until his trial, where Rod would see him for the first time in his life. Rod had a turbulent childhood; his mother, Sondra, was described as flighty and ruthless. She was unable to keep jobs and would often pass Rod off to his grandparents. When her parents pushed back on Sondra, insisting that she needed to be present for Rod, she threatened that she would have someone in her “drug group” kill him. And to top it off, Sondra was on probation in Kentucky for trying to engage a fourteen-year-old boy in a sex act. She was caught performing a ritual with the boy so that she could become a vampire herself.

Rod grew up surrounded by Necronomicon and The Satanic Bible – he also became obsessed with a role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade. He was a loner and an outcast. By the age of fourteen, Rod was an avid user of LSD and believed he was a demon and a vampire. In recalling his childhood, Rod has said, “I tried to embrace the lifestyle of being a vampire and being so young, my mind latched onto it so deeply, so tenaciously, that I got lost inside it.”

At the age of fifteen, he started using the name “Vesago,” his chosen vampire name.
Vesago is presumably a butchery of the name of a demon in occult literature: Vassago. According to occultist beliefs, Vassago was a Goetic demon and third-in-command of the spirits of Satan’s army of rebel angels. He is also said to possess special powers, such as fortune-telling.

Rod would form and lead a cult group at the age of sixteen known as, “The Vampire Clan.” Rod would cut his arm and require new members to drink his blood to access the clan. The group was comprised of members with troubled backgrounds, not unlike Rod’s. The most notable members of the clan were Scott Anderson, Rod’s right-hand man, Chasity Keese, Rod’s sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Dana Cooper, and Heather Windorf.

kentucky vampire cultHeather Windorf would tell stories to Rod about the abuse she was suffering at home at the hands of her father. Eventually, Heather would relocate to Florida with her family. Rod became obsessed with keeping in contact with her. Phone records show that Heather and Rod had talked for several months for long periods, racking up hundreds of dollars in long-distance calls. Heather’s family noticed her behavior and school performance drastically declining and decided to take her phone away. Rod was enraged by this and concluded that he needed to rescue Heather.

Rod convinced the other clan members that they needed to go save Heather from her parents. They devised a plan that would conclude with them running away to New Orleans, where vampire culture is vast and more widely accepted.

rod ferrellThe group left Kentucky for Heather’s home in Eustis, Florida. During the 750-mile drive to Eustis, their car began giving them trouble. To combat this setback, Rod decided they would need to steal a new car to continue to New Orleans.

When the clan arrived in Eustis, Rod took Heather to a cemetery to perform his “turning” ceremony on her. Rod and Heather consumed each other’s blood, cementing Heather’s new status as a vampire. Once the ritual was complete, the clan decided the following evening they would steal Heather’s parent’s car – the vehicle that would take them to their ultimate destination.

The following evening the clan arrived at Heather’s house around 9:00 p.m. and parked a few blocks away. Heather joined the other cult members, Dana and Charity, in the backseat of the car. As the girls remained in the car, Scott and Rod headed towards Heather’s home.

Armed with nothing but a stick, Rod and Scott entered the Windorf residence through the garage. They quickly decided that they needed a better weapon so Rod grabbed a crowbar and the two went inside the house.

They first encountered Mr. Windorf, fast asleep on the couch. Rod stood over him for several minutes before he began to violently smash him in the face with the crowbar. Rod struck
Mr. Windorf 22 times on his face and head. And when it appeared that he was still breathing, Rod took the end of the crowbar and stabbed him in the chest. Face unrecognizable, Mr. Windorf was left soaking in his blood with a gaping hole in his head.

Rod would later comment about Mr. Windorf’s murder saying, “Just, strangely enough, it was a rush—a teenager’s rush—just to know that he was asleep and did not know that we held his fate in our hands.”

Mrs. Windorf, who had been in the shower during the first attack, made her way to the living room with a cup of coffee. Once she saw Rod and Scott, she immediately lunged at them and threw her coffee in Rod’s face. She clawed at Rod’s face; Rod grabbed his crowbar and began to strike her in the back of the head. Rod recounted that the entire time he was hitting her, Mrs. Windorf’s nails were embedded into his face and, “until she let go, I was going to beat the fuck out of her.”

“…By that time, you know, it was pretty obvious, I had blood on me and a crowbar in my hand, I was fixing to say, yeah, I want to have coffee with you, son of a bitching smartass, but anyway then that’s when she lunged at me, cause I was actually going to let her live, but after she lunged at me I just took the bottom of the crowbar and kept stabbing it through her skull and whenever she fell down I just continually beat her until I saw her brains falling on the floor, cause that pissed me off…” – Rodrick Ferrell’s confession regarding the murder of Ruth Windorf.

Rod made his way to the back bedroom, where he grabbed a pearl necklace, a hunting knife, and the keys to the car. Scott and Rod then departed from the residence.

Heather’s seventeen-year-old sister would come home from work shortly after to find her parents beaten and dead. According to Heather, at the time, was unaware that her parents had just been brutally murdered. Heather said that it would not be until later in the drive that Rod told her of the events that transpired that evening. While en route to New Orleans, they dumped the murder weapon and all evidence into the Mississippi River. When they reached Baton Rouge, Charity, Rod’s girlfriend, called her parents.
Charity’s parents called the police.

After four days of evading law enforcement, the clan was finally arrested at a Howard Johnson Hotel. Authorities were able to get the group’s location from Charity’s grandmother, who she had been contacting for money.

The five clan members, Rod, Scott, Charity, Dana, and Heather were held at Baton Rouge Jail for a week before being extradited to Florida. On February 12, 1998, seventeen-year-old Rod pleaded guilty to the murders. He also claimed that the other clan members were innocent, except for Scott, who was simply an accessory. Charity eventually admitted to police that she knew of Rod’s plans to kill Heather’s parents. She told authorities that she tried to convince Scott and Rod not to follow through with their plan.

rod ferrell
Recent Photo of Rod Ferrell

Scott admitted to his role in the killing, stating the plan was for Rod to go for the mother and Scott would attack the father. But when he saw Rod make the first blow, he couldn’t follow.

Heather said that she had told Rod that she did not want her parents harmed. She also claimed that she had no idea what Rod and Scott had done that evening. Heather says that her parents never abused her. And ultimately, she was not charged in the killings.

Charity Keesee was convicted of two counts of third-degree murder, robbery with a gun or deadly weapon, and burglary armed with a 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. (*Charity was released in 2006 and Dana in 2011)

Scott Anderson pleaded guilty to being a principal to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole. However, in December 2018, Scott was resentenced by circuit judge Don Briggs to 40 years in prison. Anderson was given credit for the 22 years he’s already served, with his first eligible release date scheduled for 2031.

Rod was sentenced to death. For two years, Ferrell held the record as the youngest inmate on Death Row. That is until November 2000, when the Florida Supreme Court reduced his sentence to life in prison without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court declared life without parole unconstitutional for minors. In 2015, the State Supreme Court required that all juvenile killers with automatic life sentences be resentenced. Consequently, Rod was resentenced in April 2020; the sentencing judge upheld life without parole and deemed him irreparably corrupt.

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mariya hamilton

Special thanks to our new contributor, Mariya Hamilton, for all the hard work she put into researching and writing this fascinating true crime story for us.  To the readers:  “This is only a mere scratch on the surface, there is so much more to this case. If you want to take a deeper dive, I recommend reading the book; The Embrace, By: Aphrodite Jones” -Mariya