GUTHRIE - People are whispering about Satan again in Logan County.
For years, rumors about practicing devil worshipers have persisted in this historic Oklahoma town of 10,000. Rumor has it, they sacrifice dogs - and who knows what else - on crude altars.
Fueling many of the rumors over the years was the shocking 1980 rape-slaying of 4th-grader Carrie Kendall and trial testimony that she was the victim of a satanic ritual on the banks of the muddy Cimarron River.
That testimony was later discounted with the conviction of Roger Dale Hayes, but the rumors have persisted - although in recent years citizens say they have become fewer and fewer.
Last summer, the ugly rumors raised their heads again in a dispute between local bed and breakfast business owners over "murder mystery" weekend guests being taken on tours through the city cemetery where some mock funerals were held.
"We hear rumors, but nothing we've ever been able to confirm through law enforcement investigations," Larry R. Brooks, assistant district attorney, said concerning reports of local Satan worshipers. "There was testimony in the Hayes case, but the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was not able to verify or confirm that. " Hayes is now on death row at the state penitentiary in McAlester.
Last week, an Oklahoma County grand jury indicted a rural Guthrie man, Jimmie Ray Slaughter, accusing him of the torture and fatal shooting of Melody Wuertz, 29, and the fatal shooting of her 11-month-old daughter, Jessica.
A prairie fire of public discussion and suspicion has erupted here again. Citizens are remembering the Kendall death and wondering again if the mystery satanists are still lurking about.
The grand jury reported that Slaughter, a nurse at the veterans' hospital in Oklahoma City, was involved in witchcraft and satanic rituals. Some of his co-workers said he openly preached devil worship.