Julianus reviews The Ultimate Evil: An Investigation into America’s Most Dangerous Satanic Cult with New Evidence Linking Charlie Manson and the Son of Sam [Amazon, Amazon, Abebooks, Bookshop, Local Library] by Maury Terry in the Bkwyrm Occult Book Reviews archive.
The subtitle of this weighty mass of journalism is “An Investigation of America’s Most Dangerous Satanic Cult with New Evidence Linking Charlie Manson and the Son of Sam.” This tells you more about the author’s ambitions than his actual achievements. While Terry does do a good job recounting the .44-Calibre Killings and he does make a good case that David Berkowitz did not act alone, it does seem kind of significant that so many suspects turn up dead just days after the investigation focusses on them. Unfortunately the book becomes progressively weaker as he tries to document a nationwide satanic murder-cult. Much of his “evidence” consists of prison rumour, numerous dead german shepherds, and some very idiosyncratic “decodings” of the “Son of Sam” letters. He is also quick to see possession of mass-market editions of Eliphas Levi as incriminating. Terry obviously didn’t bother with personally researching contemporary occultism. He seems to have this idea that Magick is all about kinky sex, drugs and sadism and that any “white covens” are just fronts for the real satanic masters. His idea is that the “Sam cult” derives from the Process Church of the Final Judgement and from OTO. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason for this except that Terry became friendly with Ed Sanders, author of “The Family,” possibly the most thoroughly-discredited book on the Manson cult ever written. You can almost see Sanders standing over Terry telling him to put in this or that gratuitous mention. OTO took legal exception to some references and these were deleted from subsequent editions; when you read the original version you can see why.
In the end Terry doesn’t have much to show for ten year’s work aside from a collection of corpses, both human and canine. Interestingly, several of his informants are clearly telling him that the whole case is really about drug trafficking (certainly a .44 seems more in tune with organised crime than with devil worship) and that the “satanic” aspects were a veneer used to control the troops. From this book it seems those same aspects served equally well in obfuscating any attempt to solve the crimes.