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MORE VICTIMS FEARED IN MINNESOTA CHURCH OF SATAN PROBE

By JEEVAN GANGAPURAM, Associated Press Writer, June 25, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Investigators are reexamining a series of missing persons cases in connection to the alleged murder of 15-year-old Heather Rogers, the Minneapolis Police Department announced Thursday.

Rogers, a student at South Senior High School, drowned in Lake Nokomis in March. Her death was initially ruled accidental, but an anonymous internet tip led to the arrest of Church of Satan member Mario Belphegor on May 24. Belphegor now stands accused of Rogers’ murder.

“We believe that the Church of Satan was involved in some kidnappings in the area and now that we know what they’ve been up to we’re going back and warming up some cold cases,” said Minneapolis Chief of Police Vernon McCough.

Belphegor’s arrest thrust the Minneapolis branch of the Church of Satan into the national spotlight. Last week, a retaliatory shooting by Eden Prairie resident Mark Farnsworth wounded two Minneapolis Church of Satan members, Jason “Horns” Bazeley and Philip LaChouff.

The Church of Satan was founded in 1969 by counterculture author Anton LaVey. The Church advocates materialism, indulgence and personal gratification, but officially claims to be non-spiritual.

“Mario acted out of his personal will, as all followers of Satan must do, but this does not mean that he had the support or backing of the Church in this alleged murder,” national Church of Satan representative Gordian Vizier said earlier this month. Vizier’s statements have drawn widespread condemnation from political and religious leaders.

Belphegor’s trial is set to begin September 28th.

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