No one could have predicted what would happen to beautiful Elyse Marie Pahler when she snuck out to meet a few friends, especially not Elyse.
City Street view of Arroyo Grande, California | via Pinterest
?A Dead Body Lying Next to Mine? ? From the song 213 by the band Slayer
During the ?90s in Arroyo Grande, California, you had a higher than national average chance of being a victim of a violent crime. The area was a hotbed for gangs, with stabbings and shootings being a regular part of life. In 1995 there were 100 violent crimes reported with a population of only 14,000.
On July 22, 1995, Elyse Marie Pahler 15, would be the latest victim of a city burning with hate. That night she was at home watching TV with her family when she got a call from a friend. It was some boys that she knew. They said they had some marijuana and wanted to see if she wanted to meet up with them. She told her parents she was going to bed, but instead snuck out.
Elyse along with Jacob Delashmutt, Royce Casey, and Joseph Fiorella. Made their way to a eucalyptus grove nearby to sit and smoke some pot.
Elyse Pahler | via Wikipedia
She had met Jacob Delashmutt at the Mariposa Community Recovery Center recently. Where they were both getting treatment for drug and alcohol usage. She had attended the same school as Joseph Fiorella until he left. Royce Casey was a friend of the two boys. He went to a nearby continuation high school after he had been kicked out of his.
She Never Saw it Coming
While their soon to be victim was probably relaxing and just enjoying the night, her killers were waiting to make their move. Delashmutt took off his belt he was wearing and quickly wrapped it around Elyse?s neck. Casey lunged on her, holding down her hands and arms. It was Fiorella who pulled out a hunting knife and started stabbing her in the neck.
Then Delashmutt and Casey took turns stabbing her. All while Elyse was praying and calling out for her mother. But this didn?t stop the boys. Instead, they started stomping on her neck, trying to end her life quicker. Then after she died, they took turns raping her body.
Killing Elyse had not been a spur of the moment killing. They wanted to commit a ?sacrifice to the Devil.? So their heavy metal band Hatred could achieve the level of ?craziness? that was needed for them to ?go professional.?
They left her body there in the eucalyptus grove on the Nipomo Mesa. But the three would often return to continue having sex with her corpse. They bragged about this to friends. Not only how they killed her, but how they continued to go back and perform necrophilia on her corpse. Later, friends would come forward and testify against them, but all claimed that they never took them seriously until after. Fiorella had even told his mother what he and his friends had done.
They continued doing this all the while Elyse?s family and friends were searching for her, not knowing that the beautiful 15-year-old girl?s life had been taken so close to home. Her body wouldn?t be found for eight months.
In March of 1996, Elyse?s body was discovered. A pathologist who performed the autopsy noted she was stabbed at least 12 times. But none of the wounds proved to be fatal. She slowly died from blood loss.
Her body had been found. But authorities had no idea who had attacked her. It was such a savage assault that the first thought was to look at known violent offenders in the area. Could a gang have done it? No one suspected that three teenage boys that she considered friends had actually committed the savage crime.
Killers (left to right) Joseph Fiorella, Royce Casey, and Jacob Delashmutt prison photos | via Pinterest
The Truth Comes Out
Royce Casey, along with his friends, had practiced Satanism for a while before the murder. But Casey had changed his views and converted to Christianity. His new religion is what brought him to the authorities. He was ready to confess to his crimes.
Another driving factor in contacting the police was that he had started to fear for his own life. The other two killers had told him. ?She wouldn?t be the only one, there would be others.? And he felt like they meant him.
The trio had been obsessed with music by the band Slayer. A lyric the band sings could be what troubled Casey. ?If you?re not with us, you may no longer exist.?
Casey told investigators that he, Delashmutt, and Fiorella had planned the murder out for over a month before they acted. They would sit around playing Death Metal music and talk about how they were going to sacrifice Elyse to the Devil.
Death Metal is considered to be a sub-genre of heavy metal rock. What distinguishes Death Metal is the lyrics involving murder, torture, and the occult.
They believed that by making this sacrifice that the Devil would reward them and their band ?Hatred.? They styled it after Slayer, and that?s where they got the idea from for sacrificing a virgin. Slayer sang about Devil worship and scarifies in a lot of their songs. The boys also read books on Satanism and the Occult.
After knowing how the three had killed Elyse, and then how they desecrated her corpse. All in the name of Satan. You would think there wouldn?t be any more shockers to the story. But there?s one more.
They had tried to kill her once before.
Casey told investigators that Delashmutt, Fiorella, along with a third teenager, had plotted and attempted to kill Elyse one other time. The boys had asked Elyse to go for a walk with them. They led her to a steep ravine on the Mesa.
One of the boys had pretended to slip down the ravine and tried to get Elyse to come down to him. Fiorella then pulled out a knife, throwing it to the other boy while he and Delashmutt kept saying. ?Do it, do it.? But the other boy holding the knife froze and didn?t attack her.
Elyse must have thought the boys were just joking around. Because she never reported the incident and trusted them enough to go out with two of them the night she died.
During interrogation, the investigators tried to wrap their heads around the motive for such a killing. Casey told them again why they felt they had to kill. ?It was to receive power from the Devil to help them play guitar better.? If they could make a perfect sacrifice to the Devil, it would help them go professional. They would be able to gain more craziness. ?That would make them play harder, play faster.?
But why Elyse Pahler?
They picked her based on what they thought would most appease the Devil, Casey said. ?She had blond hair and blue eyes. And because she was a virgin, she would be a perfect sacrifice for the Devil.? She was considered the ?ultimate sin against God,? ensuring their ?ticket to hell.?
The song that inspired the three the most was ?Altar of Sacrifice? by Slayer. The lyrics go ?high priest awaiting dagger in hand . . . spilling the pure virgin blood?.
Elyse Marie Pahler?s grave site | via Find a Grave
After their arrest, so many people have wondered what could cause three teenage boys to attack someone so viciously and not be bothered by it afterwards. Was it the drugs, Delashmutt told authorities that they were drug users, taking meth and acid regularly.
Or was it the musical influence of Death Metal bands and their satanic lyrics? All three would admit that they had practiced Satanism and was very interested in the occult so much that it became an obsession, which continued to consume them and their lives, shifting their reality into a fantasy world fueled by the music and drugs.
Fiorella admitted that he was the one who first hinted at the occult with his friends to see if they were interested. And when he realized they were, he started to share his thoughts. It turned out that even though Fiorella was the youngest, he had the most knowledge on the subject, and was becoming their leader.
Their new leader Fiorella continued his occult education collecting all the books he could get his hands on. He researched everything about the occult, Satanism, and fellow Satanists, such as Aleister Crowley.
The group also started communicating online with other Satanists. They started breaking into graveyards, scoping out graves they wanted to rob.
Even before his conversion to Christianity, it would appear that Casey was having a hard time dealing with the place he was in life. After the murder, he started writing in a journal. A continued theme was how he was fighting on ?the other side.?
Casey wrote about how Satan had arisen and was now reigning overall. He believed that serial killers would make the Devil happy and how they could appease him more by erecting temples. Killers should sacrifice virgin meat to their dark lord. He wrote about how he enjoyed going back to the eucalyptus grove and admiring their evidence of spiritual supremacy.
From his journal three months after the murder: ?I?m fighting on the other side now. Allied with the darkened souls. Satan?s raised and shall conquer and reign . . . In the Bible it says that in the end Lucifer will bring out his best in everything, music, love, murder . . . All the psycho serial killers and rapists don?t know that if they would just build an altar of sacrifice and kill the person on the alter and then have repeated sex with the corpse. Virgin meat is the ultimate sacrifice.?
So what is it that caused this heinous crime to happen? All three said that Slayer?s music was the driving force behind the murder.
Delashmutt had to say about how it all started. ?It was harmless at first. We used to smoke weed, play guitar, kick it. I was just into heavy-metal music.? Then Fiorella asked him a question that would change everything. If he?d ?be down for sacrificing a, whatever, a virgin. I didn?t take it seriously. I said, ?whatever.??
The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Dan Bouchard, told the court. That Elyse was a ?Ticket to Hell? to the three teenage boys. And that what they did was, in fact, the ?ultimate sin against God.?
In the end, all three pleaded no contest to the murder of Elyse Pahler and were sentenced to serve 25 years to life. The three are being held at different prison facilities in California.
Killers (left to right) Joseph Fiorella, Jacob Delashmutt, and Royce Casey in court | via The Tribune
David and Lisanne Pahler, Elyse?s parents, filed a lawsuit against the band Slayer in 1996. Claiming that the songs Postmortem, and Dead Skin Mask. Gave their daughter?s killers instructions on how to ?stalk, rape, torture, murder, and commit acts of necrophilia.?
The original case was thrown out. The judge said, ?There?s not a legal position that could be taken that would make Slayer responsible for the girl?s death. Where do you draw the line? You might as well start looking through the library at every book on the shelf.?
Her parents filed a second lawsuit. This time on the basis that Slayer ?knowingly distributed harmful material to minors.?
Band Slayer | via Tone Deaf
The law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach represented the Pahler?s. ?The distribution and marketing of the obscene and harmful material to adolescent males constituted aiding and abetting of the criminal?s acts described in this complaint.? They also felt. ?None of the vicious crimes committed against Elyse Marie Pahler would have occurred without the intentional marketing strategy of the ?Death Metal? band ?Slayer.??
The record label said they warned the public and the children?s parents. Because they put a sticker on the album, saying Parental Warning. Slayer?s albums also contain violence and sexual language in the lyrics warning.
Allen Hutkin of the law firm said that the ?warning stickers? record labels are required to put on CD cases if it has explicit language. Actually act as an advertising device, in drawing in kids. ?The fact is our society does not allow kids to watch or even get near a snuff film. Still, minors can go out and buy snuff music any time they want without their parents even knowing.?
Judge E. Jeffrey Burke dismissed this case too. ?I do not consider Slayer?s music obscene, indecent, or harmful to minors.? Even though the albums are required to carry the parental warning because of violence and sexual language, stating they are not suitable for underage listeners.
David Pahler had enough. ?There?s a whole generation of children out there that are being fed this music. It?s like feeding a child a little poison every day. We?re saying, ?enough is enough.??
Paul Bostaph of the Band Slayer | via Wikipedia
Paul Bostaph drummer for the band Slayer gave an interview with Guitar World Magazine. ?They?re trying to blame the whole thing on us.? When he clearly thinks the blame should be put on the killers only. ?If you?re gonna do something stupid like that, you should get in trouble for it.? He continued by pointing out how the killers didn?t even follow their necrophilia sacrifice rituals, that the band had detailed in their songs.
So if they would have followed the ritual perfectly, then would the song have become obscene, or complicit to murder?
Heavy Metal Music at the Center of Crime
?You can hypnotize people with music, and when they get at their weakest point, you can preach into their subconscious?
Time always has a way of changing peoples, minds, and opinions. It seems a lot of killers give their crimes some thought after being in prison, and revise their motives. Delashmutt did, doing a complete change of heart about what pushed him towards murder. Before the trial, he had agreed with the other two, saying that Slayer?s lyrics influenced them.
But a few years in prison had changed his mind. While giving an interview with The Washington Post, Delashmutt was now pointing the blame on someone else. ?The music is destructive,? he admitted. But he was no longer blaming it. ?That?s not why Elyse was murdered. She was murdered because Joe (Fiorella) was obsessed with her and obsessed with killing her.?
When Fiorella was up for probation, he talked about his motives, and what the music did to him. ?It gets inside your head.? Having reflected on his crime differently than one of his coconspirators. ?It?s almost embarrassing that I was so influenced by the music. It started to influence the way I looked at things.?
It?s interesting how neither put any blame on the drugs they were using. No, drugs on their own can?t make you commit a crime. But especially the acid they were taking could help alter their reality. Which was being fed by the Death Metal music they listened to on repeat.
Researching the band Slayer and their music, it was the song 213 that seemed to describe the cause of the murder more than any other. ?Erotic sensations tingle my spine . . . A dead body lying next to mine . . . Smooth blue black lips . . . I start salivating as we kiss . . . Mine forever this sweet death . . .? Continuing with ?How I love to kill you.?
The real thing they were embarrassed about, the real thing that drove them to commit their crimes. Was getting the perfect girl to lay there and be theirs without rejecting them, or refusing to give them what they wanted. They thought that a corpse would give them what they wanted. Sex. Not mad guitar skills.
With the chance for parole slipping away, Fiorella then changed his mind, again. He?s now saying the music had nothing to do with the murder in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Claims that the crime was never intended as a satanic sacrifice. So he must have just wanted to kill?
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