Selling Satan

The Tragic History of Mike Warnke

By Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein

Copyright 1992 by Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein.

The Satan Seller and the Way Thinks Really Were

According to The Satan Seller, though, things are by now getting serious. The story is set in motion by the mysterious college-age individual named "Dean Armstrong," who Warnke alleges was a satanic high priest. Mike says Dean lured him into drug use, sexual promiscuity, witchcraft, and Satanism. We will examine these elements of the story, then compare each with what witnesses remember. For starters, Mike's associates at school affirm that none among them remotely resembled the Dean character in The Satan Seller.

According to the book, Mike was encouraged by Dean to quit drinking so much and start smoking marijuana. Mike tells Dean no, but later an unnamed roommate brings up the subject again:

My stomach was still hurting. I tried everything I could think of, except giving up drinking. My new roommate suggested I try ...[grass], and not wanting to be left out, I finally went along with it....
... I really liked marijuana.[33]

Regarding drug use, Greg laughs. "Drugs? No way, not at Valley, and not in 1965. Two years later there was plenty of grass around, but back in '65 we still believed Reefer Madness."

Did Warnke ever talk about drugs around anybody else? "None of us were into drugs," says Dyana. "We didn't even smoke cigarettes." Yet in The Satan Seller, Warnke and his friends are allegedly full-blown into drug use early in the year:

When we tried the peyote, we decided it was better and heavier than pot. We also started eating mescaline in our food in increasing quantities, and from there we went on to reds. . . .
. . .Some doctors came to the campus to conduct controlled group experiments on [LSD]. My friends and I decided to volunteer for the tests.[34]

Not only do Mike's friends deny controlled or uncontrolled experimentation with drugs, but according to the records, no LSD experiments took place on the campus of San Bernardino Valley College. This was underscored in our conversation with Dr. George Zaharopoulos, head of the Social Sciences Department at Valley. "I taught here during those years, and we never, ever, asked for or had any LSD experiments take place here. This is only a junior college."

In The Satan Seller Mike not only claims to have used drugs, but to have been a major-league drug trafficker:

One time I took some money for a drug payoff down to El Centro, a burg in the desert of California, not far from the border town of Mexicali. A really big load was involved, and this caused quite a flap. It was the most money I had ever seen at one time--fifty thousand dollars in bundles of hundred-dollar bills.[35]

One his Mike Warnke Alive! album, Mike further claims:

I'd had hepatitis four times from shooting up with dirty needles. I had scabs all over my face from shooting up crystal. I was a speed freak. I weighed 110 pounds soaking wet. My skin had turned yellow. My hair was falling out. My teeth were rotting out of my head. I'd been pistol-whipped five or six times. My jaw had been broken. My nose had been almost ripped off. I had a bullet hole in my right leg. Two bullet holes in my left leg.

Greg Gilbert and the others saw Mike on a daily basis, and say that it is totally impossible for Mike to have had hepatitis, facial scabs from injecting "crystal," and wounds from being shot three times. "Without us knowing it? It's a lie," Greg says.

Lois's reaction to Mike's tale? "That's just make-believe," she states. "Mike never fell in with drugs. My dad was an alcoholic, and because of our family situation, I'd had to move in with the Catalanos. So I was really sensitive to things like that. Second, I was training to be a nurse, and think I would have known if he was using drugs. I wouldn't have dated Mike if he was drugged. I didn't even allow people to drink around me."

In The Satan Seller, drugs and sex were the magnet that drew Mike Warnke along. Warnke gradually found himself running errands for Dean, attending occult discussion meetings until, finally, Dean decided his charge was ready for the real thing: a satanic ritual service.

The Black Mass in an orange grove turned out to be just what anybody would expect who's seen Rosemary's Baby or other films in this genre: black robes, a naked woman on the altar, blasphemy and incantations. "After the invocation of Satan, I listened intently to the Offertory, where the members offered their souls to Lord Satan."[36]

According to The Satan Seller, Warnke signed his name in blood to give his soul to Satan, and a few pages later took over the coven from Dean as the new high priest.

I swung the now screaming cat over the smoking caldron and then over the heart of the girl on the alter. Then, when the sword point touched the cat's belly, I thrust it in.

"Now!" I suddenly shouted.... I drew an upside-down star on the girl's stomach, with the freshly spilled blood. From the weird utterances that now came from her mouth, I knew we were being graced by the presence of one of the denizens of hell.[37]

Just before he published The Satan Seller in 1973, Warnke brought manuscript copies to his old high school friends Jeff Nesmith and Tim Smith, and asked them to sign affidavits swearing the events depicted were true. Jeff Nesmith had lost track of Warnke after high school and had little idea what he did during college or who he hung out with. On a rare visit to Mike's apartment during his college days, Mike asked Jeff to join a "coven." But Jeff laughed it off, thinking it was one of Mike's stories. In any event, when Warnke asked Jeff to sign the affidavit, he refused.[38] "My initial reaction to the book was, 'Come on, Mike! This is poppycock!'"

Tim Smith dropped out of college after only two months, but notes, "I had contact with Mike off and on all the way through the fall of 1965 until the summer of 1966." TIm states he never saw Warnke with long hair or in the drug-induced state he claimed to be during that period. "Sign the affidavit? I told him, 'Nope. Can't do that.'"

Warnke's two high school buddies saw him sporadically throughout the year, but not every day. Yet Mike brought Jeff and Tim the affidavits, but not Lois, Greg, Dawn or the others. It does not speak well for the veracity of Warnke's claims that he did not ask those who knew him on a daily basis in San Bernardino Valley College to endorse his story.

The College Crowd and the Occult