Selling Satan

The Tragic History of Mike Warnke

By Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein

Copyright 1992 by Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein

The College Crowd and the Occult

Interestingly, most of Mike's college friends did dabble in occult activities. "Some of them were into seance and Ouija board type stuff," says George Eubank. "But it wasn't serious, just the kind of stuff freshmen in college play with. Especially sheltered freshmen in college that are all of a sudden free from their parents, spreading their wings, so to speak."

Bill Lott,[39] another college student who is now a Christian, took experimentation more seriously. "People were messing around with stuff like reincarnation, tarot cards, Ouija boards. Mike was one of those people. But he never talked about Satanism or being a devil worshiper," Lott says.

"People talked about witches and Ouija boards," says Dawn. "It was that era. None of us belonged to a coven, and none of us were witches. If we'd have thought anybody was serious, it would have scared us to death. We did table tipping once, and the table tipped and that was that. No more table tipping for me."

Warnke and a few of the guys created a not-so-secret society. "We started a club called The Royal Order of the Lantern," says Greg. "We played chess, drank beer, and told tall tales. It was a group that really never took off."

Adds George Eubank, "The Royal Order of the Lantern had to do with this lamp we'd stolen from somebody's driveway. Warnke wanted to get an apartment and have a group of guys. I don't think it was supposed to be secret. It was supposed to be fun and games. It flopped because nobody was willing to put the effort into it. Mike carried it as far as he could at the time. It was kind of a defunct fraternity that never got anywhere." The Royal Order of the Lantern is a far cry from The Satan Seller's fifteen hundred followers in three cities, financed by a worldwide network of Satanists.

Mike eventually did get his own apartment, and the place became a favorite hangout for the Tomahawk Room crowd--the guys in particular. Mike gave both Greg Gilbert and Bill Lott keys. The apartment "was above a garage," says Greg. "There was an exterior stairway that went up to a room with an open-beam ceiling, the gable coming to a point."

In The Satan Seller, Warnke describes the exterior of his apartment in this way: a second-floor apartment approached by an outside stairway. The interior, however, was redecorated by the Satanists after Warnke became high priest:

A long, low, oxblood leather couch replaced the sagging old brown horsehair one, and there were two sets of bookshelves full of books [on the occult].... The biggest surprise was on the floor--two chicks sitting on a white rug....

..."We hope you like it, Mike, because we come with this apartment," said the blonde one named Lorraine.[40]

The two woman allegedly remained at Warnke's beck and call, rarely leaving the apartment unless it was to get groceries or drugs. "It's a fantasy," says Dennis Pekus who knew Mike in both high school and college. Greg Gilbert says he never knew Mike Warnke to have a girl-friend in college besides Lois Eckenrod. None of the college friends who frequented the apartment ever saw occult books, an oxblood leather couch, or two love slaves."

Mike says plenty of "soft pink sex"[41] is at the center of his satanic experiences. These begin with orgies Warnke says initially drew him into the coven:

Then they split off into couples. It was great, because there was a girl for every guy, not like most places I had been where there is a chronic chick shortage

Cool-looking, sexy girls, too....These chicks were free-lovers....

"Come on over here, Mike," a blonde said.[42]

Then there's the sexual recruiting Mike says he helped organize and rituals that degenerate from cat killing to the rape of an innocent virgin. (Warnke is careful to exclude himself from direct participation in the rape, though he writes that it was his idea.)

In a later book, Schemes of Satan, Warnke suggests that sex was a routine part of the rituals:

On more than one occasion, I regret to admit, we participated in ritual sexual abuse that involved rape. Most of the time I was too doped up to perform sexually, but I would watch these lust rituals with great desire.[43]

Such tales of perversion and criminal activity raise serious questions. If Mike led in acts of rape and other violent crimes, why (after his conversion) didn't he turn himself in and aid the police in apprehending his old satanic friends? If, on the other hand, his rape and abuse stories are not true, what does this say about the imagination of the author?

Mike's college crowd completely rejects these stories of violence and sexual perversion. "Oh, my goodness, no," says Phyliss. "To talk about sex orgies and all these drug parties. He didn't do them with Lois and me, that's for sure!"

"I never slept with him," says Lois. "We kissed and hugged, but I never would have sex with him because I was a very devout Catholic, and I wanted to be a virgin till I got married. Thank God I didn't marry him."

There always seemed to be a story. In college, as in the high school role-playing with Jeff Nesmith, Warnke refused to drop out of character. "He played it to the end," says Greg. "He never gave up. That was the remarkable thing about him. We'd question him about his stories and he always came up with some half-baked answer. And you couldn't disprove what he was saying--that was the common thread. It was never anything we were likely to have the real answer for or the time to check into. So he could say anything he wanted."

Warnke's refusal to admit to his own storytelling made him untrustworthy in the eyes of some members of the group. "I didn't know anything about his past, so I didn't know what was true and what wasn't," says Dawn. "I didn't feel like he was sincere in anything he did. If the situation required him to be macho, he was macho. If it required him to be mean, he was mean. He just sort of blended into the situation, and tried to monopolize everyone. There was nothing real about him."

Mike and Lois Plan Their Marriage