Whitley Strieber on The Finders

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Whitley Strieber on The Finders

Postby professorpan » Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:59 pm

<!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.unknowncountry.com/journal/">www.unknowncountry.com/journal/</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>The current scandal involving former congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate solicitations to house pages brings to mind another scandal that is probably much more serious, but which has been swept aside.<br><br>On Saturday, February 7, 1987, the Washington Post published an article about a strange case out of Tallahassee, Florida. It seems that six children were observed in a local park and reported to police because they seemed to be in a dirty and unkempt condition. The police found that they were under the care of two men who identified themselves as Douglas E. Ammerman and Michael Houlihan.<br><br>These men told police that they were conducting the children to “a school for brilliant children in Mexico.” The men were charged with child abuse and the children were taken from them, and attempts were made to identify them. The children were traced to a warehouse in Washington, and to a group called the Finders.<br><br>There the story ended, for seven years. Then, on December 27, 1993, there appeared in US News and World Report a follow-up story. The story stated that no allegations of abuse were ever proved against the Finders, the charges against the two men were dropped, and the six children were eventually returned to their mothers.<br><br>The reason that US News had revisited the case was that, earlier in 1993, the Justice Department had reopened the investigation into the Finders, saying that there were “unresolved matters” relating to the group.<br><br>Representative Tom Lewis of Florida elaborated. “Could our own government have something to do with this Finders organization and turned their backs on these children? That’s what all the evidence points to.” He went on. “And there is a lot of evidence. I can tell you this: we’ve got a lot of people scrambling, and that wouldn’t be happening if there was nothing here.”<br><br>Marion David Pettie, the founder of the Finders, maintained that there was no connection between the group and the government, and that the group had never been involved in child abuse.<br><br>US News’s sources, however, said that some of the Finders were listed in the FBI’s classified counterintelligence files. Later, all investigations into the Finders were ordered stopped by the Justice Department, as the case was determined to be a national security matter. It was referred back to the CIA.<br><br>Since then, silence.<br><br>Let's look a little deeper. US News and World Report reported, "Custom Service documents reveal that in 1987, when Customs agents sought to examine the evidence gathered by Washington,D.C. police, they were told that the Finders investigation "had become an internal matter." The police report on the case had been classified secret. Even now, Tallahassee police complain about the handling of the Finders investigation by D.C. police. 'They dropped this case,' one Tallahassee investigator says, 'like a hot rock.'"<br><br>However, those "Customs Service documents" read by US News are a matter of public record, and it might be noted that they do not state that the affair had become simply "an internal matter." They state that it had become a "CIA internal matter."<br><br>The report of US Customs Agent Ramon J. Martinez reveals that a truly spectacular horror was uncovered, exactly as Tom Lewis suggested.<br><br>It seems that the Central Intelligence Agency had intervened in the case, declared it a national security matter, and forbidden the law enforcement officials involved even to discuss it with the FBI.<br><br>The "skeptic community" lumped the case into the "satanic ritual abuse" category, CIA officials claimed that any connection between the case and the CIA was "hogwash" and the press forgot about it.<br><br>Now we discover that Congressman Foley's abusive habits had been reported to the proper authorities years ago and never investigated, either. Swept under the rug, perhaps, by a system that is used to concealing abuse of children.<br><br>It is time for the journalistic community to demand some answers about that old 1985 case. If they do so, I suspect that they are going to bring to light something that has needed to be faced for years: something is deeply, deeply awry in Washington, and it involves the abuse of children, and it goes far beyond the present scandal.<br><br>It's time to demand that the CIA explain why it suppressed the Finders case, and for the Washington Police, the Tallahassee Police and the US Customs Service to release the results of their investigations, and for the United States Congress to begin an extensive inquiry into the degree to which children have been and are being abused behind the closed doors of official secrecy and official power.<br><br>This is Ramon J. Martinez's report on the US Customs Service Finders investigation:<br><br>"On Thursday, February 5, 1987, this office was contacted via telephone by Sergeant JoAnn VanMeter of the Tallahassee Police Department, Juvenile Division. Sgt. VanMeter requested assistance in identifying two adult males and six minor children ages 7 years to 2 years.<br><br>"The adult males were tentatively identified by TPD as Michael HOULIHAN and Douglas AMMERMAN, both of Washington, D.C. who were arrested the previous day on charges of child abuse. The police had received an anonymous telephone call relative two well-dressed white men wearing suits and ties in Myers Park, (Tallahassee), apparently watching six dirty and unkempt children in the playground area. HOULIHAN and AMMERMAN were near a 1980 Blue Dodge van bearing Virginia license number XHW- 557, the inside of which was later described as foul-smelling filled with maps, books, letters, with a mattress situated to the rear of the van which appeared as if it were used as a bed, and the overall appearance of the van gave the impression that all eight persons were living in it.<br><br>"The children were covered with insect bites, were very dirty, most of the children were not wearing underwear and all of the children had not been bathed in many days. The men were arrested and charged with multiple counts of child abuse and lodged in the Leon County Jail. Once in custody the men were somewhat evasive in their answers to the police regarding the children and stated only that they both were the children's teachers and that all were enroute to Mexico to establish a school for brilliant children...<br><br>"U.S. Customs was contacted because the police officers involved suspected the adults of being involved in child pornography and knew the Customs Service to have a network of child pornography investigators, and of the existence of the Child Pornography and Protection Unit. SS/A Krietlow stated the two adults were well dressed white males. They had custody of six white children (boys and girls), ages three to six years. The children were observed to be poorly dressed, bruised, dirty, and behaving like wild animals in a public park in Tallahassee...<br><br>"SS/A Kreitlow was further advised the children were unaware of the function and purpose of telephones, televisions and toilets, and that the children had stated they were not allowed to live indoors and were only given food as a reward...<br><br>"Upon contacting Detective Bradley, I learned that he had initiated an investigation on the two addresses provided by the Tallahassee Police Dept. during December of 1986. An informant had given him information regarding a cult, known as the "Finders" operating various businesses out of a warehouse located at 1307 4th St., N.E., and were supposed to be housing children at 3918/3920 W St., N.W. The information was specific in describing 'blood rituals' and sexual orgies involving children, and an as yet unsolved murder in which the Finders may be involved. With the information provided by the informant, Detective Bradley was able to match some of the children in Tallahassee with names of children known alleged to be in the custody of the Finders.<br><br>"Furthermore, Bradley was able to match the tentative ID of the adults with known members of the Finders. I stood by while Bradley consulted with AUSA Harry Benner and obtained search warrants for the two premises. I advised acting RAC SS/A Tim Halloran of my intention to accompany MPD on the execution of the warrants, received his permission, and was joined by SS/A Harrold. SS/A Harrold accompanied the team which went to 1307 4th St., and I went to 3918/20 W St.<br><br>"During the execution of the warrant at 3918/20 W St., I was able to observe and access the entire building...There were several subjects on the premises. Only one was deemed to be connected with the Finders. [He] was located in a room equipped with several computers, printers, and numerous documents. Cursory examination of the documents revealed detailed instructions for obtaining children for unspecified purposes. The instructions included the impregnation of female members of the community known as the Finders, purchasing children, trading, and kidnapping. There were telex messages using MCI account numbers between a computer terminal believed to be located in the same room, and others located across the country and in foreign locations. One such telex specifically ordered the purchase of two children in Hong Kong to be arranged through a contact in the Chinese Embassy there. Another telex expressed interest in 'bank secrecy' situations. Other documents identified interests in high-tech transfers to the United Kingdom, numerous properties under the control of the Finders, a keen interest in terrorism, explosives, and the evasion of law enforcement. Also found in the 'computer room' was a detailed summary of the events surrounding the arrest and taking into custody of the two adults and six children in Tallahassee the previous night. There were also a set of instructions which appeared to be broadcast via a computer network which advised the participants to move 'the children' and keep them moving through different jurisdictions, and instructions on how to avoid police attention...<br><br>"On Friday, 2/6/87, I met Detective Bradley at the warehouse on 4th Street, N.E. I duly advised my acting group supervisor, SS/A Don Bludworth. I was again granted unlimited access to the premises. I was able to observe numerous documents which described explicit sexual conduct between the members of the community known as Finders. I also saw a large collection of photographs of unidentified persons. Some of the photographs were nudes, believed to be of members of the Finders. There were numerous photos of children, some nude, at least one of which was a photo of a child 'on display' and appearing to accent the child's genitals.<br><br>"I was only able to examine a very small amount of the photos at this time. However, one of the officers presented me with a photo album for my review. The album contained a series of photos of adults and children dressed in white sheets participating in a 'blood ritual.' The ritual centered around the execution of at least two goats. The photos portrayed the execution, disembowelment, skinning and dismemberment of the goats at the hands of the children. This included the removal of the testes of a male goat, the discovery of a female goat's 'womb' and the 'baby goats' inside the womb, and the presentation of a goat's head to one of the children.<br><br>Further inspection of the premises disclosed numerous files relating to activities of the organization in different parts of the world. Locations I observed are as follows: London, Germany, the Bahamas, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Africa, Costa Rica, and 'Europe.' There was also a file identified as 'Palestinian.' Other files were identified by member name or 'project' name. The projects appearing to be operated for commercial purposes under front names for the Finders.<br><br>"There was one file entitled 'Pentagon Break-In,' and others referring to members operating in foreign countries. Not observed by me but related by an MPD officer were intelligence files on private families not related to the Finders. The process undertaken appears to be have been a systematic response to local newspaper advertisements for babysitters, tutors, etc. A member of the Finders would respond and gather as much information as possible about the habits, identity, occupation, etc., of the family. The use to which this information was to be put is still unknown. There was also a large amount of data collected on various child care organizations.<br><br>"The warehouse contained a large library, two kitchens, a sauna, hot-tub, and a 'video room.' The video room seemed to be set up as an indoctrination center. It also appeared that that the organization had the capability to produce its own videos. There were what appeared to be training areas for children and what appeared to be an altar set up in a residential area of the warehouse. Many jars of urine and feces were located in this area.<br><br>"On Thursday, February 5, 1987, Senior Special Agent Harrold and I assisted the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) with two search warrants involving the possible sexual exploitation of children. During the course of the search warrants, numerous documents were discovered which appeared to be concerned with international trafficking in children, high tech transfer to the United Kingdom, and international transfer of currency.<br><br>"On March 31, 1987, I contacted Detective Jim Bradley of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). I was to meet with Detective Bradley to review the documents seized pursuant to two search warrants executed in January, 1987. The meeting was to take place on April 2 or 3, 1987.<br><br>"On April 2, 1987, I arrived at MPD at approximately 9:00 a.m. Detective Bradley was not available. I spoke to a third party who was willing to discuss the case with me on a strictly 'off the record' basis. I was advised that all the passport data had been turned over to the State Department for their investigation. The State Department in turn, advised the MPD that all travel and use of the passports by the holders of the passports was within the law and no action would be taken. This included travel to Moscow, North Korea, and North Vietnam from the late 1950s to mid 1970s.<br><br>"The individual further advised me of circumstances which indicated that the investigation into the activity of the Finders had become a CIA internal matter. The MPD report has been classified SECRET and was not available for review. I was advised that the FBI had withdrawn from the investigation several weeks prior and that the FBI Foreign Counter Intelligence Division had directed MPD not to advise the FBI Washington Field Office of anything that had transpired. No further information will be available. No further action will be taken." <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Whitley Strieber on The Finders

Postby professorpan » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:15 pm

<!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Michael HOULIHAN and Douglas AMMERMAN<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br>Has anyone ever positively ID'd these guys? A web search brings up many possibilities, but without more information, it's all speculative. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Whitley Strieber on The Finders

Postby Rigorous Intuition » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:32 pm

<!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>"Has anyone ever positively ID'd these guys? A web search brings up many possibilities, but without more information, it's all speculative."</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><br><br>I've had the same problem. What a black hole that is.<br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Whitley Strieber on The Finders

Postby chiggerbit » Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:51 pm

<!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>The reason that US News had revisited the case was that, earlier in 1993, the Justice Department had reopened the investigation into the Finders...</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><br><br>So, what or who specificly initiated this reopening?<br><br><!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>Representative Tom Lewis of Florida elaborated. “Could our own government have something to do with this Finders organization and turned their backs on these children? That’s what all the evidence points to.” He went on. “And there is a lot of evidence. I can tell you this: we’ve got a lot of people scrambling, and that wouldn’t be happening if there was nothing here.”</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><br><br>Wonder what Lewis has to say today on the matter.<br><br><!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>US News’s sources, however, said that some of the Finders were listed in the FBI’s classified counterintelligence files. Later, all investigations into the Finders were ordered stopped by the Justice Department, as the case was determined to be a national security matter. It was referred back to the CIA.</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><br><br><br>The welfare of children should NEVER be " a national security matter". Not ever. And again, who ordered it stopped, and why? Let's see, the Finder's initial incident happened during the Reagan/Bush administration, right? And it was re-opened fairly early in Clinton's adminstration, then slammed shut. WTF?<br><br>It would be nice, since we can't find out any more about the Finders, to try to put some more names to the brass involved in the shutting/re-opening/shutting of the investigations. I wonder what Floridian Janet Reno has to say about this one. Also, is there any such school in Mexico?<br><br>Great article.<br> <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p216.ezboard.com/brigorousintuition.showUserPublicProfile?gid=chiggerbit@rigorousintuition>chiggerbit</A> at: 10/6/06 10:54 am<br></i>
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Re: Whitley Strieber on The Finders

Postby chiggerbit » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:09 pm

Wow, Lewis' career in the House didn't last long. From 93 to 94?<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.vis.org/crc/MemberTermInfo.aspx?p=663">www.vis.org/crc/MemberTer...aspx?p=663</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Whitley Strieber on The Finders

Postby chiggerbit » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:20 pm

Huh? Are these two the same guy?<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/l000295/">projects.washingtonpost.c...s/l000295/</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>"....elected as a Republican to the Ninety-eighth and to the five succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1983-January 3, 1995); not a candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Fourth Congress; died on August 1, 2003, in Palm Beach, Fla......"<br> <p></p><i></i>
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More

Postby professorpan » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:29 pm

This tape is availabe:<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/1987-2/1987-02-07-ABC-10.html">openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt...BC-10.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>ABC Evening News for Saturday, Feb 07, 1987<br><br>Headline: Satanic Cult / Washington, DC, Florida<br><br>Abstract:        (Studio: Kathleen Sullivan) Report introduced.<br>(DC: Lark McCarthy) Relocation of children taken from accused child abusers Doug. Ammerman and Michael Houlihan and believed linked to possible satanic cult operating in Washington, DC and Florida said due to threats against them; details given, scenes shown. [Police spokesperson Scott HUNT - describes threats against children; notes Washington, DC officials believe cult is satanic.] Results of DC police raids on The Finders organization facilities described. [Neighbor Scott DIGNAN - recalls child's description of their life.] <p></p><i></i>
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Washington Times article

Postby professorpan » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:40 pm

Copyright 1993 News World Communications, Inc. <br>The Washington Times<br>December 17, 1993, Friday, Final Edition<br><br>SECTION: Part A; Pg. A1<br><br>LENGTH: 954 words<br><br>HEADLINE: CIA tied to cult accused of abuse ;<br>Justice probes links to Finders<br><br>BYLINE: Paul M. Rodriguez; THE WASHINGTON TIMES<br><br>BODY:<br><br><br>A Justice Department special task force is investigating whether the CIA used a cult called the Finders as a front organization to provide computer training to intelligence agents in the 1980s.<br><br>The task force is also trying to determine whether the CIA - in an effort to hide any links with the Finders - impeded local law enforcement probes of the Washington-area communal group for child abuse in 1987.<br><br>"The central question being asked is: Did the CIA have an association with this group and did it try to shut down their [state and local officials'] investigations of child abuse for purposes of protecting one or more of its operations?" said a senior federal law enforcement official familiar with the probe.<br><br>A senior CIA official yesterday denied that the agency was involved with the Finders or tried to impede police probes of the cult. <br><br>"Most days we expect our share of unusual questions, but this one is clear off the wall," a CIA spokesman told The Washington Times.<br><br>"Any claim that we obstructed justice in this case is nuts," the spokesman said.<br><br>"In fact," he said, reading from a prepared statement, "we cooperated with law enforcement authorities when questions arose in 1987."<br><br>A Washington computer-training company that employed Finders members said it trained CIA personnel, but the firm's president denied it was owned by the Finders. He said he was unaware of any use of the training for covert activities.<br><br>Justice Department officials have declined to discuss what, if anything, their probe has uncovered. "We are still in the review process," a senior official said.<br><br>The Finders, a group that has dwindled from about 40 members to fewer than a dozen, made front-page news in February 1987 when two of its members were arrested in Tallahassee, Fla., on charges of child abuse.<br><br>The case received close media scrutiny partly because of accusations that the group was involved in satanic rituals, but the charges were dismissed by a Florida judge.<br><br>The Justice Department formed the task force in mid-November after several members of Congress received copies of previously confidential U.S. Customs Service records suggesting a cover-up in the Finders case to protect the CIA.<br><br>The Times has obtained these customs records and documents from both federal and local law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community that chronicle the investigation of the Finders.<br><br>One of the key documents that have prompted the Justice Department and members of Congress to question what happened six years ago is a report dated April 13, 1987, that was written by a junior Customs Service agent who was on the original team that raided Finders property in Washington and Virginia.<br><br>"The investigation into the activity of the Finders had become a CIA internal matter. . . . [The Metropolitan Police Department] report has been classified Secret and not available for review," the agent wrote in his memo to superiors.<br><br>"I was advised that the FBI had withdrawn from the investigation several weeks prior and that the FBI Foreign Counter Intelligence Division had directed MPD not to advise the FBI Washington Field Office of anything that had transpired," the memo says.<br><br>"No further information will be available. No further action will be taken."<br><br>Other Customs Service documents and records from the FBI and Metropolitan Police provide indications that the CIA had links to the Finders or at least to some of the group's members.<br><br>A Metropolitan Police document dated Feb. 19, 1987, quotes a CIA agent as confirming that his agency was sending its personnel to "a Finders Corp., Future Enterprises, for training in computer operations."<br><br>And a later Customs Service report says that the CIA "admitted to owning the Finders organization as a front for a domestic computer training operation but that it had 'gone bad.' "<br><br>A senior Customs Service official confirmed the content of the memos and said the agency "only had a small role in the case."<br><br>A CIA official who asked not to be named confirmed that the agency had sent personnel for computer training to a company called Future Enterprises Inc.<br><br>But he cautioned, "I'm not sure if that was a Finders organization" as suggested by the Metropolitan Police and Customs Service reports.<br><br>Joseph Marinich, the president of Future Enterprises Inc., said he once had a contract to train CIA employees in computers.<br><br>But he denied that he or his firm had any involvement with the Finders or acted as a front company for the cult on behalf of the CIA. "I'm shocked and appalled that our company's name exists in any" law enforcement files.<br><br>Mr. Marinich said that when the news reoprts on the Finders broke in February 1987, he discovered that his tax accountant, R. Gardner Terrell, was a member of the group.<br><br>"It was a total surprise to us," and Mr. Terrell's employment was ended, Mr. Marinich said.<br><br>Mr. Terrell, who left the Finders a few years ago and no longer lives in the Washington area, could not be reached. But a friend confirmed that he worked for Future Enterprises while a member of the Finders.<br><br>Current and former members of the group said Mr. Terrell's work for Future Enterprises was separate from the group's other activities.<br><br>Current members of the Finders said they did not have any interest in Future Enterprises and denied working for the CIA or any other intelligence organization.<br><br>"I guess you could say we're odd," said Steve Usdin, a free-lance writer associated with the Finders. "But we're not criminal." <p></p><i></i>
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Namebase

Postby professorpan » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:48 pm

<!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.namebase.org/cgi-bin/nb06?_FUTURE_ENTERPRISES_INC">www.namebase.org/cgi-bin/...PRISES_INC</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Washington Times article

Postby chiggerbit » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:49 pm

Arrrgh, you have to be a member of an organization, such as a library, to register at that site, professor. Hey, maybe I can get my local library to order it. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p216.ezboard.com/brigorousintuition.showUserPublicProfile?gid=chiggerbit@rigorousintuition>chiggerbit</A> at: 10/6/06 12:55 pm<br></i>
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Re: Washington Times article

Postby chiggerbit » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:50 pm

Interesting to see Paul Rodriguez on another hot topic at the Times. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Washington Times article

Postby chiggerbit » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:53 pm

<!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>""I was advised that the FBI had withdrawn from the investigation several weeks prior and that <!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>the FBI Foreign Counter Intelligence Division had directed MPD not to advise the FBI Washington Field Office of anything that had transpired," the memo says.</strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END-->"</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><br><br>Very weird.<br><br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Washington Times article

Postby professorpan » Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:04 pm

Copyright 1987 The Washington Post <br>The Washington Post<br><br>June 1, 1987, Monday, Final Edition<br><br>SECTION: METRO; PAGE D4; UPDATE ON THE NEWS<br><br>LENGTH: 541 words<br><br>HEADLINE: Fla. Judge Sends 2 Finders Children To Foster Homes<br><br>BYLINE: Marc Fisher<br><br>BODY:<br>A Florida judge has declared two children of members of the Finders commune to be dependents of the state. Judge Victor Cawthon last week ordered two children who grew up in the Washington-based Finders group placed in foster homes.<br><br>The judge's ruling was the final act in the state's attempt to sort through the affairs of the secretive group that found itself the subject of intense public scrutiny in February, when police in Tallahassee received an anonymous phone call about two well-dressed men and six disheveled children in a local park. <br><br>Within hours, police in Florida, Virginia and the District, joined by the FBI and even Interpol, were on the case. Authorities raided the Finders' homes, confiscated records and photographs, and publicly speculated whether the group was involved in satanism, child abuse or pornography. While none of the more lurid possibilities was confirmed, the Finders proved to be an avowedly private and elusive group of about 20 people, many of whom had lived together since the late 1960s.<br><br>Public interest in the Finders quickly centered on their unusual child-rearing philosophy, in which youngsters were raised communally and were left largely to their own devices.<br><br>The two Finders in Florida with children of other group members were held in jail for six weeks, then released when a judge dismissed child abuse charges. In March, another judge returned four of the children to their mothers, who had retained a Florida lawyer.<br><br>But at the direction of Marion Pettie, the group's founder and intellectual leader, two mothers, Kristin Knauth and Pat Livingston, refused to hire a lawyer, argue for the return of their children or even remain in Florida. They said Pettie told them that since the court had the best interests of the children in mind, they should not participate in the judicial process, according to Paula Walborsky, a Tallahassee lawyer who represented the other Finders mothers.<br><br>"Those children should have been returned to their mothers, but they didn't go through the system," Walborsky said. "The state felt these mothers had abandoned their children when they returned to Washington. I saw them with their children, and I know all these women love their children."<br><br>Connie Ruggles, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, confirmed that the two children, Ben Knauth, 4, and Max Livingston, 6, are in foster homes. She said their cases will be reviewed every six months. "The judge felt circumstances were not right to reunite them with their family," Ruggles said.<br><br>Cawthon had closed the hearing to the public, as is his option in Leon County.<br><br>Walborsky said the state presented no evidence that the children were abused or neglected, and the judge declared the children wards of the state for "educational reasons." Ruggles declined to comment on the hearing.<br><br>George Wisnovsky of the Jacksonville FBI office said the agency "is no longer investigating the Finders."<br><br>The Finders, who announced the dissolution of their group in March, are still together and living in California, according to several people who were in contact with them in Florida. Neither Walborsky nor Ruggles has spoken to group members in recent weeks. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Washington Times article

Postby professorpan » Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:06 pm

Copyright 1987 The Washington Post <br>The Washington Post<br>February 12, 1987, Thursday, Final Edition<br>SECTION: METRO; PAGE B1<br><br>LENGTH: 1112 words<br><br>HEADLINE: Officials Weigh Future of Finders' Children;<br>Two Members Plead Not Guilty to Misdemeanor Neglect Charges in Florida<br><br>BYLINE: Marc Fisher, Victoria Churchville, Washington Post Staff Writers<br><br>BODY:<br>As police wind down their investigations of the Washington-based Finders commune, the process begins to determine the future of the six children found unkempt and hungry in a van with two Finders members in Florida last week -- a process that experts said yesterday is likely to be long and complex.<br><br>The children, who range in age from 2 to 7, will remain in emergency shelters until a March 9 hearing at which child advocates will argue that the youngsters should be declared dependents of the state, said Connie Ruggles, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services in Tallahassee.<br><br>While Florida law requires that the state try to reunite families, the state's neglect law may prevent that. And cases in other states provide precedent for dramatic state intervention in child-rearing by religious or communal groups.<br><br>The two Finders members found with the children, Douglas Ammerman, 27, and Michael Holwell, 23, pleaded not guilty yesterday to a misdemeanor charge of child neglect in Tallahassee.<br><br>Prosecutor C.L. Fordham told Leon County Judge George Reynolds III that the $ 100,000 bond set for each of the two Finders members is justified by the mystery surrounding the case. Reynolds appointed a public defender to represent the men, who previously said they had a private attorney. Ammerman and Holwell have refused to answer questions.<br><br>The Finders, a secretive group of about 20 people who lived communally, generally refuse to talk about the group to outsiders. Their leader, Marion Pettie, advocates a philosophy of "falling limp," both physically and mentally, in the face of opposition. During his arrest last week, Holwell pretended to faint and had to be carried to a police car, police said.<br><br>The Finders' failure to seek custody of the children has puzzled Florida authorities. While spokesmen for the group in Washington say the mothers want their children back, no one from the Finders has contacted state officials, Ruggles said.<br><br><br><br>"We don't even know who the parents are," she said.<br><br>But a spokeswoman for the group said last night that the five mothers were already on their way to Tallahassee to reclaim their children.<br><br>"They waited to finish the FBI interviews first before they went to Tallahassee," said Diane Sherwood, who said the women were in San Francisco Feb. 4 when the men were arrested.<br><br>"The mothers wanted to go right to Tallahassee, their first instinct was to go right for the children . . . [but] the FBI was asking them to come to Washington, so it seemed like the thing to do. We thought there'd be papers here, a subpoena or something. We didn't really know where to go first."<br><br>Sherwood said the mothers were not aware of the arrests until two days later. A Finders spokesman said previously that communication among group members had been fragmented by police seizures here of sophisticated computer hookups and long-distance telephone numbers.<br><br>A Finders member reached at the group's warehouse yesterday said the "father of record" of each child is not necessarily that child's biological father.<br><br>"We don't consider fatherhood to be a healthy concept," said the man, who spoke on condition that he not be named. "We're all fathers of all the kids and any man who has a good relationship with the child is the father."<br><br>Sherwood ridiculed the accusations of abuse. "A hundred thousand dollars bond for a misdemeanor? What were the charges -- dirty faces and mismatched clothes? . . . If there was a mistake in judgment, it was a mistake in judgment; it's not child abuse."<br><br>Nevertheless, Sherwood said, the mothers felt that if they had been left in charge of the children, there would have been no allegations of abuse.<br><br><br><br>Despite the Finders' unorthodox child-rearing philosophy, Ruggles said "an alternative life style is not automatically neglect. But if the parents come forward and object to state custody, we would investigate the home situation."<br><br>Under Florida's neglect law, children can be taken by the state if the parents deprive children -- or "allow children to be deprived" -- of food, clothing, shelter or medical treatment. The Finders say children should be weaned from their mothers and reared by the group with little adult supervision.<br><br>Similar cases have pitted governments against groups with unusual beliefs. In 1984, police and welfare authorities in Vermont raided the Kingdom Community Church and rounded up 112 children after an investigation found that children were sometimes whipped with branches or rods for crying, daydreaming or fibbing. Criminal abuse charges were eventually dropped and prosecutors are now seeking a ruling on whether church members must send their children to school, said Vermont Attorney General Jeff Amestoy.<br><br>In another case, involving a radical New York commune called the Fourth Wall Repertory Company, member Marice Pappo said commune leaders took her infant from her because she and the child had grown too attached. Harold Mayerson, Pappo's lawyer in a custody suit, said the group denied children their right to bond with parents. But Martin Stolar, attorney for Pappo's husband, said the state "has to be very careful about what it determines is a fit environment."<br><br>Some psychiatrists argue for state protection of children living in cults and cult-like settings. David Halperin, a psychiatry professor at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City, said members of some such groups often profess to take care of their children, but in fact ignore them.<br><br>"Within these groups, the parents tend to focus on their own state of being and children tend to be seen as an impediment," he said. "A group cannot relate to a child the same way a parent can relate to a child."<br><br>This is not the first time the Finders' child rearing has attracted government attention. A grandmother of one of the children now in Florida said her grandson and other Finders' children have been sheltered by the District twice in recent years. In October 1985, D.C. police picked up two children they found wandering "cold and hungry" near the group's warehouse, the grandmother said. A D.C. government source confirmed that the children were held "for several days" before being released.<br><br>One year earlier, District police detained a Finders member who refused to leave the house where she lived with her mother, the grandmother said. That woman's child also was placed in a city shelter temporarily.<br><br>Finders spokesman Robert Gardner Terrell confirmed both incidents, explaining that Finders children are allowed to roam freely in the country but are supervised in the city.<br><br>Staff writer Ed Bruske contributed to this report.<br><br>GRAPHIC: PHOTO, DOUGLAS AMMEREMAN, AND MICHAEL HOLWELL DURING APPEARANCE IN FLORIDA COURTROOM YESTERDAY. EACH IS BEING HELD IN LIEU OF 100,000 BOND. AP <p></p><i></i>
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Postby professorpan » Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:07 pm

Copyright 1987 The Washington Post <br>The Washington Post<br>February 11, 1987, Wednesday, Final Edition<br>SECTION: FIRST SECTION; PAGE A1<br><br>LENGTH: 1231 words<br><br>HEADLINE: Finding Truth About Finders Proves to Be No Simple Matter<br><br>BYLINE: Marc Fisher, Washington Post Staff Writer<br><br>BODY:<br>In the past week, the Finders have been called both commune and cult. In police accounts, court documents and the news media, the secretive Washington-based group has been accused of child abuse and neglect, along with a sometimes nasty type of pranksterism. Simultaneously, the Finders are portrayed as accomplished academics immersed in a 20-year-old social experiment.<br><br>Police, cult-watch groups and reporters have scrambled for information -- with only mixed success -- about the Finders while two members of the group sit in a Tallahassee, Fla., jail cell, facing misdemeanor charges of neglecting six unkempt children found traveling with them in a van.<br><br>Yesterday's developments in the case of the unusual commune only exacerbated the confusion that official statements and news accounts have engendered:Virginia state police used a backhoe to dig up a 30-foot-by-12-foot plot of land at a Finders-owned farm in rural Madison County. The police, who were responding to tips that they would find bodies buried there, found nothing. "The investigation is becoming routine," said police spokesman Charles Vaughan. <br><br>A child abuse expert hired by Florida's social service agency examined the six Finders children and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to say whether they had been sexually abused. Nathan Greenberg, an Illinois psychologist, said he found no evidence of recent physical harm. Tallahassee police dropped their description of the Finders as a satanic cult, but stood by their statement that two of the children appear to have been sexually abused.<br><br>Tallahassee police continued to hold Finders members Michael Holwell, 23, and Douglas Ammerman, 27, on misdemeanor charges of child neglect and resisting arrest without violence. And police in Florida filed an affidavit in which one of the children is quoted as saying that Finders leader Marion Pettie "tells everyone what to do. He is in charge. We kids slept outside and the mommies slept inside . . . . Mr. Pettie weans the kids from moms."<br><br>The whereabouts of the 66-year-old Pettie, the central figure in the group, remained a secret yesterday. Former Finders who have been in touch with the group said he is in daily telephone contact with the group.<br><br>The Finders' unorthodox approach to child raising, a communal upbringing virtually free of supervision, is the focus of the public debate over a group that has been aggressively private.<br><br>Within hours after police in Florida were tipped to the Finders van Feb. 4, and immediately after Washington police raided two Finders properties here, news accounts and official statements percolated with talk of abuse, neglect and satanic rituals. The latter accusations were bolstered by the discoveries of a circle of stones in the backyard of the Finders' W Street house and of photographs showing members and their children wearing white robes while slaughtering goats at the group's Virginia farm.<br><br>But as with all matters involving the group Pettie founded in the late 1960s as an experiment in communal life, things may not be as they seem. Supporters and critics of the group now agree that the strange rites are an example of Pettie's love for playing games, rather than an expression of pagan beliefs.<br><br>"Those goats were vicious," said a former Finders member who asked not to be identified. "The group decided to eat them rather than keep them as pets. To then create a dramatic scene with robes and so on was to impress the kids of the seriousness of killing an animal."<br><br>District and Florida police, after initially using words such as "cult" and "rituals" to describe the Finders, have softened their rhetoric. The Tallahassee police said they based their early language on District police accounts. But District police announced Monday that they had no evidence indicating that the Finders had satanic beliefs.<br><br>As investigations into the Finders continue, the evidence does not fit neatly into categories of black or white.<br><br>Some examples of the gray areas:<br><br>" Members have argued that the group is being unfairly maligned. At the same time, the group has failed to cooperate with police in Florida. Tallahassee police yesterday issued a public appeal to Robert Gardner Terrell, a Finders member who has given numerous media interviews in recent days, to contact Florida authorities. Terrell said the mothers of the six children have returned to Washington, but aren't heading to Florida any time soon.<br><br>"We don't think we've done anything wrong and as of right now, we're not planning to defend ourselves," Terrell said yesterday. In a separate interview, he commented that "when you have a storm raging and your children are stuck on an island, sometimes the best thing is not to cross the raging waters but to wait until the storm dies down."<br><br>Tallahassee police spokesman Scott Hunt said: "This has probably gone far enough. We need to have face-to-face contact with these people."<br><br>" Finders members and former members concede that they have peppered people they consider to be opponents with nasty, even abusive letters and telephone calls. That kind of behavior has gotten group members in trouble with the law, but their defenders say it is simply another case of the public's misunderstanding a group that relishes its position on the fringe of society.<br><br>A former Finders member said that members of the group used calls and letters in a "campaign that you could call harassment" against Arlington County juvenile court Judge Andrew Ferrari in 1983 when Ferrari ruled that a child of the former member should be separated from the family and placed in a group home.<br><br>Ferrari said he received calls at his office and home from several members of the group who argued that the child was being deprived of his freedom.<br><br>"They didn't threaten me," the judge said. "The attitude was, 'How could you be so unconstitutional?' "<br><br>In another case, a lawyer in Culpeper, Va., obtained a court order preventing the Finders from harassing him about a divorce case in which he represented a former member. The lawyer, John Davies, said Finders had used letters and phone calls to disconcert him.<br><br>In a third case, a former member of the group said the Finders slashed his tires after he rejected their teachings.<br><br>A former member offered by Terrell as an expert on the Finders confirmed that the group does "act as a mirror on behavior against us. We fight fire with humor. Members would call the judge and say, 'You better take good care of that kid or he'll come back some day and go after you.' Now that might seem harassing to a negative person, but I find it really very funny."<br><br>Many of the group's ways can be explained in a series of aphorisms that Pettie and group members use to describe their philosophy. "Don't explain, don't complain," they say about their secrecy. "Jokes and pokes" and "brevity and levity" are the slogans they use to explain their passion for humor.<br><br>Meanwhile the Finders have decided to talk to the press -- a move one former member called "tantamount to throwing your religion out the window" -- but have resisted dealing with the government authorities they have long considered anathema.<br><br>"It's not safe to be a communal group in this society," said a former Finder who lived with the group for four years and remains close to Pettie.<br><br>Staff writer Victoria Churchville contributed to this report.<br><br>GRAPHIC: PHOTO, MARION PETTIE.<br> <p></p><i></i>
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