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This case is different from others described at this WWW site. The alleged victim is a male adult, not a group of children. However, it is included here because it allegedly involved criminal Satanic cults and ritual abuse. It has left many in the community needlessly fearful of underground, evil Satanic groups, which do not exist in reality.

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The Satanic Stalking

Brent Garner, 32, was a police detective who lived in Ashhurst, a small community near Palmerston North, in New Zealand. He received a series of 3 hate letters at his office in the fraud section of the Palmerston North police station during late 1995-AUG. He forwarded one of them to John Harvey, the editor of the Manawatu "Evening Standard":
I am notorious. I am famous. I will be worshipped. They will hunt me' - They will lose. McKIBBONS Killer was executed. The tables have turned. I have been chosen as the executioner. My subject has been chosen. My campaign has begun. He has 10 weeks to stop me if he can - but he won't. I will win. He will know my presence. Feel my presence. FEAR my existance. I will hunt him he is my prey.
bullet Chapter 1: He will know the fear of the hunted.
bullet Chapter 2 He will feel the destruction of the great god of FIRE.
bullet Chapter 3 He will hate my very existance.
bullet Chapter 4 He will see my, face and accept his death sentence.
bullet His crime is his allegance to the crown and his fight against evil.
There is nothing more noble than the death of a police. Palmerston North Police WILL! bury a murdered colleague. I guarantee! His time has come. His blood will flow. He will die alone. No-one will be by his side. He will know the time. He has 10 weeks. He should cherish them. Mr Policeman I am coming.

The executioner."

[Some punctuation added to improve clarity; spelling and grammatical errors left intact.]

The police took these letters very seriously. Garner's wife and young children were moved out of town for their own protection.

After working the late shift on OCT-17, Garner drove home. On OCT-18 at 4.50 AM, the house exploded in flames and was destroyed. The police found Garner cowering in the back yard. He was tied and gagged. His clothes were saturated in gasoline; his back was a mass of cuts. He said that he was attacked in his home and tortured by a stranger who talked with a cultured voice. He had rolled out of a window just before the house erupted in flames.

Police psychologist, Dr. Ian Miller, constructed a personality profile of the attacker. He determined that Garner had been stalked by an unknown person who seemed to be acting out a Satanic fantasy and considered himself to be "an agent of the devil". Dr. Miller predicted that the stalker was interested in the occult and in Satanism, was educated, well traveled and might be from England.

Many reports appeared in the media about Satanic ritual abuse and secret, underground, evil cults. The hysteria in the area built up quickly. The Member of Parliament for Nelson, Nick Smith, called for the censoring of violent scenes from movies. He noted that the attack on Detective Garner closely resembled a scene from the movie Reservoir Dogs; the latter involved a knife attack, gasoline, torture and killing. He was convinced that there was a link between this movie and the New Zealand attack.

A massive investigation, code named Operation Venus, was organized. ("Venus" is Garner's nickname.) It was led by Inspector Doug Brew. 2000 people were interviewed; 1000 photos were taken. For the first time in New Zealand, the police inquiry used the Internet. A home page was created which gave details of the crime, a description and identikit picture of the attacker, and press releases. One focus of the inquiry was whether the offender belonged to an organized cult. The public was supportive; they sent the family $11,000 NZ in cash and large quantities of gifts and toys.

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The Hoax Unravels:

Detective Senior Sergeant, Grant Nicholls, second-in-command of Operation Venus, had some doubts about the accuracy of Garner's statements. Three weeks after the arson, Nicholls secretly launched Operation Mars to determine whether Garner had organized a hoax. They found that he had purchased duct tape, plastic ties, gasoline, gas containers, and a timer. Garner had tied a surgeon's scalpel to a piece of wood to cut long criss-cross patterns on his body. He spread gasoline throughout his house, applied a gag, tied himself up, doused himself with gas and left the house. On NOV-23, he confessed to the hoax.

He had fallen in love with another woman and planned to leave his wife. By collecting on the house insurance, and giving all of the money to his wife, he would leave her in a good financial position.

Police Commissioner Peter Doone described the hoax as an "aberration; a one-in-a-century crime." Assistant Commissioner Colin Wilson said that the case was "bizarre, unprecedented and truly extraordinary....He set up this situation and he totally underestimated the commitment, the rigor, and the focus of his profession to uncover what was a false complaint, a contrivance, and a fabrication. On NOV-27, Garner pleaded guilty in the Palmerston North District Court to eight charges relating to the October 18 incident. The insurance company is demanding repayment of $41,400 which it had paid for the loss of the house contents. The police are asking for reparations for the cost of the investigation, some $350,000. He was fired from his job.

After the trial, his wife, Sandra Garner, was "Embarrassed that they [the donors] could be duped, but they're not the only ones. All his close friends and family - people who loved and thought we knew him so well, were taken in by this complete stranger - this evil man. He's just an evil, devious man...He's not worth people's sympathy. He's not worth people's anything, anger or anything." Police have determined that Garner's girlfriend had no knowledge of the hoax.

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The outcome:

He was sentenced with a total of 5 years in prison for arson, making a false claim, sending threatening letters, wasting police time. He is penniless, having signed his assets over to his wife.

In addition to the harm that he inflicted on his family, he has done great damage to New Zealand society. The public was inundated with speculation of evil, Satanic cults in their midst; many concluded that they were living in a country filled with horrible violence. Some will continue to believe that, even after the hoax is publicized.

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bullet The Press, Christchurch, NZ, 1996-NOV-28, Front page
bullet Op cit, 1996-NOV-28, P. 3

Copyright 1996, 1997, & 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-MAR-
Latest update: 2001-MAR-
Author: B.A. Robinson

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