July 22, 1995
Arroyo Grande, California
15-year-old Elyse Pahler is killed and raped by three teenaged boys who claimed she was sacrificed to help their band go “professional”
The boys, Jacob Delashmutt, Joseph Fiorella, and Royce Casey, were between 14 and 16 years old and were acquainted with Pahler. At trial, Casey testified for the prosecution that Pahler was targeted because she had blonde hair, blue eyes, and was a virgin so “she would be a perfect sacrifice for the devil.”
The three boys led Pahler to a ravine and, after one of the boys pretended to slip down, coaxed Pahler down the steep sides. They they strangled and stabbed her. The forensic pathologist overseeing her case determined she was stabbed at least 12 times, with none of the wounds being fatal, leading to the conclusion Pahler had bled to death slowly. After she died, the boys took turns raping her body before abandoning it.
Pahler’s corpse was discovered 8 months later after one of her murderers, Royce Casey, led investigators to her decomposed remains. When one of the investigators asked Casey why she had been killed, Casey replied the boys believed that, by making a “perfect sacrifice” to the devil, the boys would “gain more craziness” to help them go “professional.” (The trio had been in a metal band called Hatred, not to be confused with several other bands with the same name.)
The boys pleaded no contest and were given terms of 25 years to life in prison.
Pahler’s parents attempted to sue the metal band Slayer, claiming the boys were influenced by their songs, specifically “Postmortem” and “Dead Skin Mask.” The suit was dismissed with the presiding judge stating “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.” The Pahlers then attempted a second suit for “knowingly (distributing) harmful material to minors,” but this suit was dismissed as well.