Emerging in 1966 from the London counterculture, The Process Church of the Final Judgment preached a unique and fascinating creed that proposed a Holy Trinity, of sorts, consisting of Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan, with Jesus Christ acting as emissary between the three — and humanity.
Founded by couple Robert Moor (also known as Robert de Grimston, Robert de Grimston Moore, and Robert De Grimstone) and Mary Ann MacLean, Process members walked around in colorful robes, raised and kept German Shepherds as companions, and hobnobbed with adventurous celebrities such as Mick Jagger.
The Church also published The Process, a mind-blowing magazine of art, culture, and philosophy that proved powerfully influential on other outlier thinkers and provocateurs — including homicidal hippie cult leader Charles Manson.
In fact, one popular conspiracy theory proposes that the Process Church directly connects Manson to David Berkowitz, bound by a splinter group called The Children, animal sacrifice (particularly of German Shepherds), and the “ritual murders” for which both of notorious figures are best known.
The Manson-Process association dates all the way back to the Manson Family’s late-1960s heyday. Definitive answers remain elusive, but many strands of evidence have continually intrigued investigators.
It’s been reported that when the Church caught wind of Manson incorporating their theology into his own crackpot take on existence, they sent an emissary to visit the Family. Later, Manson himself contributed an article to the “Death” issue of The Process magazine.Related: Charles Manson On Ted Bundy — “He’s A Poop Butt!”
After the Manson Family’s 1969 Tate–LaBianca massacres, police asked Charlie if he knew Process chief Robert Moor. Manson, in typical flabbergasting fashion, allegedly replied:“You’re looking at him. Moor and I are one and the same!”
In his definitive 1972 Manson chronicle, The Family, author Ed Sanders initially stated outright that Charlie had been a member of the Process. The church, anxious to distance itself from mass slaughter, sued Sanders, and later editions of the book retracted the claim.
Many accounts surmise that the taint of Manson prompted the effective collapse of the Process Church during the 1970s. Bizarrely, after several subsequent iterations, the Process officially evolved into the Utah-based no-kill shelter charity, Best Friends Animal Society.
Other devotees of esoterica, though, believe the Process Church never died, but, in fact, morphed into an international cult network of violent Satan worshippers. Among those espousing that argument, at least for a while, was David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam” killer himself.
In the days following Berkowitz’s August 1977 arrest for terrorizing New York City with a series of fatal shootings, he penned a letter to New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy in which he stated:
“When I kill, I really saved many lives. You will understand later. People want my blood but they don’t want to listen to what I have to say … there are other Sons out there — God help the world.”
Numerous analysts compared the handwriting and use of language in this letter, which clearly came from Berkowitz’s jail cell, with previous missives the “Son of Sam” had dispatched to Daily News reporter Jimmy Breslin. According to some of those experts, the communications simply did not match up as being created by the same individual.
The Ultimate Evil, a 1987 best-seller by investigative journalist Maury Terry, plainly lays out the book’s premise in its original subtitle: An Investigation Into America’s Most Dangerous Satanic Cult, With New Evidence Linking Charlie Manson and the Son of Sam.According to Terry, David Berkowitz started out as a sad-sack postal worker looking for a larger purpose in life. He found it one evening in 1976, when he happened upon Michael Carr, the eldest child of his landlord, Sam Carr. Yes, indeed, that makes Michael a “son of Sam.”
Terry claims that Michael Carr took his father’s tenant to a Process Church meeting in the woods of a nearby park and, in short order, Berkowitz was “cutting prints in his finger and pledging his soul to Lucifer.”
The Ultimate Evil states that this Westchester chapter of The Children, a subgroup of the Process Church, acted out with arson and a multitude of animal sacrifices, focusing on the Church’s signature German Shepherds.
Just before Christmas 1976, authorities discovered three dead Shepherds in Yonkers, the town where Berkowitz lived. By the following October, 85 slaughtered Shepherds turned up in Walden, about an hour’s drive upstate.
“We made a pact, maybe with the devil, but also with each other … We were going to go all the way with this thing. We’re soldiers of Satan now. I was just too far in, too loyal, too much playing the role of the soldier and trying to please people [in the cult].”
During Son of Sam’s petrifying grip on the city, many police investigators and even the Queens District Attorney suspected multiple participants in the crimes. Some continue to speak about it, including bullet-in-the-head Sam survivor Carl Denaro. Denaro says, “In all, there are probably between 150 and 250 pieces of circumstantial evidence that point toward there being more than one shooter.”
Decorated former NYPD Detectives Jim Rothstein and Michael Cordella espouse not just the multiple-shooter notion, but that the Process Church enacted the entire campaign. Both ex-cops state that they came to this conclusion after being involved when the city reopened the Son of Sam case in the early 1990s, looking to tie up loose ends.
Codella says that, in America, the Process Church established ties with outlaw biker gangs, primarily to make money by running drugs, but also for human trafficking and other unsavory criminal activities. Cordella further alleges that one of his biker informants personally witnessed the Process sacrifice a human being.
More crucially, both Cordella and Rothstein maintain that a number of their trusted underworld contacts repeatedly placed David Berkowitz at Process Church gatherings.
None of these propositions, it must be noted, has ever been officially established as fact or made it to a courtroom. The talk has never abated, though, and more supposed Son of Sam connections to the Process Church continue to arise.
One particularly outrageous but intriguingly detailed theory posits that the classic Blue Oyster Cult albums Secret Treaties (1974) and Agents of Fortune (1976) — and, in particular, the band’s heavy metal anthem “Don’t Fear the Reaper” — are Process Church cryptographies that foretold and perhaps even instructed the Son of Sam murders. Put that one in your head and bang it.
Watch Investigation Discovery’s Manson: The Prison Tapes on ID GO now!
New York Magazine
Love, Sex, Fear, Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment by Timothy Willie and Adam Parfrey
The Last American Vagabond
The Dog Press
Cult Education Institute
Main photos: David Berkowitz [NYPD], Charles Manson [LAPD]