U.S. News

02.20.14

A Satanic Killer of 100 People? More Like One, Cops Think

Miranda Barbour says she murdered so many she lost count. Police doubt her wild story but have charged her in one homicide—and the penalty would be the same: death.

For somebody who says she got away with so many murders that she stopped counting after 22, Miranda Barbour is alleged to have been remarkably inept in the one murder that authorities believe she actually committed.

So we should not be much surprised that police in the area of Alaska where the 19-year-old says she did most of her supposed killing are increasingly dubious of her tale of murdering as many as 100 people while involved in a satanic cult.    

"At this time the Alaska State Troopers are not aware of any information—beyond Barbour’s comments quoted in the press—or evidence that would implicate Barbour with a homicide committed in Alaska,” an AST spokeswoman says.

Marina Barbour made her remarkable claims after being arrested along with her 22-year-old husband, Elytte Barbour, for the November 11 murder of a man who answered a Craigslist ad in which she offered “companionship.”

The couple was arrested after police determined that the victim’s last phone call was to her cell phone.  Investigators are said to have found blood in Miranda Barbour’s 2001 Honda CRV even though video surveillance confirms that they stopped to buy paper towels and carpet cleaner shortly after 42-year-old Troy Ferrara was stabbed 20 times, strangled and then dumped in a Sunbury, Pennsylvania alley.

“She related that there was a lot of blood and she wasn’t able to get it all,” police reported in court papers.

She might have been expected to anticipate such a hitch if she had in fact dispatched numerous people with a favorite knife, as she said in the tale to a newspaper reporter. The resulting story in the Daily Item of Sunbury transformed her from a suspect in a sordid and inept murder got into a possible serial killer who received international attention.

“Is Miranda Barbour the Most Dangerous Woman in U.S. History?” asked one British headline.

Any diligent police department had to take her seriously on even the small chance she was telling the truth. But the suspension of disbelief was mercifully short, as she chose to say she had committed the majority of her killings in Alaskan jurisdictions that have very few killings at all.

Any diligent police department had to take her seriously on even the small chance she was telling the truth.

The town of North Pole, where she spent her early childhood, has two officially unsolved homicides, but police there feel they know the perpetrator in both and note that the killings occurred after she moved away.

“We don’t have any unsolved homicides or unsolved missing persons that would even be in the realm of possibility,” Lt. Chad Rathbun said on Wednesday.

Rathbun added that in nearly 30 years as an Alaskan police officer he has never encountered a satanic cult.

In her early teens, Barbour moved to the twin towns of Palmer and Wasilla, a miniature version of Minneapolis-St. Paul made famous by being home to Sarah Palin. Wasilla had only one homicide during the four-year period extending from when Barbour says she began killing to when she moved away from North Carolina. That 2011 homicide involved a man who allegedly imagined the victim was plotting against him.

If Barbour’s tale is as bogus as it now seems, she maybe well have been inspired by the 2013 movie Frozen Ground starring Nicholas Cage, which any native of Alaska almost certainly heard about and very possibly saw. The movie is based on a real life, actual serial killer named Robert Hansen, who murdered at least 17 women in Alaska before he was caught in 1983. He is now serving life plus 461 years in an Alaska prison.

Barbour may also have been inspired by the more recent case of Israel Keyes, a Ted Bundy fan who is believed to have killed at least eight people before he was arrested in 2012 for murdering a young woman in Alaska. He had gone on a cruise out of New Orleans after the Alaska murder, leaving is victim in a shed. He had rightly counting on the cold to preserve her well enough that when he returned weeks later he was able to pose her as if alive with a recent newspaper and demand a ransom. The cops finally caught him by following the money. He committed suicide in an Alaskan jail as he awaited trial.

Barbour has said that she also killed in Texas and California as well as in North Carolina, where she met the man who became in husband in October of last year. Authorities in those jurisdictions are as dubious as their counterparts in Alaska as well as the prosecutor in Pennsylvania, where she is being charged with one actual murder.

“As of this date, there has been no verification of any of the information that has been the subject of media coverage regarding prior acts of the defendant, Miranda Barbour,” Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini said in a statement.

Other doubters include her own father, who seems to have called the Daily Item.

“I don’t believe her,” the father, who asked for anonymity, is quoted saying. “There is no way.” 

He reported that his daughter is a long time heroin user, which might explain the need to seek quick cash via Craigslist assignations. He added that she is “the most manipulative person I have ever known.”

 
He allowed that there were two 48-hour periods in Alaska when she ran away from home, once when she was 13, again when she was 14, but that hardly seems time to have killed more than a dozen people. He insisted that she was never out of his sight the few times she was in Texas and in California.

The father offered a prepared statement to the victim’s widow.

“Each morning, I pray for peace and comfort for you and your family,” the statement said. “If I could trade my life for his, I can honestly say that I would do that for you. Twenty years in the military has taught me to be prepared to sacrifice.”

The father had correctly heard that the district attorney is presently planning to seek the death penalty. The statement continued:

“As a Christian, I have often struggled with the issue of capital punishment. However, as the reality of it settled in over the past few weeks, I believe God has brought me peace with the fact that capital punishment, if chosen by the jury, is an appropriate end in this situation. In that case, I would stand side by side with you, take your hand, and silently pray that some good may come of this.”

Whatever happens, it does not look like anybody will be making a movie based on Miranda Barbour, unless it is a movie about a manipulative heroin user who lived with her husband and 2-year-old daughter in the small North Carolina town of Coats and worked for a time as a grocery store cashier and allegedly ended up stabbing a Craig’s List “companion” while her husband allegedly sprung from hiding in the back seat under a blanket and strangled the man with an electric cord.

Miranda Barbour is said to have initially told police that she acted alone and stabbed the man only after he began groping her. Investigators then recovered video footage of the husband going into a store for supplies to clean up a mess that an experienced serial killer likely would have taken steps to avoid.

The husband reportedly told police that he and his wife wanted to “murder someone together.” She apparently decided that confessing to just one was not enough.