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Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult

by T. McCracken and Robert B. Blodgett




Headline in Waldport's South Lincoln County News, April 1, 1997


Waldport, Oregon, the setting for the final chapter of Creffield's story, was also the setting for the first chapter of another cult story. In September of 1975, when Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles invited people to a meeting at the Pat Boone Inn where they said they were going to talk about their religious philosophies, over 100 people showed up. Waldport's population at the time was about 700. Ron Sutton, chief criminal deputy for Lincoln County, wasn't one of the attendees. "What I heard it was going to be about was the dumbest thing I ever heard of, and I thought no one would show up," he said later. "I kick myself many times for not going to that meeting."

What Applewhite and Lu Nettles--a music professor and a nurse known as "Bo and Peep," "Do and Ti," and "The Two"--told the assembly was how they were from "a higher realm"--had a personal connection with God. They said that at some point they would be assassinated, lie in the streets for three days, and then "ascend to a higher evolutionary level via a spaceship." Those who followed them, they said, would at the same time also ascend to a higher level via a spaceship. Those who wanted to find this salvation by spaceship were told to "forgo their worldly belongings"--all that is except for their automobiles--leave their families, and follow them to Colorado. About two dozen people did leave town with them--leaving everything behind, some even leaving their children behind. The story made national headlines and the group was dubbed by the media as "The UFO Cult."

Waldport, OregonAnd as in Creffield's story, worse was yet to come.

The assembly at the Pat Boone Inn was the first successful recruitment meeting held for the group that eventually became known as Heaven's Gate. Over the next twenty-two years the group grew, until in 1997 Applewhite and thirty-eight of his flock "abandoned their containers" in a mansion in California at Rancho Santa Fe. Believing the spaceship from "the Level Above Human" that was going to take them to "their world" in the Heavens was trailing Comet Hale-Bopp, they committed mass suicide.

A hundred years from now, will people be familiar with the story of Heaven's Gate or will it be forgotten like Creffield's story? Fifty years from now will a student from Waldport High happen upon an article about the tragedy, and when she asks her parents for more information be told: "Why dredge up the dead? It'll only hurt the living. It was a one-time thing. Nothing like that could happen again. Or, anyhow, it couldn't ever happen again to normal people. Sane people. People like you and me."


As was promised--the keys to Heaven's Gate are here again in Ti and Do (The UFO Two) as they were in Jesus and His Father 2000 yrs. ago.

Heading for Heaven's Gate's Internet site in 1997

Holy Rollers

Buy Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult as an eBook for a measly $3.99 or get an autographed paperback for $15.

Holy Rollers is a story that has everything a good read should have: sex, religious fervor, mass insanity, the downfall of prominent families, murder and sensational court trials.

And it's all true.

John Terry, the Oregonian's 'Oregon's Trails' columnist says of the book: "A dandy piece of research and a good read. Lots more stuff than I was aware of. It deserves an audience"













Holy Rollers Paper Back

Get an autographed paperback for $16.95 (that includes postage and handling for U.S. addresses)

Want to write a check instead of using a credit card? I'm trusting. e-mail that you want the book and I'll send you a copy. You don't send a check until you get the book with an invoice.

Theresa (T-) McCracken, 890 North Bayview, Loop Waldport, Oregon 97394 (541) 563-3112


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Chapters from
Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult

The Prologue

Part 1: The Seduction

Chapter 1: Trust Me, Brothers And Sisters
(Life Before Creffield [B.C.])

Chapter 2: God, Save Us From Compromising Preachers
(Creffield's Preachings)

Chapter 3: The Flock
(Profiles of the Holy Rollers Were)

Chapter 4: The Holy Rollers
(Things Start to Get Wild on on Kiger Island)

Chapter 5: Housecleaning
(There's a Sacrificial Bonfire)

Chapter 6: Community Concerns
(Officers Visit)

Chapter 7: Esther, The Chosen One
(Creffield Plans to Marry 16-Year- Old)

Chapter 8: Tar and Feathers
(The Men of Corvallis Act)

Chapter 9: Sane People Don’t Go Bareheaded
(Holy Rollers are Committed to the Asylum)

Chapter 10: More Beast Than Man
( Creffield is Arrested)

Chapter 11: God Will Plead Creffield's Case
(Creffield in Court)

Chapter 12: Scandal
(Shocking Testimony at the Trial)

Chapter 13: Calm Before the Storm
(The Holy Rollers Resume their Lives)

Chapter 14: Giving Up The Ghost
(Men are Gunning for Creffield)

Part Two: The People V. Creffield

Chapter 15: I Got My Man

Chapter 16: The Widow Creffield

Chapter 17: Killer or Hero

Chapter 18: The Trial

Chapter 19: An Inherited Streak of Insanity

Chapter 20: Testimony

Chapter 21: Two Other Murders

Chapter 22: The Verdict

Part Three: The Madness

Chapter 23: Seeking Reconciliation

Chapter 24: Another Holy Roller Page One Murder

Chapter 25: What Can Papa Do For You?

Chapter 26: Human Life is Too Cheap In This Community

Chapter 27: Grief

Chapter 28: Insanity?

Chapter 29: Poison?

Chapter 30: The Final Chapter
(What Happened to Everyone Afterwards)

The Epilogue
(Heaven's Gate)


Sample Chapters from Holy Rollers:
Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult


The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers


Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers


Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews


1903 to 1907 Newspaper Articles About the Holy Rollers

1906 Editorial Calling for Gun Control
After Multiple Murders Involving the Holy Rollers

Stewart Holbrook Holy Rollers Article

Advertisements from 1893 to 1913


Oregon Insane Asylum
Where the Holy Rollers Were Committed

Creffield, Brainwashing & Thought Reform

Early Cases of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers
Forensics Before CSI

Holy Roller Bizarre Divorce Decree
Hartley describes trying to kill his wife's lover


Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers


Life in Corvallis in the early 1900s

Life in Waldport, OR in early 1900s

Heaven's Gate

Facts & Stats about 1906
And How The Holy Rollers Measured Up

Oregon State Penitentiary
Where Creffield Was Incarcerated


Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults


Creffield's Preachings

Creffield Vs. Crefeld

The Salvation Army Opening Fire in 1886

Holy Roller Theology

Reverend Knapp's Bible Songs of Salvation & Victory
Songs Sung by the Holy Rollers


About the Authors

Theresa (T-) McCracken

Robert B. Blodgett

In addition to writing, McCracken is a cartoonist.

To see some of her 'toons, go to the Home of McHumor Cartoons mchumor.com

McCracken's Blog

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Snail Mail
Theresa (T-) McCracken
890 North Bayview Loop
Waldport, Oregon 97394

(541) 563-3112


copyright by
Theresa (T-) McCracken