An Orem mother recently overheard her child's phone conversation and called the police immediately.
The child was asking a friend where they could obtain kittens to slaughter that night during a Satan-worshiping ceremony.Information led Sgt. Terry Taylor of the Orem Department of Public Safety to an abandoned house where the ceremony was scheduled to take place. The walls had been decorated with hexagrams (six-point stars within circles), inverted crosses, swastikas, the number 666 and drawings of "the beast" (Satan). On the carpet were what are believed to be blood stains.
But Taylor was not surprised. He has seen three such houses in Orem in the past two weeks.
Taylor spoke at a Orem Council PTA meeting last week to warn parents and administrators of the situation.
"It does happen, and it is going on in Orem City and Utah County," Taylor said. "We need to ask our children what is happening with them; we have to talk to our children."
Investigators searched another house last year and found two separate worship areas, indicating the site was used by a large group. In a two-hour period, police arrested 25 Satan-worshipers breaking into the house.
Another symbol was found near Cascade Park. Worshipers had drawn a hexagram on a wall and written names at three points of the star.
"Hexagrams are used to conjure demons," Taylor said. "I was reading a book last night on Greek mythology, and I found one of the names. We think the children or adults were trying to conjure three evil spirits from Greek mythology."
Satan churches usually attract teenagers who are angry, have low self-esteem or feel powerless, he said.
"The groups are not obvious. They don't recruit door-to-door or ask you to buy a rose in the airport.
"They approach a child and say `I can tell you a way to get power like you've never seen before.' "
Once a person joins a group, it may be hard to quit.
"A lot of Satan churches teach as soon as you join, demons invade your body, and if you try to leave the group, the demons will report back to the priest."
Taylor said he has also heard of groups putting contracts out on the lives of former members.
It is very hard to get children out of Satan-worshiping groups once they are integrated into the group, Taylor said. He suggested parents watch for early signs of involvement.
A change in music tastes to punk or heavy metal music can be a clue, he said. Satan worshipers often wear black and collect knives. They may decorate books or walls with Satan-related symbols.
But prevention always works better than cures, he said.
"I heard on the radio today the average husband and wife spend less than four minutes a day in meaningful conversation with each other and less than three minutes a day with their children.
"We need to let our children know we care about them - that we are willing to listen to their problems and help if we can.
"There is no easy answer to this problem, but I think that will stop a lot of this."