John Todd as a character in the Jack Chick comic Spellbound?
continued from Part I
The Big Time
In August 1973, Todd married Sharon Garver. He was preaching and performing faith healings on the road, having been fired from the Christian coffeehouse for allegedly hitting on teenage girls.
This was the year that Todd first snagged the attention of Christians outside Arizona by giving his dramatic testimony on a Christian TV program. He announced he had been the “personal warlock” of the Kennedy clan, that JFK had faked his death, and that he had just returned from visiting JFK on his yacht. He revealed that many fundamentalist churches had been infiltrated by Satanists. For instance, Jerry Falwell had been “bought” with a check for $50 million. He described watching George McGovern stab a young girl to death in a Satanic ritual sacrifice. He claimed his wife had been seduced into witchcraft as a teen, and he rescued her.
Pastor Doug Clark heard Todd’s story and invited him to appear on his Amazing Prophecies TV show. Todd became an overnight sensation among charismatics in southern California. He and Sharon promptly vacated Arizona for Santa Ana, Doug Clark’s headquarters. They hosted weekly Bible studies in their home, and Todd appeared at several of Clark’s Amazing Prophecy rallies.
Clark and leaders at Melodyland Christian Center soon heard reports that Todd was hitting on teenage girls who attended these Bible study sessions. Todd angrily denied the allegations, and thereafter named Melodyland as part of the Illuminati conspiracy.
Clark decided John Todd wasn’t such a credit to his ministry, after all, and denounced him on his TV show.
His ties to Doug Clark severed, Todd moved to his wife’s hometown of San Antonio and promptly impregnated her teen sister. In ’74, the couple split. Todd north went to Dayton, Ohio, and found a third wife, Sheila Spoonmore. He decided to become a witch for real – whether he had ever been one before is debatable – and with his wife opened an occult bookstore called The Witches Caldron [sic]. The couple gave courses on witchcraft. Once again, there were complaints from teen girls.
Todd Meets the Crusaders
Todd’s drivel intrigued Jack Chick, the guy who produces all those wacky rectangular pamphlets you see in Christians’ bathrooms. Chick immediately realized that Todd would make a nice shiny new cog for his misinformation machine, and enlisted him to provide “inside information” for several anti-occult tracts.
Todd collaborated with Chick at the very same time that he was running an occult bookstore and persuading teen “witches” to disrobe for “ceremonies”.
The first Chick booklet based on Todd’s information was The Broken Cross (1974). Todd is described in the intro as an “ex-grand Druid priest”.
In the comic, a 14-year-old hippie girl leaves home to escape her Christian parents. Hitchhiking, she is picked up by a young couple in a van. She rejoices in her newfound freedom, not realizing that two Satanists are hiding in the back of the van, ready to drug her unconscious. She is taken to a Satanic ceremony and ritually sacrificed on an altar. We’re told that such murders occur eight times per year in every Satanic coven.
Chick’s equivalent of comic book superheroes, The Crusaders, show up to investigate. They uncover the cult, which turns out to include nearly every prominent citizen of the town, even the local pastor and an elderly librarian. The Satanists practice cannibalism, kill dogs, and spy on non-Satanists. One of their symbols is the peace symbol – a broken, upside-down cross.
Chick states that Wicca, a form of devil worship involving child sacrifice, began during the Roman Empire. Wicca was later absorbed by the Illuminati, also known as Moriah. This organization bankrolled the production of Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar to undermine Christ.
A witch named Jody cheerfully informs the Crusaders that Lucifer is the power behind both white and black witchcraft. “Satan is one neat dude…I really crave the power!” The Crusaders easily convert Jody, and she is abducted by the Satanists for betraying them. Jim saves her seconds before she is sacrificed. Confronted by a Christian, the Satanists begin vomiting uncontrollably.
Like all the Crusader comics, The Broken Cross is an insane mishmash of cut-and-paste moralizing, scripture, and occult misinfo. It also borders on the homoerotic; Jim and Tim are exceptionally buff and like to take off their shirts for no apparent reason. Methinks the man doth protest too much.
The Broken Cross was followed by Spellbound?, a screed against rock music. According to Todd and Chick, all rock has “ancient Druid origins”.
In this comic, Jim the Crusader’s VW is nearly forced off the road by a rock musician named Bobby Dallas. Dallas is injured in the resultant crash, and Jim saves his life. Grateful, Dallas later invites Jim to a party full of his creepy friends. We’re told that the ankh necklace worn by one partier is a symbol of Satan worship, signifying that the wearer has lost his virginity and participates in orgies (a note at the bottom of the page adds that it won’t be necessary to burn the book, as witches only use 3-D charms for casting spells).
A member of the cult from The Broken Cross sees Jim trying to convert Dallas. The cult immediately murders Dallas to prevent him from “blowing their cover”.
John Todd himself makes an appearance, meeting with Jim and Tim to educate them about the occult. They’re told his family practiced Druidism for seven centuries.
Todd explains that Druids sacrificed men to their god Kernos with “elfin fire”, accompanied by the music of flutes, tambourines, and drums made of human skin. Each Halloween, they would go door to door demanding a human sacrifice (usually a young woman). If the sacrifice pleased them, they left a jack-o’-lantern lit by a candle made with human fat to protect the house’s residents from demons. Such ritual murders still take place in the U.S. every Halloween, Todd tells us. And the hypnotic beat of Druid drummers is the same beat used in rock music. The melodies are lifted from “Druid manuscripts”. For instance, the Beatles used this Pagan rhythm to draw America’s youth into Eastern religions, opening the “flood gates to witchcraft.”
All of this is pure bunk. There was no “Kernos” in Druidism. Trick-or-treating did not originate with the Druids. Druids didn’t have any written literature, so rock music can’t be based on ancient Druid manuscripts. They did not make their drums with human flesh. The magical “elfin fire” is make-believe. Eastern religions and Paganism are very different things.
If Todd’s teachings about the Druid origin of rock were actually correct, then Celtic music would be more of a threat to society than rock and roll!
Todd then delivers a talk to a church congregation, telling them he once had 65,000 witches under his command. Their goal was to “destroy Bible believing churches and make witchcraft our nation’s religion.” He warns that Christians cannot wield the full power of Christ if they possess tarot cards, regular playing cards, Dungeons and Dragons, “occult” jewelry, country music, romance novels, or rock music. Such things must be burned. He also warns against Freemasonry, saying no Christian has a right to belong to a secretive organization (this is bizarre, as Christianity itself has been an underground movement in various times and places). Not only is Masonry a part of the Illuminati, but Albert Pike (“the pope of Freemasonry”) admitted that Lucifer was his god. This, of course, is part of the ludicrous Taxil hoax that attempted to smear Masons in the late 19th century.
As a producer with Z Productions, Todd learned that all rock songs contain coded incantations. There follows a graphic representation of how demons are summoned into every master recording.
Todd also declares, “Every Bible believing pastor is on a death list by Satan’s crowd!”
A deacon’s daughter named Penny, hearing Todd, decides to join in the record burning ceremony he has planned for the church. The local media, under the direction of a Satanist named Isaac (presumably Todd’s nemesis, Isaac Bonewits, who we’ll see in the next section), portrays the bonfire as KKK-like activity.
Unbeknownst to Todd, the Satanists are following him, planning to assassinate him at the first opportunity. They shoot at him as he drives away from the church, but God presses Jim and Tim to follow him and capture the two Satanists. Then a cop – clearly in league with the Satanists – lets them go.
The Broken Cross and Spellbound? portray all Satanists, witches, and Pagans as murderous thugs who must be opposed by Christians. Chick also implied that most policemen, some media outlets, and many church leaders are part of the Satanic plot to destroy Christianity.
Chick continued to believe and defend Todd long after more reasonable Christians had washed their hands of him. He was later bamboozled by another “former Illuminati member” and “ex-witch”, Bill Schnoebelen, and by the Satanic ritual abuse allegations of a woman calling herself Rebecca Brown. We’ll see both of them later in this series.
In ’76, a 16-year-old girl told Dayton police what was going on in Todd’s little coven. She said Todd forced her to have oral sex during a nude initiation rite.
Todd asked for help from Gavin Frost, head of the National Church and School of Wicca, and prominent Druid Isaac Bonewits. He said he was being unjustly persecuted by Ohio authorities because he was a witch. After investigating, Frost and Bonewits concluded otherwise; they concurred with the cops that Todd was probably using his “church” as a cover for sexual misconduct.
He ultimately pled guilty to contributing to the unruliness of a minor and served two months of a six-month sentence in county jail before Chick and a lawyer secured an early medical release for him (he was having seizures). He received five years’ probation, which he immediately violated by returning to Arizona. The Pentacostal preacher Ken Long once again found a job for him, working as a cook.
Todd admitted to practicing witchcraft in Ohio, but was able to turn it to his advantage by declaring he and his wife had backslid and were now returning to the body of Christ. Satan had lost his minion again. Soon, Todd was back to preaching.
Don’t Think, Just Panic
Todd hit his peak of popularity in the late ’70s. By 1978 he and Sheila had three children.
They lived in Canoga Park, California and attended an independent Baptist church.
In January 1978 Tom Berry, pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in Elkton, Maryland, arranged for Todd to go on a speaking tour. His tales astonished and unnerved Eastern churchgoers. Tape cassettes of his talk were passed around in evangelical circles, and he even managed to snag mainstream media attention. Donations poured in for a rehab centre for ex-witches that he others planned to establish. Sound familiar? Warnke spoke of opening one just like it, but never got around to doing it. Neither did Todd, though in one talk (available as Tape 5B on this page) he declared that the centre was opening the following day. “The doors aren’t even open yet and it’s already filled,” he said. He estimated they would need to construct a second building within six months. “In fact the second-most powerful witch that has ever been saved was just saved last April … Her testimony is almost similar to almost everything I’ve given today.”
Todd did not name this second-greatest witch. We’re to assume he was the most powerful witch ever saved, I suppose.
This rehab facility, if it ever existed, didn’t seem to have a name, either.
Todd’s audiences were quite large. One appearance in Indiana drew 1000 listeners. This is troubling, because during this series of talks, Todd talked a lot about the endtimes and the need for Christians to create armed compounds that could withstand onslaughts from Communists, the military, and other enemies of the faith. He said the U.S. government would soon be compiling lists of church members so that Christians could be rounded up and executed when the shit came down. There would also be a government-instigated “Helter Skelter” of riots and violence. The Illuminati takeover of the U.S. would begin in just one year, so time was of the essence.
He warned Christians not to trust prominent Christians. Melodyland, the PTL, Jerry Falwell, The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship. They were all part of the Satanic conspiracy.
These revelations were received with a mixture of horror and gratitude. There’s no indication that any of the Eastern churches actually took his advice and established fortresses, though.
One has to wonder if Todd harbored dreams of starting his own cult. He had some of the vital ingredients: Plans for an armed compound, a desire to isolate people from their trusted leaders, a knack for scaring the hell out of believers, and a seemingly unslakable lust for pubescent girls.
Back in California in April ’78, it all hit the fan. Todd’s pastor, Roland Rasmussen, learned from a church member that Todd had been teaching witchcraft in Ohio as recently as ’76. Todd was booted from the church.
But Tom Berry and numerous other Eastern pastors still supported him. He began a second speaking tour that summer.
This time, the reaction was not as positive. Clifford Wicks, pastor of Grace Brethren Church in Somerset, Pennsylvania, canceled Todd’s four-speech engagement after three speeches because he was disturbed by his parishioners’ response to the message. Several of them told Wicks they planned to murder their own children rather than see them taken prisoner by the Illuminati.
Not surprisingly, a few fringe religious groups were receptive to Todd’s teachings.
The Family (formerly known as the Children of God), an international church headed by David “Moses” Berg, degenerated into organized sexual abuse of children in the ’70s after Berg convinced some followers it was natural and healthy for kids to have sexual relations with their parents and caregivers. Years later his own son, Ricky Rodriguez (known as “Davidito“), would kill one of the nannies who molested him as a child.
Berg found Todd’s diatribes fascinating, and The Family International published a transcript of one of his lectures, “The Illuminati and Witchcraft”, for distribution to Family members.
Another group that appreciated Todd was a violent white supremacist organization called The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). They also published “The Illuminati and Witchcraft”.
The CSA ran a compound in Missouri that was the very model of what Todd had been advocating. It boasted an armed perimeter, a training area for urban warfare drills, and an array of automatic weaponry (much of it stolen). In 1985, the group’s founder and several of its leaders were convicted of illegal firearm possession.
The group kept a list of possible targets for assassination, including elected officials. One member was executed for killing a State Trooper and a pawn shop owner.
In January 1979, Todd announced he was through with preaching. His message just wasn’t sinking in with American Christians, he said, and it was time for him to retreat to an undisclosed location where the Satanists couldn’t find him.
This move was probably calculated to avoid the kerfuffle that would have erupted around him when his predicted Illuminati takeover didn’t actually happen.
From their new home in Montana, the Todds cranked out alarmist newsletters about the endtimes preparations Christians must make; buy gold, stockpile food and ammo, go into hiding. Todd now claimed he was collecting donations for an armed survivalist compound. He said he would accept guns, cattle, dehydrated food, and anything else people could spare. This compound, just like the witch rehab centre, never materialized.
The couple subsequently lived in Seattle.
In early ’79, a few Christian publications, including Christianity Today, printed damning stories about Todd.
Ironically, the single critical book published about Todd, The Todd Phenomenon (1979) by Darryl E. Hicks and David A. Lewis, contained an intro by Mike Warnke (pot, meet kettle…).
These exposés demolished whatever vestige of credibility Todd still had among mainstream Christians, and he never again made a decent living from preaching. His following dwindled to small groups Christian Patriots, survivalists, and Millenarianists.
But he certainly didn’t stop banging the anti-occult drum. In 1980, he authored a comic book titled The Illuminati and Witchcraft. Jacob Sailor, the artist, also illustrated some of the Mo Letters for The Children of God.
The Road to Ruby Ridge
Todd’s next known location was Cedar Falls, Iowa. In 1983 he was invited to speak at a Holiday Inn there by a young couple who regularly listened to his audiotapes.
Since marrying in 1974, Randy and Vicki Weaver had become increasingly religious. By 1983 they were approaching religious mania. Both believed the world would end soon. First there would be a period of violent persecution, initiated by a Satanic government coalition of Jews and non-Christians. Sometimes they referred to the enemy as ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government).
Todd’s background may have impressed Randy Weaver; he, too, had been a Greet Beret.
The Weavers used cash only, because Todd said credit cards carried the Mark of the Beast. They stopped watching TV because Todd said all evangelists other than himself couldn’t be trusted. They believed the government wanted to round up and exterminate Christians because that’s what Todd said (strangely, though, Vicki remained a fan of Ayn Rand)
Vicki also received instructions from God while soaking in the tub every night, and she and Randy both had “visions” of a hilltop fortress.
As recounted in Jess Walter’s 1996 about the Weavers, Every Knee Shall Bow, neighbors were unsettled, but probably not surprised, to see John Todd pacing the living room of the Weavers’ comfortable ranch-style house in Cedar Falls, ranting about government conspiracies whilst gripping a handgun.
Not long after this, in the summer of ’84, the Weavers sold their home and headed west with a cache of supplies, firearms, and ammo. They didn’t have a destination in mind. God would lead them wherever they needed to be to wait out the Tribulation.
On September 6, they found a thickly wooded plot of land atop Ruby Ridge in the panhandle of northern Idaho.
Sometime in the mid-’80s, Todd moved to Columbia, South Carolina. He worked construction, did carpentry, and taught karate to youngsters.
In May 1987, Todd was charged with raping a grad student at the University of South Carolina. I will not give the woman’s name here, to protect her privacy.
Later, molestation charges related to two of his karate students were added. He served the next 16 years of his life in prison.
In an audio recording made in 1991, Todd explained how he was framed by Strom Thurmond, who wanted to get his hands on his address books and his Christian material. Specifically, Thurmond and cohorts wanted to find the locations of safe houses used by a Christian underground that hid Christians accused of abusing their children. Also, Thurmond was furious that Todd had outed him as a Mason.
He hints that he was lured to South Carolina by Christians just so he could be framed. His lawyers were in on the plot, so Todd urged listeners to donate money to his defence fund.
After his conviction, an FBI agent and the head of Reagan’s Secret Service bodyguards visited him in prison and pressured him to give up the names of Christians in hiding (in exchange for what, I wonder? He had already been sentenced, so there wasn’t much the feds could offer him). Todd refused.
Todd warns all Christians that they, too, can be framed for crimes they didn’t commit. After all, They own the media and law enforcement. What’s more, U.S. concentration camps are standing at the ready to hold huge numbers of Christians.
Remember, this recording was made in ’91. In the 20 years since then, do you know a single Christian who has been interned in a U.S. concentration camp?
Now Todd says he was part of the CIA’s Pheonix Program during Vietnam, and his military records were sealed for that reason. As we saw in Part I, these records were freely available, and they clearly show that Todd did not serve in Vietnam.
Fritz Springmeier and the 13 Bloodlines
Christian preacher and Illuminati “expert” Fritz Springmeier, who was released from prison just last month (he served 7 years of a 9-year sentence for armed bank robbery), is Todd’s #2 fan (Jack Chick being #1). In his book Bloodlines of the Illuminati, he identified the Collins clan as one of the “13 bloodlines of the Illuminati” and included a jailhouse letter written by Todd.
The Collins family history, as chronicled by Springmeier, is replete with Satanic atrocities. The Collinses possess more occult power than any other Illuminati’s family, including the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Springmeier cites the testimony of an unnamed ex-Illuminati member (like Todd, a Christian convert) who claimed a Collins woman was the “Grande Mother” of the Illuminati’s Grand Council of 13 back in the ’50s. This council possessed invaluable arcane knowledge, like the location of the Ark of the Covenant, and practiced a bizarre form of ritual sacrifice in which a child was killed for each new Illuminati initiate.
As these meetings supposedly occurred twice a year, with up to seven initiates per meeting, it’s remarkable that no one noticed the rashes of missing children.
Ironically, the details of this unsourced tale directly contradict John Todd’s testimony. For instance, this person stated that the Antichrist had not yet been born in 1955, while Todd said Jimmy Carter was the Antichrist. He also tells us the Todd family split off from the Collins clan before the Civil War, while Todd himself claimed he was born as Lance Collins.
Springmeier names one of the Grande Mother’s sons as Tom Collins, who later converted to Christianity and went on speaking tours to educate coreligionists about the Illuminati. He was shot to death in a grocery store parking lot as a warning to other whistleblowers. Once again, we must ask why the Illuminati was unable to assassinate John Todd, if another defector from the very same family was so easily eliminated.
I can find no trace of this Tom, but the Wikipedia entry for Tom Collins the drink is quite interesting. In 1874, “Tom Collins” was a running gag among pranksters. They convinced people that a mysterious man named Tom Collins was badmouthing them, and reported sightings of the gossipy stranger to credulous newspaper reporters.
At any rate, we have no reason to believe that Tom Collins and John were from the same family. Springmeier’s M.O. is to tick off lists of prominent people with the same last name, without bothering to ascertain if they are actually related to one another. Then he links them to the Illuminati by the most tenuous connections. For example, reporter Robert Collins is implicated simply because the Illuminati “control the press”. Springmeier provides no evidence that the Illuminati does, in fact, control the press. Likewise, he ties serial killer Ted Bundy to the Bundy/McBundy families, and tells us his sadistic sociopathic condition is quite typical of Illuminati members, even though Bundy’s name came from a working class stepfather.
Most bizarrely, Springmeier states that the Salem witch trials were “instigated by the Collins family to destroy Christians”. His evidence? Some Collinses became Putnams during the Civil War era. Somehow, this means that the Putnams of Massachusetts (central to the Salem witch hunt) were already related to the Collins clan nearly two centuries earlier. Huh?
Like Jack Chick and John Todd, Springmeier classed essentially all occultists and Freemasons as profoundly secretive, extremely dangerous people. They all worship the Devil, they all abduct and ritually sacrifice children, and they all commit every manner of crime against decent, God-fearing Americans such as Todd (the rapist) and Springmeier (the bank robber).
In an early edition of his book, Springmeier stated that Todd was released from prison in 1994. An Illuminati-owned helicopter picked him up at the prison, and he was never seen again – presumably murdered by Them. Springmeier later removed this erroneous information, but continued to assert that Todd was framed.
The belief that Todd was framed on the rape charges persists today among his fans. “James in Japan”, who maintains an extensive website about Todd and other Christian conspiranoids, actually believes that Todd was murdered by the Illuminati and replaced by a prisoner who looked and behaved just like him.
Release and Death
Todd was actually released from prison in 2004. He was then committed to the Behavioral Disorder Unit run by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
Under the name “Kris Kollyns”, he filed a lawsuit against numerous employees of this department, alleging he was being held in violation of his Constitutional rights. Before the lawsuit was resolved, he died in the BDU on November 10, 2007.
Sadly, his messed-up legacy of pathological falsehood lives on in audio recordings, Chick pamphlets, and the minds of many Christian conspiracy theorists.
As we’ll see later in this series, his claim of being born into a family of powerful devil worshipers would have a profound influence on other “former witches”.