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Ricky KASSO

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Acid King"
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - 'Human sacrifice' - Mescaline
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 16, 1984
Date of arrest: July 5, 1984
Date of birth: March 1967
Victim profile: Gary Lauwers, 17 (male acquaintance)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Northport, Long Island, New York, USA
Status: Committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell on July 7, 1984
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ricky "The Acid King" Kasso (March 1967 - July 7, 1984) murdered 17-year-old acquaintance Gary Lauwers in Northport, Long Island, New York on June 16, 1984.

Two other teens, Jimmy Troiano and Albert Quinones, were present at the murder, which took place in the Aztakea Woods of Northport while all four were high on mescaline.

The murder became sensational news in the New York area and across the nation due to the torture of Lauwers and the Satanic ritualistic aspects of the murder. Many people also found the pictures and video of Kasso's arrest, in which he is smiling at the camera in a joking manner, to be particularly disturbing.

The murder took place during a period when there was much public concern over the effects of Satanic and occult content in Heavy Metal music and in Role Playing Games. Kasso was wearing an AC/DC T-shirt at the time of his arrest and was a fan of groups such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Biographical Background

Kasso was the son of a local high school history teacher and football coach at affluent Cold Spring Harbor High School. Several years prior to the murder, his father had won the Nassau County, Long Island Football Coach of the Year, awarded by Newsday.

Ricky ran away from home as a young teen and lived on the streets of suburban Long Island, usually sleeping in parks or in the cars, garages or houses of friends. He often took drugs, mainly marijuana, LSD (hence the nickname "Acid King"), PCP, and mescaline.

He also dealt drugs in Northport and dabbled in the occult and Satanism and was a member of a loosely-organized cult at Northport High School called "Knights of the Black Circle". They held Satanic ceremonies mostly in Northport, but they were said to have celebrated Walpurgisnacht at the infamous Amityville Horror house in 1984.

Kasso also expressed to friends his great interest in Anton LaVey's book The Satanic Bible. On at least one occasion, Ricky's parents admitted him to the South Oaks Psychiatric Hospital (formerly known as the Amityville Asylum) in Amityville, New York for drug rehabilitation and psychiatric care.

In the year prior to the murder, Kasso had been arrested for grave robbing, taking a human skull and other objects from a cemetery. About a month after his arrest for this crime, Ricky contracted pneumonia and was treated at Long Island Jewish Hospital.

During his hospital stay, his parents tried to convince the doctors to commit him for involuntary psychiatric care. However, the conclusion of the pychiatrists was that Kasso exhibited anti-social behavior but was neither psychotic nor a violent danger, and Kasso was released upon recovering from his bout with pneumonia.

The murder

The conflict between Kasso and Lauwers had started several months earlier when Lauwers stole 10 bags of angel dust from Kasso's jacket, while he was passed out at a party. Kasso confronted him soon after the incident.

Lauwers gave back five of the ten bags and promised to pay $50 for the five bags that he had used, but failed to pay back the money, and Kasso beat him on four separate occasions.

On the night of the murder, Kasso had invited Lauwers along, saying that he was ready to forgive the incident and wanted to be friends. After taking several hits of mescaline, the teens started a small fire in the woods, using Lauwers' socks and the sleeves from his denim jacket as kindling for the wet firewood.

The situation escalated when Kasso suggested that they use some of Lauwers' hair in the fire. Kasso then scuffled with Lauwers, bit him on the neck and stabbed him in the chest. Kasso continued his assault over an extended period of time (perhaps hours).

Quinones claims that Troiano helped Kasso and held Lauwers during the attack. However, during his testimony (once he had immunity) Quinones did take responsibility for holding Lauwers down as well as chasing him and dragging him back when he ran.

Lauwers was stabbed somewhere between 17 and 36 times, incurred burns, and had his eyeballs gouged. His face was severely disfigured from the attack and he died during the night.

Kasso and Troiano dragged his body a short distance and covered it with leaves and sticks. During the attack, Kasso commanded Lauwers "Say you love Satan", but Lauwers replied with "I love my mother".

The aftermath

In the aftermath, Kasso bragged to friends about his "human sacrifice". Kasso stated to some that he murdered because a black crow brought him a message from Satan, telling him to do so. He even brought several disbelieving teens to see Lauwers' decomposing body.

However, it wasn't until two weeks went by, on July 1st, that the murder was reported to the police. On July 4, 1984, police recovered the decomposing and mutilated body of Gary Lauwers. On July 7, two days after his arrest, Kasso committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.

Jimmy Troiano signed a confession that he later recanted. Quinones gave witness account that Troiano helped Kasso during the murder. However, due to his drugged state the testimony of Quinones was brought into question and Troiano was acquitted of second-degree murder in a trial by jury in April of 1985.

In 1991, Ricky's father also killed himself.

Books and films about the murder

Books

  • Say You Love Satan (1987, ISBN 0440175747) by David St. Clair

  • Weird New York: Your Travel Guide to New York's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Chris Gethard: contains a short chapter on the murder.

Plays

  • Kids in the Dark by Rick Cleveland and David Breskin, performed at Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago, IL in 1987.

Documentaries

  • Satan in the Suburbs (2001, TV) directed by Scott Hillier

  • The Devil Worshippers (1985, TV) Episode of ABC news program 20/20 which features the Kasso murder.

Films

  • Under Surveillance (2006), also known as Dark Chamber, directed by Dave Campfield

  • Ricky 6 (2000), also known as Ricky Six and Say You Love Satan, directed by Peter Filardi

  • Black Circle Boys (1997) directed by Matthew Carnahan

  • My Sweet Satan (1994) directed by Jim Van Bebber

  • Where Evil Dwells (1985,1986) by David Wojnarowicz and Tommy Turner

Further reading

Chronology of the trial in the New York Times (available online)

  • July 8, 1984. Youth Found Hanged In L.I. Cell After His Arrest In Ritual Killing, By Robert D. Mcfadden

  • July 12, 1984. Teen-Ager Indicted On L.I. In Ritual Slaying Of Youth

  • July 12, 1984. Our Towns. By Michael Norman

  • December 27, 1984. 'Satanic Ritual' Is Now Ruled Out In June Slaying Of Youth In L.I. Woods. By Lindsey Gruson

  • March 27, 1985. Jury Selection Begins In Stabbing Death Of Teen-Ager In Northport. By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 5, 1985. L.I. Murder Trial Opens: Confession Is Described By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 5, 1985. L.I. Murder Trial Opens: Confession Is Described. By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 9, 1985. Jury In L. I. Case Is Given Details Of Ritual Death. By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 11, 1985. Trial Makes Young Visitors Uneasy. By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 17, 1985. L.I. Youth Called Lucid On Stabbing.

  • April 18, 1985. Defense Lawyer In L.I. Trial Loves A Good Murder Case. By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 19, 1985. Story Of Murder May Be Illusion, Expert Testifies. By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 23, 1985. Closing Arguments Made In Trial Of Youth Accused In Drug-Induced Slaying On L.I. By Lindsey Gruson

  • April 25, 1985. Jury in L.I. Slaying Meets for 7 Hours

  • April 26, 1985. L.I. Jury Acquits Defendant In Killing Of Youth In Woods

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Kids in the dark; there were no rules in the suburbs. But now Gary is dead; Ricky, too. (satanic cult killing in New York)

Breskin, David

Rolling Stone - Nov 22, 1984

A POLICE DOG WENT MAD ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, DEEP IN THE WOODS behind Main Street. Howling and sniffing, he found enough flesh for a fingerprint and a pile of bones wearing denim vest, running pants, white undershorts, Nikes. Next to the grave was a black spot on the ground where the body had lain ten days before burial. Tissue had darkened and blood had drained. The body sank into the earth.

Under some leaves, the worms did their work, transfigured themselves into flies and flew off. They left bones cleaned of flesh, full of dents from the blade of a knife. Thirty stabs? Forty stabs? Fifty? The eye sockets were whittled. There was no face to speak of. And these were just kids.

Over the course of two weeks, as the body became a skeleton, at least fifteen and perhaps thirty teenagers and young adults were told of the murder, some in great detail. A few were taken to the site, a ten-minute walk from the quaint main drag and harbor park of Northport, Long Island, to view the corpse, a dissolving trophy. No one breathed a word of the killing to police, to parents, to any authorities. Finally, a girl who'd overheard some other girls talking about it made an anonymous call to the police.

The skeleton was Gary Lauwers, 17, a high-school dropout who had often run away from his Northport home. The alleged murderers were Ricky Kasso, 17, and Jimmy Troiano, 18, both of whom had rejected school, home and work for a life of streets, backyards, forts, woods, cars, boats, friends' floor. They were bad kids of the 'burbs. They were found the next day, sleeping in a car, and were subsequently arrested.

Kasso had been charged in April with digging up a grave the previous fall. (Gary Lauvers was among those who watched.) In his pocket, at the time of that arrest, was a list of the Dignitaries in Hell. In May, his parents had taken him to Long Island Jewish Hospital: he had pneumonia. While there, they sought to have him involuntarily committed. They'd already tried the drug rehab route at South Oaks Hospital, to no avail. They told the doctors of his grave digging, daily use of hallucinogens and other drugs, suicide attempts and jokes, threatening behavior. The psychiatrists found Kasso to be "antisocial," but not "presently psychotic," and let him go.

Two months later, after the murder arrests, Jimmy Troiano was placed in a special observation cell. Kasso was not. Kasso, reportedly accompanied by chants of "Hang up, hang up" from his cell mates, did so. Troiano, who'd been in jail before, signed a confession but later pleaded not guilty, and now awaits trial for second-degree murder.

The crime attracted international attention, in no small part because Suffolk County investigators said Kasso was a "member of a satanic cult" and that a throng of chanting cultists witnessed the "sacrificial" slaughter. The press came howling and sniffing. The throng turned out to be as phantom as the cheering mob at Big Dan's in the rape trial in New Bedford; and the satanic cult, the Knights of the Black Circle, turned out to be a fading organization of cat-burning, dope-dealing delinquents to whom Kasso was not particularly close. He did those things well enough on his own.

The story told here is the story as seen through the eyes, and told through the voices, of Ricky's and Jimmy's and Gary's peers. It's the story of antisocial behavior become social, of the rules of the game in the game of growing up.

THE ACID KING

RICKY KASSO WAS THE KILLER. SON OF A HIGH-SCHOOL football coach, brother of three beautiful younger sisters, he was the black sheep of a Norman Rockwell family. He told his mother death would be "the ultimate high."

MIKE McGRORY, veteran dirt-bag street kid, 21: Ricky always had that spaced-out look about him. He used to run his mouth about being satanic, like he is the devil. When he was high, he'd always sit there and laugh at you, like he was trying to pretend to be crazy.

BOY AT WAKE: He told me the way he got out of South Oaks Hospital. He bullshitted. When he went in, they believed he worshiped Satan and shit, and he told the doctors that he was fine, that he was gonna go back to school and doesn't believe in Satan anymore, and he bullshit the doctor so much, they finally believed him ... and they let him go.

PREPSTER GIRL, 17: His parents put him in some kind of hospital, and he ran away from it. One day, at the train station, I saw him. He dyed his hair so no one could fine him. I said, "What's going on?" And he goes, "No way are they gonna lock me up. I'm not crazy." I was like, "I never said you were crazy, but maybe you need help with drugs." He said, "I do not," and then he started yelling, coming closer. I talked my way out of it. I think Ricky stopped living in eighth grade.

MARK FISHER, 17: I've known Ricky since sixth grade. First time he tripped, in seventh grade, in art class, he'd drawn a dragon on the board and said it started to move. First time Ricky got in trouble was eighth grade. He stole a container of Hi-c from the church. Kinda ironic that he ends up worshiping Satan and starts by stealing from the church.

TONY ZENKUS, 19: There's a power trip in Satanism. It says: Now you can strike back at the people that screwed you up. The doctors said Kasso was antisocial. wrong. Antisocial means sitting in a corner at a party. Sociopathic means robbing graves.

TEEN DUSTHEAD 1: Ricky took everything just like Jim Morrison. The younger crowd was impressed by what he did. About six months ago, he started going to the South Bronx with a friend of mine. He used to drive in, get dusted and drive back. After two months, they finally crashed my friend's car. They were all dusted out. Rick found other ways to get into the city.

I told Ricky, "Do too many drugs, you'll be dead soon." He said, "Yeah, that's exactly what I want." I said, "Boy, it's your choice." Ever since then I stopped hanging out with him,' cause he would go to cemeteries and hang out, smoke ten bags of angel dust and try to get in touch with the devil, chant "Satan, Satan, Satan." He was a drug friend, that's all he was.

MARK FISHER: Ricky was of the devil. When he was on acid, he'd go back into the dark woods, up in Aztakea, and he would talk to the devil. He said the devil came into the form of a tree, which sprouted out of the ground and glowed. I tried to question him abut it, but he said, "I don't like to talk about it. People think I'm nuts."

GIRL, known as Baker, 16: When the dust came to town, Ricky and the guys used to go down to the graveyard, and they'd tape themselves tripping on acid and mesc and dust. They thought the devil possessed the tape, and there were all these, you know, different voices.

TEEN DUSTHEAD 2: Ricky and this dude were in my car, and the re like, "We're trying to get this cult going. Going to the library to read up on somne books. We want your mother to be the ladder of it." See, my mother has these powers. She raises tables. We've talked to Jim Morrison through a table.

MARK FISHER: If you met ricky, he was just one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. After he smoked seven packets of dust, we were having a regular conversation. Meanwhile, this other guy who'd smoked with him was in a complete psychosis--making animal movements, karate movements. The police were here, and the policeman says, "You don't step on our toes, we don't step on yours."

Ricky would take ten hits of mesc in a night. He would take three; ten minutes later he'd take another three; and two hours later he'd take four more. He'd figured it out in his mind how to take the most without ODing Ricky is the acid king.

He talked to my girlfriend once on the phone. She said, "Do you have a girlfriend?" "No, I'm not into relationships. They never last." That's pretty heavy.

SOFTHEARTED GIRL, 14: I was the closest person to Ricky. He'd stay in the clubhouse all the time. Ricky was sweet. HE needed help. I talked to him for hours and hours during the night. He didn't hate his family, but he blamed them for a lot of things.

On the night before he had to go court for digging up the grave, he stayed here. In the morning, he went home, and his father wouldn't let him take a shower or eat, wouldn't let him in the house. After court, he left him off in front of the Midway store. Ricky asked for a quarter. He wanted a bagel. His father said no. So Ricky kicked the door of his father's red Corvette, dented it. His father left and came back half an hour later, gave him two dollars and told him never to call his house, talk to his mother or sisters again. He never wanted to see him again.

MARK FISHER: When he moved back home for a while, he started scaring his parents, because he wrote some songs about Satan. He'd talk about his drug deals openly: "Mom, I'm going down to get a few hits of mesc. I'll be back for dinner." His parents got fed up with it. It wasn't just the ketchup on his wrists. He put ketchup on his wrists and called down to his mother, "See what you made me do." His mother ran up the stairs. And he started laughing at her when she realized it was ketchup.

PEACENIK GIRL, 16: Ricky sang me this song that he wrote on guitar. It was something like "A Child of the Devil." He'd put on these weird eyes and make this weird smile about it. It was cute, though, the way he did it.

DRAG

JIMMY TROIANO WAS ADOPTED OUT OF AN ORPHANAGE at age four, a failure at school "to a degree you wouldn't believe," says a friend and arrested repeatedly for burglary. He ran and dealt and dusted with Ricky. Now he's charged with aiding him in murder.

PREPSTER GIRL: Jimmy, he was always kind of wild, always doing strange things. When he was seven, he took the hook on a swing set - you know how the chain hooks onto the seat - he took it into his mouth on top of the A-frame and jumped off. It gave him a big scar on his face. At the ninth-grade dance, they played "Monster Mash" for him,' cause he had so many scars on his face. I had a crush on him in the fifth grade. He was a nice kid.

GIRL, former classmate, 18: We all knew his nickname was Drac because of his fangs. We'd joke about him having to go to the dentist to have his teeth filed down.

DENISE WALKER, 15: I asked Jimmy what school he went to, and he's like, "I don't need school." I go, "Do you work?" And he goes, "I don't need a job." I say, "What do you do?" He says, "I hang out." Everything is such a quick comeback. I said, "Do you have any future plans?" He goes, "We just break the rules." He goes, "People make rules, we break them." He broke into houses. He had a good reputation as a burglar. He was at that age.

FUZZY LEGS GARY LAUWERS WAS HIGH-SPIRITED AND MERCURIAL, funny in a dopey way. He had a talent for weirdness - once decorating a dozen tree trunks with his paint-dipped hand prints - and he had a talent for trouble. He was a kid who could have gone either way.

MIKE McGROGY: Gary was basically a good, kid, young in mind. He put up a little bit of a bad front so he could hang in there with his peers.

MICHELLE DeVEAU, 15: Gary was like a wimp. He was more into peace than fighting. He fought to get people to like him. Why does anybody fight?

COLLUM CLARK, 18: Gary'd run away from home. He'd stay in clubhouses that he knew, or in the lumberyard up the road, or in doorways.

DAN PETTY, 17: Fuzzy legs would do things for the moment. He'd pull Midnight Auto, which is like ripping stereos off and stuff. He wouldn't think about the next day, what was gonna happen to him. He'd totally fuck somebody over and not think about the consequences of it. Sometimes last summer he stole money from his parents. He'd get eighty dollars and go out and buy a twenty-five dollar bong and spend the rest on weed and smoke it all that night.

He was always like that, since he was a little kid. He was the kid that started the little forest fires. Brush fires. He's the kid that climbed up the tree very high . . .

BOY AT WAKE: Gary was the type of guy that everybody liked, because he wasn't selfish. I remember he got twenty-five hits of acid, and he just gave them out. Twenty-five hits of 'cid. Gave them out.

STONED PALLBEARER 1: When he robbed that house, he had $4000 in hard cash, cold cash, and he found two people, and he said, "Hey, you guys wanna go buy some motorcycles?" He bought those two kids cycles, and one for him, and he bought a box, an outrageous tape deck, it was $300, and went to this girl's house with a gold chain for her. He was going out with her, and they'd broke up. He got there, and she wouldn't go out with him again, and she wouldn't go out with him again, and he was just freaking out, and he beat the shit out of the box, on the ground right there. He didn't care. He gave one guy $500, just. "Have fun tonight." He went to Laces Roller Rink, and he took a thousand dollars, a thousand dollars, and just chucked it in the air, man.

STONED PALLBEARER 2: That's the way he was. He didn't give a flying fuck.

STONED PALLBEARER 3: He went to Florida once. They had a little Chemical Bank card, and he was punching out money the whole way there and back. It was sick. One of the guys clipped the card from his father. They got thrown off the bus, 'cause they stopped at a place for the night, and in the morning, they went to the liquor store and bought, like, mega bottles of Jack and everything, and they wento on the bus, and they started getting everyone on the bus really drunk. Driver pulled over and said, "Get the fuck out!"

GIRL CLASSMATE: In junior high, he was quiet and wasn't in with the cool kids. He was teased. An outsider. Gary was a faggot that got tough.

DAN PETTY: He'd be into Hendrix, Joplin, the Woodstuck stuff, then rap for a while. Then Sabbah . . . like, I saw Gary and he had this upside-down cross and this little book - it was a little brown book about Satan - amd he was just saying all these stupid things. But he didn't really understand it.

TERRIE ALTO, 14: He did talk about his future one. Holy shit! S&M Gary! Remember when that girl puked in the attic at one of those parties? Gary put on her leather jacket, the biker jacket and shit, and I was wearing one of the black-leather belts with the studs. He had no shirt on. S&M Gary! He was dancing. He put on Prince. That was one of the many times Gary told me he loved me. That's when he discussed his future.

He said that me and him were gonna get married, and he was gonna start dealing coke. Ane he was gonna go down to Colombia - yeah - and get massive amounts of coke, and then we were gonna, he was gonna, buy me my dream apartment, a penthouse on Fifth Avenue, and the bedroom was gonna be all black leather, and he was gonna buy me a red Ferrari with a chauffeur. He knew it was just a dream, but it was a dream. He was a pisser sometimes. And then again sometimes he was a dick.

PAST IS PROLOGUE

THE LAWYER WHO TWICE REPRESENTED GARY IN JUVENILE COURT TOLD A NEWSPAPER REPORT, "He wasn't really bad. He was just acting out". Gary's act had no room for role reversal.

MARK FISHER: Ricky was totally dusted out and went unconscious for a while at a party. gary stole the dust from out of his jacket - ten little yellow envelopes with the words SUDDEN IMPACT on them. When Ricky confronted him with it, he gave him back five and went and worked and paid him back for the rest. Gary was scared of him, 'cause every time they'd get together, Ricky would chew him out or beat the shit out of him. He never let him live it down. 'Cause Ricky had the money, but he didn't have the vengeance.

TEEN DUSTHEAD 2: Gary was an easy target. I always saw Gary getting the shit kicked out of him.

TERRIE ALTO: I knew he was afraid of Kasso. He was scares shitless of Ricky.

PEACENIK GIRL: Jimmy Toriano had just gotten out of jail. It was like April. He and Ricky were going after Gary, looking for him, 'cause he'd ripped him off. And Albert Quinones made Ricky take off his ring, 'cause he didn't want him to really fuck Gary up. I saw Ricky walking up the street looking for him: happy, pysched and everything.

And then I saw Gary come out rom behind the white church; he walks up and his jacket was ripped; he had a cut on the side of his face -- blood dripping down. Maybe his lip was bleeding. I think he hadn't paid him back the money yet.

MICHELLE De VEAU: I fixed his wounds up for him once. His black eye. And he had a bloody nose, too. He told me Ricky was an asshole. He'd bought a knife for protection, but I don't think he carried it around. Gary told me Ricky told him he was gonna kill him. Supposedly. He said, "Last time Ricky beat me up, he says next time he's coming back for more and it's not gonna be just a black eye."

COLLUM CLARK: There was a total spur of the moment thing were gary and some other kids decided to gang up on this guy. They were beating him up, and then Gary took out a pipe and was lighting it up, and he gave him maybe ten bowl burns, circles with the rim of the bowl, a tattoo, sort of. Very severe, and they hurt. It was sick, it was torture. They were trying to get me to do it, 'cause I really had an awful lot aginst this kid -- more than anyone else, more than Gary. I said to myself, No, you'll get in trouble. Gary just had a severe dislike for him.

PREPSTER GIRL: Gary pulled a BB gun on two little kids up at the school, to scare 'em. After that, he comes up to a group of my friends who are sitting, talking, and I guess because now that he broke through his faggot, and he's into his little dirt-bag group that he's so proud of, he calls me a faggot! And I said, "Oh, yeah, you're so coll you can pull a gun on someone." And he got all mad, and started chasing me, and getting his girlfriends after me, and saying he was gonna kill me. But not kill me kill me, just kill me.

THAT NIGHT

IN COW HARBOR PARK, KIDS were reeling from the year's first punch of summer. Eventually, most everyone headed to a birthday party for Randy Guethler. But not Ricky, Jimmy, Gary or Albert.

MIKE "LION" MENTION, 17: Everybody was fucked up that night. It was one of the first nights school ended, so everybody was out. It was a festive night. You could feet it. We got done with finals. People were tripping, people were stoned. Gary went into the park and came back and said, "I saw cats, man!" I said, sure, maybe he saw a cat in the park, and he said, "No, man, there are cats all over the place." He was flipping out.

One of the last things he said to me, "Well, I guess it's safe for me to come down here now. I'm all paid off, I'm in good, it's safe." Then he said goodbye: "I'm going to get some beers and get fucked up."

DOROTHY AT WAKE: That night, Gary said, "Mom" -- he calls me Mom -- "I'm going back to school. I got my act together: I paid my debts, and I got a lot of friends, and I really care about myself and I don't need drugs anymore. I'm gonna start over."

RICH BARTON, 15: I was down at the park that night. I went up to Aztakea three hours earlier, with Rick and Jim. We tried to make a fire, but we couldn't. It was wet. And then we tried to get out of the woods, but we couldn't. There was no moon and there's a lot of paths up there, and we had the tunes cranking -- Sabbath, Ozzy, Judas Priest. When we got out of the woods, I said, "I'm going home, trip out by myself."

PEACENIK GIRL: That night Jimmy and albert and Ricky came up to me, wanted me to buy mesc. They were really happy and everything. They were dehydrated, so they asked me where the nearest swimming pool was, 'cause they wanted to go pool hopping. They asked me to go to the deli to get orange juice. I got them the biggest orange juice I could find, and they were so happy. All three of them chugged it down. They were all dosed. They were happy.

SOFTHEARTED GIRL: Ricky gave Gary hits of mesc and bought him jelly doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts. First Gary didn't want to go, but then ricky said, "We'll buy jelly doughtnuts!" So he was, like, "Yeah!"

MARK FISHER: Ricky had twenty-five hits of mesc in a little stach bottle down at the park. I was gonna go get beers, and I gave them my box, had my tape in it, Black Sabbath, We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll. I came back, and they had left. Aw, shit' I heard they went up to Aztakea and any girls who wanted to get fucked should go up there. That was the world. So I went up to Aztakea, but I didn't quite make it, 'cause it was so dark, I was bumping into trees and falling down. I heard noises as I was getting closer, but I couldn't tell which way to go, and so I finally gave up.

A TRIP

ALBERT QUINONES APPEARS TO be the only person who saw what happened, and will be the government's star witness. Once word of his involvement was leaked by Troiano's attorney, his name was mud on the street: Ricky and Jimmy's friends hated him for rating; Gary's friends hated him for watching and suspected he'd helped. After this interview, his mother sent him out of state to be with a priest.

ALBERT QUINONES, 16: Gary already paid him his money back. Everyone was his friend. I mean, Ricky and Gary were both talking a lot, shit like that. The thing that bugs me out, man, is all of them were pushing me, especially Gary and Ricky, to take a hit of mescaline. They were all tripping. It bugs me out. I didn't want to, but finally I just said, "What the hell," so I took a hit. Ricky treated us to doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts. To me, Gary was being cool and shit. And then we went up to Aztakea, because they wanted to go to a good tripping area, and they've got a little field where you can trip out.

See, Ricky was getting pissed off, because he couldn't start a fire, so Gary just takes off his socks, puts them in there. After Gary made a fire with his socks, he didn't want to make it bigger. And Ricky comes out with a remark, "Why don't you just burn your whole jacket?" The guy's like, "How 'bout I just cut the sleeves off and use my sleeves?" It was fucked, man. So he took off his jacket and gave it to ricky, and Gary just chopped off the sleeves. I guess he was going to make it into a vest.

All of a sudden Gary goes, "I have funny vibes that you're going to kill me." And Ricky was saying, "I'm not going to kill you. Are you crazy?" and shit like that. I was peaking. I was peaking out, tripping out. And they were just fighting, punching each other and shit, and I didn't think anything was going to happen. I mean, I could see Ricky's point, too, which is that he was friends with Gary, andhe just turns around and steals ten bags of dust.

So they were just rolling on the ground and shit, and Gary got up to his feet after Jimmy had ran up to his feet after Jimmy had ran up to him and kicked him in the ribs and shit, and Gary had gotten up to his feet, and Ricky just bit him in the neck, bit him in the ear and then he just stabbed him.

It was a trip, man, I'll tell you, man, it was a trip. I mean, you sit there and stare out, and you look at the trees, and it looks like they're bending down and shit. I don't know -- that was a trip. I thought it was a nightmare. I couldn't move, man. My whole body, all of a sudden, it just wouldn't move, it wouldn't function. It was like in shock. I was going crazy, man. I just stood there in my place, like all bugged out.

After Ricky stabbed him, Gary took off, ran, and Ricky got him, just like that. Jimmy picked up the knife after Ricky had dropped it, and he gave it to Ricky. And Ricky made Gary get on his knees and say, "I love Satan." Then Ricky just started hacking away from him, man. He just kept stabbing him and shit, and then Gary was just screaming, "Ahhh, I love my mother." It was really fucked, man. And they grabbed him by the legs and dragged him in the woods, Ricky and Jimmy, dragged him in the woods. They came running out of the woods after they just threw leaves on him and shit. They told me that he started stabbing Gary in the face and shit...

I wasn't going to rat them out, because what's, like, another body? Man, it's not bid, deal. I mean, you see them kill once, you just don't think, like, they're not going to kill you.

WHERE'S GARY?

IT WAS JUST LIKE GARY TO TAKE off without warning. Neither his parents nor his friends notified the police he had vanished.

BRIAN HIGGINS, 16: Gary had disappeared so often, you wouldn't think about it.

PEACENIK GIRL: Just offhand, I said to Ricky, "I know you don't even care, but have you seen Gary? 'Cause we talked to his mother, and she hasn't seen him in a while." He was just like, "No." Later that night we hung out for a while. He started complaining he was getting flashbacks. He didn't feel good. He said he was never gonna trip again. He just said, "I just had a bad trip, a really bad trip." He had poison ivy all over him, and I gave him calamine lotion. It freaked me out after I heard about things -- I helped aid him in the cure of his poison ivy gotten burying a friend of mine.

SCOTT TRAVIA, 18: I saw Ricky, and he kept saying, "Yeah, everything's cool between me and Gary." Then I got this phone call from Gary's mon -- she was wondering where he was. He used to sleep in my garage sometimes, in my '69 Fairlane. I said I hadn't seen him. She told me someone with this eerie voice called her and said, "You will never see your son again, because I just killed him." Neither of us believed it.

GLEN WOLF, veteran dirt-bag street kid, 21: Gary was helping me fix my car. His tools were here. His hose was here. And some of his tapes were here. And I owed him thirty dollars. And it didn't connect that he didn't come back for all that stuff and ask for the money.

BOY AT WAKE: I was there when they threw the knife in the harbor. I saw Albert and Ricky talking, and Ricky said, "What should I do with it?" and Albert said, "Throw it in the water." And then they went over and they threw it in the water. I said, "What was that?" And Ricky said, "Aw, nothing -- it was a rock, man." I didn't think anything about it.

MARK FISHER: I was walking up Main Street, just applied for a job at the ice-cream parlor, and I saw Ricky making faces at a window. It was like a mirror. If you asked him what was he on, he'd just say, "Drugs." After that, Ricky came and slept over on the couch in my room for a bunch of nights. He'd write "666" on steam mirrors when he'd take a bath, and he'd leave at 12:30 in the afternoon, before my mon came home. Jimmy spent a night, too.

One day I asked Ricky if I could borrow a knife. Jimmy and Ricky always caried knives in their jacket pocket. And he said, "I don't carry a knife." I said, "I don't carry one either." He said, "That's good, you'll just end up stabbing somebody." He said he was tired of living on the streets and was gonne get himself into a rehab program.

One night he came back to my house. He was on dust. He went to sleep, and he woke up and thought he saw people in the room, people who had returned. He said thay may be people were haunting him.

Another night Albert and two girls held a seance at my house, a satanic ritual in which they tried to call forth the devil. It was probably the twentieth or twenty-first of June. Ricky wasn't there. Troiano was in the next room with his girlfriend. They started out by drawing a five-pointed star -- they just traced their fingers. They put a cup in the middle. We put our cigarettes in it. What they did say was "Satan will come forth in the form of fire." And all of a sudden the cup in the middle, after a couple of minutes, started going of paper in there. And they said, "Oh, Satan has arrived! Welcome! Welcome!"

PEACENIK GIRL: Ricky asked me if he could have a ride up to Saratoga to see the Dead. I said, "Sure." I told him Gary might be going, if we could find him.

THE SILENT CIRCLE

THE ONLY INSTITUTION THAT MATTERED was friendship. The idea was to pretend you weren't involved, to hand out and hope it went away. do-de-do. Hey, Ricky, you're a nice guy, why doncha stab me in the eye! Do-de-do, do-de-do. hey, Ricky, you're so swell, why you hanging in your cell?

TERRIE ALTO: This is the first time somebody I know died, other than people who send me checks on Christmas. It's like, I still don't realize he's dead. I've dreamed about him. He's always in my mind. There's so much shit to remind me: his Id bracelet, GARY; his little marines hat.

BILLY LEASON, pallbearer, 16: I'm not scared of death. You can't live life that way. If you're gonna live, I say have good times all the time. Go out and have a party. Push yourself as far as you can go. If I die tomorrow, I can always say that I lived my life to the fullest.

KING SARDONIC, Knights of the Black Circle, 20: I have theories about when you die. I think it's what you think it's gonna be. For me, it's gonna be like this really classic Playboy cartoon from 1966 that had a group of people sitting around a pool. Girls and guys are drinking, and there's a guy all dressed up in a tuxedo -- has the horns on and all, like a devil -- and he's saying. "You didn't actually think hell would be all that bad, did you?" Something close to that.

MICHELLE DeVEAU: My biggest problem in life is my friends dying. A close friend was killed at a New Year's Eve party two years ago. He was fourteen. He called this girl a slut, and she freaked out and stabbed him. I was massively depressed. I tried killing myself. Two weeks after that another friend shot himself. First in the gut and then in the heart. He was about sixteen. Then another friend got hit by a truck, riding his motorcycle. And now Gary.

My mom and dad came in. They said, "We have something to tell you." First thing I thought was somebody's dead. They said, "Gary's dead." I ran into my grandmother's kitchen, grabbed the biggest knife I could find and booked out into the backyard. And I just started hacking away at a tree, started freaking on a tree. That poor tree. One of these big oak trees. It's gonna die.

I imagined him the last time i say him: in his denim jacket, a Billy Idol T-shirt (I always called him Billy Idol, 'cause he looks just like him), his jeans, his Led Zeppelin pin -- you know, where the thing is blowing up -- and his Beatles pin. I came down to the park about four in the morning and sat in the gazebo and looked up where it said GARY 666 started crying. My parents have been watching me with a fine-toothed comb -- looking at my wrists, making sure I don't come in stoned.

I think, Why Gary? Gary was a skinny little guy, an easy target. He went with Ricky to the woods because he will gullible. He was very insecure. He was a sweet guy, and very funny. He always had a joke about something, even something that scared him. He had a lot of jokes about Kasso. Gary's parents were blind to the drugs. Like most parents. He did them to be accepted. Like most kids. I was committed to Gary.

I was in love with the guy, you know. It's sick: I've seen thirteen-year-old girls running around with RICKY LIVES on their T-shirts. They put around graffiti, RICKY LIVES, DEAD OR ALIVE. So I'm putting around GARY LIVES IN OUR HEARTS. Yeah, we were lovers -- that's what takes a lot out of me. I still got one of his hickeys. It won't go away. It's a scar. THEY HAD DRUGS A SUMMER AGO, GARY AND HIS pals got stoned in his forest of white hand prints, and they made a tape to document the event. At one point, Gary stopped the proceedings and enthused: "We contribute this to the society of the man who invented acid, fucking drugs. Man, i dedicate this tape to the man who invented 'cid and mesc. Man, this fucking dude, thanks a lot, man, wherever you are. Fuck the world." BOY, 17: I started selling off all my possessions to get drugs. I sold my tape recorder; I was about to sell my Walkinman. I sold my coin collection. That's just the way it works with drugs. At first, they're fun. Then they become necessary to get you through the day. Then they just become your total desire.

TEEN DUSTHEAD 1: You feel like you're ten feet tall.

TEEN DUSTHEAD 2: You don't fee anything. You feel like you could trip your gut open and not even know it.

FEARFUL BOY, 17: Dust is the ultimate. The end. Complete hallucinations. You sit down, totally numbered out, and you start sinking into it. People can put out cigarettes on you and you don't even care. You can experience yourself sinking into a cinder-block wall.

It's just the suburbs. There's nothing better to do than take drugs. What else can you do? You can go shopping. Go roller-skating. Go bowling. To the movies. There's only so much you can do before things wear out. You start taking drugs, just like the people in the Bronx.

RICH BARTON: The dust high was great, but the aftereffects make your brain feel like a pile of shit. You can't function, can't think for shit. When you're on it, it's like you're drunk, stoned, tripping. When you walk, it feels like rou're walking on water. You feel like a feather. And you feel pressure start building in your skull.

MARK FISHER: In about a year, it will be back to normal. There'll be different dealers. A substitute for Ricky, a substitute for Jimmy.

STOCK BOY: It was the dust, man. Just put it down that it was the dust. That's all.

MARK FLORIMONTE: We were on the Long Island Expressway the other day, stuck with a flat tire for four hours, tripping on mesc. I looked out from the windshield at these clouds, white clouds, all of them in a circle, and one big one in the middle. They were like drifting and coming closer, and they were like skeleton things. They weren't like a regular skeleton -- they were all distorted. But you could see the eyes, the nose and the mouth, like a regular skeleton. THEY HAD DREAMS TWO MONTHS AFTER THE MURder, Rich Barton was still sleeping on the living-room sofa, afraid to sleep in the bedroom where Ricky had crashed so many nights. His mother says, "These kidsare going to need a hundred years of therapy."

RICH BARTON: We were hanging out in Aztakea, getting wasted. I was standing closest to the grave. We had beer and weed. And all of a sudden someone pops up, grabs me and drags me into the woods. It was Gary, and his face was all mangled and stuff. He took me into the woods, and I woke up. I just stayed up and watched Benny Hill, movies and stuff.

I had another one: I was sleeping down in my room and all of sudden Gary came through my door and killed me with a knife. I was sitting there with my mouth wide-open, saying, "Holy shit!" He just comes in and stabs. Doesn't say nothing. I died right away.

ALBERT QUINONES: I was trying to forget about it, man, and I couldn't. It was like, every time it would hit after twelve, I'd start bugging out. I'd get scared to go in my room, because Ricky used to stay in my room. I had some really wicked nightmares, man. I had nightmares that I killed him. It was weird. And I had a dream that I killed another guy. I just started stabbing him in the back of the head. And then a cop came in and scooped him up with this little pick or something and threw him in the garbage. It scared the hell out of me.

MICHELLE DeVEAU: My dream is to get the hell out of here. I want to go somewhere there are no sickos and you don't get hurt by people. I think my generation is a bunch of lowlifes. No ideals. Most of us just bumming around getting stoned. People hate each other for stupid reasons. People have no morals. I'm gonna be a peace freak. I'm more like a hippie-type person than anything else. I'd like to be back in Woodstock.

SOFTHEARTED GIRL: The first night I found out, I had a dream, a dream that Gary talked to me. I apologized to him for something. It was so real. And he said it was okay. And I said, "Can we hang out again?" And he was like, "There's only one problem." And I'm like, "What?" And he said, "I'm dead." I woke up with tears on my face.

Rolling Stone

 
 

The Ricky Kasso Archive

Ricky Kasso was from Northport Long Island. 

In 1984 the police of Northport recieved a phone call about a body in a shallow grave in a small woods called Aztakea Woods. There in the woods the police found the body of Gary Lauwers, over two weeks decomposed. The man had been stabbed thirty two times, twenty-two in the face. The total may have been higher, but the decompisation made it impossible to tell. 

The police focused their investigation on Ricky Kasso and James Troiano. Both were high school dropouts, and known drug abusers who lived on the streets. Troiano had a record of burglary arrests, but Kasso had more unusual charges.

His most recent arrest was a charge of grave robbing, where he dug up a 19th century grave from which he stole a skull and hand that he intended to use for a satanic rite. Soon after they were taken into custody, they both confessed to the murder. 

They were linked to a local satanic group known as the Knights of the Black Circle, which had around twenty members and was known for animal sacrifices. As part of a satanic rite, Kasso goughed out Lauwers eyes.

Kasso may have been able to help more with the investigation, but on July 7th, he hung himself in his jail cell. When Troiano went on trial for second degree murder at the beginning of the next year the case had been revised. The Knights of the Black Circle had nothing to do with this murder. There had been only one witness to the murder besides Troiano, Albert Quinones.

Satanism wasn't muchly involved in the murder, even though they knew Kasso was into a heavy metal style of satanism, but drugs were the main factor in the murder. The act that triggered the murder was Lauwers stealing ten bags of Angel Dust from Kasso. Kasso spent two months complaining about the rip-off, then on June 16th he decided to teach Lauwers a lesson.

Lauwers was in the woods with Kasso, Quinones, and Troiano tripping on Mescaline. Kasso started harrassing him about it, then started beating him, soon he was out of control and got out his pocked knife.

Kasso stabbed him over and over again screaming "Say you love Satan!!!". Lauwers responce was "No, I love my mother!". He accidently cut out the eyes while he stabbed him over and over again. He eventually left the body in the woods covered with leaves. 

In Kasso's confession, he said he heard the screech of a crow, which, in his mind, was Satan saying that the murder was a good thing. At the trial of Troiano, he maintained that he was only a witness, and didn't participate in the murder. The jury found him not guilty.

 
 

Kasso, Ricky

Ricky Kasso was from Northport Long Island. In 1984 the police of Northport recieved a phone call about a body in a shallow grave in a small woods called Aztakea Woods. There in the woods the police found the body of Gary Lauwers, over two weeks decomposed. The man had been stabbed thirty two times, twenty-two in the face. The total may have been higher, but the decompisation made it impossible to tell.

The police focused their investigation on Ricky Kasso and James Troiano. Both were high school dropouts, and known drug abusers who lived on the streets. Troiano had a record of burglary arrests, but Kasso had more unusual charges.

His most recent arrest was a charge of grave robbing, where he dug up a 19th century grave from which he stole a skull and hand that he intended to use for a satanic rite. Soon after they were taken into custody, they both confessed to the murder.

They were linked to a local satanic group known as the Knights of the Black Circle, which had around twenty members and was known for animal sacrifices. As part of a satanic rite, Kasso goughed out Lauwers eyes.

Kasso may have been able to help more with the investigation, but on July 7th, he hung himself in his jail cell. When Troiano went on trial for second degree murder at the beginning of the next year the case had been revised.

The Knights of the Black Circle had nothing to do with this murder. There had been only one witness to the murder besides Troiano, Albert Quinones.

Satanism wasn't muchly involved in the murder, even though they knew Kasso was into a heavy metal style of satanism, but drugs were the main factor in the murder. The act that triggered the murder was Lauwers stealing ten bags of Angel Dust from Kasso. Kasso spent two months complaining about the rip-off, then on June 16th he decided to teach Lauwers a lesson.

Lauwers was in the woods with Kasso, Quinones, and Troiano tripping on Mescaline. Kasso started harrassing him about it, then started beating him, soon he was out of control and got out his pocked knife. Kasso stabbed him over and over again screaming "Say you love Satan!!!". Lauwers responce was "No, I love my mother!".

He accidently cut out the eyes while he stabbed him over and over again. He eventually left the body in the woods covered with leaves. In Kasso's confession, he said he heard the screech of a crow, which, in his mind, was Satan saying that the murder was a good thing. At the trial of Troiano, he maintained that he was only a witness, and didn't participate in the murder. The jury found him not guilty.

 
 

Ricky Kasso was born in March 1967 and despite - or perhaps because of - his secure affluent background, he soon went to the bad, and before he had entered teenage was experimenting with drugs. By the time he reached high school, Kasso (which he delighted in telling people rhymed with 'asshole') was described as 'socially handicapped'.

At age seventeen Ricky, known on the streets around Northport, Long Island, as the 'Acid King', had become obsessed with black magic and Satanism (after reading LaVey's Satanic Bible) to the point where fantasy and reality overlapped dangerously.

Although he never became a full member, Ricky hovered around on the periphery of the Knights of the Black Circle, a drug 'n' orgy cult based at Northport High School, and he was fond of initiating his own circle of druggy hangers-on into his brand of immature Satanism.

Ricky's closest friend at this time was James Troiano (called 'Dracula'), less dominant, but Kasso's equal in almost every other brand of unpleasantness. One of Ricky's biggest fans was seventeen-year-old Gary Lauwers, who followed the Acid King rather as a dog follows its master.

In 1984, Ricky Kasso led his merry men on a pilgrimage to the notorious house at Amityville where Ronald 'Butch' DeFeo had massacred his family ten years earlier. It was 30 April, the witches' feast of Walpurgisnacht, so Ricky knocked together an altar and they all shouted a few praises to Satan.

A month or so later, at the start of June, Kasso found he was missing several twists of 'angel dust', and repeatedly accused Gary Lauwers of having stolen the drugs. On 16 June Kasso, Troiano, Lauwers and a youth named Albert Quinones hid themselves away in Newport's Aztakea Woods to partake of some mescaline.

During the course of subsequent reveries they renewed the dispute over the allegedly pilfered drugs. The result was a vicious attack by the dope-crazed Kasso on the disciple who in trying to escape was felled by Troiano and held down while Ricky repeatedly drove a hunting knife into his body; Lauwers' disinclination at the time to embrace the church of Satan in his hour of need resulted in Kasso gouging out his eyes.

Ricky and 'Drac' covered the body with leaves, though poor terrified Albert had long since taken to his heels.

Despite the fact that Ricky Kasso was openly boasting of his human sacrifice, it was not until 5 July that anybody had the courage to tell the police. That day Kasso and Troiano were arrested and held in a cell. Two days later the Acid King hanged himself with a bed sheet.

Albert Quinones turned state's evidence, but having been out of his head on drugs at the time of the 'sacrifice, proved a very unreliable witness against James Troiano at his trial in April 1985. This, combined with some irregularity in Dracula's confession, led to his eventual acquittal.

This tale comes from The Encyclopedia of Occult and Supernatural Murder by Brian Lane (Headline, London, 1995)

 
 


Ricky Kasso

 

 

 
 
 
 
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