Update - November 3, 2010 Shelby Ellis Has Been Found Safe In Washington State
Notice To National & Local News Media Vampire Cults, Gothic Crime, & Satanic Panic
The Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA] would like to express its disappointment with the news media, both national and local, in their decision to run sensationalized headlines about the very sober and serious situation of a teenaged runaway. We urge the news media to resist the temptation of sensationalism, and employ maturity and sensitivity rather than hysteria. There is categorically no such thing as "underground vampire cults," and employing the flawed language of hysteria at best shows a lack of respect for the facts, and at worst succumbs to flights of fancy which could serve to distract an ongoing search for a missing person.
We would also like to take this opportunity to point this coverage out as "teachable moment" in media hysteria. The insistence on using the term "vampire cult" is at once prejudiced, irresponsible, and poorly-informed; it relies on a series of common folk beliefs about "cults" which have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked by experts. They have no place in serious social dialogue of any kind, much less in a discussion about a teenager who has run away from home.
The suggestion that such "cults" exist, and are indicated by their choices of music, clothing, or non-Christian symbols, is directly related to a cultural prejudice commonly known as "Satanic Panic." Satanic Panic is an urban legend which plays on religiously-generated fears of other peoples' religions and cultures to create an imaginary narrative of "cults" which practice criminal behavior in a pseudo-religious context. No such "cults" have ever existed, and the myth of the "cults" has been repeatedly debunked; but the prejudice created by the myth still harms innocent people today.
The discredited "satanic panic" narrative stereotypes a wide range of normal behavior as potentially dangerous. These normal behaviors include choices of clothing and music, the ordinary symbols of valid non-Christian religions, and even what novels one might read. Fear of these ordinary activities has led historically to censorship and the abuse of individuals wrongly accused of being "in cults," and feeds a vicious prejudice based solely on fear.
We would also like to note that the vampirefreaks.com social networking site is not a vampire-oriented website, and is not considered a participating entity in the online vampire community. Confusing the vampirefreaks.com social networking site with vampire folklore, fiction, or the vampire community is a mistake based apparently on the site's URL. The vampirefreaks.com site, apparently in an attempt at stylishness, calls their interest-based user communities "cults." This should not be confused with any "cults," real or actual, of course. Perhaps this is where the "cult" terminology started getting tossed about the press, but if that's the case, the usage appears to be entirely facetious.
Notice To The Vampire Community: MISSING, POSSIBLY ENDANGERED RUNAWAY November 2, 2010
The disappearance of Shelby Ellis has come to our attention via the national news media. While we do not believe that Shelby Ellis has ever been in contact with the vampire community either online or offline, we encourage vampire community members to keep a lookout for any missing persons who may come into contact with us for any reason.
From what we can gather from media reports, the only link between Shelby Ellis and anything concerning "vampires" is the fact that she has a profile on the unaffiliated "vampirefreaks.com" social networking site, and her parents' statement that she sometimes dressed in Goth fashion. We know of no one who has ever met or spoken online with her, and don't think she's ever had any contact with the vampire community. It's unlikely that anyone in the actual vampire community will be contacted by Shelby, but sometimes news reports like the ones we're seeing may prompt a runaway to contact community members even if they had no previous knowledge of the vampire community.
Shelby Ellis is sixteen years old, and may be traveling to New York or Missouri. The news reports haven't said whether they think anyone is traveling with her. Please pass this on, and spread the word with both the Goth and vampire communities in those states, as well. If Shelby contacts you, please encourage her to call the Cobb County Sheriff's Office at 770.499.4600/4635 and/or her family.
an unusual story about three missing kids, CBS Atlanta has learned
three Cobb County students all disappeared within a few days of each
The three McEachern High School teens were said to be
involved a Goth lifestyle, had an obsession with vampires, and then they
disappeared each within a week of each other.
Two of the teens
turned up over the weekend. But Shelby Elllis, a 16 year old sophomore,
is still missing and her parents fear the worst.
The question now
is what has happened to Shelby Ellis, the remaining missing teen? And
does her involvement on an eerie website hold the key.
Rich and Wendy Ellis spoke exclusively with CBS Atlanta's Wendy Saltzman.
"What flashes through my head every day is a girl lying in a ditch on the side of the road," Rich Ellis said.
"No one heard from Shelby. I'm truly afraid she is not alive. What are we supposed to think?" her step-mother, Wendy, said.
has been missing for three weeks. On Oct. 11, she took the bus to
school and never came home. Her last known activity on the Internet was
logging onto the website "Vampire Freaks," where her parents say she
lived a double life.
"You have the obvious thoughts of pentagrams
and candles and the crazy things that you see on TV that are associated
with the darker cult lifestyle," Rich Ellis said.
The week after
Shelby vanished, one of her friends, a 15-year-old freshman, went
missing. A week later, a third girl disappeared.
"The way that
they have come up missing one after the other makes us believe-- a lot
of things point to that they are in some kind of pact," private
investigator Phillip Hambrick told CBS Atlanta News.
The family hired Hambrick to help find their daughter.
"We don't know if she has been coerced to go out somewhere, if she has been kidnapped," Hambrick said.
The common link, the family warns, may be an underground cult.
lot of them are in this dark, 'let's be gothic, let's be different,
let's suck blood.' All kinds of dark stuff," Wendy Ellis said.
said the three girls were fascinated with vampires and the dark side of
life. They were all students at McEachern High School in Cobb County,
although one of the girls was not enrolled this year.
"I know nothing about it," Principal Regina Montgomery told CBS Atlanta News.
Saltzman went to ask Montgomery about the mysterious connection between
her students, the principal had her escorted off the property.
"Do you think it is suspicious that all these girls have disappeared?" Reporter Wendy Saltzman asked.
"Ma'am, can I ask you to leave?" Montgomery said as she walked away.
The other two teens, who were found this weekend, have refused to tell investigators where Shelby might be.
are kids that go missing that you never hear from again. I don't want
to be here in eight, 10 months still not knowing where our daughter is,"
Wendy Ellis said.
The Cobb County Sheriff's Office would not provide the details of their investigation because all three girls are under age.
you have any additional information about Shelby Ellis' whereabouts,
please contact the Cobb County Sheriff's Office, or her family at
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