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Horror Story Began a Year Ago with Mark Kilroy’s Disappearance

March 11, 1990 GMT

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ The ritual slayings of 15 people, including a Texas college student who disappeared a year ago during spring break, have led to books, speeches and warnings, but no verdicts yet.

University of Texas student Mark Kilroy vanished early March 14, 1989, while out bar hopping with three friends in this border city. After a monthlong search, his mutilated corpse was found buried at a ranch.

Fourteen other victims were unearthed there and at a nearby farm. A drug- smuggling cult allegedly performed the ritual slayings seeking magical protection from the law and rival smugglers.

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Here’s what those involved have to say a year later:

- Helen and James Kilroy of Santa Fe, Texas, say some good has come from the death of their 21-year-old son: They have been warning other young people about the evils of drugs through speaking engagements and the Mark Kilroy Foundation.

They also are writing a book. The parents said they haven’t read the books already published, including one titled ″Hell Ranch,″ but have heard they sensationalized the killing.

″In our book we intend to tell the true story, and exactly what all went on, how we felt about it all,″ said James Kilroy.

- Bill Huddleston, a Texas A&M junior who accompanied Kilroy to Matamoros, called a news conference Wednesday to urge college students who go out drinking to stay together and check up on each other. ″I feel like I owe it to Mark to get the message out to everyone,″ Huddleston said.

He said he’ll be skiing in New Mexico this spring break. For those who go across the border, he recommended participation in a voluntary sign-in program Mexican officials have begun.

- Five men arrested in April remain jailed in Matamoros, awaiting verdicts from a state district judge.

Three others, including alleged cult ″godmother″ Sara Maria Aldrete Villarreal, were jailed in June after a shoot-out with police in Mexico City. Mexican officials in January reported that one of the three, Omar Orea Ochoa, died of complications from AIDS.

Cult ″godfather″ Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo reportedly ordered himself and follower Martin Quintana Rodriguez killed as police closed in on the Mexico City apartment.

- State District Judge Francisco Salvador Perez said the fact that two of the suspects are in Mexico City has slowed paperwork and he could not say when he will reach verdicts. Under Mexican law, he said the defendants in this case are presumed responsible, but have the opportunity to prove themselves innocent.

Perez said the greatest punishment any single defendant in the case could receive would be 40 years in prison, the penalty for homicide, the worst crime alleged. One of the seven, a caretaker at the ranch, is charged only with covering up the crime.

- Alex Perez, sheriff in Brownsville just across the Rio Grande, says the gruesome crime still haunts him. ″In my life, I’ve seen a lot of it, but this was the one that got me not to sleeping at night,″ he said.

Experts concluded that the cult practiced a perverted form of the Afro- Cuban religion Palo Mayombe, in which believers use human bones, but don’t normally kill people to get them. Police said Constanzo’s cult reported inspiration from the 1987 film ″The Believers.″