Hell to pay: Arson shakes a Church of Satan community
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (AP) — Members of the Church of Satan are grieving the destruction of a historic “Halloween House” north of New York City that authorities say was set ablaze this week by an unidentified arsonist.
The historic home, built in 1900, served as an Addams Family-style hub for local adherents of the religion, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports. One member of the church likened the arson to a terrorist attack.
“Everybody’s in shock and everyone in the neighborhood is worried,” the member, who goes by the name Isis Vermouth, told the newspaper. “Whoever did this is going to be hexed by all of us.”
“Now there’s going to be hell to pay,” Vermouth added.
Surveillance footage shows a man walking up to the house after 5 a.m. Thursday with two gas cans, splashing liquid on the front porch and igniting it, people said. Two people escaped the house unharmed, authorities said.
The home on South Clinton Street was decorated with devil sculptures. A hearse long sat in its driveway, and a sign over the garage read “Devil’s Garage.”
The exotic house served as a gathering place to celebrate Halloween and showcased the beliefs of its longtime former owner, Joe “Netherworld” Mendillo, a Church of Satan member who died last year.
“It was extraordinarily different,” City Councilman Chris Petsas said. “It wasn’t your normal home.”
It’s unlikely the home will be restored because of the extensive fire damage, said Peter H. Gilmore, high priest of the Church of Satan, who lives down the block in what members refer to as Poughkeepsie’s “Witchcraft District.”
The religion is based not on devil worship, but on atheist philosophies of individualism, liberty and self-fulfillment, Gilmore said.