[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at
1998's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Friday, Oct. 30.]
A Fort Worth, Texas, teen who allegedly stabbed his friend in the neck on a satanic altar Sunday night (Oct. 25) had been watching a Marilyn Manson video with his victim earlier in the evening, according to police.
While authorities are not planning to draw a cause-and-effect relationship between the shock rocker's music and the attack, they say they may use 17-year-old Jay Fieldon Howell's apparent fascination with Manson to help convict the young suspect of such an eerie crime.
"Nothing in his statement states anything like the idea or the [causal] factor or anything along that line came directly from the music," Lt. Mark Krey, a Fort Worth police spokesman, said Friday (Oct. 30). "[Marilyn Manson's music] is a style of music that does have a lot of violent content to it, and it is the style of music he listened to. When you compound that with [Howell's alleged] satanic beliefs, there could be something there, I don't know."
Police said prosecutors could invoke Manson's songs and lyrics during a grand-jury trial in weeks ahead, in an effort to draw a picture of the mind of Howell, who has reportedly been under psychiatric care for nine years. On Wednesday, the teen-ager confessed to authorities that he had stabbed his 14-year-old victim, police said.
Howell and Selena Jones, both avid Marilyn Manson fans, spent part of Sunday evening watching a Marilyn Manson video in Howell's bedroom, before they left the house to visit what police are calling a satanic altar in Howell's backyard shed, Krey said.
But Manson was not the only rock artist who apparently figured into the bizarre scenario that police have painted of the stabbing.
According to Jones' affidavit, Howell asked the girl to write, "Killing is my business. And business is good" -- the title of a 1985 album by political-metal band Megadeth -- on a wall in the shed, Krey said. With her back turned to him, Howell allegedly hit the girl with a cinder block, then stabbed her in the neck.
"It's possible that the prosecution would want to bring up [Howell's interest in Manson] to show that this could have had an impact on the rationale, for lack of a better term, as to the motivating factors that were behind this particular crime," Krey said. "I don't know that there's an obligation to put it out there, but it's a fact that I'm sure the prosecution would want the grand jurors aware of."
Krey said he was unaware of any Megadeth connection to the words Jones was writing.
Howell was taken to Tarrant County Jail on Wednesday, where he remains, with bail set at $100,000 on suspicion of causing serious bodily injury to a child. As of late Thursday night, Jones remained at a local hospital, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper, which reported that her condition is serious.
Krey said he did not know which Manson video Jones and Howell had been watching on the night of the attack. He added that the pair were not romantically linked but had been brought together by a common enjoyment of Manson's music, as well as that of other heavy-metal bands.
Over the past several years, Marilyn Manson (born Brian Warner), 29, and his namesake band have drawn fire from a variety of religious and conservative groups. The band encountered protests throughout a 1997 tour in support of the album Antichrist Superstar; less than a week into its current tour, in support of the recently released Mechanical Animals, it has already drawn demonstrators.
Critics contend that lines such as "I'm so all-American, I'd sell you suicide," from Antichrist Superstar's "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" (RealAudio excerpt), encourage violence among listeners. Neither Manson's label, Interscope Records, nor his manager, Tony Ciulla, returned calls for this story.
Asked for a reaction to the possibility that police may try to link the stabbing to Manson's music, a Manson fan called it "pointless."
"They all try to do that, because nobody wants to face that maybe it's their own community's fault," Los Angeles fan Christina Radish, 21, said. "It happens all the time. It's not going to stick. They can try all they want, but I don't think they'll have any luck."
According to the Star-Telegram, Howell had a nine-year history of psychiatric problems.
"There have been no signs that he's capable of this," the paper quoted Howell's mother, Cindy Crews, as saying of the crime. The paper said Crews was visibly distraught.
"Even in his latest psychological evaluation three weeks ago, there were no signs of violence," she reportedly added. "It did show signs of his interest in Satanism. But this was a kid trying to get his life in order."
Despite the fact that her son decorated his bedroom with an altar, black candles, the numerals 666 and other occult-related symbols, Crews described her son as "normal."
"He seemed normal with his peers, because his peers have all the same interests also," Crews told the Star-Telegram. "He just wanted to be his own self. ... He felt he had a right to have his own beliefs, dress how he wanted and follow his interests."
Anti-censorship activist Nina Crowley said she hoped that authorities would not attempt to link Manson's music to the crime.
"Blaming as serious a problem as youth violence or mental illness on music is simply a means by which parents, teachers and government officials can deflect their own guilt," said Crowley, director of the Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition. "Much more good will come from a rational assessment of the real physical and emotional causes of this young man's terror."
Howell promised to get help for Jones after the stabbing if she assured him she wouldn't tell anyone what happened, according to the Star-Telegram. The pair then were said to have concocted a story about Howell rescuing Jones from an alley after she was attacked.
Later, at the hospital, Jones told police about Howell's alleged knifing and his interest in Satanism.
The Star-Telegram reported that, at the scene of the stabbing, police found bloody handprints on the walls and blood covering the floor. A 6-inch hunting knife that is believed to have been used to stab Jones impaled the center of a pentagram.