Coverage Of "The Voodoo Murders"

If you haven't read the summary of this case, you might want to check it out on the main Voodoo Murders page. Below you will find transcripts of over a dozen newspaper articles from the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press covering what has come to be known as the Voodoo Murders. These were hand-typed from microfiche scans by Dspitzle, so there's a chance of transcription errors, and he failed to capture page numbers in the scans for several articles. There is also a distinct possibility that an article or two has been missed, particularly anything published after the time period that is included here. Transcripts of later articles, or page numbers for the articles missing them would be very useful.

1.  Detroit News Coverage - To The Point

1.1  Detroit News, Monday Nov 21 1932, page 1

HEAD OF CULT ADMITS KILLING - Says 'Unbeliever' Was Sacrificed to the Gods of His Order - Wife Also Under Arrest

The Negro leader of a strange religious cult has confessed that he killed an "unbeliever" on a rude table in his home at 1429 Dubois street early Sunday, because his gods demanded a human sacrifice.

Robert Harris, head of the cult, and his wife, Bertha, are held on murder charges. The victim was Jams J. Smith, also a Negro and a roomer in the Harris home. Police found the body, with a fractured skull and a sliver knife in the chest, in a rear room of the house Sunday afternoon.

According to Harris, the victim mounted an altar in the room and stood with his arms outstretched, gazing at the ceiling. Then a few seconds before the minute hand of the clocked reached 12 Harris got his dirk out of a drawer and plunged it into Smith's heart, according to his tale. The victim's skull was then fractured by an automobile axle.

Prints Don't Check

Harris' fingerprints today were compared by Sergt. Thomas Dwyer, of the identification bureau, with the print found at the scene of the Evangelista slayings. Benny Evangelista, his wife and their four children were slain July 3, 1929, in their home at 3586 St. Aubin avenue, with an ax.

Following the comparison, inspector John I. Navarre, of the homicide squad, said that the prints did not check. He said detectives would question Harris in connection with the Evangelista slayings but that he was "reasonably convinced" that Harris had no connection with them.

Evangelista was the leader of a cult and police believe the slaying was linked in some way with his religious practices. A single fingerprint in blood, which was found on the door knob of the Evangelista home, was the only clue the slayer left. The print has not been matched in police records.

Harris told Meier that his cult was called the Order of Islam and that he had almost 100 followers among Detroit Negroes.

Following the slaying, Harris and his wife went to the home of friends at 2729 Clinton street, where they were later arrested.

The body was discovered shortly after noon Sunday by a man whose name is not known to the police.

Battles Police

A printed sentence, "The unbeliever must be stabbed through the heart," was found pasted on a sheet of paper. It apparently had been cut from a book or magazine.

Harris made his confession readily but he made a violent struggle when the police attempted to fingerprint him. The prints were obtained after four detectives overpowered him.

Mrs. Harris substantiated her husband's statements. Several other persons were questioned and released. Several of these, police say, were members of the Order of Islam.


1.2  Detroit News, Tuesday Nov 22 1932, page ?

LEADER OF CULT CALLED INSANE - Inspector Discredits Slayer's Story of Planning Death of Officials

Assertions by Robert Harris, member of the Order of Islam, a Negro religious organization, who has confessed he killed another Negro in a "sacrificial rite," that he had planned to slay Mayor Murphy, two judges and a public welfare worker, were discounted today by Inspector John I. Navarre, head of the homicide squad, as "the ravings of an insane man."

Navarre said that while Harris had mentioned Mayor Murphy, Judge Edward J. Jeffries and Judge Arthur E. Gordon by name, it was ascertained that Harris had never seen any of his "intended victims." Harris amplified his list today, Navarre said, by adding the names of King George and J.P. Morgan.

Navarre questioned Edward Harris, a brother, of 2729 Clinton street. Edward Harris said he was also a member of the Order of Islam, which has a temple at 3408 Hastings street. He told Navarre that he and other members of the order regarded Robert as being demented and paid no attention to him. He said Robert had no standing in the order and was not a leader.

Wife Was Afraid

Navarre said Robert Harris' wife, also held on a murder charge as an result of the killing of James J. Smith Sunday in the Harris home at 1429 Dubois street, told him she believed her husband to be insane and had been afraid of him for some time.

It was possible, Navarre said, that Harris may have had evil intentions toward a welfare worker. Miss Gladys Smith, 5718 Lawton avenue, who first investigated Harris' application for aid from the welfare department, said she had found him a "meek, humble" client. Harris did not mention Miss Smith's name, Navarre said.

Harris' wife told Navarre that several times Harris threatened to cut off her head and also to kill their two children, Ruby, 9 years old, and Araby, 12.

Harris asked for aid when he was evicted from a house on Clinton street in 1930, Miss Smith said. He and his wife then moved into a small house on Monroe avenue.

"I talked with him," Miss Smith said, "and sent the family to live with another welfare client on Mullett street, where they stayed all winter, the welfare department paying the rent. We gave them two meal tickets a day and later they received grocery, clothing and coal orders. Harris impressed me as being a carefree, stolid, humble and meek man who seemed to be satisfied with anything that was done for him and his family.

Others Had Trouble

"Later, in 1931, however, I heard that other welfare workers were having trouble with Harris. He had become talkative and argumentative. He was 'demanding' that things be done for him. Two workers, Mrs. Adele Ivey and Miss Halen Heddins, had taken the case and they found Harris not easy to get along with.

"Later the department found that Harris had not qualified as a resident and was not entitled to aid. It seems he had been living with a brother in Inkster, and he was not a legal resident. When it was found he belonged to the South, transportation was provided for him, and when he refused to accept it, he was cut off the welfare last July.

"Harris never threatened me. He seemed a stupid fellow, but the other workers said he changed suddenly."

Although Inspector Navarre says that he is "reasonably convinced" that Harris was not involved in the slaying of Benny Evangelista, his wife and four children in 1929, Harris was to be questioned again today. The prisoner struggled furiously when efforts were made to take his fingerprints, but the prints did not check with the one obtained at the Evangelista home.

Sanity Hearing

The police said Harris would be given a psychopathic examination after his arraignment on a charge of killing Smith.

Lieut. John Hoffman, of the special investigation squad, said Harris is a member of the same cult to which Henry James Moaning, also known as "Ahmed Ullah" and "Ahm Abdullah," Mississippi-born Negro, belonged.

Moaning was arrested last November, after he had sent a number of threatening letters to Mayor Murphy. Moaning was adjudged insane in Probate Court and sent to Eloise.

Detroit Negroes, Lieut. Hoffman said, were being organized as Mohammedans by a man who told them they were of Turkish origin and charged them fees for their "Turkish" names.


1.3  Detroit News, Wednesday Nov 23 1932, page 7

LEADER OF CULT TO BE QUIZZED - Police Seek To Learn if Teachings of Order Figured in 'Sacrificial Slaying.'

Detectives of the homicide squad today were to question W.D. Fard, leader of the Order of Islam, Negro religious society, to determine whether teachings of the organization played a part in the killing by Robert Harris of another Negro in a "sacrificial rite."

Harris, who confessed the slaying, was termed demented by his brother, Edward, 3729 Clinton street, and by Ugan Ali, secretary of the society, when the brother and Ali were questioned Tuesday afternoon by Detective Sergt. Oscar Berry and Detective Charles W. Snyder.

"The society cannot be blamed for anything he did," said Ali after the detectives had visited the Order of Islam Temple at 3406 Hastings street, where they found the secretary, his wife, Lillian, and 25 men in the living quarters off a meeting hall seating 400.

Teachings Explained

"We teach a philosophy similar to the Golden Rule," added Ali, who declared that 9,000 Negroes belonged to the organization, which was established here three years ago and once held its meetings in the Bishop School. "Our fundamental purpose is to uplift our own people," Ali continued.

Members are taught not to eat certain foods, to employ their time usefully, and that by their efforts the world can be rid of evil by 1934, Ali said. Mohammedan names are given to both men and women and the wearing of a fez is permitted.

"Harris had no standing in the order and was not regarded as a leader. Many people avoided him because of the wild things he sometimes said," Ali declared.

Ali was brought to headquarters for questioning after the detectives had been reinforced by the crew of a police cruiser. Before the arrival of reinforcements Ali and his followers refused to permit Berry and Snyder to search the quarters without a warrant.

Worries Blamed

"Worries over money caused my brother to lose his mind," said Edward Harris, also a member of the order. "He has been acting queerly in the last few weeks, preaching a lot and stopping people on the streets. Nobody paid much attention to him."

Mrs. Bertha Harris, wife of the slayer, who was present last Sunday when he killed James J. Smith in the Harris home at 1428 Dubois street, told the detectives she had lived in fear of her husband for some time, and that he often threatened to kill her and the two children, Ruby, 9 years old, and Araby 12.

"He made me watch the clock when he struck Smith with an automobile axle," Mrs. Harris stated. "The children were asleep at the time. He told me if I didn't do as I was ordered he would kill me also."


1.4  Detroit News, Thursday Nov 24 1932, page ?

HARRIS, CULT SLAYER, FACES COURT FRIDAY - 2 Other Members of Society Also Are Held.

Robert Harris, member of the Order of Islam, a Negro religious society, who has confessed, according to police, he killed James J. Smith, another Negro, in the Harris home at 1428 Dubois street last Sunday in a "sacrificial rite," will be arraigned in Recorder's Court Friday on a warrant charging him with murder.

Two other members of the society - Wallace Fard, its leader, and Ugan Ali, secretary - are being held, Fard for the immigration authorities and Ali on a disorderly person charge. Fard said he did not know Harris. Ali and Harris' brother, Edward, told police they thought the accused man was demented.

Four others were detained for questioning when police found theme early today at Lafayette avenue east and Orleans street. According to police the men said they were looking for "the place where the society was going to hold its big meeting." The four are registered as Abe Mohammed, 539 Alfred street; Ocler Zareff, 2114 St. Antoine street; Cornelius Bey, 3112 Beaubien street, and Wallace Mohammed, 951 Mullett street.

The warrant for Harris was recommended by Miles N. Culehan, assistant prosecuting attorney. It is expected a sanity commission will be appointed to examine Harris after his arraignment.

Ali and Fard told detectives there was nothing in the teachings of the Order of Islam that countenanced "sacrificial rites." They said the order could not be blamed for anything Harris did.


1.5  Detroit News, Friday Nov 25 1932, page 1

CULT SLAYER PLEADS GUILTY - Harris Argues With Judge Boyne at Arraignment on Murder Charge

While a crowd of his co-religionists milled about today in the corridors outside Judge John A. Boyne's court room in Recorder's Court, Robert Harris, Negro, a member of the Order of Islam, who kill another Negro last Sunday in what he insisted was a "sacrificial rite," was arraigned on a charge of first degree murder. On his admitting the killing, a plea of guilty was entered for him.

Inspector John I. Navarre, head of the homicide squad, said efforts would be made to have Harris arraigned on the State's information this afternoon before Judge John P. Scallen, who is expected to appoint a sanity commission at once to examine Harris.

Harris' arraignment followed a prolonged debate between him and Judge Boyne as to who was "king." When Harris, handcuffed to Detective Charles W. Snyder, was taken before Judge Boyne, he was wearing a much-frayed cap. He continued to keep the cap on when he stood before the court.

A Debate Ensues

"Take off your cap," Judge Boyne ordered.

Harris made no move to comply.

"I am king here," he said.

"Oh, no, you are not," said Judge Boyne, "I'm the king here."

"No, sir, I'm the king here and everywhere," said the prisoner.

The discussion was interrupted when a court officer removed the cap.

"Did you kill James J. Smith?" Judge Boyne asked.

"Yes, I did," said Harris, replacing the cap on his head.

The cap was removed again by the court officer.

"I did kill this man at 1429 Dubois street," Harris said.

"Why did you kill him?" Judge Boyne asked.

"It was crucifixion time," said Harris. "That's why I killed him."

"What did you kill him with?" asked the court.

"With the crucifixion," Harris said. "I said 'aliker alump,' and he fell dead. He died because it's a dumb civilization. But I gave my children a break, because I'm a lover of children. Well, I've got to go now."

Starts To Walk Out

Harris started to walk toward the door.

"You'd better wait a minute," said Judge Boyne.

Harris then grabbed a box of rubber bands from the clerk's desk and was stuffing them into his pocket.

"Put those back," Judge Boyne said.

"No, I'm king here," said Harris, continuing to stuff the rubber bands into his pocket with one hand, and putting his cap back on his head with the other

While one court officer recovered the bands another uncovered Harris' head. Harris was then taken to a cell.

Other members of the society told police that the Order of Islam did not countenance sacrificial rites. They told police that Harris was demented and that the society was not responsible for his act.

Five hundred men and women, who claimed to be members of the Order of Islam, headed by leaders wearing red fezzes, invaded Police Headquarters Thursday, as a protest against the detention of W. D. Farad, leader of the society, and Ugani Ali, secretary.

Demand Release

Among the leaders of the march was Ali's wife, Lillie, who demanded to see her husband, and was told he was in the psychopathic ward of Receiving Hospital. She told detectives of the homicide squad she would lead a group of the cult members to the headquarters building or to the hospital every day until the leaders have been released.

There was no violence or disturbance, the marchers breaking up quickly after their demands had been denied.

"I want a full record of the case, with all the sworn testimony," Toy said Thursday night, "so that it can be used against Harris in the event he is sent to an institution for the insane and later released on the grounds that he had regained his sanity. This will prevent any recurrence of such a case as that of Harry Wolfson."

Wolfson was committed to the Ionia State Hospital, an institution for the criminally insane, in 1926 while he was on trial on robbery armed charge. He previously had confessed to a score of holdups and was implicated in an assault case in which a policeman was killed.

Freed From Hospital

Wolfson left the hospital last month when it was found that he was cured and able to go on trial.

But meanwhile, witnesses in the six-year-old robbery case could not be located. Even though they had been found, Toy said at the time, it was unlikely that they could have identified Wolfson after so long a lapse of time. Wolfson was freed.

"If we have a permanent record of Harris' examination," Mr. Toy said, "we won't need the testimony of witnesses should Harris ever be permitted to leave the hospital."

Mr. Toy said that he believes the present laws bearing on the crimes of mental defectives, are not adequate and that he intends to recommend changes at the next meeting of the State Legislature.

Henry Piel, deputy chief of detectives, today directed Detective Lieut. John Hoffman, head of the special investigation squad, to make a daily check of the activities of the Order of Islam.<br


1.6  Detroit News, Sunday Nov 27 1932, page ?

HARRIS, CULT KILLER, BECOMES VIOLENT - Harris Argues With Judge Boyne at Arraignment on Murder Charge - Taken to Hospital Following Outbreak in Cell

Robert Harris, self-styled "king" of the Order of Islam, a Negro cult, who is charged with killing another Negro as a "human sacrifice," became violent in his cell at the Wayne County Jail Saturday afternoon and was transferred to the psychopathic ward in Receiving Hospital.

Jail turnkeys said that Harris, a powerfully built man, "went berserk and store things to bits."

Further action against Harris will depend on the sanity commission appointed Saturday by Judge John P. Scallen, in Recorder's Court.

Drs. John T. Slevin, Carl Hanna and Alfred C. LeBine are the members of the commission. They were instructed to make their examination of Harris, and report by Dec. 9.

Detective-Sergt. Barney Seleske and Detective Harry Mikuliak, of the special investigation squad, were assigned to the case Saturday, and spent most of the day examining the records and statements which already have been gathered. They will include in their work an examination of the Order of Islam, of which Harris was a member, and which, he said, had rules that made the killing necessary.

Harris pleaded guilty Friday when he was arraigned before Judge Scallen and he was remanded to the County Jail to await the action of the sanity commission.


2.  Detroit Free Press Coverage - Sensationalism At Its Most Lurid

2.1  Detroit Free Press, Monday Nov 21 1932, page 1

LEADER OF CULT ADMITS SLAYING AT HOME 'ALTAR' - Police Trying to Link Voodoo Chieftain to Evangelista Case - Victim Was Stranger, Killer Tells Officials

A self-crowned "king" of a weird religious cult was being held Sunday night by police, following his cool admission late in the afternoon that he had selected and brutally murdered a sacrificial victim on an improvised altar in his home at 1429 Dubois St.

Robert Harris, forty-four-year-old Negro, is the "king" of the strange religious order, which he claims boasts a membership of 100 Detroit Negroes.

A palm print of Harris is to be inspected by fingerprint experts of the Detroit Police department in an effort to identify him as the ax killer of Benny Evangelista, his wife and four children here July 3, 1929. Evangelista, also leader of a fantastic religious cult, was believed by police to have been the victim of the head of some rival order.

Detective Sergt. Michael McGowan, who took part in the Evangelista investigation, questioned Harris for half an hour early Monday morning. Harris told him, he said, that he came to Detroit from Tennessee in the fall of 1929, which is after the Evangelista murders. He denied knowing anything about the family massacre.

Check Fingerprints Monday

Detective Lieut. Paul H. Wencel, who also took part in the search for the slayer of the Evangelista family, visited headquarters Sunday afternoon and conferred with Homicide Squad detectives.

Lieut. Wencel said that the fingerprint comparison would be made Monday but that its results would not be announced for a day or two, once police had been able to check Harris' history.

James J. Smith, 40, also a Negro, was Harris' sacrificial victim. The "king" admitted crushing Smith's skull with the rear axle of an automobile first, and then stabbing him through the heart.

Smith's body was discovered on the makeshift altar late Sunday afternoon by neighbors, who notified police and name Harris as the likely killer. The "king" and his wife, Bertha, 25, were arrested at 2729 Clinton St. Both went without protest to Police Headquarters.

There Harris, a large Negro, with no sign of misgiving, admitted the killing while his wife look on. She corroborated his statements.

Then, straightaway, he unfolded his story of a mystic cult, as savage and barbarous as a voodoo [UNREADABLE]. With pride, he reminded the officers that he was "king" of the "Order of Islam."

"Divine Prophet" Slain

Evangelista, likewise, headed a religious order, being hailed as its "divine prophet." A short ax and a [unreadable]-edged knife were believed by police to have been the implements which dealt death to Evangelista, his wife, Santina, and their children, Angeline 7, Margaret 5, Jean 4, and Maria 14 months.

They were hacked to death in their home at 3587 St. Aubin Ave., just a few blocks from the scene of Smith's murder. Evangelista's head was severed from his body and the necks of the other victims had been hacked severely, apparently with an ax.

Although more than 500 persons were questioned by authorities in an attempt to solved the massacre, police were unable to make any progress in their investigation. The only clue was a palm print left on a doorknob in the home. Police will compare this print with one taken from Harris' hand.

"The ninth hour of the twentieth day had come Sunday," Harris told police. "It was predestined 1,500 years ago that at that hour I must make a human sacrifice to my gods. It must not be a member of the Order of Islam, but some stranger - the first person I met after leaving my home."

Smith was that person, Harris recounted. The confessed murderer told of inviting Smith into his home at 9 a.m. and of crushing his skull with the axle, "just to quiet him." The cult then required, he said, that the body be placed on the altar and a sacrificial knife stabbed through the heart. An eight-inch knife was found thrust to the hilt in Smith's heart.

A cheap magazine was discovered in Harris' home opened to a story of mysticism of the desert. A clause "the unbeliever must be stabbed through the heart" was underlined.

Harris was peaceable and answered questions readily until police attempted to lock him up. Then he lunged at Assistant Prosecutor John T. Meier, and struggled with officers who restrained him. Four policemen were required to subdue him.


2.2  Detroit Free Press, Tuesday Nov 22 1932, page 1

VOODOO SLAYER ADMITS PLOTTING DEATH OF JUDGES - Fanatic Also Planned to Murder Woman - Tells of Altar Killing of His Willing Victim

Picking from their memories and records isolated instances which, pieced together, might form a clew revealing the scope of the Detroit voodoo sect that came to light with the offering of a human sacrifice, detectives Monday night turned to the year-old case of Ahfed Abdullah.

Ahfed Abdullah, a Negro known as James Moaning until he adopted the more picturesque name, was arrested a year ago while trying to gain access to Mayor Frank Murphy's apartment. Plainly psychopathic, the man told a disordered story in which it appeared that he had a grievance against the government of Haiti. It appeared that he in some way connected Detroit's City Government with that of Haiti.

Robert Harris, self-appointed apostle of a mystic cult, who Sunday knocked James J. Smith, another Negro, unconscious and plunged a knife through Smith's chest as he lay on a makeshift altar, also had adopted a Mohammedan name, police revealed. He refers to himself as Karien.

Planned to Slay Judges

Like Ahfed Abdullah, Harris apparently harbored some imaginary grievance against the City Government. With an insane light in his eyes, he admitted that he had planned to seek out and kill Judges Edward J. Jeffries and Arthur E. Gordon for the purpose of propitiating jungle gods.

His list of prospective victims also included Gladys Smith, 21 years old, 5178 Lawton Ave, a welfare worker attached to the Elmwood Station. She cut him from the welfare list when she learned he had other forms of support, he explained.

A strain of nomenclature apparently borrowed from the Mohammedans runs through Harris' cult. His own title, he says is "King of Islam." One of his children, who were compelled to watch him slay Smith, is named Hasabas Karrian. The slaying, he declared, was commanded by the "Gods of Islam."

Ahfed Abdullah, alias Moaning, was adjudged insane after his invasion of the apartment building in which the Mayer then lived, an invasion which police believed was made for the purpose of attack, and was committed to Eloise. It was pointed out Monday night that Haiti, to which he referred so often in his ramblings, is noted for the Voodoo beliefs extant among its lower classes.

Names Believed Sold

Detectives Monday night were running down a story that some organization in Detroit sells the privilege of using Mohammedan names to ignorant and superstitious Negroes. Officers also were trying to establish the suspected fact that Harris, as well as being "King of Islam," served his cult under the more prosaic title of secretary.

Harris admitted that he slew Smith as part of the rites of his weird religion, while his wife, "Queen" Bertha Harris, and their children and "disciples", looked on. Harris added, however, that Smith was a willing victim. Detective Sergt. Oscar Berry of the Homicide Squad, checked his assertion, announced that all the evidence indicated its truth, and speculated upon the hold which the jungle cult may have upon certain ignorant elements of Detroit's Negro population.

Police court records in Middle Western industrial centers have revealed the amazing growth in recent years of Negro cults with strange Islamic symbols and titles. Complaints against them have been so petty, however, that they have not been investigated for Voodoo, and it is generally believed that their Mohammeddanism exists only in meaningless but impressive mixture of Allahs, Mohamets and other Mohammedan incantations.

High priestesses and priests of Allah, clad in pseudo-Oriental costumes are frequent defendants in Police Court swindling cases. Praying on the superstitions and susceptibility of Negroes, they have robbed families of their savings. Their victims, however, have been gulled mostly through a belief in the high priest's ability to foretell the future, and the cases have not bore the marks of the race's fear of Voodoo.

Harris explained that Harris was his slave name. Police believe that the name Karien was sold to him.

Judge Jeffries said Monday night that he does not know Harris and cannot recall having encountered any individual who might be the "King of Islam." Judge Gordon could not be reached.

Fights Police Desperately

Harris fought desperately with police when they tried to take a fingerprint of his left hand, which was gloved. He refused to remove the glove until forced to do so.

"My right hand belongs to everyone," Harris told the detectives, "but my left hand belongs to the King."

The forty-four-year-old "King of Islam" paced up and down gesticulating wildly as he told detectives of the zeal which goaded him into murdering Smith before the eyes of his wife and two small children. Sometimes in a low voice, and again, wild-eyed and shaking with the passion of fanaticism, he related the details of the slaying.

Smith, he said, was a member of his cult and lived with him and his family at 1429 Dubois St., where the murder occurred.

"I told him that I had been commanded to kill somebody by the "Gods of Islam," Harris told detectives. "At first he didn't want to be killed, but when I showed him that he would be the saviour of the world and go to heaven right away, he said all right."

"The day had come, Sunday. He had to be killed just at noon, so I set a clock in front of the altar where everybody could see it."

"Witnesses to the murder, he said, were his wife, their two children, Hasabas Karrian, 12 years old, and Ruby, 9, and 12 "disciples." The altar was a packing crate in a second-story room.

"Smith was sitting in a chair in front of the altar. My wife was time-keeper. As the hour drew near, I said, 'Smith, do you still want to be killed?' because the command ordered me not to kill anybody who didn't want to be killed. Smith nodded his head.

"When it was just 12 o'clock, I said, 'Smith, get up and stand on the altar.' I grabbed my dirk (an eight-inch case knife) and stabbed him like this."

Killer Lunges at Officer

At this juncture in his narrative, Harris picked up a roll of paper and lunged at Lieut. Paul Wencel, whom he had been using as a substitute for Smith in the graphic description of the slaying.

"Smith fell off the altar and started to groan and tried to get up. I hit him over the head with my 'rod of iron' (a section of the rear axle of an automobile).

In the minutes before the slaying Harris' children sobbed and begged him, "please, Daddy, don't do it, don't do it!" he said. Their presence was necessary for a successful sacrifice, he said, and he would not let them run from the room, as they tried to do.

Harris became enraged when detectives attempted to question him regarding the rituals and practices of his cult. He refused to answer, saying only that he was "going to kill lots of Christians."

Earlier in the day, he had resisted officers who had attempted to lead him to his cell. Detective Berry talked to him, and after Harris had been convinced that Berry was going to join his cult, he consented to be questioned.

"Queen" Bertha was ordered held as a police witness. The children Monday were cared for by neighbors.

Harris told officers that when he first visioned the "command" he talked the matter over with Bertha, and suggested Smith as a victim.

When she refused to be a party to the murder, Harris said he pulled her from the bed and beat her, saying he would kill her instead, unless she acquiesced. He also professed himself willing to kill his children if they did not adhere to his commands.

"I had to kill somebody," he said. "Anyhow, but somebody had to be killed. I could not forsake my god."

When detectives had concluded their grilling, he suddenly became subdued, and quietly permitted officers to lead him back to his cell. "Islam will take care of me," he said.

Efforts of detectives to link Harris with the slaying of Benny Evangelista, his wife and four children, in what police believe to have been a similar murder here in 1929, arrived at naught Monday when the voodoo king's fingerprints were found to vary from those left on a door knob in the Evangelista home at 8587 St. Aubin Ave.

Police are seeking the 12 "disciples" who witnessed the sacrificial murder. From them they hope to learn the extent to which the rites of Voodoo have laid hold upon the imaginations of inhabitants of the quarter in which Harris had his "temple."


2.3  Detroit Free Press, Wednesday Nov 23 1932, page 1

RAIDED TEMPLE BARES GRIP OF VOODOO IN CITY - 'God of Asia Nation' Seized as Sequel to Altar Slaying - Lodge Rooms Shown as Centers of Cult

Detectives investigating to learn the scope of Voodooism among ignorant and superstitious Detroit Negroes spent Tuesday night running down the myriad leads uncovered earlier in the day when they raided a fantastic "temple" and arrested a Negro who styled himself "God of the Asiatic Nation."

Mainly they sought a man believed to be financially interested in the spread of forms of jungle fanaticism here. He is believed to have obtained money by selling to deleted members titles, privileges and the other claptrap of the sect.

This weird religion, which includes certain aspects of both voodooism and Mohamedanism, is blamed by police for the "sacrificial" murder of James J. Smith, a member of the cult, who Sunday was stabbed through the heart and beaten over the head on a packing-case altar in the house at 1429 Dubois St. by Robert Harris, Negro, "King of Islam".

As Detectives Oscar Berry and Charles W. Snyder tracked down and investigated the ramifications of the cult's worship, they confessed themselves amazed at the number of Negroes apparently enmeshed by the religion. Meeting places which for many years had been thought to have been no more than fraternal lodges, were discovered Tuesday to be "temples" where susceptible individuals are incited to kill "devils" in the hope of attaining "heavenly forgiveness and reward."

Divulgence Means Death

A condensation of statements taken from several confessed members of the cult revealed Tuesday that the penalty for divulging any of the cult's secrets to outsiders is death.

The cult leaders first gained their hold on the imagination and gullibility of many Negroes by telling them that they were a "nation of Asiatics," and destined to rule the world if they would but follow the precepts laid down by the leader.

A problem vital to the future welfare of Detroit's inherently law-abiding Negro element is presented by the uncovering of this large cult, police and persons interested in local social conditions said Tuesday.

Through a cult member, whose name was withheld, Detectives Berry and Snyder gained admittance by using a secret password to a "temple" at 3408 Hastings St., above a clothing store. The temple itself is a room containing more than a hundred regulation theater seats.

At the far end stands an altar, draped with a bright red flag, in the center of which is a crescent and star insignia. The walls are covered with many weird designs, which apparently are symbols. A crude wooden canopy tops the platform on which the altar is located.

Fifty Negroes Hear Leader

In an adjoining room about 50 Negroes were seated listening to the exhortations of their leader when the officers entered the place. The man, a short stocky Negro with rolling, bloodshot eyes, said his name was Ugan Alie, and that he was "God of the Asiatics".

He parried the detectives' questions. Evidently a man of some education, he talked sometimes intelligently about the history of his race and again wildly, about the cult's religion.

When Alie admitted that he had "taught" Harris, and said he was Harris' God, detectives arrested him for investigation. Harris in questioning earlier in the day had declared that he had murdered Smith under the orders of his God.

The rest of the occupants of the room were allowed to leave after they had been searched.

Record and ritual books found in the place were taken to headquarters for examination. Several sections were found which were interpreted as an indication of the sanguinary purposes of the religion's "teachings"

One reads: "Every man of Islam must gain a victory from a devil. Four victories, and the son will attain his reward." Harris, after his arrest, had babbled at length about his "victory", and said that now "he would gain his reward."

Alie frequently became enraged when officers referred to the cult members as "colored people," saying they were Asiatics.

Allie claimed a membership in his cult of 8,000 Detroit Negroes. He had been "teaching for three years," he said. The questions put to him he termed "trickonology".

While officers wer in the tmple, the occupents were alternately silent and voluble. A new arrival of the cult was greeted by a chorus of some strange unintelligible password, before he took his seat. Immediately, they would return to silence.

Discussing the aspects and possible effects of this new fanaticism, Dr. David Clark, Receiving Hospital psychiatrist in charge of social welfare cases, said:

"The whole business is an ominous menace to the social stability and welfare of Detroit's Negro population. It should be stamped out before it secures a grip on any more of a race that is first to suffer in times of depression."

He said that such a religious zeal was not necessarily a form of insanity, but that its effects were often similar to those of insanity.

"With such practices, you have a return to the primal instincts," he said. "And we all know that all too often human sacrifice was a basic part of the first forms of worship."


2.4  Detroit Free Press, Thursday Nov 24 1932, page 1

NEGRO LEADERS OPEN FIGHT TO BREAK VOODOOISM'S GRIP - Cult Conceived by Islamic Religious Fakir, Nurtured by Grafting Fanatics

A group of Negro leaders, fighting for the welfare of their own people, Wednesday night united to form an influential body which, they believe, will greatly aid police in the battle to crush the hydra of jungle fanaticism which is preying upon more than 8,000 Detroit Negroes.

The group, called the Detroit Council of Social Service, has been aroused to action by recent disclosures revealing the tremendous scope fo the cult's menacing grip. Members strongly endorsed the prompt action of the Police Department in tracking down and arresting the leaders of the cult who are blamed for the sacrificial murder of James J. Smith, stabbed through the heart and mutilated with an iron bar on a home altar, Sunday.

Through welfare and social services workers of their own people, the group will make a determined house-to-house drive to prevent any more of the ignorant element of Detroit's Negro population from being deluded into joining the vicious cult. They believe, however, that continued action by the City's law-enforcing agencies against the leaders is the only method of thoroughly stomping out the fanaticism.

Wednesday night's meeting in Detroit City College was addressed by Sherman Miller, Free Press reporter, who had been inveted to speak by Wilbur C. Woodson, secretary of the St. Antoine Branch of the Y.M.C.A. Miller related to the group the facts of the four-day investigation carried on by Detective Sergt. Oscar Berry and Detective Charles W. Snyder of the homicide squad. John C. Dancy, for 14 years a working in Negro welfare work as executive secretary o f the Detroit Urban League, presided.

Many Negro clergymen had visited Detectives Berry and Snyder during the day to offer their services in combating the sinister influences of voodooism. Several parishioners said they would conduct private investigations of their own among their people and turn their findings over to the Police Department.

Cult Conceived by Fakir

Detectives Wednesday expressed themselves as convinced that the cult had been conceived by an Arabian religious fakir for personal gain and nurtured by a group of zealots whose reason had become unbalanced.

Three men arrested in connection with the murder of Smith were sent to the psychopathic ward of Receiving Hospital for observation by Dr. David Clark, psychiatrist in charge of social welfare for the hospital. They are Wallace D. Farad, an Arabian, who confessed himself the supreme leader of the Detroit cult of Islam; Ugan Ali, a "teacher" arrested in the cult's main temple at 3408 Hastings St., Tuesday, and Robert Harris, who confessed slaying Smith to propitiate the "Gods of Islam."

Police believe these men are mad leaders who deluded the cult's members into homicidal tendencies.

Superintendent of Schools Frank Cody expressed himself as alarmed at the prossible effects of this weird worship on Negro school children in the City. He said that although he had not been notified of any difficulties which might have been caused by the cult's influence, he had asked teachers in the colored districts to be on the watch fo rany irregularities in the classrooms.

As police delved further into the deeply hidden roots of Islamism, they confessed themselves astounded at the apparent significance of the cult's proselyting. Hampered by exigencies of time an dht epress of other duties, Detective Berry said that he would make a detailed report of his findings and present them to commissioner James K. Watkins at the end of the week. It will be his suggestion, he said, that the Commissioner assigna a special squad of men to carry on the disentanglement of the cult's tentacles, and take measures to wipe out the practices of the group.

"King" Lapses into Trances

Supporting detectives' theories that he has lost his sanity through the passion of his peculiar fanaticism, Harris, self-crowned "King of Islam," Wednesday alternated between weird mumblings and coma-like trances which lasted sometimes for more than 20 minutes.

During his trances he would remain rigid and motionless with wild eyes staring unswerving at the ceiling of his cell. Efforts of police and physicians to arouse him were futile.

Since his arrest Sunday, Harris has refused to eat, authorities revealed Wednesday. He has taken water, but not evern the most tempting foods, specially prepared, appeal to him. He has maintained the strength which enabled him to battle four policement who tried to take him to his cell after his arrest, turnkeys reported. Unless he breaks his self-imposed fast within a day or two an attempt will be made to feed him forcibly, detectives said.

Farad was taken into custody Wednesday morning as he was leaving his room in a hotel at 1 W. Jefferson Ave. He did not resist the officers, smiling enigmatically when told he was under arrest.

Evades Questions Cleverly

At Police Headquarters he evaded questions cleverly.

With the complacent smile of the Oriental fakir, Farad calmly told detectives the he was the "supreme being on earth." It was he who first conceived the precepts of Islamism as it is preached in the cult, he admitted, and enlisted the aid of Ali in starting the Detroit cult. Collections taken from the gullible converts and the proceeds of his sales as representative for a printing firm were his means of support, he said.

Each member is required to have a gaudy "identification card" which Farad sold them for a fee, and then collecte his commission from the printing house. When asked if there were any funds in Islam's treasury Wednesday, he said that ther were none.

"In fact, I have had to ask the brethren to contribute a fund for the payment of an overdue electric light bill in the temple," he said quietly.

Harris and Ali, he said, had "apparently misunderstood my teachings." Although the precepts of the workship command the death penalty for persons who "disturb the peace of our temples" he said, human sacrifices were not tolerated.

Islamism, he proudly declared, has large followings in cities throughout the country, among which are Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. Members frequently visit other chapters in different cities, he said.


2.5  Detroit Free Press, Friday Nov 25 1932, page 1

500 JOIN MARCH TO ASK VOODOO KINGS' FREEDOM - Queen Heads Parade to Police Station for Protest - Negro Leaders Push Drive to Curb Cult

While leaders of Detroit's Negro population laid plans for stamping out the Voodoo-Moslem hybrid cult which grips a clique of the race's members here, and which came to light with the offering of a human sacrifice, 500 members of the cult marched to police headquarters Thursday to demand the liberation of their mentors in weird rites.

Among those held is Robert Harris, self-styled "King of Islam," who blandly confessed placing James J. Smith, another Negro, on a makeshift altar and running a knife through his heart last Sunday. Smith was first knocked unconscious with Harris' "Rod of Iron" - a piece of automobile axle.

On the basis of investigations following the sacrificial murder, police estimate that the sect may include as many as 8,000 men and women. Though its spread astounded the investigators, the number subscribing to the fantastic beliefs remains small in proportion to the number of Negroes in the City and is confined to the ignorant and the superstitious.

Negro Leaders Press Drive

The bulk of the Negro community, headed by its welfare workers, clergymen, professional men and political leaders, has taken steps to ferret out the fanatical element and Negroes from all walks of life have appeared at Police Headquarters to offer information which may aid officers.

The group that marched to the headquarters Thursday was led by Lillie Ali, a voluable Negress and the wive of Ugan Ali, secretary of the "Islamic" cult. Many wore red fezzes. The Mohammedan aspects of the sect police trace to Wallace Farad, an Arabian said to be its founder.

Marching into the First Precinct Station, the delegation demanded to see Detective Sergt. Oscar Berry and Detective Charles W. Snyder, who have been assigned to the investigation of the extent of Voodoo beliefs in Detroit.

Officers told them that the detectives were out of the building. Inspector John I. Navarre, head of the Homicide Squad talked with "Queen" Lillie for a few minutes and explained that her husband and Farad were being held in the psychopathic ward of Receiving Hospital for observation

Threatens Daily March

"All right," she said, her voice rising to a high pitch, "we will march down here every day until they are let out."

The marchers then quietly dispersed.

Shortly after the demonstration about half of the merchers were reported to have gathered in a house on Hastings St., between Columbia St. and Montcalm Ave. There, leaders of the group addressed the gathering.

Whisperings reached police Thursday of plans for a large protest meeting planned Friday.

Fearing that such a meeting might result in an outbreak, police Thursday arrested four ment, believed to be ringleaders detailed by the cult's chief to round up the members for the gathering. The men under arrest gave their names as Alie Mohammend, Oscar Zareff, Cornelius Bey and Wallace Mohammed.

With their arrest, police Thursday were holding seven Negroes in connection with their investigation of the practices and dogmas of the cult, whose leaders are blamed for the murder of Smith. Smith, believed to have been a willing victim because of his passionate fanaticism, was killed in a house at 1428 Dubois St.

Since his arrest Sunday, Harris has refused to eat, resisting all efforts of turnkeys to feed him. Thursday he passed his fifth day without nourishment. Officers detailed to guard him reported that his strength apparently had not been weakened by the self-imposed fast. At times wildly raving, he spend most of the day prancing about his cell, shouting eerie incantations.

He is to be arraigned in the Recorder's Court Friday morning on a murder warrant. A sanity commission probably will be appointed, detectives in charge of the case believed.

Still digging out the deeply planted roots of the weird hybrid worship, detectives Thursday said that they believed more than a score of recent Negro fatal stabbings had been perpetrated by deluded Negroes incited by the exhortations of insane leaders.

Detectives Thursday prepared to turn further investigation of the cult's precepts over to another branch of the Police Department. A detailed report of their findings and suspicions will be given to the commissioner at the end of the week. It has been indicated that he may appoint a squad of special officers to the job of tracing the tentacles of the ominous cult, in the hopes that the sinister group may be stamped out.


2.6  Detroit Free Press, Saturday Nov 26 1932, page 1

NEW HUMAN SACRIFICE WITH A BOY AS VICTIM IS AVERTED BY INQUIRY - Frenzied Father Sought by Police - Jailed "King of Islam" Hurls Furniture at Other Prisoners - Election Clerks Show Spread of Cult Here

A father who announced that he intended to sacrifice the life of his young son "to free the world" was sought early Saturday as police continued their investigation of Detroit's voodoo cult. Arrest of several Negro cult members, following the altar murder of James J. Smith by Robert Harris, was believed to have prevented temporarily the slaying of the child.

Harris was arraigned Friday in Recorder's Court and an examination into his sanity was ordered.

More than 200 Negroes attended a meeting on Hastings St. Friday night, according to police, who said it was a voodoo gathering. Although careful watch was kept on the place by detectives, there was no disturbance. No attempt was made to interfere with the gathering.

Informant's Name Withheld

The police were informed of the impending second "religious" murder Friday by a man whose name they withheld, fearing the prospective killer would flee before they could arrest him. Special Negro undercover agents have proferred themselves willing converts to the horrible cult in efforts to lcate the man, whose them the have, but of whose address they are uncertain.

They are to make a report of their findings to detectives Saturday morning. Police plan to arrest the man and hold him for investigation.

Versions of Prospective Murder

How the depraved father intended to slay his son was not definitely learned by the police informant. His information, he said, was that the man was going to tie his son with heavy rope, then stab him through the heart and beat him to death. It was in this manner that Smith was slain by Harris, "King of Islam," who admitted the murder, saying "now is the time for crucifixions."

The revelation of the contemplated second crime bore out city health authorities' statements that this menacing cult of fanaticism is a group of "religious quacks led by dangerous charlatans, from whom we expect violence and great difficulties unless the cult is destroyed and its leaders permanently removed from positions of influence."

One prominent city physician said he had been investigating cases of Negroes whose sanity has been toppled by the onslaughts of pagan fetishism for four years.

Fears Danger in Movement

"The public must be informed of the tremendous danger of this group," he said. "All departments in the City's law enforcing agencies have had great trouble with its members in the past, and now that the thing has reached such large proportions it must be followed down and stamped out for the benefit of all."

He said that the weird religion, which he has studied closely in his experience with patients dirven insande by its homicidal teachings is "primarilly one of Mohammedanism, with a great deal of pagan jungle superstitions and practices ingrafted."

It preys only upon the mentally incapable element of Negroes, those who are "weak, uncontrolled and superstitious" to start with, he said. "We have seen its evil machinations for years, and want to urge the proper authorities to crush out the cult."

Two of the cult's leaders, helad prisoners in the Psychopathic ward of Receiving Hospital, were examined by alienists Friday. The mental processes of one, who calls himself Ugan Ali, "are radically deviated," the report states. "His sanity is extremely doubtful. His case must be handled with the utmost caution, as the slightest word or phrase used inadvertently seems to enrage him, for no apparent reason."

The other, Wallace Farad, Arabian leader and self-confessed founder, is "suffering from delusions that he is a divinity," the report continues. "He has a pair of religious precepts and practice which, taken literally, are dangerous to those influenced by them.

Both Kept in Hospital

Both men were kept in the hospital for continued investigation and observation.

Harris, the confessed murderer of Smith, suddenly discarded his attitude of sullen subservience which he has maintained for the past few days, and went berserk in the County Jail.

Upon his return from his arraignment before Judge John P. Scallen, he was placed in a cell block containing 12 other Negro prisoners.

"I am the King," he suddenly yelled, and dashed wildly about the room, shouting unintelligible sounds at his fellow prisoners.

He threw furniture at them and so terrorized them with his threats of sacrifice that they shouted and stamped on the floor to attract the attention of jailers. Sherriff Henry Behrendt ordered Harris placed in a padded cell, where he relapsed into quiet.

Breaks Hunger Strike

For the first time since his arrest Sunday, he has asked for food, and ate with relish a prison fare of eggs and spaghetti.

Early Friday he was arraigned on a murder warrant before Recorder's Judge John A. Boyne. He waived examination. The courts, cooperating with police in the efforts to expedite the proceedings, made it possible for him to be arraigned on the information before Judge Scallen, later in the day. Judge Scallen ordered a mute plea to be entered for him, and said he would appoint a sanity commission Saturday morning.

More than 200 Negroes, many of whom were believed by police to be members of the cult, spent the day on the floor of the Recorder's Court Building.

The report of the sanity commission will be presented to Judge Scallen Dec. 4.

Inquiries Friday revealed that the effect of the sinister worship upon the gullible and highly motional members of the cult has been felt in many City departments.

Insist on Arabian Names

City Clerk Richard W. Reading said that for four years his clerks have struggled with Negroes who insisted upon being registered by weird Arabian names. They became so incensed upon the refusal of authorities to do so, that he brought the matter to the attention of James R. Walsh, assistant corporation counsel. Mr. Walsh wrote a notice forbidding the clerks to countenance signatures such as Mohammed or Ali or Bey, and had it posted on the wall of the Election Commission's offices. It still there.

Welfare workers too have suffered from the cult's fanatic zeal. Negro Welfare workers have for some time reported that they had been insulted as "devils" and in many cases threatened with bodily harm.

One worker was struck recently by a member of the cult, whose family she was trying to aid. She was attacked and beaten by a woman who was treated for several months in the psychopathic ward of Receiving Hospital.

She was released a few days ago, after authorities had become convinced that through careful mental treatment they had broken the grip of voodooism upon her.

As the ramifications of "Islamism" became apparent to police authorities during the investigation, they also became increasing difficult to track down and stifle.

Investigation Changes Hands

Realizing this, police head Friday removed the investigation from the hands of Detective Sergt. Oscar Berry and Detective Charles Snyder, who have devoted their entire time to the matter since the murder of Smith. The matter is no longer in their jurisdication as homicide squad detectives.

Further investigation has been assigned to Lieut. John Hoffman, of the Special Investigation Squad, who will take charge Saturday morning, after he has mad a study of the detailed report filed Friday by Detectives Berry and Snyder.

In the report were quoted sever passages from the official "Bible of Islamism." Detailing their questioning of Farad, the officers said,

"On page 354 of the 'Bible' is the following quotation, which was underlined and which Farad claimed he used as part of his teachings - 'God is liar. Ignore Him and do away with those who advocate His cause.' He stated that this was a favorite passage of his and that he used it often in his teachings."

The report also states that "a number of Negro clergymen and representatives of other Negro religious societies have called upon us at the office, all demanding that some action be taken for the purpose of disbanding the 'Nation of Islam.'"


2.7  Detroit Free Press, Sunday Nov 27 1932, page 1

INTENDED VOODOO VICTIMS' NUMBER STILL MOUNTING - Another Attack Made by Harris Before Murder Bared - Veiled Threats Made to Negress Secretary

More names were added by detectives Saturday to the list of persons marked for sacrificial slaughter by the practitioners of voodoo in Detroit. Only the disclosure of the cult's grip on certain Negroes here, through the discover of the murder of James Smith by Robert Harris, prevented other murders on rude altars devoted to the mad cult compounded of voodoo and elements of "Islamism."

The life of a Negress employed by a Negro social service worker was threatened by men believed to be the agents of the cult.

Another Negro was attacked by Harris three days before the "King" slew J. Smith as a human sacrifice, Seargeant Barney Seleske and Detective Harry Mikuliak, of the special investigation squad, learned Saturday as they swung into a thorough investigation of the cult's homicidal practices in Detroit.

The names of the Negress and her employer were withheld by police, who feared that their publication would hinder their efforts to track down and arest the dangerous fanatics.

Tells of Veiled Threats

The woman had told her employer that she was "terrified" by the three colored men who accosted her as she stood on the porch of her home a few days ago, and had made veiled threats against her unless she persuaded her employer to desist in his efforts against the operation of the menacing voodoo cult.

Another Negro, whose name is also being held secret, told Sergt. Selerk that a week ago last Thursday he had been attacked by Harris as he was walking down the street near his home.

"The time for crucifixions is at hand," he said Harris told him. The crazed fanatic then tried to drag him into his house, the man said. He beat him off and ran away, thinking Harris was merely beligerently drunk, he said. Later, when relating the incident to neighbors, he discovered that he had been marked for voodoo sacrifice, and escaped with his life only through his superior physical strength.

Plotting Father Still At Large

Undercover Negro agents Saturday still had not been able to locate the man whom they believed Friday to have been plotting the sacrificial slaughter of his son on a voodoo altar similar to the one on which Smith was killed.

They were still investigating, however, in the hope that his arrest would spare the life of his small son from hideous sacrifice to the pagan fetishes of voodooism.

A hint that the spread of the sinister cult's horrible grip of voodooism was of national scope was advanced by Sergt. Seleske Saturday. A Filipino who ran amock in Seattle a few days ago, killing six persons and wounding 15 before he was subdued by a squad of peolcie, is being questioned to learn whether he, too, had been goaded into a blood-lust of wholesale slaughter by the savage precepts of the weird charlatans of voodooism.

A week ago three Negroes and a Filipino were arrested here by Sergt. Seleske as suspicious characters and found by questioning to be a branch of the same cult with headquarters in Chicago.

Merger Plans Suspected

The men, like all members of the cult, gave strange Mohammedan names, insisting they were Arabs. They had come here to meet with members of the Detroit branch, in efforts to tie the branches of the cult together. They spoke vaguely of "plans" but evaded questions pertinent to the specific nature of them.

They were released a few days ago after attempts to discover criminal intent on their part had proved futile.

A raid on the room of Wallace Farad, self-confessed leader of the group, in a hotel at 1 W. Jefferson Ave., Saturday, brought to light hundreds of communications from members of the cult.

In every instance, the letters were written painstakingly on cheap note paper. All were written in almost unintelligible scrawls in lead pencil. The import of each was the same.

The signer of each wanted his "slave name" changed to a Mohammedan one, and was willing to pay Farad for the service of crossing out the [UNREADABLE] signature and substituting in its place one such as Mohammed, or Bey, or Ali. Numerous gaudy identification cards were also found in the place.

Harris Slumps in Cell

The hurtful flame of jungle fanaticism which tortured Harris into murdering Smith, seemed to have died away in him, temporarily at least, Saturday.

He slumped in a corner of a padded cell in the County Jail most of the day, weak and unresisting. Some of his food he ate listlessly, and the rest he slopped on the floor of the cell. A pitifully deluded fanatic, whose zeal had at last seemingly spent itself, he babbled on about "more sacrifices," with half shut eyes.

A sanity commission to judge whether he was demented by the murderous teachings of cult leaders, was appointed Saturday morning by Recorder's Judge John P. Scallen.. It is made up of Drs. Alber C. La Bine, Carl Hanna and John H. Stevin.

If he is judged insane, he will be committed to a State institution until such time as he is judged sane. He will then automatically be required to stand trial for the murder of Smith. If the decision of the commission is otherwise, he will go on trial immediately, Judge Scallen said.

The commission will report the results of its investigations on Dec. 6.

Special Squad Assigned

The special investigation squad, which has had many years' experience with the law-breaking tendencies of the cult's ignorant members was assigned to the case Friday. It was explained that the work of Detective Sergt. Oscar Berry and Detective Charles Snyder in tracking down and arresting the murderer of Smith was meritorious, but once the murder was solved, they, as Homicide Detectives, could afford to devote no more time to the case, under the press of other duties.

Police said Saturday that they have known for some time that violence by some of the cult's members was imminent, but were powerless to prevent it. The group, which does not call itself an organization or a religion, but a nation, does not come under the laws governing the foundations of organizations or religions, the prosecutor's office informed authorities.

Appeals to employers of cult members have been made secretly for some time, but they have proved unrevealing, officers report. Most uniformed persons are inclined to treat the weird fanaticism lightly, they said, and were loath to take drastic steps against its operations.<br /> But with the revelations of the cult's menace, brought to light by the investigation of Smith's murder, authorities are hopeful that leaders in Detroit's industrial civilization will realize the peril of the body to the social structure and welfare of the City, and aid in the permanent disbanding of the group.


2.8  Detroit Free Press, Monday Nov 28 1932, page 1

PASTORS DECRY GROWTH OF CULT PRACTICES HERE - Negro Leaders Pledge Support to Wipe Out Voodooism - Police Continuing Inquiry in Slaying

An inter-racial commission, to be formed for the purpose of digging out and strangling the deepy planted roots of voodooism, which already has been responsible for one sacrificial murder and the planning of at least three more, was suggested Sunday by the Rev. J.D. Howell, speaking from his pulpit in the St. Stephen's African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr. Howell was one of several prominent Negro clergymen in the City who devoted the greater part of their sermons to denunciations of the leaders of the sinister cult called "Islamism," which for at least four years has preyed upon the more gullible members of their people, and by its force of fanaticism, goaded several Negroes into delusions of divine power which toppled their sanity into homicidal tendencies.

Three Under Observation

Three of the seven Negroes arrested in connection with the cult's activities after the killing of James Smith on a voodoo altar a week ago, are being held in the psychopathic wards of Receiving Hospital for observation by City and private alienists.

They are Robert Harris, crazed slayer of Smith; Wallace Farad, self-confessed founder of the Detroit cult; and Ugan Ali, a Negra "teacher" of Farad's precepts, held largely responsible for the dangerous ideas instilled in the minds of many ignorant Negroes who attended the cult's rituals in a temple at 3408 Hastings St.

"This voodooism is an extremely dangerous cult, and should not be tolerated by organized society," Mr. Howell said. "That its fanatical teachings and barbarous practices could have such a rank growth right in the midst of our religious communities shows weakness on the part of our church life. It shows a deplorable lack of contact between the upper and lowers strata of society.

"Beyond a doubt all of this could have been avoided by the appointment of an inter-racial commission. It is not a war of strneght we need, nor would it be expedient, but rather a war on ignorance, unwholesome living conditions, and demoralizing contacts."

Race Not Responsible

"The Negro race cannot, as such, be held responsible for the actions and teachings of fanatics. Their 'Arabian' leader is solely to blame. There must be quick and just punishment of those who come among us and, for personal gain, lead us astray.

"The Islamic 'Bible' and the Nation of Islam must go."

The Rev. Father E.W. Daniel, pastor of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, decried the attitutde fo unthinking and uninformed persons who hold the Negro race responsible for the development of the cult. He drew a parallel between the exposure of the House of David in Benton Harbor several years ago and the cult of Islamism in this city.

"Yet it was not deemed necessary to lay the burden of proof of the exposure of the House of David upon the citizens of Benton Harbor," he said. "They left the prosecution of the House of David entirely up to the authorities of Berrien County."

"There is no race of people anywhere that haven't had to climb uphill in religion, as well as in every other field."

The Rev. W.H. Peck, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Chruch, disagreed with Father Daniel on the general attitude with which exposure of the cult of voodooism has been received by most law-abiding citizens of Detroit.

"The law-abiding Negroes of Detroit have an inexpressible regret for this whole affair," he said. "There is, however, much to be appreciated in the reaction that Detroit has given in this matter. In most communities it would be found necessary for leaders of the Negro race to assure others that such a crime as this did not come from the larger portion of their people and in no way had its approval.

"We did not have to do that here. Leaders among other races in Detroit have given that assurance before we have spoken a word. This is appreciated b our people and makes them more determined than ever before to continue to merit such confidence.

"There is a feeling of pity on our part for those who have so grievously been misled. We offer our co-operation to help them by freeing them of their unfortunate leadership and making impossible a repetition of so horrible a crime."

Police investigation of the cult's activities continued Sunday. Detectives and others assigned to the case said that they would continue their investigation until the cult is stamped out.


2.9  Detroit Free Press, Tuesday Nov 29 1932, page 1

SUBURBS ALSO IN VOODOO NET - Poll Book Lists Bring Literature Seizure

Checking names in the register book of Detroit's voodoo cult Monday revealed that althought the bulk of the group's membership of 8,000 is made up of Detroit Negroes, many converts were gained in outlying districts of the City, such as Hamtramck, Highland Park and Mt. Clemens.

Detective Sergt. Barney Seleske and Detective Harry Mikuliak, now handling the investigation, said they would continue to check through the long list of "Arabian" names to see if any of them has come under police surveillance before.

Some of the addresses found in the poll book were searched by police Monday. In many of the houses, officers confiscated literature.

Before taking any further action, detectives said they would await the report of Receiving Hospital psychiatrists on Robert Harris, who confessed slaying James Smith on a sacrificial voodoo altar a week ago. Ugan Ali, "teacher" of Harris in the weird rites of the cult, and Wallace Farad, "Arabian" founder of the Detroit group.

The doctors' reports will be filed with police Tuesday. A special sanity commission appointed to judge Harris' condition by Recorder's Judge John P. Scallen will report to him Dec. 6.

In the event that Harris is found to be sane and placed on trial for murder, Fred Dye, an attorney, was Monday appointed council for him by Judge Scallen.


2.10  Detroit Free Press, Wednesday Nov 30 1932, page 3

VOODOO CHIEF HELD UNSOUND - Five-Day Diagnosis at Hospital Ends

The mental processes of Ugan Ali, Negro leader of Detroit's voodoo cult, are not those of a normal person, physicians at Receiving Hospital said Tuesday. For five days they have been making a diagnosis of his case. His teachings are blamed largely by police for the sacrificial murder of James Smith on a voodoo altar more than a week ago.

Indications are that Robert Harris, slayer of Smith, is mentally unbalanced, doctors reported, although an official diagnosis of his case will not be made until a specially appointed sanity commission reports its findings to Recorder's Court Judge John P. Scallen on Dec. 6.

Wallace Farad, confessed "Arabian" founder of the cult, apparently was not driven to his sinister teachings through insanity, the report states. However, all of the men are being kept in the psychopathic ward of the hospital pending further investigation.

Continued investigation of the cult's activities by Detective Sergt. Barney Seleske of the Special Investigation Squad, revealed Tuesday that the recent exposure of the cult had shown many of its deluded members that they had been backed into joining an organization the dangerous teachings of which they were unaware, he said.

Many of the addresses listed in the register book of 8,000 names were similar, and when traced were found to be meeting places. At many of these, groups of Negroes told officers that newspaper accounts of the cult's workings had shown them the peril of being allied with such a group, and that they would no longer have anything to do with it.