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Murer Victim Arlis Perry

Ritual Murder or Conspiracy?


Over 40-years ago on October 13, 1974, near Palo Alto, California, a Stanford University security guard opened the door at Stanford Memorial Church and discovered a grisly scene.


The body of Arlis Dykema-Perry, 19, was found lying face-up and nude from the waist down in a pew where she had been praying. The murder of the devout Christian has remained a mystery for decades.

Arlis was the beautiful, newlywed wife of Bruce Perry. Both had just married and moved from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Palo Alto where Bruce was an undergraduate student at the university.


New to Santa Clara County, Arlis got a job as a receptionist at the Palo Alto law firm Spaeth, Blase, Valentine & Klein, and living with her husband in a campus apartment.


Her husband reported Arlis had gone to the church to pray late in the evening on the night of October 13, 1974, after the couple had a small spat.


Police detectives determined Arlis had been beaten and died from a severe head wound caused by a 5-1/2" ice pick that penetrated her brain. The young woman had also been raped with two 24-inch altar candles, one protruded from her vagina, another was placed on her chest and the killer crossed her arms with such force, her bra straps broke.


Even though investigators have dismissed any cult or ritual murder connection, those knowledgeable with witchcraft indicate her body was posed to represent a sigil, an ancient and magical symbol to those who practice witchcraft called the 'witches foot'. Her legs spread apart and candle protruding from her pelvic area in the shape of the inner peace sign or chevron symbol. Regardless, her murder and deliberate pose cannot be dismissed as simply a victim of opportunity by a killer without a message.

Police were able to obtain a palm print from one of the bees-wax candles and a semen deposit on a cushion inside the church. 


Newspapers reported Arlis was the victim of a psychopath but much speculation of occult connections has followed over the years, even possible ties to the Manson Family. Some refer to the potential connection a "conspiracy theory" but every decade's old, unsolved murder is worth closely examining from every angle.


Best-selling author Maury Terry, provided compelling information in his book 'Ultimate Evil' tying the murder of Arlis Perry to the 1970's Son of Sam murders in New York. In a 1997 interview for Inside Edition, Berkowitz told Terry he did not act alone and was actually a part of a satanic cult.


Berkowitz did identify two Yonkers brothers John and Michael Carr, as cult members and accomplices in the Son of Sam shootings. Both died in strange incidents shortly after Berkowitz was arrested as the lone gunman.


In 1978, John Carr died of a point-blank gunshot to the face while living with his girlfriend at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. Michael Carr died in a high-speed car accident on Manhattan's Westside Highway in 1979.


When Terry traveled to North Dakota to interview Lieutenant Terry Gardner of the Ward County Sheriff’s Department, Lt. Gardener gave Terry the book 'Anatomy of Witchcraft' by Peter Haining, that Berkowitz had mailed to the Sheriff's Department. Terry found an underlined section in the book written by former Scientologist and Process Church co-founder Robert DeGrimston that said, "Thou shalt kill. They say they are dedicated to bringing about the end of the world by murder, violence, and chaos--but they, the chosen, will survive to build a new world of Satanic glory." 

Handwritten notes in the margin of the book said, "The shade of Aleister Crowley looms large in the area (Los Angeles), but his excesses pale into insignificance compared to today's devil worshipers." 




David Berkowitz is currently serving life in the maximum security Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, NY. The question continues to be asked.  Was Berkowitz a madman acting on his own (as many would like the public to accept), or part of a larger network of murderous criminals that could be tied to the murder of Arlis Perry? As NBC Dateline reported in 2004, police really never did close the Son of Sam case. 


John Martinson, a former professor at Bismarck State College believes members of a cult are responsible for the murder of Arlis. According to a 2012 report "Devils in the Heartland: The Ritualistic Killing of Arlis Perry" by Kristen Grace, Martinson vividly recalls individuals that looked like they were part of a satanic cult on the streets of Bismarck during the 1970's. Over the years, Martinson assigned his class to conduct field investigations in an attempt to uncover clues.


Another person has gone on record to substantiate Martinson's claims. Brad King, a Bismarck dentist and former classmate of Arlis said, "I remember seeing people dressed in priest's outfits. But, instead of white collars, they wore red collars and sported "upside down crosses" draped around their necks. I think they were called the Holy Order of MANS." 


It has been well documented, during the 1960's and early 1970's, members of the Process Church of the Final Judgement commonly walked around the streets of San Francisco and New York City in their black robes while walking German Shepherds. The group was well-known for selling "satanic magazines" featuring Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and Mary Tyler Moore. 


The "Holy Order of Mans" was also founded in San Francisco during the 1960's, and originally known for esoteric mystical New Age practices, until they changed their name to Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, along with their doctrine.

According to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Bob Latta, in his May 26, 1980, report "MANS Order Contends with Occult Image," there has been a long-time question of potential cult activities of the members.


While many would like to point to a conspiracy, it is worth noting that Berkowitz had brought the connection of Arlis's murder to the attention of law enforcement years prior to the publication of Ultimate Evil in 1987, and any public connection made.


Regardless of the ongoing mystery, over 40 years have passed but Arlis is not forgotten. She is remembered as a beautiful, intelligent young woman who was a very devoted Christian who cared about others. She had the world ahead of her. Although Arlis may have forgiven the person who took her life, her mother Jean Dykema reminds that there is a higher form of punishment in Heaven.


Whether a lone psychopath or cult connection, if the killer still walks the streets, he knows justice could come knocking any time - with just one DNA comparison or a slip of the lip.


If you have any information, please contact Santa Clara County Sheriff at or call (408) 868-6600.

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