Selling Satan

The Tragic History of Mike Warnke

By Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein

Copyright 1992 by Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein

Mike and Lois Plan Their Marriage

By Christmas of 1965, Mike and Lois were seeing each other on a daily basis. "It was pretty fast that we said we were going to get married," says Lois. "Within two or three months of school starting, he gave me a rose ring with a diamond in it. It cost $60. He had to make payments on it. I thought he really loved me. And I thought I loved him, too."

In The Satan Seller, Warnke has gone through his drugs, sex, and promotion to high priest before Christmas of 1965. (Trying to fit the long list of his claims onto a real calendar is a challenge. See sidebar, p.18) Shirley Schrader says Mike had Christmas dinner in Crestline with the family. "He didn't seem emaciated by drugs to me," she says.

College records show Mike Warnke left school after the first term. "Most of us dropped out after the first semester," recalls Lois. The group continued to hang out together at Mike's apartment, the Catalanos', and elsewhere. What about the Mike in The Satan Seller who flew around the country on satanic business trips to San Francisco (where he allegedly met Anton LaVey), New York, and Salem, Massachusetts? "You're a real traveling salesman for Satan, Mike, and we want you to go to Salem and get more hip with some really serious organization."[44]

"How could he fly when he didn't have two pennies?" asks Lois, who adds that Mike never went anywhere, and when he did it was with her. "If he says he was a Satanist between September of 1965 to June of 1966, he's lying. How could I not know my boyfriend was into Satanism? I don't remember there ever being a time when we didn't see or talk to each other every day."

Every day? "Yes," says Lois. "We went to movies together, I went to the country club with him in the mountains, we went to the beach. We used to go to Jay's Coffee Shop in San Bernardino. That was the big thing. He introduced me to hot fudge sundaes. I spent the majority of that year with him."

Lois says she and Mike used to play pool over on Highland Avenue in San Bernardino. We read her a story from Warnke's book Hitchhiking on Hope Street. In it Mike writes that he got into a gunfight with Ray, a local pimp, at the pool hall:

I was drunk as a skunk when I shot at him with the .44, because I missed him by a country mile and blew off the corner of the pool table....The two of us went roaring down the street, screaming and shooting....

...he...got off a lucky shot. It hit me in the leg and knocked me down.[45]

The predictable reaction: "Oh, my goodness. You're kidding...." Lois dissolves into laughter.

According to The Satan Seller, Mike Warnke's reign as a satanic high priest ends, apparently sometime in the spring of 1966, when Warnke crumples under the strain of too much responsibility and too many drugs. On a "Focus on the Family" radio broadcast, he described his appearance at this time: "I had white hair. It was about down to my belt....I had six-inch fingernails; I painted them black."[46] (See picture, p. 8, taken April 30, 1966.)

Warnke says he was intentionally overdosed with heroin by one of his live-in love slaves and thrown, naked, on the steps of a local hospital. After a few weeks of drying out at the hospital, Warnke escaped by joining the navy.[47] On the Mike Warnke Alive! album, he describes his hair length the night before boot camp: "It hit me just below the pockets." He continues:

The night before I went to boot camp I went to this party....I smoked a bunch of dope and ate a bunch of reds and got crashed out in a corner....But the girl I was with decided the thing that would really be cute is if she braided my hair....She put beads with the first bunch, feathers with the next bunch, a piece of red ribbon about that long with the last bunch, braided it all together, and hung a jingle bell on the end of each braid.

Lois says she was the girl who gave Mike his going-away party. When she heard this story for the first time in 1979, she was furious. "I couldn't believe it when I heard that!" she says. "I'm the one who gave him the going-away party! We never touched drugs. He never had long hair--his hair was short, short, short!"

Greg and Dawn, who had just gotten married, offered Lois the use of their apartment for the party. "I bought a big cake decorated with a navy boat," Lois remembers. "It said 'Ship Ahoy, Mike.' Dawn and I made food and pop, and we had a bunch of people over. It was just clean fun. I took him to the bus stop, put him on a bus to go to boot camp," Lois says. "We were supposed to get married when he finished."

Mike, Sue, and Campus Crusade