One of the current bugaboos of the mainstream media in the United States is Q Anonymous. Despite months of left-wing chaos in major cities which has caused billions in damages and claimed lives, media figures like Savannah Guthrie of NBC News appear so concerned by Q that she more or less scolded President Donald Trump for not denouncing the group. Entire articles have been published online aimed at helping urban twentysomethings to talk to their Q-obsessed family members.
What then is so potentially dangerous about Q Anonymous? At its heart, the conspiracy theory holds that the Western elite is dominated by pedophiles who resort to amoral acts in order to hold onto their considerable power. Q believes see in President Trump a champion and fighter against elite pedophilia. As much as the coastal smart set wants Q Anonymous to be excoriated by every public figure, the revelations of the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell cases make it very hard to completely write off the idea of organized pedophilia among the elite.
Years before Q Anonymous, another conspiracy theory rocked the United States. This one all started with a strange case in Florida. Ultimately it provided tantalizing clues about Satanism, pedophilia, and the shadowy intelligence work of both the FBI and CIA.
10 The Case
On February 4, 1987, police officers in Tallahassee, Florida were alerted by a female caller about six filthy and unkempt children playing in a park. The caller further stated that the children appeared to be under the guardianship of two well-dressed men. The Tallahassee police learned that the two men were Douglas E. Ammerman and Michael Houlihan, both of Washington, D.C. They were arrested for child abuse. Several days later, a $100,000 bond was placed for both men.
Originally, Ammerman and Houlihan (real name later discovered to be Michael James Holwell) claimed that they were transporting the kids to a school for gifted children in Mexico. However, this story did not adequately explain why the six children were found unwashed, covered in bug bites, and practically starving. Later the police contacted the mothers of some of the children, with most admitting that they had voluntarily given their children over to Ammerman, Holwell, and others.
It was at this point in the case that the police in Florida learn about the Finders.
9 First Investigation in D.C.
On February 6, the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. conducted a search of a warehouse in Northeast Washington. Inside investigators found evidence of cult activity and “brainwashing.” More to the point, the warehouse, which according to eyewitnesses was frequented by well-dressed men despite being in a notoriously rough neighborhood, included wallet-sized photographs of prepubescent children naked and participating in occult blood rituals. The U.S. Customs Service also became involved as there was evidence of the group being involved in the production and distribution of child pornography.
The first reports in all the major U.S. newspapers at the time disclosed the fact that the Finders were headquartered in Culpeper, Virginia on a 90-acre farm. The reports also suggested that the group’s membership included approximately 40 people. Finally, prior to the case in Tallahassee, MPD officers reported that cult rituals were taking place near the 3900 block of W Street NW, and the evidence for this included eyewitness accounts and the discovery of several stones formed in the shape of a ceremonial circle.
Despite all of this reporting, on February 10, 1987, Police Chief Maurice T. Turner, Jr. of the MPD claimed that there was no evidence of ritual abuse or other occult activity in regards to the Finders organization. Similarly, police in Tallahassee told the media that the six children had not been kidnapped and had not been participants in any kind of ritualistic abuse. The speed with which the public narrative about the Finders changed raised more than a few eyebrows.
The backstory of the Finders is murky and mired in dangerous suggestions. Very little can be said with certainty when it comes to the Finders—their mission or origin story. All agree that the group’s leader was the charismatic Marion Pettie. According to Pettie himself, the Finders began in the 1930s in Washington, D.C. At that time Pettie was a high school dropout and a sergeant in the U.S. Army. He rented two apartments in the American capital and created the group to study “something about power, money, or sex”.
Robert Terrell, a member of the group who worked as their spokesperson during 1987, described the Finders as an unconventional social experiment whereby members would be given directives by Pettie, must of which ranged from the pedestrian to ridiculous.
Beyond this, there is little concrete evidence about the Finders. However, the circumstantial clues about them are staggering.
7 Government Ties?
The FBI declassified almost 650 pages of documents related to the Finders last year. Some of the things in this document dump are shocking. For example, one document written by a federal agent categorized the Finders as “well organized child abuse scheme, and that [redacted] in conjunction with the State Department, and the FBI’s Foreign Counterintelligence Section, conspired to cover up those abuses.
Other evidence concerning the Finders clearly pointed towards some kind of intelligence work carried out by the group. For instance, Pettie’s wife, Isabell Pettie, was discovered to be a 21-year veteran of Air America, an airline company owned by the CIA. During the Vietnam War, Air America transported some 46 million foodstuffs to Laos alone, while crews in Southeast Asia were responsible for transporting troops and materials. CIA operators also posed as Air America employees while secretly undertaking military operations in Laos and Cambodia. Other groups associated with the Finders included the General Scientific Corp, Women’s Networking Services, and Future Enterprises. Many of these groups seemed like shell companies used by government agencies, including the CIA.
This was not all. Pettie claimed to have links to military intelligence. Also, the February 1987 search of the Washington, D.C. warehouse turned up computers that were found to contain emails exchanged between the members regarding such things as explosives and terrorism. More tantalizing was the fact that the FBI found that members of the group had traveled to North Korea, the USSR, and Vietnam.
6 The True Horror
The Finders case came out during the height of the so-called “Satanic panic” of the 1980s. During the decade, several stories were released accusing daycares, schools, and other institutions of carrying out pedophilic and Satanic crimes. The most infamous of the Satanic panic cases occurred in Los Angeles at the McMartin preschool. From 1984 until 1987, an investigation into the school’s daycare supposedly uncovered not only underground tunnels, but also, thanks to controversial recovered memory therapy, detectives went public with accusations about constant sex abuse as well as occult activity.
The case of the Finders has many of the same hallmarks of the McMartin case (all the charges against main suspect Ray Buckey were dismissed in 1990). However, evidence against the Finders is uniquely graphic and comes from documents rather than just eyewitness testimony. Photos taken from the D.C. warehouse, as well as an apartment used by the group, showed children standing next to slaughtered goats. Other photos showed adults and children covered in blood. More horrific still was the findings of a doctor in Florida, who found that some of the six recovered children from Tallahassee showed signs of sexual abuse, including evidence of anal penetration.
As disturbing as all of this was (and is), the Finders may have been after more than just sexual thrills.
5 Brainwashing and Disturbing Echoes
Prior to the quick shutdown of the case, news reports in February 1987 claimed that one of the goals of the Finders was to “wean” children away from their parents. Pettie, whose nicknames included “The Student,” “The Stroller,” “The Game Caller,” and “The Pathfinder,” forced his female followers to initiate sexual relationships. The children from these encounters would be given communally to group. Pettie, a veteran of the US Army and Air Force, would help raise these children to be tough and self-sufficient. These clues initially led police to believe that the Finders were a survivalist group.
The alternative lifestyle practiced by the Finders, plus their use of occult imagery as well as brainwashing techniques, include some spooky parallels with the Manson Family. Recently, American journalist Tom O’Neill has drawn attention to the high number of CIA and CIA-affiliated men who surrounded Manson prior, during, and after the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders. O’Neill’s book, CHAOS, spins a fascinating web that hints at the idea that Charles Manson and his followers were wrapped up in two counter-insurgency operations—the FBI’s COINTELPRO and the CIA’s Operation CHAOS—as well as the CIA’s MKULTRA program. COINTELPRO and CHAOS were both designed to weaken the anti-war and black power movements in California via infiltration, while MKULTRA dosed unwitting American citizens with LSD in order to see if they could be brainwashed into committing crimes.
The story of the Finders rarely mentions drugs, but the use of sex and rituals conforms to the mental control techniques that were used by Charles Manson and others, including Temple of Set founder, Satanist, and former Lt. Colonel in the US Army’s Psychological Operations program, Michael A. Aquino. Another suggestion is that the Finders were an elaborate blackmail scheme designed to ensnare the elite of Washington, D.C.
4 The China Connection
One of the more unusual aspects of the Finders case is the repeat connections to China, especially Hong Kong (then a British colony). A search of the van found at the original scene in Tallahassee included a Chinese-English dictionary, while the computers found in Washington, D.C. included correspondence between members in China, Hong Kong, and the United States.
In a strange interview reported by the Associated Press on March 23, 1987, Robert Terrell told the media that “This is farewell from the Finders, we’re breaking up. You won’t hear from the Finders again until the Chinese are running Hong Kong”. This cryptic statement did not garner much attention back in 1987, but given the group’s strange connections with China (including basing their “philosophy” on Lao Tse), many Internet sleuths now think it likely that the Finders were buying and selling child pornography as well as children from shadowy concerns in Hong Kong.
It is worth mentioning that the computers uncovered in Washington, D.C. also showed communications between members in Europe, Japan, Africa, and South America. The fact that the group also seemed interested in terrorism, including terrorist tactics and how to create bombs, has never been fully explained.
Six weeks after being arrested by Tallahassee police, Ammerman and Holwell were released from custody. That March the State of Florida dropped all charges against the pair. This decision, along with the sudden onslaught of newspaper articles and police memos downplaying the group’s interest in the occult, made many certain that a cover-up was underway.
One persistent investigator was Skip Clements, a resident of Stuart, Florida and the man who made a major trade deal with China in the 1990s to be the sole exporter of Florida oranges to the world’s largest nation. According to Clements, the Customs Service dropped their case against the Finders at the behest of the CIA. Clements has stated time and time again that the CIA was using the Finders as a front to train special agents.
Clements proved persistent, and in November 1993, the Department of Justice sent out a memo requesting that the Finders be re-investigated to see if they had any ties to U.S. intelligence. U.S. Representative Charlie Rose (D-N.C.) even met with Clements to discuss the case. Another politician, Representative Tom Lewis (R-F.L.), used the Finders case to draw attention to the fact that the Customs Service’s Child Pornography and Protection Unit had seen its arrests fall by a fourth between the late 1980s and early 1990s.
One of the original investigators in the case, Special Agent Ramon J. Martinez of the Customs Service, reemerged in 1993 to suggest that his case had been deliberately suppressed by the FBI and the CIA. Martinez echoed Clements in saying that he believed that the U.S. intelligence community was involved with the Finders.
2 Cases of Retribution
When the Finders case was reexamined in 1993, several former members of the cult came forward to talk about their horrifying experiences. Some claimed that the group used extortion and blackmail to stop members from leaving, while others claimed that the group regularly used arson to keep members in line or seek retribution. These accusations were backed up by evidence from local police reports all across the country. Others made the shocking allegation that members of the group posed as babysitters across the country in order to kidnap children.
Just when renewed attention was being focused on the Finders, the group seemed to disband for good. The same group that the FBI considered dangerous and guilty of “obtaining children for unspecified purposes” seemed to melt away by 1996.
1 Other Crimes?
One of the crimes that has been occasionally attached to the Finders is the 1982 disappearance of John David Gosch, 12, from his home in West Des Moines, Iowa. Following the disappearance of her son, Noreen Gosch began conducting her own investigation. Before long, Mrs. Gosch came to the conclusion that her son had been snatched by a pedophile ring. When other self-proclaimed kidnapping victims came forward, Mrs. Gosch was told that Johnny had been abducted by a particular group with connections to the CIA. Not long after Mrs. Gosch went forward with this information, she received photographs of what appeared to be her son tied up and for sale in an underground pedophile brochure. Besides the Finders, the case of Johnny Gosch has also been linked to the Franklin child prostitution case, which during the late 1980s had many convinced that Nebraska foster care homes and daycares were run by pedophiles and Satanists.
In 2018, the Finders again made news when Anna Elizabeth Young, formerly known as Mother Anna, was arrested in Marietta, Georgia. Young’s arrest stemmed from her time as the leader of the House of Prayer for All People, a cult headquartered in Gainesville, Florida during the 1980s. On top of this, Young’s history included other cult activities in Michigan and Puerto Rico stemming all the way back to 197. Young’s arrest for torture and the premeditated murder of a young boy known as Moses led some online commentators to draw parallels with the Finders, who operated in Florida around the same time. The two glaring differences between Young’s group and the Finders were religion (Young’s cult used an idiosyncratic form of Christianity rather than Satanism) and race (the Finders were all white, while Young’s cult preyed on fellow blacks).