The Mayor of Casterbridge meets "Satanic" Abduction and Brainwashing...
Nov. 2007 69-year-old Ken Williams had been the mayor of Centerton, Arkansas for 6 years when he announced that his name was really Don LaRose. 30 years earlier he had been LaRose (now 67 years old), a married preacher and father of two in Indiana, until members of a Satanic cult kidnapped him and "brainwashed" him to forget all about his former life. Then, in 1975, he was injected with a truth serum and suddenly remembered what the Satanists had done to him. Williams/LaRose says he underwent 5 years of therapy to recover the rest of his memories.
The disappearance of Reverend Don LaRose from Maine, New York, had made area headlines in 1975. According to a February 13/76 article in Christianity Today, some members of his congregation at the First Baptist Church even speculated that he had been abducted by angry Satanists who had written a nasty letter to him. However, when authorities located LaRose three months after his disappearance, they determined he had vanished voluntarily. (They didn't believe his bizarre story, that he had been hauled into the back of a van and "brainwashed" with a portable electroshock device attached to his forehead.) He had taken the name Bruce Kent Williams from a car-crash victim who died in 1958, but implied the Satanists had "given" him this identity; according to LaRose, he had simply woken up in Minneapolis as a homeless drunk named Bruce Williams, with no memory of his previous life as a Baptist minister. He became a baker's assistant in a downtown cafeteria, spending his free time at a mission. A preacher there recognized him as the missing New York pastor and arranged for LaRose's wife and father to pick him up.
LaRose was "happily" reunited with wife, Eunice, and their two daughters, but his former church washed its hands of him. And that seemed to be that.
The LaRoses moved to Indiana in '77. Don became pastor of Hessville Baptist Church in Hammond, and continued to tell his story about Satanic abduction and brainwashing, claiming he had recovered the memories of the events only after a dose of sodium amytal administered by Dr. Marvin DeHaan.
Those pesky Satanists just wouldn't leave him alone, though. In June 1980 he claimed to have seen them sneaking around his church, peeping in windows. On June 10, he told Eunice he was going to the church to meet someone. He didn't return home; 7 years later he was declared dead, and Eunice remarried. Despite his presumed death, family members continued to search for Don LaRose and hoped to learn his fate.
On the website LaRose admitted his second vanishing was deliberate, but only because the unknown Satanists threatened to murder his family if he didn't disappear. He bicycled away from home, bought a bus ticket to Wyoming, and became "Ken Williams".
In the early '80s "Ken Williams" popped up in Centerton, became a radio personality on KURM, and remarried. He was elected mayor in 2001. But earlier this year he put up a website about Pastor LaRose's disappearance, written from the perspective of LaRose. It contained an autobio of LaRose, a recap of the initial "abduction" ("may have been SATANIC inspired"), and his "amazing story of survival" after being forced to leave his family. A member of LaRose's family discovered the site, and it was easily traced to Williams. On Monday, November 19, the Benton County Daily Record phoned Mayor Williams to confirm his true identity. For a day he denied being LaRose, then "came clean" about his past to the newspaper.
LaRose has resigned as mayor of Centerton. Though he expressed interest in seeing his daughters, his grandchildren, and his 96-year-old father, he plans to remain in town with his current wife, and will continue to use the name Ken Williams. He is reportedly not under investigation.
LaRose/Williams says the people who abducted and brainwashed him were probably not Satanists, just "Satanically inspired".
- Florida wftv.com article (erroneously gives pastor's name as "LeRose")
- "Being Don LaRose" by Eleanor Evans and Tracy Neal, Benton County Daily Record online, Nov. 21/07
- "The Two Reappearances of Don LaRose", Benton County Daily Record online, Nov. 22/07- http://www.donlarose.com/ (Williams' website)