SACRAMENTO — Three children may have been drugged, beaten to death with metal pipes and then cut up as part of a so-called "snuff movie" produced by five men charged in a child molestation case, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Rick Lewkowitz said that three alleged molestation victims told investigators they were present when three other children were bludgeoned in the basement of a house in Sacramento in 1982.
Lewkowitz said, however, "We do not have sufficient evidence at this point" to file murder charges.
The suspects, four of them workers at a restaurant in suburban Sacramento, engaged in a molestation cult that included satanism, witchcraft and mock wedding ceremonies for the youngsters, investigators said.
"Three children are individually telling us they were taken to a basement of a house where three other children were present," Lewkowitz said. "The three children were given drugs. A metal pipe was taken to the heads of each of these three children. The blows were of sufficient force to have probably killed the children."
He said the living children "were given cutting instruments while cameras were going" and that they described what they had to do to these children, to the dead bodies . . . the cutting up of the bodies."
Investigative reports quote the grandmother of some of the victims as saying they described the slaying victims as two girls about 7 or 8 years old and a boy about 6.
"The girls said all three had raggedy clothes and were very dirty, with matted hair, and they said all three had scrapes and bruises on their bodies," a report said.
Lewkowitz said there were nine alleged molestation victims, six of whom are now in therapy, two in a locked psychiatric facility.
The disclosure came during a hearing in Municipal Court on whether to reduce the $500,000 bail for the five defendants who were arrested last week as part of a 77-count child molestation ring.
Judge John V. Stroud continued the $500,000 bail despite arguments from court-appointed defense lawyers. But Stroud asked Lewkowitz to give details about the homicide investigation; so far, only sketchy details have been made public.
Charged in the case are Veryl Baker, 59; Alan Arbuckle, 29, and Rolando Cuevas, all of Sacramento, and Arthur Gary Dill, 33, and John Holman, 26, both of Campbell.
In arguing for bail reduction, deputy public defender Tom Roehr, who is representing Baker, attributed the charges to Dill's mother-in-law's fervent interest in child molestation. Dill and his wife are estranged.
If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. "That is a strong reason to flee," said Lewkowitz, arguing to keep the bail high.
Lewkowitz said investigators had been told by some of the children that "it was Baker that was running the show" when the children were killed, but two children have "indicated that all five of these men were present."
Investigative reports say that Baker also played the role of a devil in sex movies made with the youngsters.