SANTA ANA — An avowed devil worshiper has been arrested for allegedly making a Mississippi teenager his "slave" and then selling her as a prostitute at truck stops in several states, authorities said.
Danny Walter Schertz, 48, who uses the names "Snakeman," "Wizard," and "Triple 6," will appear in federal court here today for a hearing that authorities hope will hasten his return to Mississippi to answer charges of pimping and kidnapping.
The FBI arrested Schertz under the seldom-used federal Mann Act--the so-called White Slave Traffic law--on suspicion of transporting a teenager across state lines for prostitution.
Schertz's attorney, H. Dean Steward, who heads the federal public defender's office here, said Schertz is concerned about returning to Mississippi.
"He is worried about his own safety and whether he'll get a fair day in court there," Steward said Tuesday. "He fears that he'll be persecuted in the Bible Belt for his religious beliefs."
If convicted, Schertz could face a life sentence and a $250,000 fine.
The twisted tale about how a self-confessed Satanist--who authorities say is also a convicted pimp and rapist--allegedly sold a delinquent teenager into prostitution is contained in court documents filed in U.S. District Court.
FBI Agent Leonardo D. Floyd said in an affidavit that Schertz met the teenager, identified in court documents only as "R.D.E.," when he visited Amory, Miss., last September to establish a Satanic church with the help of two acquaintances.
The acquaintances, David Conwill, 21, of Monroe County, Miss., and his 16-year-old girlfriend, told authorities they had met Schertz during a chance encounter in New Orleans, according to Floyd's affidavit.
Schertz's plan to set up a church changed after his acquaintances introduced him to two girls and a male friend, all of whom wanted to run away because of problems they were experiencing at home, Floyd said. Conwill and his 16-year-old girlfriend decided to join them.
In late September, the group set out for Memphis, Tenn., the first stop in their "runaway plan," Floyd said.
Before their departure, Schertz gave R.D.E. a "slave bracelet" and a pentagram, a five-pointed star signifying that R.D.E. was his property, according to Floyd.
Schertz also told the group that they would have to wash vehicles at truck stops to support themselves, Floyd said.
Schertz "also advised that it may become necessary for the females to dance at strip clubs along the way as well and even suggested that the girls bring along any provocative clothing that may be suitable for stripping," Floyd said.
But the six people, who had left in two vehicles, became separated in Tupelo, Miss., where they had stopped to obtain fake identification cards for the teenagers.
Schertz, Conwill and R.D.E., who were traveling in Conwill's van, continued on the way to Memphis. The others later returned to Mississippi, where they were later interviewed by FBI agents and local police.
On the road, Conwill and R.D.E. washed vehicles at truck stops in Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma City to earn their subsistence, but Schertz later decided they were not bringing in enough money and that R.D.E. would have "to prostitute herself," Floyd said.
The FBI agent said Schertz would use his citizen's band radio in his van to solicit customers among the truckers at area truck stops.
Conwill later left the two and returned to Mississippi, where he spoke to investigators.
Conwill said R.D.E. declined to join him. She later told friends she was attracted to Schertz because he resembled her late boyfriend, a former Satanist who killed himself a year ago, according to Floyd.
Schertz and R.D.E., who were also intimately involved, continued their trek across seven states--Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and California.
Schertz was arrested Dec. 9, minutes after he arrived at Ontario Airport, where he was expecting to meet his wife, a topless dancer working in the San Bernardino area.
Steward said FBI agents apparently used Schertz's wife to lure him to Ontario.
R.D.E. has since been returned to her mother in Amory, Miss., according to Ray Blaylock, a detective who helped investigate the case for the Monroe (Miss.) County Sheriff's Department.
FBI records show that Schertz has been convicted for statutory rape, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and soliciting a person over 18 to practice prostitution.