Sept. 19, 2012

“The rumor has traveled like a Halloween ghost – from Wilson to Coats to Apex to Raleigh.

“Perplexed law enforcement agencies statewide have been fielding inquiries for weeks about stubborn – but unfounded – rumors of a plan by unidentified Satan worshipers to kidnap and sacrifice children.

“The most common variation is that a satanic cult plans to abduct one or more blond-haired, blue-eyed children between the ages of 2 and 5 for a human sacrifice on Halloween.

“‘All these parents of blond-haired, blue-eyed children are frantic,’ said Detective R.C. Couick of Garner. ‘I’ll bet I’ve received 500 phone calls from mothers saying they were going to dye their children’s hair.’

“Sheriff Freddy W. Narron of Johnston County said rumors seem to have started after a local newspaper printed articles about Satanic cults.”

– From “Rumors of satanists kidnapping children are tough to snuff out” (News & Observer of Raleigh, October 28, 1989)

What fertile ground North Carolina, circa 1989, provided for hysteria about 2- to 5-year-olds. The sheriff of Johnston County seems to have summoned considerably more skepticism about farfetched rumors than the Little Rascals prosecutors. Within three months of the Halloween panic all of the Edenton Seven had been arrested.