Usually when I hear about a Satanic ritual murder, it’s safe to assume that there aren’t actually Satanists involved. It’s almost never a cult ritual in the woods. Instead, the motives for murder are usually more simple than that: jealousy, anger, greed. But a broken clock is still right twice a day and those involved in this murder actually claimed to be Satanists. This is the case of the carnival cult murder.
Keith Lawrence and David Lawrence
David Lawrence was three years older than his brother Keith Lawrence. Keith was really into heavy metal music and some people think that’s what drew him to Satanism. I don’t think that, but media always seems to get blamed in these cases.
Now David was not into the Satanism like his brother. David actually says that Keith changed after he became involved in Satanism-he was meaner and more aggressive. Keith once chased David with a knife to try to get him to become a believer. Keith and David’s parents sent Keith to a private school after this. They hoped it would help with his anger issues. Once Keith was back from school, David spent a lot of time with him, hoping to keep him out of trouble.
Mark Goodwin had been interested in Satanism and the occult from a young age. But Mark wasn’t just in it for the goth aesthetic. He really thought he could gain powers from Satan from rituals that sometimes included animals. In fact, he formed his own cult by the time he was fifteen called Satan’s Disciples. Very creative name, Mark.
Anyway, there were around 6 members ranging in age from twelve to thirty-five. The group performed rituals in cemeteries, old barns, and abandoned locations. They sacrificed animals at least once a week, including a cat whose blood they drank after. The men wore robes while the women in the group had to either wear black lingerie or be naked. Equality? Mark had never heard of it. Some members claim the group had orgies while members sang Satanic songs.
There isn’t much information available regarding Penick’s upbringing, but we know that leading up to the 1991 incident, Penick murdered a man who knew about a previous crime he had committed. Nice guy, really.
You must be this tall
By 1991, all four men (Keith Lawrence, David Lawrence, Mark Goodwin, and Jimmie Penick) were working the carnival circuit. While at the Dekalb County Free Fall Fair in Indiana, they met today’s victim-William Anthony “Tony” Ault.
William Anthony “Tony” Ault
Ault met this group while he was also working at the same fair in Indiana. He was desperately looking for somewhere to fit in and Satan’s Disciples was intriguing to him. Ault asked if he could join and was flatly told no. I’m not sure why they didn’t want him as a member.
But Ault knew one of Penick’s secrets. He tried to blackmail the group with his knowledge of Penick’s previous murder to force them to let him join. The other men wanted to scare him from talking. They agreed to let him join, but only after he went through an initiation.
Sacrifice to Satan
On September 25, 1991, Goodwin asked his friend Brenda Ferguson to find an isolated location where they could have an initiation ritual for Ault. After the fair closed that night, Ferguson drove the five men to the abandoned barn she had located. Did Ferguson know of their plan? According to the cult, she did not. But didn’t she wonder why there were only four men when she picked them back up?
The group made a makeshift altar out of a door and told Ault to lie down on it. He was tied up and gagged. Keith Lawrence read a prayer to Satan while Penick cut Ault from his throat to his groin. The other men also made marks on Ault, which included inverted crosses.
According to Penick, he asked Ault if he was ready to die, and Ault responded. We aren’t sure what his answer was, but if true, it means that he was awake for the entire tortuous “ceremony.” It’s horrible to think about. Penick then cut Ault’s throat.
The men tried to dispose of Ault’s body by dismembering then burning it, but that didn’t work so they ended up burying his remains in a shallow grave. They took the money that Ault had on him and used that to go buy Arby’s that night. How callous is it to murder someone and then go get a beef n’ cheddar like nothing happened?
The aftermath of the carnival cult murder
Penick, Goodwin, and the Lawrence brothers continued traveling and working for the carnival until Mark Goodwin’s dad went to the police after his son told him what they had done. Ault’s body was found the next day, which was December 13, 1991, nearly three months after the murder.
Penick was sentenced to 60 years, Keith Lawrence received 20 years, and David Lawrence and Mark Goodwin were both sentenced to eight years. I’m sure none of that is a comfort to Ault’s family, but it is some semblance of justice.