Is a cult responsible for the death of a high school student?
On September 8, 1984, Kurt McFall, a 17-year old high school student, drove from his home in Concord, California, across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. He told his father he was staying with a friend and would be home Sunday evening. Kurt never returned.
On Monday, two birdwatchers spotted a half naked body on a remote beach below the cliffs of San Francisco Bay. Kurt McFall was dead. Kurt’s father, Tom McFall, says he knew at once his son’s death was no accident:
In Kurt’s room, Tom discovered a knife made from a deer’s hoof, a necklace of stone and feathers, and drawings depicting witchcraft themes and violent fantasies. These seemed to prove that Kurt was leading a double life. The year before he died, Kurt had joined a group that enjoyed reliving medieval customs. They dressed in costumes and practiced sword fighting in the parking lot of an Oakland subway station.
Around the same time, Kurt also joined another organization that initiated him into a pagan religion. This new group frightened one of Kurt’s old high school friends. He later contacted Tom McFall and then began to fear for his own safety. He spoke on the condition that his identity not be revealed:
Kurt’s guide into the pagan religion was Gabriel Carrillo, who went by the ancient Welsh name, Caradoc:
Kurt’s high school friend thinks Kurt got too deeply involved:
On Saturday, September 10th, Kurt stayed over at Carrillo’s apartment. They had dinner, went to a movie, and around midnight, Kurt went swimming at Ocean Beach, a few blocks from Carrillo’s home. According to Carrillo, Kurt had trouble sleeping and knocked on his door at about three in the morning. Kurt said he was going to go back to the beach. Kurt was never seen alive again. Carrillo thinks Kurt’s death was an accident:
The following evening, Kurt’s car was found abandoned on a golf course overlooking the ocean. There were a number of puzzling clues. Kurt’s driver’s license was on the floor. His car keys were on the seat. A $20 bill was in the glove compartment. The prized suit of armor which Kurt had made for sword fighting was missing from the trunk. There were also beer bottles scattered in, and around, the car. Tom McFall thinks the clues were staged:
At 10:15 the following morning, National Park Service lifeguards recovered Kurt’s body. It was lying in a cove less than two miles from Carrillo’s apartment, just below the cliffs at the golf course where Kurt’s car was found. Brian Cameron was one of the lifeguards:
Kurt had no shoes, socks or shirt. His back and shoulders were covered with cuts and abrasions. The belt he wore was missing its buckle. Chief Petty Officer Ron Wilton with the U.S. Coast Guard:
The coroner determined that Kurt died from multiple traumatic injuries and severe blood loss, but no one knows what caused those injuries. Perhaps Kurt died after stumbling over the edge. Or, perhaps he was pushed. The coroner ruled, “cause of death, unknown,” a determination unacceptable to Tom McFall:
The police investigated further, but found no reason to change the ruling from “unknown” to “homicide.” They declined to be interviewed for this story. Kurt’s father continues to believe his son was murdered:
Gabriel Carrillo denies that he or his organization had anything to do with Kurt’s death:
Tom McFall hopes that someone will come forward with new evidence that could re-open the investigation.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack in season six with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Robert Stack and Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.