He and his lover took all their possessions and 12,000 doses of LSD to go live in the Satanist sex castle of Corpsewood Manor. Then their story ended with a bloodbath.
Dr. Charles Scudder came from a wealthy family and worked as a professor of pharmacology at Chicago’s Loyola University — a “good job” by his own definition. Described by those who knew him as “brilliant,” “polished,” and “soft-spoken, but confident,” Scudder eventually grew fed up with city life and, in 1976, left the luxury of his Chicago mansion in pursuit of a simpler life.
As he put it, Scudder longed for an escape from “taxes, light bills, gas bills, water bills, heating bills, and the helpless feeling that resulted from watching my old neighborhood disintegrate into an urban ghetto.” So the 50-year-old chose an isolated spot in the north Georgia woods to begin his new life.
After leaving behind most of his worldly possessions, he decamped for the South with his lover, Joe Odom, constructing a new residence by hand in the depths of the forest. As Scudder said, “Within two short years we were living in an elegant mini-castle.”
They called it Corpsewood Manor, named for the hauntingly bare autumn trees that dotted the area.
To complete their country manor, the two added on a three-story “chicken house.” The first floor was for the poultry and food storage, the second for canned goods and the couple’s pornography collection, and the third for their “pink room,” also known as their “pleasure chamber.”
But Scudder’s homosexuality was far from the only secret he’d been keeping, for he was also an official member of the Church of Satan.
As it turns out, there was much more to the soft-spoken, secretly Satanist doctor than met the eye.
Even at Loyola, Scudder’s work was not that of the typical academic. For one, he performed government-funded experiments with mind-altering drugs like LSD. Meanwhile, he did things like dye his hair purple and keep a pet monkey. And when he left Loyola for Corpsewood Manor, he took a few souvenirs with him, including two human skulls and about 12,000 doses of LSD.
Now, souvenirs in hand, Scudder was free to express his Satanism within the confines of Corpsewood Manor.
This forest sanctuary was guarded by two mastiffs, Beelzebub and Arsinath (one named for a demon, the other an H.P. Lovecraft character). Local legend adds that the pair also summoned a real demon to assist the dogs in guarding the house.
Fittingly, Scudder and Odom also decorated Corpsewood Manor with various Gothic paraphernalia, including the skulls that Scudder had swiped and a pink gargoyle he had brought from his old mansion. Scudder himself thought of Corpsewood Manor as “more like a mausoleum, a tomb requiring care, cleaning, and endless costly repairs.”
Scudder also fashioned a stained-glass window adorned with a prophet known as Baphomet, an important figure in the Church of Satan. And while Scudder took his Satanism seriously, it’s important to understand what exactly that religion meant to him.
Scudder, like other members of the Church of Satan, didn’t worship Satan and was instead an atheist who chose to celebrate the base, worldly pleasures that he and other church members felt were denied to humans by the Abrahamic religions.
And celebrate such pleasures they did. Scudder and Odom liked to invite guests over for wild sex parties centered on the “pink room.” Indeed painted entirely pink, this pleasure chamber was filled with mattresses, candles, whips, chains, pornography, and even a log-book listing guests’ sexual predilections.
But while these acts were reportedly consensual, the pink room parties are the reason that on the night of Dec. 12, 1982, Corpsewood Manor turned into a bloody murder scene.
With Scudder and Odom encouraging all their Corpsewood Manor guests to indulge their every whim in a haze of sex and drugs, things were bound to eventually implode. But things ultimately came to a far bloodier end than anyone would likely have imagined.
Among the locals that Scudder and Odom invited into their home for parties and sexual adventures of one kind or another were 17-year-old Kenneth Avery Brock and his roommate, 30-year-old Samuel Tony West. Information is scarce and reports vary, but at least according to Amy Petulla’s The Corpsewood Manor Murders in North Georgia, Brock had several homosexual encounters with Scudder at Corpsewood, and eventually, Brock brought West there for more of the same — or at least the free booze and drugs.
However, West not only strongly objected to any kind of homosexual activity but also convinced Brock that he’d been taken advantage of by Scudder. Again, whether Brock had actually been taken advantage of remains unclear. Nevertheless, Brock and West decided to return to Corpsewood and rob the two men in their isolated forest home.
Brock and West, with two teenagers named Joey Wells and Teresa Hudgins along for the ride, headed to Corpsewood Manor on Dec. 12, 1982 with guns in tow. However, things didn’t start off violently. Initially, the four guests acted as if they were just there to hang out and accepted Scudder’s offer of homemade wine as well as a potent huffing mixture or varnish, paint thinner, and other chemicals.
At some point during this drug- and alcohol-fueled haze, Brock got down to business, retrieving a rifle from the car and promptly shooting Odom and the two dogs. Then, Brock and West showed Scudder the bloodbath and did all they could to force him to give up whatever money he had.
What Brock and West hadn’t realized is that there were no riches at the house of any kind. And when they did eventually accept this fact, they shot Scudder five times in the head, took what little valuables were lying around, and fled the scene.
They fled all the way to Mississippi, where they killed a man named Kirby Phelps as part of a robbery gone wrong on Dec. 15. Afterward, perhaps feeling remorseful, Brock returned to Georgia and turned himself in to police on Dec. 20. West did the same in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Dec. 25.
Eventually, West was found guilty of two counts of murder and sentenced to death, while Brock pleaded guilty and received three consecutive life terms. With that came the end of the strange and bloody story of the Corpsewood Manor murders.
After this look at the Corpsewood Manor murders, read up on the killings committed by Chicago’s Satanic Ripper Crew. Then, read up on Satan’s supposed influence on notorious serial killer David Berkowitz.