This week is a monster episode, detailing the life of Terri Hoffman, the leader of a cult called Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul, who fought Black Lords in the spiritual realm and on the side, benefitted financially from a dozen mysterious deaths.
Wikipedia – A short biography of Terri and some info on her organization.
The Curse of the Black Lords – A really good article that details the organization of Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul up until the early 1980s. Starts on P.95
Heaven & Earth Photo – Terri Hoffman’s website selling cloud photos and waffling about how wonderful she is.
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Terri Hoffman & The Black Lords
“First-degree lesson 1:”
“This is your very first lesson, it is yours in a special way since the knowledge contained within it is sacred, secret and mysterious. This information has been treasured and carefully guarded since ancient times, for knowledge gives its possessor power. By being exposed to the teachings of the masters, you will not only become aware of the truths which others rarely possess, you will also learn how to use and control energies few have mastered.”
Cults. They’re all fun and games until someone dies. Or a dozen people die, as was the case with “Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul”, a peculiar cult mired in mysterious deaths and suspicious suicides.
This is Dark HIstories, where the facts are worse than fiction.
Terri Hoffman was born March 21st, 1938 in Fort Stockton, Texas. Set to a bleak backdrop of an alcoholic father and poverty, Terri begun to see things, people which no one else could see. Sitting under a tree one warm summers day aged just four years old, she was visited by three men wearing “splendid robes” who told her to think about God and that she was special. Inconvenient as such visions are, there existed a brief hiatus in Terris visions, as she thought about God, her mother gave birth to her stillborn sister and then shortly after passed away from Tuberculosis.
It wasn’t until she was 9 years old, when her father, unable or unwilling to raise her alone sent her to a Lutheran Orphanage in Round Rock that the visions came back to her more fluently. Whilst she sat alone, bullied and outcast, that she was consoled by these visions of great masters who would tell her that she could be anything she wanted, she was special. The visions taught her how to pray and she even saw Christ himself.
During her time at the Orphanage, she learnt from one of the Nuns about Karma, reincarnation and the Akashic records – A compendium, encoded in a spiritual plane that told of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions and intent ever to have occurred in the past present and future. It was also during her time at the orphanage that she became convinced, aged 9 or 10, that she was the reincarnation of St Teresa of Avila, a 16th Century Roman Catholic Saint and mystical theologian who wrote profusely on subjects concerning meditative prayer and had visions of Jesus and Mary, visited heaven and dabbled in levitation now and then.
Two years later, aged 11, Terri was adopted by a Dallas couple who renamed her Terri Lee Benson. She begun a life of normality and entered school, but made few friends and shortly after her 15th Birthday, met 18-year-old John Wilder, a truck driver with a penchant for school girls. On May 2nd, 1953, the couple ran away together and got married in Durant, Oklahoma, both inflating their ages on the wedding certificate by three years.
The newly married couple moved to a farm near RedBird Airport, 6 miles outside of Downtown Dallas. 18 Months later, Terri gave birth to her first child, Cathy. In 1954, she began to seek something more during her quiet days as a housewife and visited meditation sessions as well as taking hypnosis classes and became increasingly interested in metaphysics and spirituality.
In 1958, she gave birth to a son named Kenneth. In 1963, she gave birth to her second daughter, Virginia. Financially the family struggled, but it was a peaceful life. The family moved to Farmers Branch, a small suburb of Dallas, Texas, a setting in which Terris spirituality could flourish in the long days, mixing with well to do housewives, bored of the everyday and all looking for something more from life. In the mid to late 60s, she began holding classes herself that consisted mainly of high schoolers. She didn’t charge for the classes and taught meditation and prayer. She handed out pamphlets of her teachings, heavily influenced by a wide range of Eastern thought and spiritualism. The first lesson from the pamphlets opens with the paragraph from the start of this podcast.
She also taught of Karma, death and rebirth. On Karma, she wrote:
“We can be sure that the people who have been killed in volcanic eruptions and dire catastrophes have deserved these violent deaths and that they have been reborn in these places to fulfil their destiny. They reaped as they sowed in past lives.”
And on Death, she wrote that there was nothing to fear:
“You will also become conscious of the continuity of life. Death then, will not exist in reality; for you will realise that your existence is not dependant upon the mere maintenance of your physical body. The result of noble death is rebirth.”
Peter Muth, a former member stated that:
“Another thing Terri taught us was that Death was just another state of consciousness and it wasn’t a bad thing, it wasn’t anything to fear.”
A creed that would later drown in its ominous undertones.
Conscious Development of Mind Body and Soul
Terris classes begun to cause quite a stir and Terri herself was becoming a local guru to her small tribe of hopeful devotees. She told them of how she could read the Akashic records, let them know if their partner was their soul mate and of how she could levitate in her bed and heal people from miles away. She hinted on her ability to cure cancer and during meditation sessions, would turn off the lights, shining a torch on students and theatrically talk to the dead people of their past lives. Naturally her students ate it all up, many of whom were drug users, dropouts and the disenfranchised looking for acceptance. She signed one photograph for a female student, writing a note to her which read:
“To a sweet and dear friend, may the love, wisdom and power of God be with you, lead you and guide you all your life, bringing to yourself and others true blessings. Always be an example. Keep God in your heart, bring him to your mind and then live good all day. I send you peace joy, love, light and harmony. Love always, Terri.”
As Terri’s claims became more and more out there, her students became more and more devoted to her. They would visit her in her home for private sessions, obtaining counselling and hypnosis sessions from Terri and told family members in excited tones of Terris great spiritual deeds. Seeking her opportunity, in the late 1960’s, Terri officially founded an organization and named it “Conscious Development of Mind Body and Soul”. All of this spiritual elevation was taking it’s toll on Terri’s home life however and her marriage to John Wilder begun falling apart. On the 28th December, 1970, Terri filed for divorce. Wilder and Terri’s mother responded by getting Terri sectioned.
Terris hospitalisation didn’t last for long however and soon she was back at her day job, talking with gurus, philosophers and Gods long since dead. Her divorce with Wilder was settled on March 23rd, 1971. Terri took custody of her daughter Cathy and her share of the divorce settlement included a 1968 Mustang, some stocks, a shotgun, rifle and pistol. John took custody of the two youngest children, Kenneth and Virginia, took the house and all the family’s bank accounts.
A few months later, now aged 33, Terri remarried to Glenn Cooley, a young 20-year-old student of her classes in New Mexico. Now that John was out of the picture, Terris spirituality could surely flourish.
Black Lords and the White Brotherhood
By the mid-1970s, Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul was hitting big strides in Dallas. Terri was teaching her mantra to hundreds of the local residents and the organisation’s fame had begun to spread nationally, attracting thousands of interested followers. All proceeds were flowing directly into Terri’s personal Bank account.
At its core, Terri had a devout band of long-term students, which she now deemed ready to become teachers in their own right. She was to be the master of masters. The group needed a higher purpose though, something to bind them together and in 1977, Terri found just the answer for them.
During her teachings, Terri begun to enlighten the inner circle to the spiritual planes darkest secrets, told to her by Plato and Babaji, a hindu god during her meditations. There were, according to Terri, a band of evil spirits named the “Black Lords” who disrupted the physical plane with their negative vibrations. Naturally nobody except Terri could see them, since they existed only in the spiritual realm that Terri could walk freely around in, but with her help and guidance, the group could go to war and fight these wicked hellspawn and save humanity from itself. This Holy War was to be kept secret, no one outside of the inner circle should know of their practices, for danger of them falling prey to the Black Lords negative vibes. The band of brave women and men of the inner circle were named the White Brotherhood and Terri became the Anatamaji, or Divine Revelator. Instructions on how to rid the spiritual plane of the existence of Black Lords were a simple affair:
“To kill them, one must take them to the pits of hell where their soul and lower bodies will be dissolved.”
It was all so simple, but there were also Black Overlords, who could not be dissolved. These were dealt with by taking them into “electromagnetic caves” instead.
Soon the war begun and weekly meetings were held in secret from all outsiders in a sports hall in Dallas. A protective circle was first drawn out on the floor and each member was to bring a cup and bag of earth, representing Gabriel, a Fan as a shield representing Ariel and a rod and staff, representing Archangel Michael. Terri assured the members that full size swords needn’t be carried around and that it was merely a gesture, therefore members would use cocktail sticks, biros and letter openers in place as their holy weapon of choice. A former member Joyce Tepley described the battles:
“We were taught to use these weapons to kill Black Lords. Members would make a series of gestures with their swords and then touch the rod to their shoulders which they believed to be a power centre for the body and then you’d project it outward, with your thought along with it and know you were eliminating the Black Lords. That you really were in battle.”
At the end of each session, some of which lasted several hours, Terri would give a body count of how many Black lords had been defeated, the group always had to do better. There were emergency battles held and the members would be called together to rush into battle. Each member was told to wear a robe that when properly made could lend them up to 15 times more power.
I wish I was making this up.
The members of the White Brotherhood felt no pain from their battle wounds, Terri, naturally, absorbed their pain and told them all how she suffered for them in their place. Black Overlords, holding such great power as they did and needing to be dissolved in electromagnetic caves, were often attaching themselves to members of the organisation who had fallen out of favour or family members of the White Brotherhood. Terri warned the group:
“Stay alert, curtail most of your social contact with those outside the group. It’s for their protection. The Black forces may use them to get to you. Keep your sword near you, especially when you go to bed. Protect your animals, car, place of work and your home with protection rituals.”
Terri began to sow the seeds of Paranoia and fear deep into her flock.
When Glenn Cooley first met Terri, he was a twenty-year-old student at North Texas State University with an occasional penchant for drug use which he had fought with the aid of the Conscious Development meditation group. After their expedited marriage in New Mexico, the couple returned to Dallas and moved into a comfortable house. With the success of Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul, Terri had begun to expand on her literature and Glenn partnered with Terri running the Jewellery side business, CD Gems, which sold handmade jewellery that offered protection for its members.
After 6 years, however, Glenn was growing tired of Terri’s organisation. His mother later commented that he had come to her and confessed that he wanted out of it all.
His wish soon became a reality and on 24th November, 1976, Terri filed for divorce and five days later, Glenn filed a waiver to speed up the process and on January 27th 1977, the divorce was granted. Everything had been so smooth sailing that the pair remained working together throughout the proceedings, during the divorce Glenn was awarded all proceeds that the pair would derive from CD Gems. Five days later however, Glenn was found dead in a Cabin on Lake Grapevine, owned by his parents. He was fully dressed, lying propped up in the bed. There was a half-empty can of beer on the dresser and a foam substance around his mouth. When they moved his body, police discovered two pills under his body and at the autopsy, traces of Valium and Librium, a hypnotic and sedative of the benzodiazepine family of drugs, were found in his blood. Cause of death was attributed to suicide by Drug Overdose.
His body was discovered by Terri and two other members of Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul, who claimed she had found a note in her safe on February 2nd, one day after his death, that had been left by Glenn. The note read:
“I Glenn Cooley, give to Terri Cooley all of my property, both personal and real. This includes 2 boats, a 1972 Buick Limited, all jewellery and equipment for its making, all furnishings for the house on Dunhaven Road and all cash.”
“I ask that this last will of mine not be contested by anyone in any way for any reason.”
“Last but not least, I give all my love to all my family and friends.”
Glenn had also signed over full ownership of the house to Terri 2 weeks prior. His final estate was valued at $2565, a figure that deeply puzzled Glenn’s parents, who estimated there to be around $85000 worth of jewellery making equipment, metals and gems in their house. Glenn’s mother had also found Terris behaviour during the funeral highly suspicious. She said of Terri:
“She was crying and talking and then she would stop and look up at me to see my reaction. I didn’t understand it.”
Terri, of course, denied this fact and spoke of the situation:
“For them to blame me for Glenn’s death is just totally awful. I did nothing but love that man. I tried to help him as long as we were married; I tried to help him after we divorced.”
She also claimed that she had not felt things were right with Glenn for some time and had tried to talk him out of going to the cabin alone. However, there is also another side to the story. Years later, in 1989, a former member of the group claimed that she and Terri had visited the cabin on the night of Glenn’s death and though Glenn was lucid at the time, he had already taken the fatal cocktail that ended his life. The purpose fo this trip remains unknown. Furthermore, when Terri learned of Glenn’s parent’s intentions to testify against her at the inquest, Terri called Glenn’s sister to warn her that there was every possibility that Glenn’s history of drug abuse might come up in public.
When word spread around Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul of Glenn’s death, many members blamed the Black Lords.
Shortly after Glenn’s death, Terri remarried with Ben Johnson, another member of the group and one of the three who had previously discovered the body of Glenn. Terri also began taking blood from members of Conscious Development, telling them that it had become poisoned by the Black Lords. This bloodletting advancement was a new way to expel negative energies and though Terri expounded on its many benefits, it proved to be too much, a step too far for some and by 1978 membership started to dissipate. Joyce Tepley, a defector, later spoke of her decision to leave.
“I was relying on someone else’s judgment of me instead of my own judgment of what’s right and wrong, and using Terri as the ultimate authority of my life, rather than me as the ultimate authority. Once you give up your own decision-making process to someone else, however wonderful they may be, you’ve lost your integrity.”
However, at the same time as members were slipping away from Terris grip, war-weary from their prolonged battles with Black Lords and not overly keen on donating blood to the cause, one member, Sandra Cleaver, was doubling down on her commitment.
Sandy, Devereaux and The Black Overlords
Sandy Cleaver was tall, attractive and popular at school, At DePauw University, she met Chuck Cleaver, the Basketball team captain and four years after their graduation, the pair were married. Chuck took a well paid job and they moved to Dallas. Four years later, Sandy and Chuck had a daughter, Susan Devereaux Cleaver, known as Devereux and for a long time, lived a happy family life. Despite outward appearances however, Sany had had a troubled life. Her parents divorced when she was a young child, her mother consequently spent years in and out of various mental health institutions and after school her sister had died in a car crash, whilst her father had also died in a light airplane accident in 1966.
She lived a comfortable life with a large trust fund, however, she suffered from the past traumas and began seeking spiritual answers to her misfortunes. She became obsessed to walk a path of meditation and homeopathic medicine. At one point, Chuck found her packing to leave for a trip to a homeopathic practitioner who had promised to place Devereaux into his special invention that would “tune out the world’s bad vibrations”. Chuck was definitely not keen. This path eventually led Sandy to Conscious Development of Body, Mind and soul and to Terri. Sandy excitedly told Chuck of how Terri was the reincarnation of St Teresa, and of how she could use crystals to cure cancer. She also took to calling herself and openly telling people that she was a high priestess of Atlantis in a former life. Chuck, fairly understandably, felt this behaviour was unsettling and when he told Sandy as such, she replied that:
“I really have to help Devereaux overcome all the problems that are caused by your bad vibrations!”
Sandy became more involved with Conscious Development of Mind Body and Soul and this caused a real strain on her relationship with Chuck who continued to vehemently oppose Sandy’s new spiritual leanings, which compounded the issue. Sandy took counselling classes with Terri, who offered to protect Devereaux with one of her protective shields that would:
“Protect her from anything, except the negative vibrations from your husband, which are very powerful.”
Sandy began to actually believe that her husband’s negative thoughts concerning her spirituality and relationship with Terri was creating bacteria that would infect Devereaux and during an argument with Chuck one evening, took out a knife from the kitchen and screamed that at times, she thought Devereux would be better off in heaven.
In 1971, one month after Terri divorced her first husband John Wilder, Sandy filed for divorce, citing that she and Terri had decided that Chuck was blocking her spiritual development. The custody battle for Devereaux was long and drawn out, although his attorney felt Chuck had an excellent chance of securing rights and privately, so did Sandie’s attorney. Eventually, however, with fear of what Sandy might do to Devereux if she lost custody, Chuck agreed to settle for visitation rights, however, wrote a provision into the settlement that SAndy must only take Devereaux to recognised physicians permitted to practice in texas.
With her spiritual development now unblocked, Sandy bought and installed a printing press in her house to produce the literature for Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul and begun working full time for CD Gems and in 1976, around the time that the war with the Black Lords was beginning, Sandy helped Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul legally become Incorporated, with Terri sitting as the sole member of the Board of Directors. Sandy was named Secretary-Treasurer. All income flowed directly into Terri’s personal bank accounts.
Devereaux meanwhile became isolated and alienated from her mother and found the members who came to the house regularly “weird”, unlike her mother, she was not a participant in Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul and even appeared to be embarrassed by her mother when her school friends visited. This strained their relationship, Devereux felt her mother was uninterested in her and alienated, whilst Sandy thought Devereaux was infected with bad vibrations. Terri tended to agree, suggesting that a Black Overlord was the cause of all the families problems.
In August 1978, just as membership of Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul began dwindling, Sandy wrote a will that would leave everything to Terri and four days later, Devereaux, now aged 13, also wrote her own will also leaving everything to Terri, this included her $125,000 trust fund.
In February 1979, Sandy sat down on the bed with Devereaux and asked her if she would like to join her on a trip to Hawaii with one of her Conscious Development friends. Devereaux was thrilled that her mother had included her and jumped at the opportunity to holiday and socialise with her mother.
On the 25th February, she took a raft out to sea with her mother when a wave struck the pair, knocking them overboard. Sandy was rescued but Devereux could not be found for over three hours, eventually, rescuers found her body. She had drowned.
Autopsy reports showed no sign of foul play and no traces of drugs and alcohol. Terri informed Chuck of his daughter’s tragic and untimely death and he rushed off to Hawaii immediately. When he reached the hospital that Sandy was staying in, he found Terri already there. Curiously, whilst he was gone, one of Terri’s followers called in at Chuck’s house and left Devereaux will with a family friend. The will read:
“I give, devise and bequeath all of my property, including all rights, titles and interests of whatever character I may own in and to any property, real, personal, or mixed, whatever situated to Terri Johnson, who has been to me like a second mother.”
She also included that it was not to be contested in any way. Terri claimed to know nothing of the will’s existence, however, it was signed and witnessed by three Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul teachers. As it turned out, the document was not legal as Devereux was only 14.
In 1979, Terri’s own son Kenneth, whilst working construction, fell through a hole in a roof 30 feet to his death. Two months later, Sandy took out a life insurance policy for $300,000 and at the end of 1979, legally signed over all of her property to Terri, including her $180,000 house, which she now paid Terri rent to live in. After the death of Devereux, Sandy became depressed and drew even closer to Terri, as well as her 78 year old housekeeper. Meanwhile, Terri was busy divorcing her third husband, and remarrying Don Hoffman, an engineer and member who had been married for 22 years, before separating from his wife Alice, who had signed a waiver, allowing Terri and Don to marry immediately following the divorce, rather than waiting for the usual one day’s grace period. Don promptly quit his job and devoted himself fulltime to COnscious Development of Body, mind and Soul.
In August of 1981, Sandy wrote a 13 page letter to her Brother Croom, that was something of an autobiography and expounded the virtues of Terri. In September fo the same year, she left for Colorado to visit a patch of land that Conscious Development had bought with a vision to build a retreat for the members. After a little cajoling on Sandies part, she talked Louise Watson into accompanying her, despite Louise not wanting to take the trip, as she had been feeling unwell. The neighbours thought it was slightly strange that she had not asked them to look after the cats as she usually did. They left for their road trip in Sandie’s car on September 8th and two days later, on September 10th an Air Force Academy Paramedic helicopter whilst on a routine flight spotted Sandies car lying at the bottom of a 450 ft cliff. The road was perilous so police found little to be suspicious of, however, it was noted that there were no skid marks on the road, suggesting that Sandy had not tried to break or veer away from the edge of the sheer cliff, instead it seemed like she had driven straight off by her own accord.
Terri arrived on the scene two days later, ever present in such situations that were now becoming commonplace, to collect the bodies and cash in on the wills of both parties. Louise had earlier written a will, leaving everything to Sandy, which now transferred straight to Terri.
Sandie’s brother, Croom found the whole affair entirely unwholesome. On November 10th 1981, His attorney James Barklow filed papers on his behalf contesting the will, stating that:
The will was executed as a result of undue influence exerted over the deceased.” It went on further too, “ Sandy was controlled by Terris use of hypnosis, pavlovian conditioning and psychotherapy. Sandra Beatty Cleavers will was but one of several persons whose wills were changed pursuant to the direct influence, suggestion and psychological control of Terri Hoffman.”
Terri’s Attorney opposed this last line of investigation and won a motion to prevent anyone talking of any of the other deaths during the trial, however Terri clearly felt her chances were perhaps not looking so good, especially after the publication of an article in a local Dallas magazine that detailed Terris involvement with Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul. Fearing that the new found local fame would not sit well with the Jury, she settled with Croom Beatty. Terri agreed to pay $50,000 to Croom immediately, followed by a second cash payment of $62,500. Sandys house would be sold with the split 40% to Beatty, 60% to Terri and the remainder of Sandy’s estate, valued at $332,000 would be split equally.
After the trial, Terri claimed to be taking Sandy’s death particularly hard. Along with the spotlight from the Dallas magazine, she stopped all her meditation classes, instead taking small, private massage and spiritual classes in her home. Along with her husband Don, they embarked on revising much of their literary material, which had not been updated since the group’s inception and had little talk of Terri’s new abilities of being able to read people’s auras, which she now offered as a service directly from her home. She also entered into a short-lived real estate investment and by the mid 80s was running a perfumery named Perfume Oils International Inc. Despite this apparent enforced downsizing of Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul, Terri still had much work to do in both the spiritual and physical realm.
As she said previously, her masters do not visit her always, and not always when she wanted them.
Robin Otstott was a former writer of the Dallas school curriculum and worked as a school counsellor, working with difficult children. When she met Terri in 1974, she was 41 years old and had been divorced for two years, in secret, she was struggling behind closed doors. She quickly became deeply involved with Conscious Development of Mind Body and Soul and was terrified of the Black Lords, though she participated in the weekly battles, playing her part for the spiritual war effort. She filled her home with protective crystals which she bought from CD Gems and twisted copper piping into “protective shields” which she placed under her bed.
Robin was the benefactor of one of Terri’s lesser known abilities. By the 1980s, Terri claimed to her followers that she trained “dematerialised” CIA agents and used her powers to protect them. By the middle of the eighties, Robin was in a close personal relationship with an invisible CIA agent named George Geoffries, a man she had never met and no one had ever seen, but Terri assured her truly existed. Terri explained to her that they would never be able to meet or marry in the physical realm for reasons of national security. Robin kept detailed journals of their relationship, describing dates, romantics walks and even a camping trip to Colorado, where she had bought tracts of land along with several other core members of the group.
From 1980 until 1986, she had frequent therapy sessions with Terri and Don, however, her mental health never improved. She became more and more introverted and begun cutting ties with her family and social group and was writing of her depression openly in her journal entries. One of Robin’s friends said of her:
“Her whole life revolved around her son until she met Terri Hoffman, then her whole life revolved around Terri Hoffman.”
Her journal entries spoke of how her physical and spiritual bodies were actively fighting one another and in one entry wrote:
“I don’t want to work with my soul in the physical.”
At one meeting, she physically attacked one of her closest friends, Tamara Taylor, though later blamed the Black Lords and maintained that she had no control over her actions. The other teachers pushed Robin away and in March 1987, Tamara herself wrote Robin a letter stating that:
“I have made the decision to stop talking with you. In looking back at the numerous things which have befallen me, I was able to determine that on many occasions I had talked to you and given you information which was then used against me by your other bodies following her phone call.”
On April 2nd, Robin sent out a cry for help to Terri, the contents of the letter showed how far her mental state had deteriorated and the level of paranoia she was living among. She claimed in the letter that “Martin”, Tamaras very own invisible CIA boyfriend had threatened to kill her if she harmed Tamara. At the top of the letter, she had pencilled in a small amendment:
“Please tell me if this situation happened. It felt very real and it’s very serious to me.”
In April, she contacted her ex-husband and explained that she had caught Hepatitis from a banana skin, concerned for her welfare, he set up a doctor’s appointment for Robin on the 21st of April, which she attended. Following the appointment, she visited Terri, stopped into a store on the way home and bought a revolver, then promptly drove home and shot herself in the head. Her suicide note was a letter to Terri and it read:
“I am apologizing to Terri 3000x a week on all levels of my being for the highly offensive, rude and vulgar comments made to her last week. I love her dearly and beg her forgiveness someday.”
Her will, written 2 months prior to her suicide, left her Colorado land, all her jewellery, personal files, clothing and furnishings went to Terri, her son had right of refusal on anything left over and anything he didn’t want was also to go to Terri. Later, the results of her blood tests would come in, she showed no sign of any illness or disease whatsoever.
Mary Levinson was born in Indiana in 1957, the second of 4 children. Her parents were the owners of a locally famous chain of 13 clothing stores, however, Mary never showed any interest in the family business like her brothers, instead, she loved animals and art.
She suffered chronic pain in her knee from a problem which she avoided treating until she was into her twenties, her brother Carl suggests this had to do with their mothers Christian Science faith. She also had difficulties with Anxiety and depression and whilst at university, made an attempt at taking her own life. After hospitalization, she spent much of her life visiting counsellors and therapists but continued to struggle with coping with her troubles.
In 1984 she married Dr Robert Schrock and the couple moved to Chicago, where Mary became involved with a local Chicago based arm of Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul whilst also continuing to see her psychiatrist up to three times a week. Due to the problems with her knee and stress, most of these sessions were carried out by phone. She also began taking weekly phone sessions with Terri Hoffman and they quickly became central to her life. She separated from Schrock in 1986 and found a new boyfriend, a Dr Robert Keyes who she met at a Colorado retreat with Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul. Her divorce lawyer later stated that
“I would say that Mrs Hoffman’s teachings were probably the most important thing in her life during the time that I knew her.”
When her mother visited her in Chicago, she made her wait in the lobby for an hour whilst she finished a phone call with Terri and later even asked her parents for a loan so that she could move to Dallas. Her parents, wary of the group, denied her the loan.
In summer of 1987, she removed her brother as beneficiary of her life insurance policy and replaced it instead with Dr Robert Keyes. She also visited her parents during a vacation where she would introduce Robert to her family, however after her mother scolded her for pushing Hoffman’s teachings on to one of her brothers, the pair left early. Her mother claimed that since then, her relationship with her daughter became strained and they rarely heard from her.
Mary then began selling off her possessions including antique furniture, heirlooms and jewellery. Her mother sent her a cheque for a thousand dollars, thinking that she was having financial difficulty whilst she was waiting for her divorce settlement to finalize. When it finally came through, Mary withdrew the entire sum of $125,000 in cash.
On November 30th, 1987, a maintenance worker at the Hillside Holiday Inn in Chicago found the door to room 114 double bolted and alerted police, who responded around 7 pm and broke into the room, finding Mary lying dead on the floor, fully clothed between two beds. On the bedside cabinet was a pen, pad, motel room key and over 100 various pills, most of which were Benadryl. They also found a briefcase on one of the beds which contained a manilla envelope holding $118 in cash, drivers license, a cut up VISA card and a tape recording left for family. Her autopsy report noted that she had a small puncture wound from a needle on her wrist and had overdosed on sleeping pills.
On the tape, she claimed to have used all of her money, including the $125,000 from her divorce settlement to pay off small debts, donate to animal shelters and
“I also donated money to institutions – charitable institutions – which I shall not name.”
Her parents later found that Mary had used her mother’s credit card to buy over $3000 worth of jewellery in the weeks leading up to her death, though none of it was found in her possessions. She had paid her attorney $1000 to settle her estate and to make sure that no one else was to be involved. In a letter written by Mary and read to her parents by Mary’s attorney, she again reiterated that she had given all of her money to non-profit organisations which “would remain nameless”.
Mary’s ex-husband said that after her suicide, Mary’s psychiatrist had told him that he had not seen Mary for four months leading up to her death and that he had been concerned over Terri Hoffman’s influence:
“He said the type of group that doesn’t define between life and death isn’t good for Mary, they make it so that it was no big deal to step into that other room.”
On the tape recorded for her parents, Mary stated:
“I want you to understand that I am fully rational and I have come to this decision after a long time of thinking,” she sold. “I am actually looking forward to it.”
Charles Southern Jr
Charles Southern Junior was a respected English professor and assistant chairman of a local Community College in Chicago, Illinois. He was fascinated with spirituality and religions. His mother told of how he studied all sorts of African and Eastern religions. He joined a local sect of Conscious Development of Body Mind and Spirit and rose to take part in Terris core group of teachers, battling the evil forces of the Black Lords and routinely visited Terri in Dallas. In 1987, his family found him walking the streets of Chicago mumbling in an incoherent language to himself and took him to the Michael Reese Hospital to be sectioned, fearing that he was a danger to himself. He stayed in hospital for five days and his mother visited him every day, as did two members of Conscious Development of Body Mind and Spirit, when they came, Charles would ask his mother to leave the room. After his release from hospital, he claimed that he had become disenchanted from Terris teachings, though remained active in the group. He had booked a trip to India during his two week holiday in December 1987, and though his family was concerned with his mental state still, he reassured them that he was now fine and so they carried on as usual, stating that Charles had travelled a lot in his life and with his repeated assurances, there was nothing to do except trust in his judgement.
When they failed to hear from him for two weeks after the date he was scheduled to return from India, his parents drove from Cincinnati to Chicago to visit him and after breaking into his house, their worst fears were confirmed. Charles was nowhere to be seen, however, folded inside out atop a African ceremonial stool were his dress hat and coat, a Nigerian tribal symbol for death. They also found his passport, with no stamps from Indian customs and a small vial of a drug, Curare, a drug used in anaesthesia causing total paralysis. There were also poorly written documents scribbled on note paper and barely legible. At the top of one was the line:
“I came under a bad influence and tried to battle it myself.”
Almost no other words on the page are legible, except the name Terri Hoffman. In another scribbled document, they found that Charles had named Terri as executor of his estate. He remains missing to this day.
Don Hoffman, Terri’s fourth husband was found dead in a Marriott Hotel room by a maid at 8:30am on 17th September, 1988. Don had two children from his previous marriage with Alice, whom he had divorced in a flash and married Terri within a day of the papers being filed. After their marriage, he had quit his job as an engineer to work alongside Terri and the couple had worked hard to keep Conscious Development of Body Mind and Spirit afloat throughout the difficult period of the early eighties. Their eight years of marriage, not a bad run on Don’s part considering Terris track record, was ended abruptly when Don took a lethal concoction of drugs including Benadryl and Ecstasy. On the bedside table was a tape recorder, legal pad, pen and a neat stack of Benadryl capsules. Written on the first page of the legal pad, he had written:
“My car is in parking place No.136. – R. D. Hoffman”.
He had also left a three-page suicide note that claimed he had an inoperable Cancer and that he would rather end his life than suffer Chemotherapy. The autopsy report discovered the drugs in his system that had killed him along with a curious revelation. Don had no sign of Cancer.
Prior to leaving home for the Hotel, Don had recorded three video messages for his family, in them he told them about his fatal cancer, about how his doctor’s names were to remain a secret and that he had burnt all of his medical records, though for what reason was not explained. He assured them not to grieve long for him and that “Death is just a transition from one life to another life.” He also told them:
“Y’all help Terri as much as you can. Her hearts kind of weak and any undue stress or pressure on her right now would be really bad.”
Don’s children weren’t buying it and were deeply suspicious. They called Terri and secretly taped the conversation. Terri informed them that at the time of his death, she had no idea about Don’s cancer nor who the doctors were that apparently diagnosed him. Though she had spoken to him in his next life and that he was now “free from pain”. She went on:
“The whole thing is really crazy, I don’t understand it yet. I need to talk to him some more.”
When asked about why there was no disease found during the autopsy, Terri explained that she had recently spoken to Kaltu, another one of her spiritual masters, Kaltu had told her that:
“What Don had was definitely cancer. He said the Black Lords were trying to create an illusion so that the medical examiner wouldn’t find any cancer – so they would hurt us all more.”
She then offered them some land in Colorado and told them that Don had told her from beyond the grave that he didn’t want any conflict within the family. On April 19th, 1989, Terri filed Dons will, which of course, left everything to Terri.
David and Glenda Goodman
David Goodman was the eldest of three sons, born in Chicago, he moved with his family to Santa Maria, California. He married Peggy, his high school sweetheart in 1961 and when they had a son, he dropped out of college to support his family. After raising enough money and his son grew, he went back to college and earned a Math degree and MBA from Berkeley. He had a second son in 1965 and in 1967, began studying a PhD in Management Science at Yale. Things were going well, but suddenly, in 1961 on the 10th anniversary of their wedding, Peggy left David and took their son. He started working at a community college as a professor, however, struggling with the whirlwind events surrounding the breakup of his marriage, David started seeking answers. He joined transcendental meditation classes and attending Hare Krishna meetings and eventually, in 1973 wound up meeting Terri and the Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul. He was quickly drawn in by Terri’s abilities and excitedly told his brothers of how Terri could read minds and was “training him”. By 1978, he was spending $150 per month on Terri’s counselling services.
In 1978, Terri introduced David to his soulmate, a Conscious Development member and presided over their marriage. It was also around the mid-to-late 70’s that David’s co-workers noticed David becoming distant at work. In truth, he was tired of academics and on the side, had entered into a partnership with John Peavey to develop a stock market trading system. The pair wrote a book titled “Hyperprofits” which was published in 1985 and became a bestseller. Despite working in a partnership, David largely kept himself to himself and rarely spoke of his private life. Peavey said of him:
“I spent more time professionally with him than anyone. I just never really knew the guy personally. He didn’t seem to want to get involved with anybody. It was weird.”
Peavey had not even been aware that during their time working together, David had filed for divorce from his soulmate and remarried a different soul mate, Glenda in 1984. Once again, they were introduced by Terri and she performed the ceremony.
In 1987 he resigned from his professorship, citing no reason. He left all of his books and possessions in his office and never spoke to another member of staff. He just disappeared from the college. Glenda had also cast off her children during the same period, pulling them out of high school and sending them to live with their father and only permitting them to visit for two weeks every summer. By 1988, the couple had cut their family off completely, telling them that they had no choice due to the families “negative energies”.
On October 20th, 1989, the couple shot themselves in the head in their home.
When police found the bodies one month later, they also found a collection of journals that had documented the years leading up to the couple’s suicide and they made disturbing reading. They were full of daily entries, written in their own hand, but with detailed instructions from “Masters”. They showed how over the space of three years, David and Glenda had turned to the masters to control every aspect of their lives, even as far as getting advice on shopping for soft furnishings from “Markus”.
They were seeking the highest truth and the highest level of spiritual advancement, the masters suggested to them they needed to give Terri money in order to do this and after building an extension on their old house, they gifted it to Terri, along with over $110,000 and a new car “In appreciation for all she has done”. They also spoke of “white pills” that they received from Terri.
Through this gifting, however, they had earnt a certain level of spiritual advancement. Glenda had received a revelation at 5 am one morning that she and David were in fact, Adam and Eve reincarnated and they had lived 800,000 previous lives together. They took on new identities and begun calling themselves Jupiter and Venus. In one entry, Glenda wrote:
“Terri and Markus took Jupiter and Venus by the hand and led us to a beautiful glittering house in the purple realm. It was to be our house.”
However, being mere reincarnations of Adam and Eve was still not enough for Glenda and David. The journals explained how they needed to have a 50-50 relationship with God, apparently meaning that 50% of all their earnings should go to Terri. When they still failed to achieve all that they wanted spiritually, and had cut off their families, the couple found them on a bleak path. David wrote one day:
“Can’t you see that we can’t take this anymore? Give us your true energies.”
Eventually, the journal entries turned to suicide. Glenda wrote how suicide would be a path to success and away from sufferings of the physical world. She wrote to David of how they should look forward to being able to come and go from the physical world at will, “Just like Terri can”.
On March 3rd 1989, Don Hoffman’s children, filed a case against Terri Hoffman claiming that she had induced Don to kill himself and seven weeks later contested the will. Their attorney was James Barklow, the same man who contested Sandys will and during his investigations into Terri, he found a note in her trash. The note read:
“Here is your bulk order plus the samples. #1 is a new formula that is a bit more complicated to make and will cost 35 cents more per capsule. It should have more amphetamines and a balancer to neutralize bad effects. #2 is the basic E formula, without the last step performed in purification to remove all amphetamines.”
Barklow Believed that these drugs had been the tablets that several followers were taking, suggested by Terri as “Vitamins” and were the capsules found in many of the scenes after the suicides.
On October 22nd, 1991, Terri Hoffman filed for bankruptcy protection, claiming that the publicity had derailed her businesses, however, failed to mention several bank accounts that she operated, along with artwork and property, but for the Hoffmans, things were not going well.
“We had a number of offences we tried to assemble, but bankruptcy fraud is all that’s happened so far, and that’s not even connected to anything except the property she got.”
The prosecutors shared their files with the FBI involved with her Bankruptcy claims, however, they were told in no uncertain terms that they didn’t want to get involved with aspects outside of the direct case of Hoffman’s financial problems.
“We did not want to go into the hocus-pocus.”
In the end, nothing came of the Hoffman’s case against Terri, the prosecutor stated:
“It just doesn’t translate into a grand jury proceeding. It’s been an interesting endeavour, but I just never could quite get there.”
On November 23rd, 1994 Terri Hoffman was convicted on 10 counts of Bankruptcy Fraud and sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, of which she served less than one year, released in May 1995.
A New Millennium Dawns
After prison, Terri appeared to go dark and there is scant record of her activity for the next 6 years until she remarried for the fifth and final time in 2002 to Roger Keanely and changed her name to Terri Lilya keanely. She remained married to Roger Keaneley until her death on October 31st, 2015.
Her website, still available for viewing at HeavenandEarthPhotography.com explains how she developed a new form of photographic art, her photos are of clouds, which she sold on her website until her death. In Terri’s words, however, they are not merely clouds, but “Various spiritual beings that have revealed themselves” to her. Never one to shy away from how special she was, she lists no less than five areas of expertise, from Floral Design to Seminar Leader.
Among her long lists of Honours, Awards and Publications, she listed all of her Conscious Development of Body Mind and Spirit literature as a “Multi-volume study course.”, Whilst her biography was apparently included in the dedication sections of “Great Minds of the 21st Century” and “Hall of Fame of Great Women of the 21st Century”, two publications for which there are no references.
The site talks openly about Terri’s fantastic spiritual powers that she has had throughout her life, however, unsurprisingly, there is not one single mention by name of Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul, though she appears to have offered low-key classes along the same lines up until her death. The final line of a Dallas obituary read:
“She gave us the opportunity to experience many different vibratory frequencies so that the next time we are exposed to a being, situation, or an energy, we can now attune to it and recognize it/them because she presented those new vibratory frequencies to us. That has been truly a gift from God.”
“So our leader has left us on the physio-astral but nevertheless still exists on all the other levels. Thank you, for all your love, tutelage, and care. Until we meet again.”
It’s safe to say that Terri had a knack of attracting people with short life spans, especially those with insurance policies or large estates. Those who side with Terri believe that it was simply a hazard of Terris line of work, becoming involved with people in difficult stages of their lives. Somewhat more credible, however, is the idea that these vulnerabilities are exactly what Terri needed to successfully prey on.
Terri’s lawyer, Fred Time said during the legal suit following the deaths of the Goodmans:
“What’s wrong with giving a large gift in return for spiritual guidance? Call up some of the big churches and see if anybody died and left them money.”
However, Leonard Goodman’s words probably speak it best when he diplomatically said:
“Maybe it was double suicide, but one word from Terri would have stopped it. If my son hadn’t been involved with Terri Hoffman, he’d be alive today. So would a lot of other people.”
Mary Levinson’s parents grieved alone until they heard of the legal suit against Terri, they now believe she was involved. Likewise, Charles Southern Junior’s family have also come to believe that Hoffman was embroiled in their son’s disappearance.
Moreover, there are still more suspicious incidents, Jill Bounds from Dallas, a somewhat unorthodox therapist, heavily involved in all things metaphysical, was a former member of Conscious Development of Body Mind and Soul and had fringe connections with Terri at the time of her brutal, and unsolved, murder that is a riddle in its own right. In the end, we are left with so many mysterious cases that are all tied up with Terri and her organisation that it’s difficult to know where to start. With her death in 2015, the only certainty is that all we have are questions.
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