Who Will Find What The Finders Hide?
An Investigation into The Finders Cult
Researched and written by Derrick Broze
In previous investigations, we worked to expose a powerful billionaire and registered sex offender – Jeffrey Epstein – and showed how Epstein and his co-conspirators were able to escape punishment for their role in abusing over 40 young girls. We noted that Epstein and people like him do not act alone in their efforts to feed their depraved desires. In Epstein’s case, he had an inner circle of people who helped him acquire young girls. In other cases there exist networks of individuals helping to pressure or even kidnap young children and force them into sexual bondage.
This time, we are going to explore the story of a cult that was suspected of international human trafficking in 1987. The Finders cult was a young group of men, women, and children who claimed to be nothing more than former hippies living an alternative lifestyle and practicing alternative parenting. The Finders were founded by a mysterious man with military connections nicknamed “The Game Caller” who believed in turning his life, and the lives of those around him, into a constant game or experiment.
Although more than 30 years have passed since The Finders made their way to the front page of newspapers all over the United States, questions still remain. Did the Game Caller’s games involve trafficking of children? What exactly were the finders finding? Why did this story make mainstream headlines and then disappear in less than a week? Was the story part of the “moral panic” of the 1980’s, or something more? We will answer these questions, and most importantly, we ask,
Who Will Find What The Finders Hide?
As we examine the story of The Finders cult i want to make all of our readers aware that everything in this investigation is documented and can be confirmed by looking at our sources. This story deals with accusations of Satanic activity, child trafficking, and intelligence operations. We take these claims seriously and went to great lengths to confirm the information we are about to present to you.
The Finders Arrested in Florida
On a chilly February morning in 1987, [Wednesday, February 4, 1987,] an anonymous caller tells the Tallahassee Police Department that two well-dressed men are at a local park with six kids and a blue van. The children are described as looking “disheveled” with potential signs of abuse. Tallahassee Police arrive and question Douglas E. Ammerman and Michael Houlihan. The two men say they are taking the kids to a school for brilliant children in Mexico. The men also say the children are being weaned from their mothers. Authorities eventually take the men and children into custody. A search of the van turns up 20 floppy computer disks, a TSR-80 computer, and a “device that police say could be used to hook into a computer in another location by telephone”.
Immediately it becomes clear that this case is not like any other. Following the arrests, the Associated Press reports that police had moved the six children from a shelter after receiving a “half-dozen” phone calls threatening the kids. [The AP notes] The children were moved to an undisclosed location where they were being protected by armed guards.
When interviewed by the police, the kids say the men are their teachers and that they have been living in a house with other children and adults. The police report also notes the kids are eating a raw food diet, covered in bug bites, and only fed as a reward for good behavior. The children are unaware of modern technology, including phones, televisions, hot water, staplers, typewriters, and electricity. The oldest child, Mary, says they receive instructions from “a man they called a Game Caller or a Game Leader”, the founder of The Finders, also known as Marion Pettie.
By Thursday February 5th, Tallahassee police confirm the children and men are part of a group known as The Finders. [U.S. District Court records in Washington indicate] A confidential police source previously told authorities the Finders were “a cult” that conducted “brainwashing” techniques at a warehouse and apartment in Washington D.C. [Source: Washington Post] This source tells of being recruited by the Finders with promises of “financial reward and sexual gratification” and of being invited by one member to “explore” satanism with them.
At this point officials with the U.S. Customs Service agency join the investigation due to suspicion that the potential crimes may have crossed state or national borders. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are also said to be investigating the case. After learning the children are based in the D.C. area, the Tallahassee department contacts D.C. Metropolitan Police to establish the identities of the children. Tallahassee police [spokesman Scott Hunt tells reporters the TPD] learn that D.C. police are already aware of the Finders.
On Friday February 6, Virginia State police raid a 90-acre farm owned by Marion Pettie in rural Madison County, Virginia. Neighbors of the farm say children were often brought to the farm in vans, usually crying. An FBI report states that “evidence of a satanic/cult ritual was discovered”. The same report notes that all reports regarding Finders are to be classified Secret.
Meanwhile, DC Metro Police and U.S. Customs Service agents raid other Finders properties, including a duplex apartment building and warehouse in Washington D.C. Police reports and articles from 1987 indicate that the DC police removed large plastic bags filled with color slides, photographs and photographic contact sheets from the warehouse. Some of the photos were of naked children [source: Washington Post].
U.S. Customs [spokesman David Hoover] tells the Post, ″We’re not saying that it’s pornographic, but it has all the earmarks.″ A U.S. Customs Service report describes some of the photos as showing blood rituals involving children slaughtering goats while adults in white robes watch. It also describes that they found instructions on how to purchase children. The importance of this report written by U.S. Customs Service agent Ramon J.Martinez will become clear as we move on.
The Customs Service then claimed to be looking into allegations of child pornography. Police spokesman Scott Hunt states that the Finders may be “accustomed to selling or smuggling the children of its members out of the country.” Then Capt. William White of the DC Police Department, declines to speculate on what the possibilities might be, but report written by D.C. police state that law enforcement believes the possibilities include kidnapping or some type of international market for children. Police investigator Cheryl Weigand says more than one of the children has been sexually abused, but she won’t say exactly how many.
Genghis Plato, also known as Robert Gardner Terrell, was the spokesperson for The Finders and the owner of a DC house that police say was used by members of the group. Terrell tells reporters the group are simply “rational people” and ″not devil worshipers or child molesters.″ Then another spokesperson for The Finders named Diane Sherwood, states the group are “hard-working” with a “Protestant ethic”. ”We don’t even think we are a group,” she says. “We are just a network of co- operators.”
By Monday February 9, five days after the children and their two male chaperones were arrested, Washington metropolitan police announce they have found no evidence of wrongdoing or satanic activity by the Finders. Health officials in Florida then say they have no evidence of sexual abuse of the children. DC Metro Police Chief Maurice Turner Jr. states that the department has not uncovered any evidence to “corroborate allegations made by an informant that the organization is a cult and that its activities involve satanic rituals”. By Thursday February 12th, Gary Sheppard of the FBI’s Washington field office, says the FBI investigation has “not uncovered any evidence of federal violations.”
But according to the New York Times, “the statement from the Metropolitan Police Department conflicts with accounts from the police in Tallahassee, Fla., where the children were found, unwashed and hungry… Officials there say that morning “at least two of the children had signs of sexual abuse.”
Despite the initial reports, by the end of the week headlines are reporting that the charges are dropped and that the whole situation was a giant misunderstanding. Just like that, it’s gone from the news.
To be fair, it is true that a so-called “moral” or “satanic” panic seemed to grip the U.S. in the 1970’s and 80’s where parents were suspecting all kinds of people of being involved in devil worshipping cults or child trafficking networks. Although the vast majority of these cases have been dismissed as paranoia, the story of The Finders deserves a deeper look.
Let’s start by examining the available law enforcement documentation.
Documenting The Finders
The Finders cult incident in Florida took place more than 30 years ago. Although the mainstream version of events says that the whole thing was blown out of proportion, a reading of the reports from the Tallahassee Police Department, the FBI, and the US Customs Service leaves more questions than answers. The Customs Service report has been widely reported and circulated and the FBI documents were released through Freedom of Information of Act Requests. In 2018, thanks to the work of an activist, the 75 pages of Tallahassee police reports were also finally released to the public. This is the story of those documents.
Tallahassee Police Department Reports
On Wednesday February 4, at 4:50 pm, Tallahassee Police Officer Tony Mashburn responds to an anonymous call regarding two well-dressed men seen supervising six children at Meyers Park in Tallahassee, Florida. The detective files a report with the department following the incident. His report serves as one piece of historical documentation of the case of The Finders. Mashburn’s report states that the “children were very dirty and unkept” with “bug bites on their entire body and scratches on their legs.” Mashburn also reports:
“When asked about the parents of the children, Suspect #1 became very evasive and stated that the children’s parents were in Washington D.C. Suspect #2 refused to give this writer any information and he pretended to faint when told he was under arrest.”
A second report written by Tallahassee police officer Judy Suchocki notes that the oldest child, Mary, does not know her last name but knew that one of the men was her father. She states that the men had several aliases. When asked where they were going, the children say they do not know, they were “just going different places” and staying at campgrounds. The children also say they haven’t seen their mothers for two months, “since before Christmas” because they were being weaned from their mothers.
The report states that the kids told officers the adults in their community had to do what the “game caller” told them to do and the kids did what the adults told them to. The children said they were not allowed in the house. The kids also told authorities that the adults communicated with “The Game Caller”, aka Marion Pettie, via a computer in the van. Later in the report it notes that the children claimed Marion Pettie “owns a man named Steve”.
When the eldest child Mary was questioned about sexual abuse she became very evasive. She said there were no “bad touches” between the children and adults, and reportedly became fidgety and wanted the interview to end. The same police report mentions that an official with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, or HRS, said the two children were confirmed cases of sexual abuse. Jane Pittilla of HRS stated that a Dr. Moorer had found one of the children lacked “anal spector control”, consistent with acts of sodomy. Also, one of the girls had signs consistent with vaginal penetration by the fingers.
On February 8, Tallahassee police filed another report mentioning a curious incident involving a computer found on Florida State University campus in front of the library. Apparently, on Thursday February 5, a student [named Robert Sorkine] spotted the computer inside of a phone booth and decided to take it home. After he saw details relating to the Tallahassee Police investigation, he turned it into law enforcement who determined the owner of the computer was “obviously persons who are involved with a group called ‘The Finders’”. A similar TSR-80 computer was found in the group’s van.
Once the warehouses in D.C. were raided, DC Metro Police shared the details of their findings with the Tallahassee police. In one report, DC Detective Bill Cagney describes finding a library of books which included books “concerning mind control”. By February 8th, Detective Jim Bradley of the DC Metro Police says he found no evidence of satanic activity at either DC residence. On February 10, the Tallahassee police are told by Lieutenant Lee Hart of the Culpeper, Virginia Police Department, that he has a contact within The Finders. This contact alleges that Marion Pettie has notified all Finders to flee and hide.
Curiously, Lt. Hart tells the TPD that Pettie would “probably go to Andrews Air Force base and get a military plane to China”. The strange thing is there are several mentions of connections to China elsewhere in the TPD report and in the US Customs report. Why were the Finders men carrying a Chinese-English dictionary with them? Mary said she learned to count to 10 in Chinese from a Chinese man at the warehouse, and, as we will see in a moment, the US Customs report on the Finders mentioned that children were being ordered from a contact in Hong Kong.
When the Tallahassee Police are finally able to determine and locate the mothers of the children, the women deny any allegations of satanic activity or sexual abuse of the children by the group. The women claim they don’t know why the men have multiple fake IDs or why they used the “traveling to a school for brilliant children in Mexico” excuse. The mothers tell police their lifestyle does not abuse children, but instead holds them in high esteem. This seems difficult to square with the fact that the kids were found covered in bites and scratches and malnourished with little food.
The women go on to describe The Finders lifestyle as rejecting private property in favor of communal property and centering around “ongoing loyalty, dependence, devotion to each other”. The police reports description of the group’s parenting style resembles modern “unschooling” methods. This hands-on method included trips to the zoo, learning in nature, and apparently, learning how to slaughter and skin a goat. When confronted, the women say the white “robes” the men were wearing during the goat slaughter were actually sheets used to cover their clothes from blood. The mothers also contradict the children by saying the kids are allowed to eat whenever they want rather than at predetermined meal times.
On Wednesday February 11th, assistant Investigator Rick Huffman is made lead investigator. By February 24, Huffman has officially ended the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation into The Finders. Huffman writes:
“As to whether the children had actually been abused or neglected at the time of arrest seems to hinge on whether the children being dirty, possibly hungry, and living under camping conditions constitutes abuse or neglect.” Huffman concludes: “This investigator has learned of no group or individual actions which appear abusive or neglectful.”
Huffman does not mention the reports of sexual abuse by doctors with HRS.
And with that, the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation into the Finders cult came to an end.
The US Customs Service Memos
The other main source documents are a series of memos from the U.S. Customs Services, the predecessor to the current US Customs and Border Protection agency. The memos were written by U.S. Customs Agent Ramon J. Martinez. In these pages are the most damning accounts of alleged trafficking of children and potential connections to intelligence agencies. Martinez filed three memos, two of which describe his experience participating in the search of the warehouse in D.C. alongside the Metro Police.
Once the Customs Service was notified that the children were allegedly en route to Mexico, a Customs investigation was launched. The Metro Police reportedly contacted Customs because the agency maintains a network of child pornography investigators. Martinez notes that his office was contacted by Detective Jim Bradley with the Metro Police Department because he believed the Tallahassee case was “strongly related” to a case he was investigating in D.C.
Bradley also told Martinez that he originally investigated the two addresses connected to The Finders in December of 1986, two months before the incident in Florida. An informant had given Bradley information regarding a cult, known as the “Finders”, operating various businesses out of a warehouse. The information was specific in describing “blood rituals” and sexual orgies involving children, and a yet unsolved murder in which the Finders were alleged to be involved.
Martinez’s report states that during the execution of the warrant on the warehouse he was “able to observe and access the entire building”. As authorities searched the building they found tons of documents, a large library, a sauna, computers, maps with locations highlighted, a room with video recording equipment and much more. [They also found a man connected to The Finders known as Stuart Miles Silverstone.]
Martinez says his search of the documents revealed the following:
Detailed instructions for obtaining children for unspecified purposes
Instructions on the impregnation of female members of The Finders
Telex messages using MCI mail, an early version of email
One such telex specifically ordering the purchase of two children in Hong Kong to be arranged through a contact in the Chinese Embassy
Another telex expressing interest in “bank secrecy” situations
Documents identifying interests in high-tech transfers to the United Kingdom, and numerous properties under the control of the Finders
Documents relating to terrorism, explosives, and the evasion of law enforcement
[Also found in the “computer room” was] A detailed summary of the events surrounding the previous night’s arrests of the two adults and six children in a Tallahassee park
And a set of instructions which appeared to be broadcast via a computer network which advised the participants to move “the children” and keep them moving through different jurisdictions, and instructions on how to avoid police attention
The following day, Friday February 6, 1987, Customs Agent Martinez meets Detective Bradley at the warehouse again. “I was again granted unlimited access to the premises,” he writes. This time Martinez says he observes “numerous documents which described explicit sexual conduct between the members of the community known as Finders”. He also says he saw a large collection of photos of unknown people, including some nude photos of people believed to be members of The Finders. “There were numerous photos of children, some nude, at least one of which was a photo of a child “on display” and appearing to accent the child’s genitals. I was only able to examine a very small amount of the photos at this time,” [Martinez wrote.]
He also states that another officer showed him a photo album that contained a series of photos of adults and children dressed in white sheets participating in a blood ritual. Martinez says the photos showed the execution, disembowelment, skinning and dismemberment of two goats at the hands of the children.
Other documents include files relating to activities of the organization in different parts of the world, including London, Germany, the Bahamas, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Africa, Costa Rica, and Europe. Martinez reports seeing one file entitled “Pentagon Break-In”. He also claims an MPD officer told him the group maintained intelligence on private families. The officer told Martinez about a game the Finders would play, in which the group would respond to local newspaper advertisements for babysitters, tutors, etc. and then a member of the Finders would gather as much information as possible about the habits, identity, occupation, etc., of the family.
Martinez’s final memo was filed April 13, 1987. Two months after his original memos, Martinez reasserts his view that “numerous documents were discovered which appeared to be concerned with international trafficking in children, high tech transfer to the United Kingdom, and international transfer of currency”.
Martinez says he talked with Detective Bradley on March 31 regarding a meeting to review the documents seized during the execution of the two search warrants. When Martinez arrives for the meeting on April 2, Detective Bradley is not available. Martinez writes that he “spoke to a third party who was willing to discuss the case with me on a strictly “off the record” basis”.
Agent Martinez is notified that all passport data gathered during the investigation was given to the U.S. State Department. The State Department then tells the Metro Police that all travel by the passport holders was within the law and no action was to be taken. Martinez notes that, “This included travel to Moscow, North Korea, and North Vietnam from the late 1950s to mid 1970s”, countries engaged in conflict with the United States at the time.
This unnamed third party also tells Martinez that “the investigation into the activity of the Finders had become a CIA internal matter”. Martinez’s final statements reveal:
“The MPD report has been classified SECRET and was not available for review. I was advised that the FBI had withdrawn from the investigation several weeks prior and that the FBI Foreign Counterintelligence Division had directed MPD not to advise the FBI Washington Field Office of anything that had transpired. No further information will be available. No further action will be taken.”
Just like that, with a disregard of credible reports that merited further investigation, the FBI, the Tallahassee Police, and the U.S. Customs Service were done investigating The Finders…
At least for the moment…
1993 – DOJ Investigation
Not everyone was convinced that the case against the Finders was over and done with. [A 1993 report from U.S. News and World Report states that] An unnamed Tallahassee investigator accused the police of dropping the case, “like a hot rock.” Apparently the Department of Justice too was uncertain whether the case was successfully investigated because in 1993 it [was reported that the DOJ] had begun an investigation into whether the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in some kind of cover up. A December 1993 Associated Press report states, “The Justice Department said Friday it is investigating allegations the CIA used a ″front company″ run by a commune to train agency employees and that the CIA blocked investigation of the group.” [AP notes that] A CIA spokesman said the CIA sent some employees to a company called Future Enterprises Inc. for computer training in the 1980s. The spokesman claimed the CIA did not know about any connections between the company and the Finders.
The vice president of Future Enterprises at the time, Joseph Marinich, said the company had trained CIA employees in computer use and continues to do so, but that it had never been a front for anyone. However, a connection between The Finders and Future Enterprises appeared through Finders spokesman Robert Tobe Terrell, who worked at Future Enterprises at the time of the Florida incident. Terrell was fired by Marinich once he found out about The Finders.
Oddly enough, Future Enterprises currently maintains contracts with the Defense Intelligence Agency, a U.S. government agency which focuses on gathering intelligence on the military intentions and capabilities of foreign governments and non-state actors.
[The Associated Press quoted a report from the Washington Times as stating that] Martinez had apparently sent his reports to Congress calling for investigations and had provided documents suggesting the CIA was blocking investigations of the Finders. [In a mind-blowing admission, the Washington Times stated:]
“A later Customs report says the CIA ″admitted to owning the Finders organization as a front for a domestic computer training operation but that it had ’gone bad.”
[The U.S. News and World Report article mentions that] Rep. Charlie Rose of North Carolina, and Florida Rep. Tom Lewis were calling for an investigation into the CIA. “Could our own government have something to do with this Finders organization and turned their backs on these children? That’s what all the evidence points to. And there’s a lot of evidence. I can tell you this: We’ve got a lot of people scrambling, and that wouldn’t be happening if there was nothing here,” Lewis stated.
The article also notes that “law enforcement sources” say some of the Finders are listed in the FBI’s classified counterintelligence files. Unfortunately, the FBI files which have been released are heavily redacted. Still, the files do reveal important details.
The FBI Files on The Finders
In April 1994, the FBI requested all available documents on the “Finders Investigation” and received 21 documents from the U.S. State Department. These documents were considered “unclassified” by 2014. The documents confirm that in 1993 the DOJ ordered a preliminary investigation into allegations that the Finders were involved in sexual abuse of children and whether the intelligence community played a role in covering it up. The name of the person making these allegations is redacted but it becomes clear that the documents are referencing US Customs Agent Ramon Martinez and his report from the warehouse raid.
Despite the heavy redacting, the files make it clear the FBI was taking note that Martinez had reached out to Congress to call for an investigation. One portion of the documents mention a Customs Service Special Agent who wrote a report claiming to have seen computer equipment with instructions on “obtaining children for unspecified purposes”. The report also mentions impregnating female members of The Finders, instructions on kidnapping, buying, and trading children. Finally, the report states that this unknown person – who is more than likely Ramon Martinez – claimed that another unnamed person worked with the State Department and the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Division to cover up the crimes of The Finders.
This memo dated March 9, 1987 relates what was taking place behind the scenes during the weeks following the official end of the investigation into the Finders. Again, the document is so heavily redacted it’s hard to determine exactly what was said, but what is clear is that someone with the Metropolitan Police Department stated that none of the items claimed by Ramon Martinez were found at either Finders property and that there was no evidence of child exploitation, kidnapping, and no instructions on buying children.
The redacted document notes that a DC Metro Police Sgt. John [H.] Stitcher had been told by an unknown person to step away from the investigation into the Finders. However, another document claims that this never happened. It seems likely that Martinez and Stitcher would have met and discussed what Martinez saw, and, perhaps, the fact that Stitcher claimed he was told to back off the investigation into the Finders. Either way, the FBI files note that by 1993, Sgt. John Stitcher was dead.
[Another report from the FBI Special Agent in Charge says that] “the bottom line was that the Tallahassee investigation was not impeded/influenced by any agency”. An unnamed Special Agent with the FBI’s Washington Metropolitan Field Office and an officer with the DC Metro Police were both interviewed in November of 1993 and claimed that they had no direct knowledge of evidence indicating child abuse or exploitation or interference from the U.S. intelligence community. Martinez stated that he believed he was correct in his original report.
The FBI files show the bureau searched the government’s internal databases for names thought to have been used by The Finders, including “Finders Transnational”, “Finders Transnational Ragged Mountain”, “Women’s Network Service”, “General Scientific Corporation”, and the aforementioned “Future Enterprises”. As with Future Enterprises, it is believed these businesses may have been fronts operated by The Finders.
After all this – the initial incident in Tallahassee, the raids of the warehouse and apartments, the end of the investigation – the two male members of the Finders were released from jail. A Washington Post article from June 1, 1987 mentions that four of the children were returned to their mothers while the other two were placed in foster homes. The article also notes that two of the mothers followed instructions given by Pettie and refused to get a lawyer or respond to the courts and instead, left Florida and returned to Washington D.C..
After interviewing dozens of people directly involved in the case and reviewing hundreds of documents, the DOJ concluded there was no evidence of child abuse or trafficking, satanic cult activity, or law enforcement complicity. In the minds of the authorities, the case was closed. However, as we have uncovered here, there are many details that ought not be forgotten.
While it may be easy to dismiss these claims as nothing more than conspiracy, it’s difficult to ignore the statements from the Tallahassee Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services regarding signs of sexual abuse. There’s also the original reports from Customs Agent Ramon Martinez describing detailed information related to trafficking.
When asked for a comment about his initial report, Martinez agreed to speak to us as long as we did not record. In one email exchange, Martinez makes it clear that he stands by his original report and does not believe anyone will be held responsible. On November 1, 2018, Martinez wrote:
“Nothing’s ever come of any info I’ve provided over the years, except professional grief. I have no delusions of anyone ever being held accountable for what I know happened. Without that potential, I really don’t see the point.”
Martinez also stated that what he witnessed “predates Donald Trump by 40 years”. Unfortunately, before we could uncover any more details about what exactly he saw, the former Customs Agent backed out and ended communication.
Regarding Martinez’s statements about professional grief, court records show that in 1994 he was accused of improperly disclosing case information to a close co-worker of an individual under investigation. He was reassigned from the position of Criminal Investigator and his pay was docked. Whether Martinez believed this was done in retaliation or not we do not know because he refused to respond to any more questions.
Is it really possible that Martinez imagined the whole thing? Could the doctors have been mistaken when observing signs of sexual abuse on two of the kids? It’s possible. Anything’s possible. Including the possibility that agents in the FBI, Customs Service, and Metro Police covered up what US Customs agent Martinez saw and then made him look incompetent.
On the other hand, it’s also true that none of the former members of The Finders have come forward to say the group was involved in child trafficking or sexual abuse. Even former members who sued the group and had plenty of criticisms, claim there were no signs of sexual abuse. One would imagine that even one member would leak the truth to the public if there was indeed something more to the story. However, one could also argue that anyone who was involved with the Finders and their alleged activity would be well aware how connected and powerful the group is and might be too terrified to blow the whistle.
To understand The Finders we need to examine the people involved in the day to day activities of the cult. More specifically, to find what the finders hide it’s imperative to study the founder of the group, Marion Pettie. The following details are taken from the public record on Pettie, as well as interviews with members of The Finders.
Who was Marion Pettie?
Little is known about the life of Marion D. Pettie, the mysterious founder of the Finders. Before his death in 2004, it had been widely reported that Pettie was a retired Air Force master sergeant who spent years rubbing elbows with the top brass in the United States intelligence community. The true nature of Pettie’s connections to these intelligence agencies remains a central mystery to the case of The Finders cult.
After the Tallahasee arrests in 1987, the NY Times referred to Pettie as “a charismatic leader who urged his followers to study a doctrine that stressed self-exploration and futurism.” During the investigation, Priscilla Coates, president of the Bay Area chapter of the Cult Awareness Network told the Associated Press that the Finders were not a satanic cult, but rather, “just a weird situation where Pettie controlled others and made everything a game.″
Media reports from the 1980’s state that The Finders first evolved out of the human potential movement of the 1970’s – a movement based on the idea that an extraordinary potential lie within each person, waiting to be unleashed. Pettie – who was also known as The Student, The Stroller, The Pathfinder, or The Game Caller – claims that he had been hosting parties and gatherings of like-minded people since the 1930’s. In a 1996 interview with the Washington City Paper, and a 1998 interview with Steamshovel Press, Marion Pettie discussed his early years.
“I’ve been keeping open house to fools since the ’30s. I rented two apartments in Washington and had open house. Anyone that wanted to could come and stay with me—I’m still doing it.” – Marion Pettie
In fact, Pettie told both the Steamshovel Press and the Washington City Paper that since World War 1 he kept open house “mainly to intelligence and counterintelligence people in Washington”. Pettie claimed that his goal was to know everything and say nothing.
“I run a private intelligence game, and I send people out undercover to find out various things. I’ve been investigating the CIA before it was the CIA, when it was the OSS,” Pettie stated in reference to the predecessor of the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services.
In 1998, Pettie told the Steamshovel Press that in the 1960’s investigators were monitoring him for four years. He claimed that the investigators accused him of being a drug dealer and then a front for the CIA. However, Pettie claimed that eventually the investigators left him alone. Pettie also stated that he tried all of his life to get behind the scenes in the CIA.
“I sent my wife in as a spy, to spy on the CIA for me. She was very happy about
it, happy to tell me everything she found out. She was in a key place, you
know with the records, and she could find out things for me. And my son worked
for Air America which was a proprietary of the CIA. There are some connections, but not to me personally.”
It is true that Pettie’s wife worked for the CIA and that one of his sons worked for Air America, a CIA front accused of trafficking opium. Despite his long time interest in intelligence agencies and his family members’ involvement with intelligence agencies, Pettie swears he himself is not a member of the intelligence community.
However, further details of Pettie’s involvement with U.S. intelligence services were revealed in the late 1980’s.
Investigative Leads Memo
In 1994, journalist Daniel Brandt wrote an article titled “Marion Pettie and his Washington DC “Finders”: Kooks or Spooks?”, detailing a meeting with two members of the finders back in 1984. Brandt says at that time they were going by the name “the information bank”. Three years later Brandt was sent a three-page memo titled “Investigative Leads” of unknown origin, which outline Marion Pettie’s alleged intelligence links. Although the source of the memo remains anonymous, some of the data has been independently verified.
According to the memo, in 1939 Pettie met a chinese agent operating under journalistic cover and remained in close contact with him throughout World War 2. Pettie began his intelligence career by working with various OSS contacts. After the war Pettie’s chinese contact introduced him to Charles Marsh at the National Press Club. Marsh is a journalist connected to LBJ and FDR, and often suspected of ties to the CIA.
The memo alleges that in 1946, while Pettie was working as a chauffeur to General Ira Eaker, Marsh arranged for him to be trained in counterintelligence. Pettie received intelligence training at Georgetown University in 1956 and was sent to USAF intelligence training school in Frankfurt, Germany. Through Marsh, Pettie got his wife a job with the CIA from 1957 to early 1961.
The memo states that Pettie’s handler was Col. Leonard N. Weigner. Weigner advised Pettie to resign from the military and surround himself with “kooks” so that he could infiltrate the “beat,” human potential, and New Age movements.” Weigner encouraged Pettie to recruit people from youth hostels and universities. Pettie was also instructed to recruit a network of agents in Europe.
In the 1960’s Pettie apparently fulfilled this mandate by making connections with the “beat” movement. The memo also alleges that Pettie penetrated the ‘human potential’ movement by setting up Ken Kesey, the famous novelist and counter-cultural figure, as a prominent guru.
Finally, the memo claims that in 1979 Pettie recruited John J. Cox, a computer specialist and founder of General Scientific, a computer firm specializing in classified defense contracts. Cox trained several of Pettie’s Finders in computer programming and communications technologies. From the 1980’s on, The Finders claim they used Pettie’s international network and cutting edge computer technology to perform acts of freelance journalism for finder’s fees. They deny any allegations of child trafficking, satanism, or intelligence operations.
So what exactly were The Finders and what were they finding?
Researcher Wendell Minnick, author of Spies and Provocateurs: An Encyclopedia of Espionage and Covert Action, said he spent two years researching the Finders, but after running up $1,000 in phone bills and running into too many dead ends, he concluded his investigation without much new information.
“The Finders would love you to think they’re a CIA front, but I would say they’re really nothing. You’re going to hear a lot of bullshit on the Finders, because they lie. These are dysfunctional adults, but they’re all working their asses off. They’re constantly working on some project. If you have a cult, the best way to control people is to keep them busy, to keep their minds occupied—if you have people standing around doing nothing, then they start thinking.” – Wendell Minnick
To learn more about Marion Pettie, The Finders, and their relationship with the intelligence community I sat down with long time spokesman for The Finders, Robert “Tobe” Terrell. Terrell wrote a book about his experiences with the Finders called “The Game Caller” featuring one of the few known pictures of Marion Pettie.
Robert Terrell: Tobe Terrell, T-O-B-E, T-E-R-R-E-L-L, That’s my real name, my legal name I was born with is Robert Gardner Terrell Jr.
I worked for the IRS for 9 years and then left and went on my own and made enough money that I was able to retire at age 35. And I found by that time that I had done everything my culture had programmed me to do. I was basically programmed to participate in the existing culture and make money. And get a wife and two kids and move to the suburbs and move into a big house and all of those kinds of things. But that didnt seem to satisfy some deeper urge.
Terrell talks of meeting Marion Pettie through a mutual friend and being invited to come visit the community that Pettie called “The New Ark”.
RT: One thing led to another and I went back to visit again. And realized that he was a spiritual teacher… based on the questions he asked me. So I asked him some questions as well. And then I was in transition. I had been married for twelve years, had a couple kids, was living in Chevy Chase, in a very nice house in a very nice suburb. It was a phase in my life where it was time to develop my spiritual nature. I’d been a house holder and that was a good phase. To make that a shorter story, I moved into the New Ark and never moved out.
Terrell embraced The Finders life and, after a divorce from his wife, he put his life savings into the “Invisible Bank”, a communal fund where everyone was allowed to contribute and take as they needed. Using these funds Terrell helped Pettie purchase the Finders properties in D.C. for the group’s daily activities.
He describes life in the Finders as a constant game where Pettie encouraged members to live one day at a time. The group was ran by Pettie and everyone submitted to his rules. Terrell said every day The Finders would ask Pettie to be the Game Caller and then the group would follow his instructions.
RT: He would say something like, “okay, take off with no money and don’t come back until you have $100”, no instruction other than that, and then you just leave and do whatever it took to get the $100. Not that we were trying to get the $100, it was trying to get the experience.
Terrell confirmed that Marion Pettie spent his military career working closely with generals and intelligence officials, and that Pettie worked as a chauffeur.
RT: He already knew the first chauffeur and that’s where he’d gotten the information about the new chauffeur’s job. And he said he just stood there and gazed into the eyes of Henry Arnold until Henry Arnold consented. And that’s how he spent WW2 as the chauffeur for all the leading generals of WW2. Which was a wonderful job because he knew what was going on behind the scenes. He was carrying the vice president or these various generals around town in the back seat of his Cadillac.
And during this time – he was a thrifty guy – he saved up his money and began buying up land in the Virginia Mountains, which was very cheap at the time. So he had accumulated 600 acres of land on a chauffeur’s salary, which is no easy feat. So when The Finders came together he contributed that 600 acres of land and I contributed the cash. They had some cash already, but that was my contribution.
While Terrell claims that Pettie bought the land by being thrifty and saving his chauffeur salary, the anonymous investigative leads memo claims that it was, in fact, Charles Marsh who supplied the funds so Pettie could purchase hundreds of acres of farmland in Madison and Rappahannock Counties in Virginia. This is where Pettie would start building his cult.
During the research for this investigation, I was sent an interview with Finders’ member Michael Houlihan aka Michael Howell, one of the men arrested in Tallahasee in 1987. In the interview, Howell emphatically states that the children were not abused, there were no blood rituals or satanic activity, and they were not intelligence agents.
Both Howell and Robert Terrell state that the Tallahassee incident was the result of the moral panic of the 1980’s and bad reporting by the media. Terrell says the trouble began when a disgruntled ex-girlfriend of one of the Finders went to the police and spread false rumors about the groups alleged involvement in satanic activity.
RT: She went to the DC police and told them that we were a satanic cult. So they opened an investigation. I don’t know what a satanic cult is, or if it’s against the law, but as evidence that we were a satanic cult, she took a police officer into the park – our apartments were right next to Gloverarchibold park, which is a 400 acre park in downtown D.C. – and if you walk out the backdoor of our apartment buildings you walk onto a trail in Gloverarchibold Park and she took the police officer there and showed him that there was a circle of stones, where someone had had a camp fire. And this was the evidence that we were a satanic cult – that we, we had campfires – it was not us, I don’t know where that came from – but that was enough evidence for them to open an investigation.
This original investigation mentioned by Terrell preceded the 1987 arrests in Tallahassee. It was the arrest of the two Finders men which spurred on a further investigation by the DC Metro Police, the U.S. Customs Agency, the Virginia State Police, and the FBI.
RT: You have to hae a little more background of what was happening in the culture at the time. There was a panic going on. Now, what’s going on now is that people are seeing a terrorist behind every bush. At that time, people were seeing child molesters behind every bush. There were many cases that got great publicity around the country. There was a whole industry that was built up around identifying child molesters – most of which amounted to nothing. There was a famous case out in Manhattan Beach in California that made national headlines for months and finally it all came down that it was all made up stuff that was put into the heads of these very young children.
We were pioneers in trying to raise free children. In order to do that you have to be kind of clandestine because if it looks like the children are not being raised in an orthodox fashion you could get yourself into a lot of trouble. And we certainly were not raising our children in an orthodox fashion. We never gave them an order. We gave them a level of freedom that children in this culture don’t have. We raised them in a non-threatening environment in the country where they would be close to nature. And on occasion they would come to the city, but most of the time was spent in the country.
The police were aware of us, they couldn’t figure out what we were doing. We’d bought this 10,000 square foot warehouse and we sometimes appear there in the middle night. It just didn’t fit any pattern.
They concluded that we were filming pornographic stuff, which couldn’t have been further from the truth, but that was what they concluded. One reason they concluded this was because we had some cameras and high tech equipment. The high tech equipment, this was way back before the internet, we were pioneers on the internet. It was called MCI mail, it was one of the first email systems.
Terrell dismisses the 1993 reports from U.S. News and World Report and the reports filed by U.S, Customs Agent Ramon Martinez.
RT: Well I’m aware that that’s what was published in U.S. News and World Report. Very poor investigators. They took the word of a guy who had been discredited and had been fired for other reasons, in the Customs. And that was absolutely crazy, and he had no evidence for it. It was just something he said. Ya know, if you are an investigator sent out to get information, you don’t just say it, you get evidence. Well, his evidence was that he had seen some communication, from Hong Kong, saying something about buying children or some absurd thing like that. And that was his interpretation of a kind of communication that he knew nothing about.
We had a couple guys – by that time we had evolved an organization that traveled around the world doing journalism – and we had two different people who worked for Hong Kong News doing freelance articles, usually high-tech articles. They happened to be in Hong Kong when the whole thing came down. We communicated back and forth, we developed a number of shortcut ways of communicating so I have no idea what he read that led him to conclude that there was some kind of kidnapping going on. But he did say that, so it was picked up by U.S. News and World Report, it just so happens that I was working for U.S. News and World Report at the time! Very poor investigating!
As we have shown, former Customs Agent Ramon Martinez has stated that he stands by his reports. Terrell not only dismisses the child trafficking claims but also initially dismisses the idea that Pettie maintained any contact to the U.S. intelligence agencies after he left the military.
RT: They offered him a chance to become an intelligence officer, he took it, and they trained him in Europe for some period of time. Then his time was up, his 20 years in the military was up. He resigned from the military and started his spiritual practice.
DB: As far as you know, did he maintain any of those intelligence contacts?
RT: He severed all ties with the intelligence community. He had been trained but he never was assigned. When his training was over he flew back to Washington and approached General Ira Eaker, who was then the secretary of the Air Force, and he told General Eaker that he had instructions to please give him his honorable discharge. He was highly regarded by Eaker, so Eaker asked him why? and Pettie told him, “I’m sorry, it’s so secret that I can’t even tell you”. And Eaker gave him the discharge and he severed all connections with the military. None of this… It’s absurd to think that we had any connection to anything governmental, we did not.
DB: But is it possible that the games and the information he was feeding the group were coming from somewhere else?
RT: No, it’s not possible. I shared the same toothbrush with this guy for 20 years. It’s not possible. Think about it… we were as opposite to the goals of the government and the intelligence community as you can be.
Interestingly, members of the Finders are still connected to the intelligence field. This includes Kristin k. Nauth, one of the mothers of the children involved in the 1987 Tallahassee incident. Nauth has used several variations of her names over the years, including Kristen Knauth and K. Nauth. She has also written for various publications which discuss issues important to the intelligence community, including Knowledge Magazine and Foresight Alliance. Her LinkedIn page describes her as ” a futurist and qualitative analyst who has been deeply engaged with foresight practice and theory for more than 15 years.”
Eventually, Robert Terrell concedes that Pettie was deeply connected to the intelligence community.
DB: Did you ever see any evidence of Pettie being tied to intelligence agencies? Perhaps you are right, perhaps this was part of the satanic/moral panic, but there does seem to be some indication that Pettie was involved with intelligence services. Do you know anything about those claims or did he ever share anything with you?
RT: Of course. He was in the Army Air Corp which became the U.S. Air Force. He was highly regarded by the brass and they asked him if he would like to become an intelligence officer. So why would he want to be an intelligence officer? There is a lot like intelligence service in being a meditator and practitioner of yoga. What is the goal of yoga and meditation? The goal is to discover in yourself a connection that is closer to the divinity than the human body. Getting in touch with that part of yourself, that deep part of yourself, is not unlike being an intelligence officer. An intelligence officer is living in a foreign culture. When you get deeply into meditation and yoga, what you are seeing around you is not what the average person sees. You know that you are not this human body, and that most people around you are confused, thinking that that’s what they are, this temporary body that we have been given.
And to pass that down to his followers, to think like an intelligence officer. And we did that. We thought of ourselves not as the CIA, but the DCIA, the Divine Central Intelligence Agency, and we were simply here on this planet, gathering information, that would be of use to mankind.
In the end, Terrell stands by his statements that the myths surrounding the Finders cult are simply rumors and conspiracy theories.
RT: There’s something called Occam’s Razor, are you familiar with that philosophical concept? Occam’s Razor says that the simple solution is usually the best solution. These elaborate myths that have come up online from conspiracy theorists are not simple solutions and they make no sense to a rational person. Particularly, when there is no evidence of this stuff. There’s no evidence of this conspiracy theory, and there is no motive for why we would be trying to help the very organization we are trying to supplant.
It doesn’t matter to me whether people believe that foolish or not. I am not trying to convince people to believe it or not believe it. If anything, I would simply say, smoke out these unconscious urges that were put there by getting you to play a role in the world rather than being yourself in the world. The training for The Finders was to smoke out the unconscious neuroses, or whatever word you want to give them, to stop playing a part that was assigned to you by your culture and just be yourself. That’s dangerous. It was dangerous then and it’s even more dangerous now.
Although Terrell denies any truth to the child trafficking and intelligence agency allegations, his statements in our interview confirm what was reported in the anonymous Investigative Leads memo.
As of 2019, no member of The Finders, or their children, have come forward to voice complaints or admit involvement in child trafficking or sexual abuse, satanic worship, or intelligence activities. Robert Terrell and Michael Howell have officially gone on record to deny any involvement.
However, neither Terrell or Howell can explain why doctors with the Tallahassee Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services initially described signs of sexual abuse on two of the children. Nor can they explain how Ramon Martinez could imagine such detailed evidence of an international trafficking ring, including the instructions on purchasing children and nude photos of the children.
Once again, in order to believe the accounts of The Finders you must believe that Ramon Martinez imagined or faked his whole report and that the doctors mistakenly identified signs of sexual abuse. Not to mention the various reports of a cover up by the Central Intelligence Agency.
So then, we must ask, who are The Finders? and what exactly were they doing?
Were they truly just an eccentric group of utopian futurists being led by a charismatic former military chauffeur? Was The Finders a CIA front involved in international trafficking of children and potential blood rituals? If they were a CIA group “gone rogue”, at what point did they go rogue and what did they do without the approval of the intelligence community? Or, as some have suggested, was this all one big game, one last prank from beyond the grave courtesy of Marion D. Pettie?
These questions still remain unanswered.
Marion Pettie himself was probably operating under a NOC, a non-official cover where agents operate covertly without official ties to the intelligence community or government. If a NOC is caught violating the law they are on their own and will not be rescued by their employer. Due to the constant moving around and the group constantly participating in games, it’s possible that some members of The Finders were ignorant to the intelligence activities of the group. However, it is clear that some members of The Finders formed Marion Pettie’s inner circle and spent their time traveling internationally, likely using journalism as a cover for intelligence activities. If these activities did involve child trafficking, the evidence is long gone, having been hidden from the public since 1987.
My goal in launching this investigation was to expose more people to the reality of corruption and cover-ups involving law enforcement and government agencies. We hope sharing this information can help shake loose the remaining truths about the actions of Marion Pettie and The Finders.