Saturday, October 10, 2009




The small town of Farmville, Virginia – with a population of just 7,000 - played host to a shocking multiple-murder back on September 18, when one of its pastors, his daughter, wife and a friend of the family were slaughtered in a manner which was not only brutal and senseless, but has once again thrown a spotlight on both extreme music and the impact and influence it has on its fans.

The young man accused of the crime, Richard Samuel McCroskey III, is a 20-year-old rapper who goes by the name of Syko Sam in the music genre known as "horrorcore", an extreme mutation of hip hop and death metal which features lurid lyrics based around fantasies of murder, maiming and other acts of violence. Some of the more notable bands in the horrorcore genre include Insane Clown Posse and Necro.

The victims of the McCroskey’s alleged crime were 50-year-old Mark Niederbrock, pastor at the Walker's Presbyterian Church, his 16-year-old daughter Emma, his estranged wife Debra Kelley, 53 and Emma's 18-year-old friend from West Virginia, Melanie Wells.

McCroskey had been invited to Farmville by Emma, who flew in from his home in northern California to meet up with the girl. They had planned to attend the Strictly for the Wicked Festival, a Horrorcore music event in Michigan.

No priors have been found on McCroskey's criminal record, although police have revealed they have uncovered found videos of him holding various weapons and rapping about "murderous rages" and disposing of corpses. While no specific details regarding the crime scene have been released to the press, police officers have said that all four of the deceased appeared to have fallen victim to 'blunt force trauma'.

The accused came into the picture at 4pm on Friday, September 18, 2009, when tow-truck driver Elton Napier received a phone call to assist McCroskey, whose car had broken down. Napier told police that when he arrived on the scene, McCroskey was wearing a black hoodie and that the young man "was really smelling bad, like real bad. I can't describe it."

After two deputies arrived on the scene and ticketed McCroskey for driving his Honda - which belonged to the Niedercrocks - without a valid licence, McCroskey then accompanied Napier in the cab of his lorry and Napier recalls that "I just held my head out the window so the wind would hit me in the face. That was the stinkiest rascal I've ever smelled."

McCroskey was dropped off at a newsagents about four miles away, where he retrieved a black bag from the towed car while Napier headed inside for a cup of coffee. McCroskey later caught a taxi to nearby Richmond International Airport where he spent the night. In the meantime, police had discovered the murder scene back in Farmville and quickly issued an arrest order for McCroskey. He was picked up at the airport the next day.

The deeply religious town are still in shock about what has transpired, but have dismissed McCroskey's claims that "Jesus made me do it" as Satan talking. If convicted in the state of Virginia, McCroskey will almost certainly face the death penalty, with Virginia being the second biggest endorser of capital punishment in the United States (behind Texas). 103 people have been executed since 1976 with 21 people currently on death row.

John Harrison, October 10 2009