The Embrace: A True Vampire Story

( 13 )


On November 25, 1996, in the lakeside community of Eustis, Florida, Rick and Ruth Wendorf were savagely beaten to death with a tire iron in their home. The Wendorfs' new Ford Explorer was stolen, but this was no routine robbery gone bad. This was a crime carried out by one Roderick Ferrell, a sixteen year-old self avowed Antichrist. A crime designed to fulfill the mission of three of his fellow vampire cult members, this was a human sacrifice - and a testament to the unique and sinister bond of four brainwashed ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (83) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $45.00   
  • Used (81) from $1.99   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:


Condition: New

Ships from: Chicago, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by
Sending request ...


On November 25, 1996, in the lakeside community of Eustis, Florida, Rick and Ruth Wendorf were savagely beaten to death with a tire iron in their home. The Wendorfs' new Ford Explorer was stolen, but this was no routine robbery gone bad. This was a crime carried out by one Roderick Ferrell, a sixteen year-old self avowed Antichrist. A crime designed to fulfill the mission of three of his fellow vampire cult members, this was a human sacrifice - and a testament to the unique and sinister bond of four brainwashed youngsters.. "Fifteen-year-old Heather Wendorf was a straight "A" student at Eustis High, a petite blonde with a button nose and wide-set brown eyes. Only her closest peers knew that underneath Heather's wholesome girl-next-door looks, there lurked a person with an extremely morbid curiosity and a need for independence that stretched far beyond the parameters of conventional morality. Heather had been heard to wish her parents "off the face of the planet." She never dreamed that when she joined four friends for a joyride one fall evening in 1996, her wish had already come true.. "Heather had fallen prey to Rod Ferrell's "Dark Army," a band of teenaged vampire cultists who devoured the fiction of Anne Rice and The Vampire Bible, and engaged in role playing games of mysticism, blood-drinking, and the occult, in the Gothic underground of America's heartland. Then they would take their games one step further.. "Revealing the private diaries of the principles, and including exclusive interviews with every living character involved in the case - including Ferrell, who now sits on Death Row in Florida - The Embrace is a shocking chronicle of dark horrors and darker motives.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Drinking blood and being undead has never been more hazardous — especially in the heartland of Kentucky! Just ask the young, self-proclaimed vampire and his devoted followers who haunt The Embrace: A True Vampire Story. What started as a simple role-playing game soon became an all-too-real horror story of cult worship and cold-blooded murder. New York Times bestselling author Aphrodite Jones's true-crime vampire saga takes the vampire myth into the realm of reality and takes us on an unforgettable journey to the heart of human darkness.

The popularity of vampire lore has reached an all-time high, and millions are fascinated by the dark and often bloody tales of these fictional immortal creatures. Yet no vampire story could be as bloodcurdling as the real-life saga of Roderick Ferrell, a young man whose belief in vampires culminated in the heinous cold-blooded murder of two innocent people.

Author Aphrodite Jones, a published journalist whose focus of late has been on human interest and true-crime stories, brings the story of Rod Ferrell to life with the kind of stark detail and chilling insight from which the worst of nightmares are spawned. Jones, whose meticulous research includes the review of court records, psychological reports, sworn depositions, and news stories, ended up interviewing dozens of the parties involved in the case, including Ferrell himself. The end result is a terrifying look into the minds and lives of those who believe themselves to be modern-day vampires.

It was just before Thanksgiving in 1996 when the vicious and bloody murdersofRick and Ruth Wendorf rocked a small Florida community. Both victims were beaten so badly their faces were unrecognizable, and the gore shocked even a seasoned medical examiner. The bodies were discovered by the Wendorfs' oldest daughter, Jennifer, upon her return home from a night out with her boyfriend. The Wendorfs' other daughter, Heather, was nowhere to be found, though there was a note explaining she had run away with Rod Ferrell, the dark and disturbed 16-year-old boy from Murray, Kentucky, who believed he was a vampire. It wasn't long before authorities gathered enough evidence to suggest that Rod was the primary suspect.

Rod Ferrell's fate seemed determined early on. Born to Sondra Gibson, a disturbed and promiscuous woman raised by strict Pentecostal parents, Rod was introduced to his vampire beliefs early in life by his mother, who was herself a follower. Though married twice, Sondra didn't stay with either husband long and made her living primarily as a welfare recipient, with brief stints as a professional dancer, a street prostitute, and a fast-food worker. As a young teenager, Rod was skinny, longhaired, and strawberry blond — a rather geeky looking young man. But by the age of 15, his appearance changed dramatically in concert with his proclamation that he was both a vampire and the Antichrist, immortal and over 1,000 years old. Donning dark clothes and a black trench coat, he dyed his long locks black and began to experiment regularly with a variety of drugs, including LSD, pot, and various prescription pills like Prozac. His unusual appearance, quicksilver moods, and oddly charismatic rhetoric quickly earned him a cadre of devoted followers.

Among those who would later play a crucial role in the murders was Charity Kessee, who adopted Rod's Goth style by dying her hair black and wearing dark makeup and clothes. As Rod's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Charity was intrigued by Rod's dark side and vowed to run away with him. Heather Wendorf first met Rod when he lived in Eustis, Florida, and kept in touch with him frequently by phone once he moved to Murray, Kentucky. Though she willingly ran off with Rod after the murders of her parents — an act that would lead to her public crucifixion by the press — the evidence shows that Heather had no idea Rod intended to kill her parents and didn't know he had until sometime after the fact. Prior to Rod's arrival in Florida, Heather had briefly corresponded with Scott Anderson, a geeky 16-year-old who was one of Rod's Kentucky recruits. Scott, who was smitten with Heather, would later stand by and watch as Rod brutally beat Heather's parents to death. Rounding out the murderous group was Dana Cooper, an unpopular girl who managed to worm her way into Rod's group and become his trusted servant.

All of them had a strong belief in vampirism and the power of the occult. All engaged in regular blood-sharing ceremonies in which they would cut themselves with razor blades and drink one another's blood. And in the end, all of them would become intimately involved with one of the most brutal murders ever committed.

Jones's thorough and balanced presentation of the facts and players involved with the case allow readers to make their own judgments as to who should ultimately be held to blame. One thing that is not in doubt is the terrible tragedy spawned in the Gothic underground of America's heartland — a dark horror that no one recognized until it was too late.

Beth Amos

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On November 25, 1996, in Eustis, Fla., Ruth and Richard Wendorf were found bludgeoned to death in their home, with their youngest daughter, Heather, 15, missing. Jones (Cruel Sacrifice, etc.) portrays Heather as a lonely girl whose desire to transcend her "mundane," privileged life brought her under the influence of a charismatic monster who introduced her to an underground world of teenagers dressing in black, practicing ritual bloodletting and dreaming of traveling to Paris and New Orleans. Was Heather part of a gruesome execution planned by self-described vampires or a brainwashed victim seduced by pack leader Rod Ferrell? Jones makes a case for the latter, minimizing Heather's involvement in the murders ("She was without an ego"). While Jones claims to have used "proven sources of journalistic research," she does admit to altering "certain details" and taking "certain storytelling liberties." Jones seems to think Ferrell was just born mean, and she turns him into a larger-than-life character, calling him "the embodiment of insanity." Her entire account suffers from psychological na vet , as she appears to believe whatever Heather--who stands to inherit half a million dollars from her parents' death--tells her and dismisses those who contradict the girl, including Heather's own sister. Jones provides a good overview of the facts surrounding the murder and her prose glows with a voyeuristic intensity, but she comes off as so wholly biased in favor of Heather, "the victim," that her presentation lacks full credibility. FYI: Jones's All She Wanted is soon to be filmed with Drew Barrymore. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran crime writer Jones (All She Wanted, 1998, etc.) unravels a horrific double murder in central Florida made especially notorious by the involvement of a teen vampire cult, supposedly including the victims' daughter, Heather Wendorf. Documenting ringleader Rod Ferrell's trajectory from pretentious escapism to death row, this grisly, long-winded book directs sympathy toward the beleaguered gothic subculture while exploiting its milieu of blood-letting and ritualized depravity. Certainly, the seeming current plague of violence by disaffected youths is a subject for urgent discussion. However, a large portion of The Embrace is vague, repetitive, and muddled. Although Jones documents the unappetizing middle-American circumstances—absent father, incompetent mother, drug and sexual abuse—that had demolished Ferrell's moral capacities by age 16, piecing this together entails wading through much unmediated fluff about teenage vampire fantasies. Jones, a journalist for 20 years, offers no critical judgments about the rickety dream universe constructed by Ferrell and his few acolytes. This approach cripples her capacity to address the complex implications of both this tragedy and the apparently complicit culture of fantasy violence bred from trailer-park anomie. The book improves markedly in its final sections, which detail the inevitable fury of law enforcement in punishing what turn out to be four pathetic, disenfranchised kids and one seductive psychopath. The fragility of civil liberties is evident in the Jim Thompson-esque fate of Heather Wendorf; held responsible by the cops, she was cleared of foreknowledge by two grand juries, yet was vilified in the court of Florida publicopinion. The vengeful grief inspired in rural Lake County by Ferrell's brutality demanded community condemnation not just of the murderers, but also of Heather, who appears to have been a victim rather than an instigator. Narrative rather than reflective, but readers who plow through to the end will get some sense of the shadowy fantasy lives of "kids fallen through life's cracks."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671034665
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 5/31/1999
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Aphrodite Jones is the author of the New York Times bestseller Cruel Sacrifice; the bestseller The FBI Killer, which was made into an ABC-TV movie titled Betrayed by Love, starring Patricia Arquette; All She Wanted; and Della's Web. She began her professional writing career at age twenty-one, with a nationally syndicated column for United Feature Syndicate. A published journalist for more than twenty years, she has also worked as a radio news director, lectured about writing as an assistant professor of English, and, for the last decade, has devoted herself to human interest and hard-news stories. Born in Chicago, raised in New York, and schooled in Los Angeles, Jones now works from her home in West Hollywood. Visit her Web site at
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

Roderick said he had been asleep for five centuries, that he had been tired of the great adventure called life, but, cursed with immortality, he had grown restless. Somehow, he found himself clawing his way from the depths of the earth, back to the mortal universe and a thing called society. Suddenly, he found himself staring in a mirror, shaving part of the hair on his head, and putting on the grunge dress of a teen at the end of the twentieth century.

In the 1400s, he would confide, Roderick had known the power and privilege of the aristocracy in France. Naturally, the idea of living among the bourgeoisie disgusted him; Roderick had the strongest dislike for peasants. He wondered if he had made the right choice, allowing himself to dwell among the lower classes in a strange, transient place known as Florida, where people wore white and played games in the sun.

During the five hundred years of his slumber, Roderick claimed, he had become accustomed to being a spirit, to calling on "the Elders" in a vast darkness. Roderick loved to roam his phantom cities, the ancient worlds of the Arabians, the Egyptians, the Greeks. But now, Roderick had decided to rematerialize in the flesh. He had decided it was time for Rod to emerge.

Guised as the ultimate rebel, he would cloak himself as an American teen. Roderick, used to being one of the most idolized entities in the world, regarded himself as an equal to God and felt it was fitting for him to choose America. Because of their sins, their greed and corruption, ugly Americans threatened to destroy the planet. Called upon by Lucifer, Rod decided he had to take matters into his own hands. He decided to collecut yet, there was something vampiric about him. Perhaps it was his piercing eyes, his long nails, his paper-thin body; whatever the reason, Heather felt he cast off some kind of mystical eroticism. At first, Heather thought it was because she had been reading too much Anne Rice; she didn't really know why she found herself becoming attracted to the idea of drinking human blood.

Rod had turned her on to The Big Book of Death, a tome that explored different ways of dying, which Heather needed because she intended to wipe herself out before the year 2000. Heather made no more pretenses about religion. She didn't believe Christ could save her. The only thing she seemed driven by was death, and the grim world Rod offered. When he spoke, it was as if he cast a spell over her. She wanted to die. She wanted to be undead. The word vampire didn't matter. Heather didn't care what Rod was. She knew Rod wasn't any Dracula or strange prince from Transylvania.

Rod filled her void. He was an ancient soul, a space traveler who could come into her dreams and help her transcend time. That's all Heather cared about. She didn't want to be a mortal teenager, trapped in a cookie-cutter existence.

"Lest mortals destroy themselves with their own hate and greed," Rod insisted, "I have been cast on this land. I am the devil's child, walking with earthly feet."

"What do you mean?" Heather asked. "Are you saying you worship the devil?"

"Don't say that," he howled, "that's blasphemy, and if you even think it, then none of us can be released from hell."

Rod would tell Heather these things, yet his manner would be very casual. When they first met, the two of them would just be sitting off by themse lves, looking very normal, hanging out in the Eustis High cafeteria. Until she hooked up with Rod, Heather had been somewhat of a loner; she hadn't found too many people she felt connected to.

But then, Rod seemed worthy of her time. He was a newcomer to town, someone who quickly gathered friends, and Heather dropped whatever few buddies she had, so she could absorb him. Before she knew it, she and Rod were becoming inseparable.

"What if you and I were deemed rulers of the world?" Rod asked half-jokingly.

"I don't know, Rod," Heather teased, "I've always wondered when that might happen."

"Do you think you would fit my purposes?"


"I'm not mortal," Rod said, poking her in the side.

"Okay," she said, smiling, "you will be given a chance to prove that."

But Rod would just start laughing whenever Heather expected a real answer. After school, it had become her habit to agree to meet him at the cemetery. It was a place where time seemed to stand still and Heather liked it that way. She preferred being a part of Rod's world, even if it was just pretend. She thought it was fantastic, the way Rod would comment about the "brutal barbarism" around them. He found the naked and horrible realities of life in the United States to be unbearable -- the ugly American golfers, the petty little tourists -- they were quite a shocking difference from the elite world he had been used to, living as a gentleman in France.

All the while, Heather's parents were under the impression she was staying after school to watch her sister, Jeni, during cheerleading practice. The Wendorfs trusted their daughter, they never questioned her, so Heather had herself a foolproof setup. After a couple of h ours with Rod, she would bounce over behind the bleachers and meet her mom for a ride home with Jeni.

As time moved on, even though Heather's parents noticed some minor changes in her appearance -- there were some new ear piercings, there were some black Gothic outfits -- the Wendorfs never hounded her about it. Heather was an artist. She needed to expand her individuality.

Of course, Rick Wendorf would have preferred Heather to be another cheerleader, like Jeni, but then his wife always stressed the importance of creativity. Ruth Wendorf encouraged Heather to explore her inner self. If Heather was into New Age, Ruth thought there was nothing wrong with that. Things like healing crystals, or the belief in prophecy, just couldn't be dismissed.

During their cemetery talks, Rod had taken his time about confiding things to his fledgling. He was leery about telling Heather anything, but eventually began talking about his assumption of God-forms. Through the power of imagination, Rod explained, he could re-create himself into the shape of any god. Eventually, Rod promised, he could teach Heather to meditate on simple symbols so she could penetrate their secret meanings and rise on the planes. Rod vowed he would help Heather take her first astral journey, but first she would have to learn to use spiritual energy, she would have to build up her astral body.

Heather cherished this notion. She so wanted to escape the mundane, she'd go home and lock herself in her room to practice meditation with candles. At times, she'd work with various spells, trying to test Rod's authenticity, but she was unable to travel without his guidance. Of course, Heather had never actually experienced Rod's astral proje ction.

But Rod wanted Heather to be patient. He said she wasn't ready to leave normal consciousness just yet. Rod called Heather a prophet who could "sense spirits" that were not physically present. Having the cemetery right across from Eustis High School was a blessing, he said, because it gave him a chance to teach her the principles of "spirit meditation."

Of course, the first time Heather witnessed Rod in a trance state, she was scared to death because Rod became violent, tearing at his own flesh with his teeth. But after a minute, everything became calm.

To Heather, Rod's consciousness seemed delusional but majestic. She would listen to him ramble about the Hundred Years' War, about the peasants' revolution, about life in fifteenth-century France. He would rant about his "union with the Lord," when he was a boy adorned in magnificent brocades of silk, and would describe himself as a creature similar, in spirit, to Joan of Arc.

Rod claimed he had visions of Heather being burned at the stake. He told her they had both been reincarnated, had been brought back from a life together centuries before, and Heather started to believe him. She started to think she had been "chosen" to live forever.

Copyright © 1999 by Aphrodite Jones

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2007

    Pretty good

    The book itself is detailed and enjoyable to read. My only problem with it is that it's not very objective. It's clear that the author strongly sympathizes with Heather Wendorf.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2003

    From the Inside

    As a part of this vampiric 'underground scene' and big fan of Rod Ferrell I think The Embrace is a great book. I was very pulled into the pages, I connected to it so deeply. I want to believe in Rod's fantasy world, though I know it isn't completely true. But the best thing is that Rod is a real person, material. He's such an amazing person in my eyes and many others'. I've read the book twice and plan on reading it again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2002

    Wonderful Book

    I really enjoyed the book. I couldn't put it down as well. I have watched the documentary on this story and was intriugued. I loved the book but felt there were some parts of the story left out. The opinion that I drew from the show was quite different from the one on the book. If you are more interested in this story I suggest you look into it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2002


    The subculture that is picked apart in this book gets a bad rap through media and fiction. Not everyone that has a belief in the occult or pagan beliefs is a 'monster' as the media portrays.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2001


    This is the best book I ever read. Once you start you cant stop. IT's not those boring books that make you zzzzz. very exciting. I recondmend ya to read it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2001

    Wonderfully Frightening.

    I'm reading it right now, and I can't stop! Knowing that these were real events and people makes the story more compelling.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2001

    Excellent Read

    I loved this book, it's one of the best that I have ever read. I just couldn't put it down, I had it finished in less than a week. I read another book about this incident, but it wasn't even close as to this one was with details and such. It not only tells the story of the murders and how they went about, but also about Rod's vampiric lifestyle. This book makes it seem like you're in Rod's head thinking as he does. I think anyone interested in vampires and such should definitely read this.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2001

    Very Chilling!

    An excellent book displaying the continuing decline of the youth of america, it showed a lack of self-worth and direction that is prominent in the teenage culture of america, who use their own over blown imagination to supplement otherwise hollow and empty lives. Then to spread the blame and not take responsibilty for their own crude actions. It's an eye opener into how important it is to instill values and respect into children at a young age so such crimes are not commited. And if they do i believe they should be punished justly for such crimes! No lenancy should be shown for such blanatant disregard for human life, why show mercy when none was given????

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2000


    Once you start reading, there's no stopping. Very cruel crime.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2000

    Scott's Fiancee

    As the fiancee of Howard Scott Anderson,aka 'the geeky one' I must say that this book gave me insight to Scott's personality as well as Rod's and Charity's. It was a very chilling story. Told much better than 'The Vampire Killers'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2000

    From a Fiancee's Point of View

    I am not at all into the occult or vampirism but I am however the fiancee of Howard Scott Anderson, described as the geeky one. This book gave me a lot more insight into the case than the other book did.Its frightening how easy it is for young minds to be manipulated.A very chilling case.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2000

    Rod Ferrell : A Great Subject For a Book

    i think that the reason the book was so interesting is because Rod Ferrell is an intersting person. he is eccentric, intelligent, cool. i love him and would read anything about him. the embrace was better than the other book i read about Rod, though.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)