The Church of Satan has threatened to ‘hex’ the arsonist who burned down New York’s famous ‘Halloween House’ in Poughkeepsie.
The House of Netherworld, in the ‘Witch District’ of the city, was allegedly set alight at 5am on January 14.
The flames burned for more than 90-minutes, with two adults escaping the blaze unharmed. Police are hunting an individual captured on CCTV spraying the porch with gasoline.
Peter H Gilmore, high priest of the Church of Satan, an atheist philosophy founded in 1966 that does not worship the devil, paid tribute in a ‘requiem’ to the house and its former owner, Joe ‘Netherworld’ Mendillo.
Other members vowed to put a ‘hex’ on the suspected arsonist.
The house’s name stemmed from its year-round Halloween decorations and devil sculptures, hearse in the drive-way and a sign over the garage that reads ‘Devil’s garage’.
The ‘Halloween House’, also known as ‘The House of Netherworld’, in Poughkeepsie, New York, was burned to the ground on January 14
Firefighters battled the flames for more than 90-minutes with two adults escaping unharmed
The house, which was built in 1910, was a local attraction known for its ‘Halloween 365-days-a-year’ decorations, but fire-fighters sadly couldn’t save it
Firefighters said they suspect arson after CCTV captured a person spraying gasoline on the porch
CCTV captured a suspected arsonist pouring gasoline on the porch before setting it alight early in the morning on January 14
Poughkeepsie Fire Chief Mark Johnson said firefighters encountered flames both on the front porch of the house and the detached garage, as reported in The Poughkeepsie Journal.
Firefighters said two adults escaped the home unharmed.
The Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross said it provided emergency aid to nine adults and one 11-year-old child.
Known locally as the ‘Halloween House’, it was made famous by its late former owner Joe ‘Netherworld’ Mendillo, a high-ranking Church of Satan member who died in January last year.
He was notorious for making it ‘Halloween 365 days a year’ and called himself a ‘dark side Martha Stewart’ who would welcome visitors to the local attraction, as well as making it a place for Church members to visit.
In better days, The House of Netherworld, as it was known locally, was a local attraction with devil statues and a hearse in the driveway
It was located in Poughkeepsie’s ‘witch district’ of the city, where several homes of members of The Church of Satan were located
The late Joe ‘Netherworld’ Mendillo, who died in January last year, was praised by The Church of Satan following the fire that burned his former home to the ground on January 14
The City of Poughkeepsie Historic District and Landmarks Preservation Commission posted a historical photo of the 121-year-old home on Facebook following the blaze
Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York, is in the Hudson Valley region, with around 30,000 residents
The Church of Satan was founded in 1966 by the late Anton Szandor LaVey in San Francisco, as a ‘skeptical atheist’ philosophy focused on individualism and enlightenment.
It did not worship the devil.
After Szandor LaVey’s death in 1997 new leader Peter Gilmore was appointed and the headquarters moved to Hells Kitchen in New York, before he was ‘inspired’ by Mendillo to move it to Poughkeepsie.
Following Mendillo’s death in January last year The House of Netherworld, which was built in 1900, was bought in October by Matthew Camp, who could not be reached for comment.
Church leader Gilmore posted a statement on Twitter that said: ‘Joe’s legacy will live on, even though the extraordinary home he so carefully cultivated has been destroyed through the hateful act of some deeply disturbed individual.’
He added: ‘There is melancholy poetry to the thought that the ashes of Magister Netherworld himself, stored in his haunted palace, have now mingled with those of that brooding structure he made a reflection of his essence, melding them for all time, and infusing that unholy plot for eternity.’
The religion was intended to be a ‘skeptical atheist’ philosophy focused on individualism, liberty and self-fulfilment. It did not worship the devil but viewed it as a symbol of man as ‘carnal by birth’
Whoever did this is going to be hexed by all of us. Now there’s going to be hell to pay’
Church of Satan member, Isis Vermouth, told The Poughkeepsie Journal
Another member of the church likened the arson to a terrorist attack.
‘Everybody’s in shock and everyone in the neighborhood is worried,’ the church member, who goes by the name Isis Vermouth, told the Poughkeepsie Journal. Whoever did this is going to be hexed by all of us. Now there’s going to be hell to pay.’
Gilmore said Mendillo would greet trick or treaters personally and give candy to children who came to his residence.
He added: ‘Those who took the time to research our religion learned that it is not devil worship but instead an atheist philosophy of individualism, liberty, and self-fulfillment,’ he said.
Whether they felt sympathetic to those views or not, Joe was always gracious and offered people advice on gardening, home restoration and décor, among other topics. He was a knowledgeable man and generous to those requesting his informed perspective.
Mendillo’s other accomplishments, Gilmore noted, were performing ‘the first legal same-sex Satanic wedding in New York state’ and working ‘to create a monument to that famed director of weird films, Edward D Wood Jr, who spent part of his youth in Poughkeepsie.’
Chris Petsas, a city councilman, told the Journal the house ‘was extraordinarily different. It wasn’t your normal home.’
It is unlikely the home will be restored because of the extensive fire damage, said Gilmore, who lives down the block in what church members refer to as Poughkeepsie’s ‘Witchcraft District’.