A teen connected to a homicide is claiming she's a vampire-werewolf, and that's not likely to serve as much of a defense. According to a CBS News story,
Pistey told a local TV station "I know this is going to be crazy, but I believe that I'm a vampire and part werewolf." She claims she drank blood from her fiancé and co-defendant William Chase.
The fact that Pistey claims to be a vampire is not, by itself, that unusual. Many people are interested in vampires, and they are everywhere, from "Twilight" to "True Blood" and "Fright Night." In the mainstream media and pop culture, vampires are very alluring, with elements of power, romance, eroticism and immortality.
It's not surprising that many people identify with vampires and some even claim to be them. But it's usually done in the context of goth-inspired role-playing.
As strange as the case is, it's also not the first time that a person claimed to be a vampire/werewolf hybrid.
In 2007 a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man named Kristian Carl came to believe he was a werewolf (partly because he has prominent canine teeth). According to police, Carl convinced his new girlfriend that he was a vampire-werewolf before having sex with her. Apparently intrigued at the prospect of sleeping with both a werewolf and a vampire at the same time, the real-life Bella Swan agreed.
However, supernatural hybrid or not, Carl's girlfriend was 15 at the time and he was charged with statutory rape in February 2008.
Most vampire enthusiasts engage in harmless role-playing, though now and then criminals with a vampire fascination make the news. Just last month a Texas man named Lyle Bensley allegedly broke into a woman's apartment and bit her on the neck. He claimed to be a vampire needing blood to survive; his victim was unsympathetic and called police. In 1996 (coincidentally also in Florida) five teenagers accused of killing two people were said to be part of a "vampire cult."
Already there is talk about a "vampire cult" in this case, and as often happens, entertainment media is blamed. The news media loves stories like this, but the fact is that 99.9 percent of kids — even those fascinated by vampires — have a pretty good grasp on reality.
Typically it's not the occult subject matter that is the problem; troubled individuals will always find some avenue for their issues. There were about 15,000 homicides last year, virtually none of them connected with vampires, Satanists, or the occult. It's only troubled kids with a sensational angle who make the news.
A similar phenomenon happened in the 1980s when the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons was accused of inspiring real-life violence, Satanism, and interest in the occult. Tom Hanks even starred in a 1982 made-for-TV movie called "Monsters and Mazes," which suggested that the game was dangerous and could prompt emotionally disturbed kids to act out. Claims linking role-playing games to real-life violence or psychopathology have long since been disproven.
In the end, the actions and crimes of would-be vampire/werewolves like Stephanie Pistey and Kristian Carl are signs of troubled teen minds, not hidden vampire cults.