Fans of the HBO hit series True Detective are reeling in anticipation for season 2, and for good reason. The first season show follows the career of two vice cops, played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, as they unravel a case ripe with church corruption, satanic sexual abuse, Deliverance-esc hillbillies, and their hunt for the mysterious “Yellow King.” A modern update to the age-old theme of good against evil, ripe with unexpected twists and turns, the series immediately grabs the viewer’s attention and leaves them hungry for more.
The show’s creator, Nic Pizzolatto, claims that the show is purely fictional and looks to a variety of sources for ideas including old pulp magazines, but it would seem that the series drew inspiration from real cases as well. Set in the bayous of Louisiana, some have speculated that the show may have roots in the story of the Jennings Eight, a case involving the series of unsolved murders within Jennings. LA, but there’s another even more bizarre case that eerily parallels the fictional crime drama.
The Hosanna Church Case
Ponchatoula, LA, known as “The strawberry capital of the world,” is a sleepy little farm town nestled between the bustling cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. With a population of just over 5,000, strawberry fields sprawl the landscape, and smack dab in the middle was the Hosanna Church.
The church was a place that many spent their Sunday mornings. It was a place to meet up with friends and neighbors, as well as an outlet to express their faith. However, appearances aren’t at all what they seem.
Heading the church services was Pastor Louis Lamonica, a man beloved by the community for his phenomenal preaching abilities. The church gained a huge congregation, and at one point was the fastest growing within the Tangipahoa perish. That all changed in 1999.
Pastor Lamonica had passed on and inheriting his legacy was his son, Louis Lamonica, Jr. As many of Hosanna’s former members began migrating to other ministries, the junior Pastor Lamonica became jealous. Hungry with power, he threatened to ex-communicate anyone who so much as visited another church and fired several members of the church staff, including his own mother. It didn’t take long before a congregation of nearly 1,000 dwindled to only a handful of families. That’s when officials believe that darker forces began taking over the church.
Authorities were already beginning investigations after a frantic mother phoned officials from Ohio, claiming she fled Ponchatoula to save her child from sexual abuse. On May 16, 2005, Lamonica walked into Detective Stan Carpenter’s office and casually confessed that he had been involved in the regular molestation of two boys, had sex with a dog, and that the church was a front for the satanic sexual abuse of children with the aid of his youth minister, Trey Bernard, and four other members of the clergy.
Bernard was promptly arrested in relation to the case. He also made a full confession that left authorities baffled. He stated that he had begun molesting his daughter before she was even a year old. He claimed that both he and Lamonica had penetrated the baby and offered the child to Satan in bizarre rituals held within the church.
These rituals allegedly occurred within the church’s youth room. He claimed that every two to three months the men would gather in the room dressed in black robes and animal masks. The room was covered in Satanic writings from top to bottom, complete with a pentacle in the center, only visible under a blacklight. There he, Lamonica, and four other men would take the children, including Bernard’s and Lamonica’s, to participate in the bizarre sexual rituals. They sacrificed cats and would drink the blood. The children were forced to stand in the pentacle and then splattered with animal blood, according to Lamonica “to be baptized by Satan”, then the men would line up shoulder to shoulder and force the kids to perform sexual acts on them like an assembly line.
FBI officials could not substantiate the sensational claims of satanic rituals, but there was no doubt about the sexual abuse of Bernard’s daughter and dozens of other children at the church. An investigation revealed no satanic writings, pentacles, or anything else occult in nature on the church premises, however, a blacklight did reveal bodily fluids on the rug within church’s youth room. Along with the carpet samples taken from the room, detectives also retrieved nearly a dozen computers believed to contain child pornography, diaries, video tapes, photographs, and boxes of documents. It is believed that the men spun this fantastic tale of demonic rituals in conjunction with their crimes as a way to absolve themselves of their guilt.
Nine people are now in prison in connection with the case. Lamonica is personally serving four consecutive life sentences.
Much like the story in HBO’s The True Detective, the Hosanna Church case weaves a story depicting the fight between good and evil. Men that were supposed to be leading their flock to salvation, instead allowed their own demons to overcome them, and committed crimes more heinous than any demon could ever muster.