Damon Wells: Son of the Devil. The Murder and Dreams of Tanya Zach

Damon Wells: Son of the Devil. The Murder and Dreams of Tanya Zach
Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, Ph.D.

The following is a true story of an LSD-ingesting, Devil-worshipping serial killer, and which is based on all evidence of a Santa Clara County murder case which I reviewed while serving on the California Superior Court's Panel of Forensic Experts. I reviewed, investigated, and examined all court, psychiatric, police, and investigative records, including those under court seal, and conducted interviews with many of the principles directly involved in this strange case of a murdered woman (Tanya Zach) appearing in the dreams of a nudist living (named "Sunshine"), and who, at the insistence of the dream-Tanya, led Zach's family to Tanya's body which had been hidden in the mountains.

Damon Wells: Son of the Devil. The Murder and Dreams of Tanya Zach

District Attorney (D.A.): "Did you join the United States Army in 1980?

Witness (Stephen M): "Yes, sir."

D.A.: "You were stationed in Germany?"

S.M.: "Yes."

D.A.: "And while in Germany, did you come to know a person by the name of Damon Wells?"

S.M.: "Yes, sir."

D.A.: "Do you recall when you first met Damon Wells?"

S.M.: "Yes. It was 1981."

D.A.: "How did he introduce himself?"

S.M.: "He said, 'My name is Damon Wells, son of the devil."

D.A.: "Did you become friends with Damon Wells?"

S.M.: "We were both soldiers, and it was a pretty isolated site. Pretty secluded on top of a mountain, so I had a lot of contact with him."

D.A.: "What type of duties did you perform?"

S.M. "I was a satellite technician. Wells was a mechanic, a motor mechanic."

D.A.: "What kind of worker was he?"

S.M. "He was a fantastic worker. One of the best mechanics we ever had up there. He'd fix vehicles and the electric generators which powered our site. We didn't have any electricity up there."

D.A. "Did you ever notice anything odd about Damon?"

S.M. "Sure. Many times."

D.A. "Such as?"

S.M. "Sometimes he would stop what he was doing and would say, The voices are here. Can you hear them?"

D.A. "Anything else?"

S.M. "Damon used to sit for hours on top of this mountain, looking down into the valley. It was totally remote and isolated and heavily forested, but sometimes you could see him from the communications tower. Sometimes he would meditate by these ruins on the side of this mountain.

"He'd sit for hours, like in a trance. His legs would be crossed. He'd be rocking, and chanting, mumbling about demons and angels from Hell. Even when it began to rain, or even snow, Damon would just sit there, trance-like. He'd be soaking wet or freezing, sometimes in just shirt sleeves. I had to go get him a few times."

D.A. "Did Damon ever show you a cave?"

S.M. "Yes, he did. He had found this cave, hidden deep in the woods, on the back side of a mountain across the valley. I don't know how he ever found it. He had a rope tied to a tree on the mountain top, and you had to climb, to rappel down the rope in order to get to this cave. It was really kind of creepy."

D.A. "Did you ever go inside this cave?"

S.M. "Yes, I did. There was a large stone slab, and some candles and gun powder, and a knife and some books inside. It was obvious he had spent a lot of time there."

D.A. "Did Damon ever tell you why he visited this cave?"

S.M. "Yeah. He told me he went there to talk to the voices. The voices, from his point of view, came from the devil. He said he could communicate with the devil, and that the devil would appear in this cave and speak with him."

D.A. "Did he every talk to you about sacrifices?"

S.M. "Yes, he did. Especially after I pointed out what looked like animal bones, and blood stains on this big slab of rock. In fact, he showed me this book of black magic and it had a picture of a naked woman lying spread eagle on a rock. Standing over her was a hooded man with a big knife. Damon said that was how the devil would sacrifice his victims. Damon said, that since he was a slave of the devil, he was supposed to sacrifice victims the same way, on this rock."

D.A. "And what did you tell him after he said and showed these things to you?"

S.M. "I told him he had a serious problem, that he needed help. In fact, I suggested a few times that maybe he should see a psychiatrist or a priest."

D.A. "And what did he say when you told him he should see a priest?"

S.M. "He laughed and began talking about voodoo and demons. About how he could project his thoughts, and with the help of the demons, he could harm his enemies. He said that priests were enemies of the devil, they couldn't help him. Besides, he said, I have everything under control. The Demons do as I tell them.'"

D.A. "Did Damon ever tell you he had committed a serious crime? That he had sacrificed anyone to the devil?"

S.M. "Yes sir, he did. A few months later. He said he picked up a hitchhiker, drove her to the woods, and then killed her because the devil had told him to. He said the devil took control over him, and he killed her and had sex with her."

D.A. "Did you believe him?"

S.M. "No. He was really mixed up, confused like he was two people. He seemed possessed. I thought he was flipping out. When I asked if he had really killed someone, he just said, They're taking me over, Steve. They are taking me over."

Damon Wells claimed to have sacrificed a number of women, some in Germany. However, his trial in Santa Clara County was for the murder of Tanya Z. On the afternoon of the murder, Damon had been communing with the Devil and had taken several "tabs" of LSD--Orange sunshine--what he referred to as the "flesh of the Devil." At the direction of the Devil, he was going to search for a woman to sacrifice; that woman would be Tanya Z.

As Damon, hallucinating and mumbling to himself, made his way to his car, Tanya, a very attractive, dark haired, young woman, was just getting off work at a Santa Cruz bank. She was accompanied to her car by a female friend and coworker and was chattering away and showing her friend a birthday card and explaining that she was going shopping for a birthday present for her fiancee. However, first she would have to drive over the Santa Cruz mountains, on Highway 17, to stop at her house.

As Damon opened walked to his car intent on finding a sacrificial victim, he could hear the voice of the Devil, urging him on, explaining what to do. It was then that a neighbor happened to walk by, and overhearing Damon mumbling, he asked: "What?"

Damon looked at him: "Don't you hear them?"


"The voices are here. You can't hear them?"

"Hear who?"

"The Devil," Damon replied. He got into his car and drove into the Santa Cruz mountains.

Tanya had just made it over the summit when her car began to stall, and then it died. She pulled over to the side of the busy highway, and then repeatedly attempted to get it to start, but to no avail. She had run out of gas.

It was then that Damon drove by. According to Damon, the voice of the Devil told him that this woman was to be the sacrifice that He required. Damon pulled up and offered to help.

Damon had been hearing the voice of the Devil since late childhood, beginning when he, along with his highly religious family, were living on a huge ranch owned by his grandparents, located in the heavily forested and mountainous regions of the Northern California, Nevada border. His aunt and uncle, and several of his cousins also lived on the ranch, in their own cabins.

Damon was perceived by other family members as strange and odd. At times he seemed withdrawn and preoccupied, and at other times he became strangely mystical and self-confident and had a look in his eyes that frightened people. Throughout his life people would comment on the intensity of his eyes. His personality seemed to rapidly change, and at times he acted as if he were two different people. Sometimes he would talk to people that no one else could see.

Damon was also experimenting with voodoo and devil worship, and would frequently talk about demons and black magic at home and at high school. He claimed to hear the devil's voice and claimed he could read other peoples thoughts. He made several voodoo dolls which he would use to hurt people, one of which depicted a bully from school. His school mates tended to avoid him, except this bully, an older boy in the 12th grade, who would delight in teasing him.

According to investigative records, years later Damon sought revenge against this particular tormentor. He took the bully's picture from their highschool yearbook, created a special voodoo doll, and repeatedly casts spells and called upon the Devil to destroy him. Coincidentally this bully is reported to have stabbed and killed his pregnant wife, finally turning the knife upon himself. He claimed to have been possessed by the devil.

Damon's only friend was his pretty little cousin, Rose. Damon confided in Rose, told her about the voices and his power, and induced her to participate in his strange ceremonies. Soon Rose claimed that she too could hear the voices, including the voices of demons and the devil.

Because they spent so much time together, his other cousins would taunt them: "Your babies are going to be deformed... Your babies will be monsters." Likewise, his aunt did not approve of their close relationship. Their relationship thus came to an abrupt end when Rose's mother intervened and forbid further contact. Soon thereafter, cousin Rose and her family moved away.

Damon was enraged He began practicing voodoo and casting spells on his aunt and uncle. Soon thereafter, his uncle tried to commit suicide, and his aunt began hearing voices. Four suicide attempts later, Damon's uncle complained of hearing voices of demons and killed himself in front of his family. Damon's aunt soon began having similar hallucinations and had to be hospitalized.

Back on the ranch, Damon and his cousin, Rose, were briefly reunited, and she confided in him that she was ill. According to Rose, Damon's face became angry and evil looking. A strange light seemed to shine from his eyes. He said in a scary, deep voice: "You're pregnant," and he acted so threatening that she ran away. Later, she discovered she was in fact pregnant.

In 1977, Damon Wells met a 15 year old girl who claimed to be a witch. Together they performed magic spells and sexual rituals, and practiced mind reading and astral projection, and attempted to communicate with one another while asleep and dreaming.

Damon later claimed that he and this girl captured a young man, wrapped him in chains, and then stabbed him to death as part of a black magic ceremony.

This young woman soon broke off their relationship, and Damon became enraged. According to Damon he began dreaming of killing her and began plotting demonic revenge. A few weeks later, she was brutally raped and savagely murdered. Years later he claimed responsibility for her death.

As noted, Damon joined the Army, and became a motor mechanic. He was stationed on a remote mountain top in an isolated, heavily wooded and mountainous region of Germany. Damon spent much time hiking in the mountains and discovered an old cave that contained a huge slab of rock, the perfect altar for human sacrifice. According to Damon, the Devil told him in voices and dreams that he must perform human sacrifices here. Damon equipped the cave accordingly, and killed and sacrificed a number of animals including dogs and cats.

However, according to Damon, the Devil kept demanded human sacrifice. As he would hear these demands while awake and dreaming, Damon decided to sacrifice a woman.

During his free time he sometimes traveled to the nearest village and hung out at the local bar looking for victims. However, he insisted they had to have the mark of the devil. According to Damon, he found a prostitute who was perfect and he beguiled her into accompanying him to his car where he savagely beat and knocked her unconscious. Damon claimed that he took her to his cave where he had sex with her and then performed a bloody sacrifice with a knife. Afterwards he said he cut up and discarded the body. The next day, however, he wondered if it was all a dream.

In 1984, Damon was discharged from the Army and moved into the Santa Cruz mountain home of his father. It was there that he discovered a photo of his cousin, Rose. It is a picture of her and her husband and baby. According to Damon, he began brooding over this picture and then created several voodoo dolls which represented Rose and her family. He claims that he practiced voodoo and called upon the devil to destroy her. He states he was so upset and angry, that he repeatedly dreamed of her death, of killing her, her husband, and her baby, with a knife.

Coincidentally, Rose began suffering severe psychiatric problems during this time, and began hearing voices, including the devil's voice which urged her to kill her husband and son. According to Rose, the voice was chanting: "Do it, do it, do it." So she picked up a knife intent on killing her family, and then herself. However, she was so startled when her son said he saw a ghost, that she dropped the knife and was subdued by her husband. She was subsequently hospitalized in a locked psychiatric ward.

One night while driving through the heavily forested Santa Cruz Mountains, Damon claims to have had an encounter with a warlock. Damon claimed that he was compelled, against his will to accompany the man. Accoriding to Damon a spell was cast on him and he was taken to a ramshackle cabin in the woods, where he participated with this warlock and several witches in the sacrifice and murder of a baby and its young mother. After the sacrifice, however, the warlock turned his attention to Damon, and raped and sodomized him.

According to Damon, it was after this experience that he began to lose control over the forces of darkness. That is, rather than controlling the demons, he felt he was being controlled by these demons as well as the Devil, and was losing his free will, his very soul. He became so panicked that he called his friend, Steve, who still resided in Germany and cried out "They're out to get me, Steve. They're out to get me." Then he hung up.

According to Damon, it was because these demons and the Devil took control over him, that he went in search of a sacrificial victim on the afternoon of 8/27/84. And it was while listening to the voice of the Devil and hallucinating from the effects of LSD that he came upon the quite attractive, 21 year old Tanya Z. whose car has run out of gas. After introducing himself and offering to help, but then failing to start her car, Damon says he offered her a ride to the nearest phone. Instead, he took her deep into the mountains, attacked her, dragged her body down a heavily wooded mountain side, laid her out sacrificial style upon a large rock, killed her, sexually assaulted her, and then left the dead body lying on the rock.

That evening Tanya's father and fiancee began searching for her. They found only the abandoned car. They contacted the police, who, however, could find no evidence of a crime. There was no body. No blood. No signs of a struggle. Just an abandoned car.

That evening, Damon keeps thinking about and visualizing the murder. He says he dreamed of her that night. According to Damon he dreamed of the murder and kept seeing images of the victim who appeared in his dream and would stand and accuse him.

That same night a woman named "Sunshine" had a dream and a vision where she saw and essentially witnessed (that is, in dream time) portions of the murder. "Sunshine" is a nudist and lived in a nudist colony, Lupin Lodge, situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains (and no I did not make this up!). According to "Sunshine" the dead woman, Tanya, appeared in her dreams.

Throughout the ages women have always been thought to be the more intuitive sex, and more closely in touch with the "irrational;" and this in turn is due to her greater social-emotional sensivity, her more emotional nature, and possibly the fact that the limbic system is sexually differentiated. Indeed, that area associated with emotion, religous experience, and dreaming, the female amygdala, contains neurons which are more numerous and more densely packed than those of the male (Bubenik & Brown, 1973; Nishizuka & Arai, 1981) which in turn enhances their ability to become hyperactivated.

Because of her association with the goddess, and because of her supenatural abilities, the Popes and the Catholic Church proclaimed woman a witch and declared war against women. Indeed, in a series of Papal bulls on sorcery and witchcraft, including the notorious Super illius specula (issued in1322) and the Bull Summis desiderantes affectibus (issued in 1484), the Catholic Popes not only condemned women in general, but demanded the death of these women due to their propensity for communicating with demons and devils and for her use of dreams and enchantments to destroy men's lives.

In any case, over the next several evenings following the murder Damon was continually beset by visions and horrible nightmares in which Tanya appeared and accused him. He dreamed of the murder over and over.

Over the next several days, as the local media cover the story and friends and others search for Tanya, Damon is plagued by nightmares of demons, warlocks, and Tanya.

And while Damon is dreaming his nightmares of Tanya Z. Sunshine is also having dreams in which Tanya appears and in which the entire murder is revealed to her.

According to Sunshine, Tanya showed her the road off highway 17 where Damon had taken her. Tanya then showed Sunshine the spot where Damon had parked his car and attacked her. Next she led Sunshine down a rather steep incline, and then along a trail, and pointed out her body, lying spread eagle on this huge slab of rock.

The next moring, on 9/15/84 Sunshine contacted members of Tanya's family, and led them and the police to the spot Tanya had showed her in the dream. They climbed down the steep incline, and then found the trail. But, there was no body.

That night Sunshine had another dream and this time Tanya took her to the same spot, down the same trail, then pointed at and emphasized a little trail that forked off to the right and which led directly to the body. The next day, Sunshine and the family search again, climb down the incline, take the trail to the right, where they find Tanya's body which is laid out exactly as revealed to Sunshine when dreaming. The police and media swarm to the scene.

The murder remained unsolved, however, until 2/7/88 when Damon Wells, beset by horrible nightmares, sought psychiatric treatment. He confessed in a desperate attempt to find redemption in confession and judgment, so as to escape the dreams and visions which tormented him.

Copyright: 1996, 2000, 2010, 2018 - Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.