Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism

Before QAnon, Satanic Panic Gripped Central Texas

Thirty years ago, Oak Hill daycare owners Dan and Fran Keller were convicted and sentenced to 48 years in jail — a likely death sentence for Dan, 50 at the time, and Fran, then 42. Their supposed crime: sexually abusing children during satanic rituals. The Kellers were accused of forcing children to drink blood-laced Kool-Aid and to watch Dan and Fran dismember people with a chainsaw. Today, the claims are believed to have been false memories planted in children’s minds by the suggestive questioning of parents, law enforcement and therapists. But the damage was done.

The Kellers’ case is not new. Theories about satanic conspiracies have erupted periodically through American history starting with the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s. A new satanic witch hunt — the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon — has gained steam in the last few years. Once again, fear and anxiety over a rapidly changing world have expressed themselves in what looks like a delusion.

A Historical Look at Jim Crow Laws in Texas

Charles Zelden, history professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, sat down with Reporting Texas to discuss the unfortunate history of Jim Crow in Texas.


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