Ricky “The Acid King” Kasso (March 1967 - July 7, 1984) murdered 17-year-old acquaintance Gary Lauwers in Northport, Long Island, New York on June 16, 1984.
Two other teens, Jimmy Troiano and Albert Quinones, were present at the murder, which took place in the Aztakea Woods of Northport while all four were high on mescaline.
The murder became sensational news in the New York area and across the nation due to the torture of Lauwers and the Satanic ritualistic aspects of the murder. Many people also found the pictures and video of Kasso’s arrest, in which he is smiling at the camera in a joking manner, to be particularly disturbing.
The murder took place during a period when there was much public concern over the effects of Satanic and occult content in Heavy Metal music and in Role Playing Games. Kasso was wearing an AC/DC T-shirt at the time of his arrest and was a fan of groups such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Ozzy Osbourne.
Kasso was the son of a local high school history teacher and football coach at affluent Cold Spring Harbor High School. Several years prior to the murder, his father had won the Nassau County, Long Island Football Coach of the Year, awarded by Newsday.
Ricky ran away from home as a young teen and lived on the streets of suburban Long Island, usually sleeping in parks or in the cars, garages or houses of friends. He often took drugs, mainly marijuana, LSD (hence the nickname “Acid King”), PCP, and mescaline.
He also dealt drugs in Northport and dabbled in the occult and Satanism and was a member of a loosely-organized cult at Northport High School called “Knights of the Black Circle”. They held Satanic ceremonies mostly in Northport, but they were said to have celebrated Walpurgisnacht at the infamous Amityville Horror house in 1984.
Kasso also expressed to friends his great interest in Anton LaVey’s book The Satanic Bible. On at least one occasion, Ricky’s parents admitted him to the South Oaks Psychiatric Hospital (formerly known as the Amityville Asylum) in Amityville, New York for drug rehabilitation and psychiatric care.
In the year prior to the murder, Kasso had been arrested for grave robbing, taking a human skull and other objects from a cemetery. About a month after his arrest for this crime, Ricky contracted pneumonia and was treated at Long Island Jewish Hospital.
During his hospital stay, his parents tried to convince the doctors to commit him for involuntary psychiatric care. However, the conclusion of the pychiatrists was that Kasso exhibited anti-social behavior but was neither psychotic nor a violent danger, and Kasso was released upon recovering from his bout with pneumonia.
The conflict between Kasso and Lauwers had started several months earlier when Lauwers stole 10 bags of angel dust from Kasso’s jacket, while he was passed out at a party. Kasso confronted him soon after the incident.
Lauwers gave back five of the ten bags and promised to pay $50 for the five bags that he had used, but failed to pay back the money, and Kasso beat him on four separate occasions.
On the night of the murder, Kasso had invited Lauwers along, saying that he was ready to forgive the incident and wanted to be friends. After taking several hits of mescaline, the teens started a small fire in the woods, using Lauwers’ socks and the sleeves from his denim jacket as kindling for the wet firewood.
The situation escalated when Kasso suggested that they use some of Lauwers’ hair in the fire. Kasso then scuffled with Lauwers, bit him on the neck and stabbed him in the chest. Kasso continued his assault over an extended period of time (perhaps hours).
Quinones claims that Troiano helped Kasso and held Lauwers during the attack. However, during his testimony (once he had immunity) Quinones did take responsibility for holding Lauwers down as well as chasing him and dragging him back when he ran.
Lauwers was stabbed somewhere between 17 and 36 times, incurred burns, and had his eyeballs gouged. His face was severely disfigured from the attack and he died during the night.
Kasso and Troiano dragged his body a short distance and covered it with leaves and sticks. During the attack, Kasso commanded Lauwers “Say you love Satan”, but Lauwers replied with “I love my mother”.
In the aftermath, Kasso bragged to friends about his “human sacrifice”. Kasso stated to some that he murdered because a black crow brought him a message from Satan, telling him to do so. He even brought several disbelieving teens to see Lauwers’ decomposing body.
However, it wasn’t until two weeks went by, on July 1st, that the murder was reported to the police. On July 4, 1984, police recovered the decomposing and mutilated body of Gary Lauwers. On July 7, two days after his arrest, Kasso committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.
Jimmy Troiano signed a confession that he later recanted. Quinones gave witness account that Troiano helped Kasso during the murder. However, due to his drugged state the testimony of Quinones was brought into question and Troiano was acquitted of second-degree murder in a trial by jury in April of 1985.
In 1991, Ricky’s father also killed himself.
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