The eighth and final episode of season one of HBO’s new hit, True Detective, airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. The show has captivated fans with its whodunit plotline and the Internet is abuzz with theories and speculation. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto, who was born in New Orleans, said that if one were to Google the words “Satanism,” “preschool,” and “Lousiana,” he could possibly piece together the ending of the season. What some research reveals is that the first season of True Detective appears to be loosely based on an actual Louisiana sex abuse case that dates back to 2005.
The Hosana Church of Tangipahoa Parish was once a fast growing congregation that neared 1,000 members and supported schools for area children. From the shared Louisiana setting and the similarities between Reverend Lee Tuttle and his “Light of Way Academy” and the Hosana Church and its school system, it is apparent that Pizzolatto based True Detective on the actual case.
In the early 2000’s the congregation dwindled in numbers, leaving a handful of members and the church closed in 2003. In 2005, the small town of Ponchatoula, with a population of 6,000, was shocked by the news that a cult formed by the leaders of the Hosana Church was involved in a child sex abuse scandal that involved devil worshipping and occult rituals in which cat blood was used.
On May 16, 2005, Louis Lamonica, the former pastor of the Hosanna Church, walked into the sheriff’s office and confessed to the occult rituals, which included having sex with children and animals. According to his hour-long confession that was played to jurors in his 2008 trial, Lamonica said the cult began in 2000 with the dedication of a baby girl to Satan. In the dedication ritual, a cat was mutilated, the baby was placed in a pentagram, and the baby was splashed with the cat’s blood. “Then we stopped worshipping God and worshipped Satan,” Lamonica confessed.
Lamonica was charged with four counts of aggravated rape of his sons when they were 11-years-old or younger. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Another six cult members were indicted in the case, including a deputy sheriff, and the charges asserted that during the rituals, as many as 25 children, both boys and girls, ranging from the ages of 1 to 16 were sexually abused.
Police seized a dozen computers that were believed to contain child pornography, dozens of videotapes, and hundreds of computer disks and photographs. Inside the old church compound, police discovered pentagrams inscribed on the floor. The property is now abandoned and marked off with yellow police tape.
Many of the details of the case, except for the sexual contact with animals, coincide with the plot through seven episodes of True Detective, while many others have been hinted at. In the show, the religious organization appears to cover up for a group of criminals who are preying on young children and have been for years. Matthew McConnaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, seems to also suspect that even police could be involved, as a deputy sheriff was in the Lamonica case. But the viewers do not have all the answers yet. They will have to watch the finale on Sunday night to see how close True Detective comes to the actual Louisiana case. As Cohle said in an early episode, life is “a dream about being a person. And then like a lot of dreams, there’s a monster at the end of it.”
By David Tulis