Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Vampire Killers

Influenced by Fiction

<em>The Queen of the Damned</em> by Anne Rice
The Queen of the Damned
by Anne Rice
Allan Menzies, 22, used to view the vampire film, Queen of the Damned, over and over and over.   He admitted that he had obsessively watched his "queen," Akasha, more than 100 times.  His fixation on her and his beliefs about how this cruel vampire stepped out of the role and into his life to barter for his soul eventually turned deadly.  Menzie's vampire-inspired crime and trial were covered extensively by The Scotsman, as well as by newspapers throughout Great Britain.  Both movie critics and religious writers have offered comments and interpretations.

Akasha, played by the late actress Aaliyah, is depicted in Queen of the Damned, a film based on Anne Rice's novel of the same name, as the ultimate vampire progenitor.  She's also a vicious blood hunter with no remorse.

In the novel, Akasha was an ancient Egyptian queen whose jealousy of the powers of twin witches over a spirit led the spirit to infuse her with its own essence, which carried a powerful thirst for blood.  The spirit fused with her heart and brain to mutate her into the first vampire.  As Akasha transformed her husband and then turned on others, the "Dark Gift" of blood-spawned immortality spread, and all other vampires were thereby connected to her.  Through successive generations and throughout the world, Akasha was the life force of all vampires.  Although she eventually went into a stupor, she was revived during the 1980s by the rock songs of the vampire Lestat, and she went out and destroyed most of the world's vampires.  Then she started killing mass numbers of humans to feed her pathological need.  She demanded more and more blood.

Allan Menzies' best friend, Thomas McKendrick, brought this film over one day, and they watched it together.  Then Menzies, who lived in Fauldhouse, West Lothian, in Scotland, borrowed it.  He was soon hooked on viewing it every day, sometimes three times a day.  Akasha became real, as did other vampires, and he began to call himself "Leon."

Menzies believed that Akasha made regular visits to him and had made a deal to grant him immortality in exchange for killing people to deliver their souls.   He spent a lot of time alone in his room and his father could hear him talking to himself and sometimes yelling at no one.  Menzies appeared to be changing into someone his father barely knew.  "All Allan's talk," Thomas Menzies later said, "was about vampires, the games and blood.  It was not normal conversation."

Thomas McKendrick
Thomas McKendrick
Then Thomas McKendrick disappeared.  He was last seen when he visited the Menzies on December 11, 2002.  Menzies' father came home that day and noticed spots of blood in various places around the house.  That worried him, but Allan told him it had come from cutting himself on a can.  Thomas Menzies told police that McKendrick had indeed come over on December 11, but that was the last time he'd seen him.

But then Allan Menzies approached McKendrick's mother in a supermarket, according to Religion News, to ask her if she knew how to remove bloodstains.

The police viewed him as a viable suspect in McKendrick's disappearance, but without evidence, there was nothing they could do.

On January 4, McKendrick's clothing was found in a bag on the moors, so two days later, the police searched the Menzies' home.  After they talked with Allan, he took an overdose of drugs and ended up in the hospital for two days.

Then on January 18, 2003, McKendrick's remains were found buried in a shallow grave.   The pathology report indicated that he had been stabbed 42 times with a large knife in the face, head, and body, and bludgeoned over the head six times (some reports say ten) with a hammer-like instrument.  The attack, the pathologist commented, had been carried out for a prolonged period of time, and he had been hit in the head quite forcefully. 

Under questioning, Menzies admitted that he had eaten part of his friend's head and drunk his blood.   He said that he had signed an Anne Rice novel with the name, "Vamp," and explained that he had decided to sell his soul to be born into another life, another form.  Only later at his trial did he describe the full measure of his atrocity -— as well as deny that he was to blame.  

Allan Menzies, police file photo
Allan Menzies, police file photo
Menzies tried to plead guilty to culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished capacity, but the Crown rejected it and ordered him to stand trial.   That proceeding began in October 2003, before the High Court in Edinburgh.  It was clear that Menzies, an unemployed former security guard, now believed that what he had done was "mad."  He had not been in his right mind.  He cast the blame on an alter ego, developed under the influence of the film, and said he wished he had never seen it.  Psychiatrists on both sides had to evaluate his mental state at the time of the offense.

Menzies took the stand in his defense.  He told the High Court that on December 11, McKendrick had made the fatal error of insulting Akasha.  That's what had made Menzies "snap," he claimed.  This all had occurred after he had begun buying ox livers and eating them raw to get their blood, and he'd listened to the songs from Queen of the Damned repetitively to develop into a vampire. "I could never get the thought of being a vampire out of my mind," he said.  "To put it bluntly, after I had seen the tape so many times, I wanted to go out and murder people."

Donald McCleod, his defense attorney, asked him if he believed he was now a vampire and had achieved immortality.  To both questions, he answered, "Yes."

McKendrick allegedly had made an incredulous remark about Menzies' belief in vampires, as well as a sexual comment about the actress playing Akasha.   "He should never have insulted my bird," Menzies had told his attorney. 

In court he told the full story.   The two young men were standing in the kitchen of Menzies' home, where Menzies kept a Bowie knife used for cutting ox livers.  Then McKendrick made his remark.  Menzies said that Akasha, who was "there" in the kitchen, turned her back to indicate her displeasure, so Menzies stabbed McKendrick three or four times in the neck.  Then he continued to stab him in the face, shoulders, and neck, using both a Bowie knife and a kitchen knife.  McKendrick ran from the room and went up the steps to Menzies' bedroom, so Menzies grabbed a hammer and went after him, striking him on the head until he collapsed.  Akasha, he said, was with him at all times, fully approving of what he was doing. 

The late Aaliyah portrayed Akasha
The late Aaliyah portrayed
Akasha in the movie The
Queen of the Damned
He then turned the body on its side to drain some blood out and drank two cupfuls of it.  He also consumed part of the skull, which had broken from the blows.  Afterward, he looked into the mirror to ensure that his teeth were covered with blood.  Akasha was pleased with this death, he reported, and wanted him to do it again.  The only way to please her, Menzies explained, was to kill.

To get rid of the body, Menzies took it in a wheeled cart into the woods and buried it.

He had no remorse at the time, he said, because "I knew I had to murder somebody.   If you don't murder anybody, you can't become a vampire."  He believed that imbibing the blood sealed his pact with Akasha.  In court, he offered the excuse that he'd been angry, so he'd acted out.  (To his aunt, he had confided while in the hospital that he was acting out against God.)  His sudden frenzy, he believed, had come from his delusions at the time. 

Yet "snapping" was not altogether inconsistent with Menzies' history.   At the age of 14, he had stabbed a classmate and had received a sentence of three years in juvenile detention for that.  He said he'd been bullied and had defended himself.  Yet others knew him as sadistic.  He also had a reputation for obsession with violence, and had described to psychiatrists a fantasy life involving Nazis and serial killers.  Since the age of 18, according to associates, he'd been obsessed with vampires, and in 2001 he had shown enthusiasm about a crime committed in Wales in which a young man had killed an older woman to drink her blood to become a vampire. 

Dr. Derek Chiswick, one of the three psychiatrists for the Crown who diagnosed Menzies as a psychopath, said he was emotionally disturbed but not mentally ill, and that he was probably faking how extreme his obsession was in order to get a lighter sentence.  "I suspect his enjoyment of violence," he added, "is the principal factor in the prolonged and excessively violent nature of this crime."

In fact, from prison, Menzies had been sending letters to himself at his father's house, written by fantasy characters.  One from "Vamp," signed in blood, was written to Akasha with a vow to kill again.  Those letters appeared to be a calculated attempt to make himself look mentally ill.

Nevertheless, Menzies claimed, it was "Vamp" who had actually done the killing.  It was not he who had written in the pages of a novel, "I have chosen to become a vampire.  The blood is the life, I have drunk the blood and it shall be mine, for I have seen the horror."  That was his alter ego, which he had acquired in the act of killing.  Defense psychiatrist Alexander Cooper supported that with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  The delusions had the quality of hallucinations.

The judge picked up on that and explained to the jury that they needed to determine whether Menzies was lying or authentically hallucinating at the time he murdered Thomas McKendrick. 

The jury deliberated for an hour and a half.  They did not accept the excuse of diminished responsibility in this case.  Instead, they returned a unanimous verdict that Menzies was guilty of murder.

The judge gave him a minimum sentence of 18 years, declaring him an outright psychopath---evil, merciless, and dangerous.

When asked if he wished he could turn back time and have the choice not to have killed his friend, he said, "No."

His grieving father quickly put the house on the market.

On November 15, 2004, Alan Menzies was found dead in his cell, an apparent suicide.

 

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