Every week Blood on the Sand brings you some of the Darkest True Crime set in some of the Most Beautiful Locations. Hosts Bob Keen, Andre Hashem, and Michael Johnson are here to serve you a Mai Tai with a side of bad guys Feel free to like our Facebook Group @BloodOnTheSandOfficial to get involved with us, contact us or learn what’s happening!
Andre is the main researcher and narrator for Blood on the Sand, you can also listen to him on The Haberdashery With Andre Hashem, give him a listen ya bum!
“Bob Keen is the newest up and coming comedian in the chicago comedy scene” Chicago Tribune 2003, we aren’t sure what happened since then, but now he’s a host of Blood on the Sand along with a few others here on our network.
For the majority of Mike’s life he’s felt very confused and just stumbling through, not much has changed. He shows up weekly, so he’s on the podcast.
How about you pop in the VHS copy of the movie and join in on the fun!
“I have a lucrative speaking career now. Why would I ruin it with being hasty and violent?”
Bang, we come in on chopper leaving prison, we know you’ve heard that before, and this time he promises that he’ll be good, we also know you’ve heard that before, but unlike all those other times, this time, it’s actually (mostly) true! We say mostly because, there might have been a little, well you really should listen to the full episode to learn about that one! But yea, that’s right Chopper is now on the up and up, by the time he leaves prison he has sold an insane amount of books, 300,000 and in Australia he’s kind of a regular celebrity, he gets asked onto television shows, mostly drunk, gets interviewed by journalists, mostly drunk and hangs out with celebrities, mostly to drink. We gotta tell you, once Chopper got that taste of fam he did not want it to go anywhere, but will that lead to his downfall? Will Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read’s story be met with some insane poetic irony and eventually lead to his final judgement for all the wrongs he’s done? Well tune in and listen till the end to hear the thrilling conclusion to one of the most interesting psychos we’ve ever heard about!
Listen to the entire episode to learn more!
February 11th 1998, Chopper gets out of jail, 1998, he’s sold at least 300k books. Hell, he sold 260k by the end of his appeal because they reference his literary career as his reason for being safe to release into society.
These are the books he releases in prison:
Chopper 2: Hits And Memories: More Confessions Of Mark Brandon Read 1992
Chopper 3: Hell Hath No Fury Like a Mate Shot in the Arse 1993
Chopper 4: For The Term Of His Unnatural Life: More Confessions Of Mark Brandon Read 1994
Chopper 5 Pulp Faction 1995
Chopper 6 No Tears for a Tough Guy 1996
Crime journalist John Silvester wrote the forward for a re-release of Chopper: From the Inside and said:
“It was a series of books on the life of Chopper Read that many consider to be the greatest crime against literature in the history of the written word,”
“I do not believe that he has any psychiatric disorder or personality disorder. I am of the opinion that there are no intrinsic propensities for him to return (to) violent behavior if he is released from prison.”
Ooooh boy, we’re finally here, this is the big one ladies and gents, this is where chopper goes from being just another grimy street tough with a few stories, to front page world news! When he gets out of prison he’s treated like a friggin celebrity, and Like all other subsequent episodes, this one spans a fairly short amount of time, that’s right, all this craziness that is about a handful of years, if that! Chopper, again, “tries” to settle down, he actually gets married to that woman we’ve been bringing up from time to time.
“I went out of my way to meet all of them to try and settle matters down. I told them that I had retired and had come to Tasmania to live the quiet life and not to take on any hits. We had a million drinks and things seemed to settle down. At first I was treated with suspicion and distrust. But in the end, they seemed to accept me”
Alas Chopper’s heart is about to be tested when the beautiful Renee Brack enters the picture, she’s a feisty little firecracker that steals choppers shark-like gaze. You see Renee does a little story on Chopper, an Australian Hardcopy exposé on the Tasmanian terror from down under, because our little psycho’s past has come to bite him in the arse. Chopper, as we all know, doesn’t like to murder, he just likes to maim and terrorize, chop off a few toes, ears, peckers, and well shoot a few people too, one of which will send him away for quiet some time, and give him some of that Governor’s pleasure he’s been hoping for! How about you lock the doors and hide under the sheets, this one’s a treat!
“Where a judge declares that a person is a “dangerous criminal” pursuant to subsection (1), he shall order that that person be detained during the Governor’s pleasure.”
Listen to the full episode to learn more!
It’s 1989, Chopper is famous, FAMOUS! Like famous famous. But he’s going to jail for 4 ½ years for attempted murder, arson, and reckless endangerment and sending morbid Christmas cards. But unlike Episode 2 where we covered his long jail stint, go back and listen it’s a doozy a guy cuts off his d*ck and people burn themselves alive on purpose in a prison escape, but unlike episode 2, there really aren’t too many anecdotes from Chopper’s second big jail stint.
Also in 1991 he published his first book! Sort of. It’s called Chopper: From the Inside, a book compiled by a journalist from a collection of letters that Chopper wrote to him about the insanity of prison. And he’s ready for the good life now! He’s out of jail, he’s published, time to put the guns away and let the cash roll in.
He moves to Tasmania, for two reasons, and they may be related. One, it’s because that’s where a lot of criminals go to retire. Reason number two and it may have been the cause of reason number 1, because the gun laws are less restrictive and he can have a giant arsenal without getting hassled. But he wasn’t getting hassled before unless he was shooting people in the chest or face and even then half the time he got off.
Quick little lesson: today, gun laws are VERY restricted in Tasmania. No automatic weapons, nothing semi automatic or “self loading” or resembling anything military you essentially have to have a musket. But that’s since 1996. Before 1996, it was totally apesh*t, because Australians used the threat of aboriginals, either real or imagined, to keep really loose restrictions on quantity and what types of guns you could have.
So, Chopper is famous and has a reputation and he just moved to this new place with a bunch of “retired” bikie gang guys, so naturally, THEY think he’s there to carry out a hit or hits. This is not good, because this means that Chopper’s life is in danger.
Before getting into the description for this episode let’s give you a little taste of the insanity of Mr. Chopper
“For a while after I set fire to his house, I would send Nick a Christmas card that read,
apologies to jerry lee Lewis
I shook your walls and I rattled your brain
My kind of love just drove you insane
I broke your will
Oh what a thrill
Goodness gracious great balls of fire”
Chopper would send this as a Christmas card to Nick “the Greek” Apostolidis every year after he set his house on fire in 1987
Let’s just get right into it, this episode is the beginning of Chopper’s fame years, now he isn’t the celebrity that he’ll eventually become, but here’s getting there. He’s 32, only been OUT of jail for 13 months of his adult life, you read that right, since the age of 18 he’s only been a free man for 13 months! But after he gets out of prison he starts to fly straight, he settles down, as much as the down under version of a Tarantino-esque character could, with the “love” of his life Margaret. So he tries this for all of two seconds, then goes right into more chaos, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in” to quote a famous movie that Chopper himself will end up quoting many times, but the “they” Chopper would refer to is… Ugh let’s just say the world, or his own mind really! From his first court documented murder, to the burning down of a few Mob Boss’ homes to ending with some turns you have to hear to believe this episode will blow your head off, as insane as it all might sound, this was only in a period of 3 Months! Pour yourself a drink and join in on the insanity!
Listen to the entire episode to learn more!
Ok so guys, a lot has happened these last two episodes. We’ve covered 30 years, we went through his entire horrific childhood, dad with PTSD from WWII, 7th day adventist mom, 15 years of abuse by his parents, as an adult so far he’s killed a couple people, chopped off a few of his own ears, kidnapped a judge, started a tomahawk wielding trench-coat gang in prison, and now it’s 1986, he’s out of Jail. He’s 32, he’s only been out of jail for 13 months of his adult life.
We know he gets out, Margaret is there to meet him. Imagine you waited 8 years for the love of your life to come out of prison and he comes out without ears? Do you stay?
Imagine the girl waiting for the dude who cut his dick off? There was no girl waiting for him.
So I think as we’ll see, Margaret is somehow one of the few calming influences in his life. Because yeah he goes back to his shenanigans immediately, robbing drug dealers and whore houses (which took me entirely too much time to figure out that’s what massage parlours were), but nothing really extreme happens til 1987. April 1987 to be exact.
So, to preface what happens here, we have to give some background on some more of Chopper’s friends. Not the old Surrey Road Gang guys like Dave the Jew who is making a return appearance next episode, or —. These guys are a little more legitimate; Chopper’s moving up in the world.
Norm Dardovski is the head of the Albanian mafia in Melbourne which sounds both impressive and something like a AA baseball team, like a minor league team but not single A or triple A, no one’s a prospect, they just send injured players for rehab stints and guys trying to make a comeback after failing too many drug tests. But Norm owns the Builders Arms Hotel as a front and is a drug kingpin by night.
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“I lost part of my spleen most of my gall bladder so many feet of stomach tubing so many feet of bowel part of the colon. I got the ice pick in the back of the neck which nearly severed the spine”
-Chopper after his mate Jimmy tried to murder him
“Don’t worry jimmy. I’m not going to hurt you. Your own life will destroy you.”
Jimmy replied “Yeah I know it will”
That’s right, Chopper is going to prison in this episode, and not just any prison H Division of Pentridge Prison. H Division was for “High security, discipline and protection” Now H Division to my knowledge isn’t the best place in the world, so Chopper always the inventive type came up with a fool proof plan, he was going to cut off his hands! After he was talked down from that ledge, he came up with the next best thing, his ears! While this was all going down he formed his own little prison gang, who were commonly known as the Van Gogh Club, isn’t that nice, wonder why? Chopper loses a lot of body parts in this episode, but the thing that hurt him the most was probably what his mate Jimmy did to him, but you’ll have to listen to the full episode to learn about that one! We’ll just leave you with what Chopper felt about the whole thing:
“To be stabbed by the same bloke that i tried to get out of jail is a good lesson….but a hard way to learn.”
So, to remind you where we are. It’s January 1978, Chopper was let out of jail after a failed escape attempt, during which time he shot at least one person, maybe 5, and his crazy peaks in a botched kidnapping attempt where he walked into sitting court and pointed a shotgun at a judge, got kicked in the nuts and subdued by security. So, needless to say, this time, he’s going to stay in jail for a while. Not forever though, thankfully for us, not so much for at least 2 people.
Chopper is placed in H Division of Pentridge Prison. H Division was for “High security, discipline and protection”, so essentially one of the most dangerous blocks in jail. The only one worse was B Division, which was for guys with long sentences and exhibiting bad behavior. He’s not alone though, because once in jail he’s reunited with old pals Jimmy Loughnan and Ned Clonan, but also some of the guys he held hostage for ransom. So Chopper, tough guy that he is, is afraid for his life.
So he starts scheming on how to get out. Starts with wanting to slit his wrists but that’s for puffs. “Eureka! If I chop off my hand, they’ll think I’m insane (when I’m really not hush hush between you and me and the bricks here) and transfer me to the psychiatric wing, and I’ll be out of danger. They’ll give me a hook for a hand and then no one in their right will mess with me” It honestly doesn’t seem like a positive or even lateral move, but Chopper is fucking crazy, as we’ll see. One of the boys, Ned or Jimmy says, “they’re not going to give you a hook or prosthesis in jail you dummy” and chopper is like “yeah good point. What else can I cut off to prove that I’m crazy? I know, my ears!”
He gets another inmate, Kevin James Taylor, who was doing time for shooting Pat Shannon. Kevin somehow had a razorblade (how do you get razor blades in jail? Your ass? How do you get them out? I guess double bag the condom?). The guy wraps the handle in toilet paper, Chopper sits in front of him, and dude starts sawing. Now, the sawing is painful, and Chopper starts yelling at him to just do it quickly, in one motion, instead of sawing. I’m surprised he didn’t take the razor blade and just do it himself. So his head is bleeding like crazy, he takes a cold shower to stop the bleeding but it won’t stop. Everyone corroborates that Chopper did this to himself to a) keep to the crazy story and also b) not get Kevin in trouble. Who wants that?
Listen to the entire episode to learn more!
“When I was born my mother said that I was not a gift from God, things went downhill from there…She was devoted to her church and that was it, and you were either with her or against her.”
This will be an introduction for many Americans to a man that all three of us at Blood on the Sand wish we could’ve had a beer with, or Chopper’s favorite drink: The Dirty Father (real thing, the recipe is gross). Born to fricked up parents in a fricked up world; Australia, Mark was the son of Keith Read, a father who volunteered to fight the Japs in WWII, but like, unofficially? Some would say he enjoyed it too much, but his family didn’t! Chopper’s mother Valerie, a seventh day Adventist and even then wouldn’t win prizes for mother of the year, but somehow, some way, they raised Mark to be the heroic figure to a nation, by instantly putting him up for adoption, then re-adopting him after a few years, then ignoring him, punishing him for being a victim, giving him electroshock therapy 60 TIMES! And you wonder why he’s so fricked up! The crazy thing is that those are just the early years, we go through Chopper’s first 24 years, all his first crimes, all his insane stories, everything you’ve never heard about Mark Brandon Chopper Read!
November 17th, 1954. Winston Churchill is serving his second term as prime minister, the first Godzilla movie has been out for a few weeks inspires generations of kids stomping on their toys, Ellis Island closes because people cross on planes or rafts now but never boats, AND, in Melbourne Australia, a star born. Mark Brandon Read, known by most of the world as “Chopper Read” was born to Keith and Valerie. His dad’s last name was actually Pepper, but as we’ll see, later when Mark gets nicknamed Chopper, he realizes, Chopper Pepper sounds like a rejected vegan soft drink, and goes by his dad’s maiden name? Maternal name, Read.
(listen for more)
So throughout all of this, Valerie is also randomly sending Chopper to a mental institutions in an effort to have him declared insane. She thinks that if she can have him declared insane, then god would forgive his sins as not being actions of his own mind. That actually, weirdly, kind of makes sense. If you’re having impure thoughts, but they’re not really your thoughts, how can god hold you accountable for thoughts that aren’t yours? Finally she gets her wish, as one of the doctors is also 7th Day Adventist, and at 15 Chopper is declared clinically insane. FOR THE FIRST TIME. Yeah, stay tuned. Do you want me to tell you how many more times? Wanna guess? So, yeah during these stints he’s given electroshock therapy, and by the time he’s 15 he’s given over 60 sessions of electroshock therapy.
(listen for more)
Quick rundown of his first gang: “The Cowboy looked like death, and fought like the Grim Reaper, The Jew was a kill-crazy head-banging psychopath, and terry the tank was a jolly giant, who could punch a German shepherd dog to death, and once did to prove a point.
I was leading the mentally ill, but in my own way I was the worst of them all. I had the smiling face of a young angel, and a heart so full of tears that there was no room for the blood to flow. As a young guy I was cruel, cold and totally without human mercy, feeling or compassion.”
(listen for more)
1972 – one month each for two charges of assault
1974 – one month for carrying an offensive weapon
1974 – one month for assaulting a police officer
1975 (April) – 6 months for burglary, 2 months for assault and impersonating an officer
1975 (May) – 2 years for armed robbery
1975 (December) – 12-36 months for armed robbery for robbing massage parlors
1977 – released for the armed robbery
1978 – two years grievous bodily harm shooting guy in leg with shotgun, out on bail
1978 – 12 years, abduction /kidnapping ( the judge)
1978 – 9 months added for the breach of parole for shooting the guy in the leg
It’s been a long road, but we’re finally here, this is where NXIVM comes to it’s “final*” conclusion, as you may know this is on going so there isn’t a real final conclusion just yet, but we’re pretty confident on this being something that we won’t have to touch on for quite some time, probably a year or so when Keith gets his sentencing, and after that probably no interesting updates until he eventually meets his demise, but as you may have learned through this crazy journey is that NXIVM isn’t just the passion of Keith, there are so many other crazy parts to this insane story. We get into the final winding down of the cult, along with how it was brought down, women getting branded and finally figuring out what it stands for, along with other sex lies and videotapes, oh and if you lookin for a climax, you might be let down, we know Keith sure as hell was! All this and we talk about the sashes again! Oh and always remember, EVERYONE’S BAD!
We’re finally here, we’ve made it to the fireworks factory! Today’s episode takes place in the sunny, sexy and all around sleazy town known by many names, but today we’re in Hollywood! You know that place where nothing awful ever happens and women are never victims, well we change that narrative by showing you most people in this cult are wolves, and don’t be fooled by their bs stories or manipulation these members are all sadistic all the time! We not only get into the Sand part of our namesake, but also keep up the Blood, if you’ve been waiting for this, boy it’s a doozy, you don’t know the half of it! This story is so insane they should make an HBO docuseries called the VOW if I’m being honest and not just trying to SEO this episode!
This week we take you through even more of Keith Raniere’s hare-brained schemes to take over the world with human potential, but really HIS “human potential“, if ya know what I’m sayin’! He invests a bunch of other people’s money (and even one of his girlfriends’…tisk tisk) in stock market futures, and it goes about as well as you’d expect! Keith attempts to place NXIVM members in high ranking political roles in Mexico and Libya of all places, he and the ladies court the Dalai Lama, and let’s not forget the Nazi spirits inhabiting high ranking members of the cult, or so says Vanguard! Oh by the way we probably solved a crime! Tune in to find out who’s who, what’s what, and if we’re getting in trouble for this one!
In this episode we get into the “true” beginnings along with the tortures of NXIVM, The Seagram Heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, continue their faith in Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman as they begin to ramp up their classic cultish policies, if you know your cults, you know that harsh rules with even harsher punishments are coming. Before that he establishes ESP (Executive Success Programs) intensives, a fun week long indoctrination into the future cult that will become NXIVM, through getting young women to join his harem and become the Sisterhood, aka the Vow aka DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium) where they’ll have to give everything. What started as a little fun pyramid scheme, to siphon money and get some easy sex, has become a part time criminal organization, with us discussing two very suspicious deaths connected with NXIVM, claimed as suicides one of the victim’s journal tells a different story, the other was groomed by Keith at a very young age, either way you cut it Keith is fully at fault for ruining her life. All this and we talk about patents for a little too long!
In this episode we catch up with Keith Raniere, but first we learn about one of his first soldiers Toni Natalie, who through one of the worst beginnings of a person’s life is formed into the person she will inevitably become. We also are introduced to Nancy Salzman, another woman who will become very influential, she joins the cult through unlikely means. We also learn about the NXIVM ranks, they’re like children’s karate classes, also the 12 rules.
These are the 12 rules of NXIVM:
Success Is an internal state of clear, honest knowledge of what I am, my value in the world, and my responsibility for the way I react to all things.
There are no ultimate victims; therefore, I will not choose to be a victim.
I am committed to be successful. I understand each of us must raise ourselves—and thereby raise all others—as all others raise us. This is interdependence.
Success in my own right is my earned success. True success cannot be stolen, copied or received by happenstance. I will not masquerade as successful by these methods or any other. I will earn my success.
Tribute is a form of payment and honor.It is giving credit where credit is due. I will use tribute to uphold others beyond my petty likes and dislikes. As a result, I will define my self and my true contribution to humankind.
Successful people do not steal and they have no desire or need to steal, I will not steal anything. I will always earn what I need and desire. Copying without permission or tribute is not the highest form of flattery; it is theft. Theft is also taking or receiving something without fully earning it; it is always at the expense, no matter how small, of others.
Inner honesty and integrity are the highest human values and the foundation of the human psychology. All other values arise from them. I will never trade my integrity or inner honesty for any other value .It is never worth it.
The methods and information I learn in ESP are for my use only. I will not speak of them or in any way give others knowledge of them outside ESP. Part of the condition of being accepted into ESP is to keep all its information confidential. If I violate this, I am breaking a promise and breaching my contract, but more importantly, I am compromising my inner honesty and integrity.
True success is never at the expense of others. As a successful individual, I will never envy another’s success, I will rejoice because I realize the success of others raises me up just a little bit more because I am also part of the human team. The actualization of human potential by anyone is a tribute to all team humankind. If others are successful, I will protect their success against those who envy them. I pledge to purge myself of all parasite and envy-based habits, and replace them with the habits of effort and interdependence.
I will unreservedly accept the success I have earned. I will accept no more and no less; this is accepting with integrity, I will give unreservedly to those who have earned it; this is giving with integrity. I will accept with integrity as easily as I give with integrity. To not accept what I am worth, or what I have earned, is to devalue myself and thereby all others.
People control the money, wealth and resources of the world. It is essential for the survival of humankind for these things to be controlled by successful, ethical people. I pledge to ethically control as much of the money, wealth and resources of the world as possible within my success plan. I will always support the ethical control of these things.
A world of successful people will be a better world indeed; a world devoid of hunger, theft, dishonesty, envy and insecurity. People will no longer try to destroy each other, steal from each other, down each other or rejoice at another’s demise. Success, ethics ‘and integrity are co-inspirational. I pledge.to share and enroll people in ESP and its mission for myself, and to help make the world a better place to live.
In this episode we catch up with Keith Raniere and oh boy has he been a busy boy. We cover the early stages of creating his harem, learning the ins and outs of pyramid schemes… oh sorry I mean “multi-level marketing company” not looking to get sued here, through creating his own “multi-level marketing company”: Consumers’ Buyline Inc (CBI) a BS microwave selling company? We aren’t sure and National Health Network, a BS vitamin peddling company. All this and his early run-ins with the cops, a weird couple hangs out with a 12 year old, a man searches for Noah’s Ark and Keith just can’t stop lying to everyone he meets. It’s a mess but we’re having an awful lot of fun!
In our first episode of Blood on the Sand we go on a deep dive into the little liar that could, Keith Raniere, the future head of the Nxivm sex cult. We cover the first 18 years of this nerdy Pinocchio’s life: from what may have caused him to go full L Ron Hubbard to some really weird warning signs and early test subjects.