A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Salt Lake Tribune
March 29, 1997
Byline by Stephen Hunt

Diabetic Neglected, Dies at 'Goth' Party

A year ago, West Valley Det. Brian Shields predicted someone would die because of the pseudo-vampire culture known as "Goths." That was when teen-agers at Valley Junior High School, where Shields works, began filing their teeth, wearing black clothing and drinking each other's blood. The tragedy occurred earlier this month when 14-year-old Jens Martin Dietz died of diabetic shock at a party hosted by a "Goth" teen-ager. Dietz -- who had run away twice before -- telephoned his mother after school to say he was staying with friends and would be home in a few days. He said he had enough insulin for the duration. Four days later he was dead. Because no one attempted to get help for Dietz, because he was left in a car to die, and because his death was not immediately reported to police, criminal charges may be filed next week against a half-dozen teens -- ages 13 to 15 -- and possibly against one parent.

Dietz's mother, Brenda Patterson, said she wants other parents to understand the Gothic subculture can be dangerous. Patterson says Dietz was not a Goth, but his best friend, a 15-year-old boy, was. And that friend should have understood the perils of going without insulin because his mother is a diabetic. "These kids are into something scary," Patterson said. "They have so little regard for life." If not outright criminal, many events surrounding Dietz's death certainly are appalling and bizarre, said police. The Goth party started the afternoon of March 6 at a home. It was a Thursday, and there was no school on Friday. The group planned a four-day bash. Six to eight teens "dropped acid," smoked pot and drank alcohol in the basement of the home, said Shields. The host's mother was upstairs most of the weekend, but she was "not too concerned with what the kids are doing," he said. Dietz, who required injections three times a day, apparently ran out of insulin Friday morning, and by that night was getting sick. But when Dietz began vomiting, the Goths reacted with anger, not compassion. "They were pretty pissed off at him," Shields said. "He did puke on the floor." Dietz spent most of Saturday laying in a corner, facing the wall. At some point, the host's mother came downstairs and asked if the boy was all right. When the other teens said he was fine, the mother went back upstairs. "He lay there lethargic and disoriented until he passed out," Shields said. "At one point, they tried to give him sugar -- Kool-Aid and cookie dough -- but what he needed was insulin."

The teens later told police they did not call for medical help because they don't trust the police and believed Dietz would go to a detention center for being a runaway. When asked why they did not simply notify an adult, they said, "I don't know," according to Shields. Dietz remained unconscious through Saturday night and into Sunday, at which time the host's mother announced she wanted everyone to go because there was school the next day. Two boys grabbed Dietz's arms and legs and dragged him to the garage and put him in the back seat of an inoperable car, Shields said. The boy was groaning that afternoon when the teens put a blanket over him. And that night, when the party host took a second blanket to Dietz, the boy was having difficulty breathing. Monday morning, the party host decided Dietz was dead. And after school that day, the partygoers gathered in the garage "to look at the body," said Shields, who has interviewed the teens extensively. "They had a final smoke with Jens, and some got in the car with him," Shields said. Then they placed a medallion in the dead boy's hand that was supposed to "help him move on." Finally, the group held a howling ritual designed to "open the portals of the spirit world to allow Dietz's entry," Shields said. That done, the group discussed what to do with the body. "They talked about cutting it up and throwing it in a canal, burying it in the desert, or just dumping it," Shields said. In the end, the Goths were too tired to do anything. About 11 p.m. they just went home.

Later that night, a female Goth told her 21-year-old sister about Dietz's death. The sister woke the occupants of the party house and persuaded the mother to look in the garage. Police were called about 2:30 a.m. Shields said some Goths worship Satan. Some sacrifice dogs, cats and rats to the devil and other gods. And some drink one another's blood. They use make-up to whiten their faces, contrasted by black lipstick and eyeliner. He said the black-clad teens can be found in most every school in the county. Elizabeth Fox, manager of Confetti, a Salt Lake coffee shop and dance club frequented by Goths, said most are "just nice kids going through a phase." The Goth trend is on the increase, but they are not a cult, Fox said. "It's a separatism, denying society, a rebellion sort of thing," she said. "They are not a Satanist cult."