Degrees of Horror
The Class Protectors
According to the information provided by the ghost of Nina Castle, East Texas University once had a secret society of students dedicated to the study of the supernatural, and protecting the town of Pinebox from the horrors they found. A little research filled in some additional details. Most of this additional information comes second-hand and a lot of it is speculative.
On September 24, 1963, Tommy Ellwood was attacked by a wild animal in the woods. That was the official story, but Tommy believed it was something else and confided the details to his girlfriend, Annette LaCroix. Upon hearing these details, the two of them investigated the matter further and discovered their first evidence of supernatural activity. After that, they were obsessed. They dedicated themselves almost completely to the study of the supernatural, while trying to maintain their lifestyle as popular and prestigious college students.
In time, Annette shared their secret with other trusted friends, including Nina Castle, Frankie Walker, Bill Clayton, Pam Nash, Eddie Aylor, Jimmy Johnson, and Peggy Foster. Together, the group researched occult mysteries from all over the world, hunted down magical artifacts, investigated strange phenomenon, and confronted supernatural threats. Although some people came and went from the group over time, and some members suffered unfortunate accidents, the group’s core membership stayed together for almost five years. By that time, friendships had become strained and many of the group’s views toward the supernatural were starting to conflict. Emotions ran high, and it’s rumored that the group started to fracture and become violent.
In 1967, Nina and Tommy consummated a secret love that had been growing between them. Annette, who was now a graduate student and leader of the Protectors, found out about the relationship and went mad with jealousy. She attempted to expel Nina from the group, only to find many of the group’s younger members turning on her to support Nina. When Annette and her devoted followers stole Nina’s books and talismans, Nina took a powerful artifact that she had been safekeeping and hid it.
Annette found Nina while she was in the process of hiding the artifact, but Nina convinced Annette that she had performed a ritual to destroy the artifact rather than let Annette take it. Annette was furious, and unleashed powerful magics against Nina. This was not their first physical confrontation, but it was the most intense.
Nina died while trying to get away from Annette. She is convinced Annette killed her, though she admits she never saw her attacker. . Her body was found burned to a crisp in the basketball court, though none of the area around her was burned.
Annette, Pam, and Eddie disappeared later that year, at different times of the year. Annette disappeared while exploring an old mine (for unknown reasons), while Pam disappeared from the Pinebox cemetery one evening. Eddie, who had been with Pam but could offer no explanation for her disappearance, simply vanished one day from his dorm room. His roommate, William Russo, said he came in one night but was gone in the morning and never heard from again. Peggie was discovered dead the next year of mysterious causes, and Frankie was apparently mauled by a wild animal while trespassing in one of the school classrooms one evening.
Annette had been the leader of the group and kept them all together, at first through friendship and later on through fear. Without her around, they stopped holding any kind of official meetings. Some members of the group still investigated occult activity on their own, while others continued murderous grudges against their fellow Protectors. Tommy was obsessed over Annette’s disappearance until he died two years later in an apartment fire that took six lives and left the building abandoned.
There is circumstantial evidence that others may also have been part of this group at various times, mostly because these other people were pictured in the yearbook with known members or shared some of the same clubs or activities or have been reported near mysterious events often enough to raise suspicion. These other suspected members include: Nancy Bunch, David Dickerson, Sue Hutchinson, Gale McKinney, Sarah Pendleton, William Russo, and Dennis Smith.
It is not known to what extent (if any) these students were involved in the Class Protectors’ supernatural activities. Some may have just been friends with members, some may not be associated at all, and others may have been temporary members. Most of them have either died, disappeared, or moved away from Texas.
Two people are still alive and remained living in towns relatively close to Pinebox, TX.
Peggy Foster has become a wealthy socialite. She has been married five times, with each husband dying shortly after and leaving her a small fortune. Her recent start-up company, Foster Farms has been a huge success, though her son, Tom Foster, runs the business now.
David Dickerson has a degree in Business & Marketing. He lives in a nearby town where he and his wife Shelly operates a small real estate business. He sells mostly commercial farm properties but also has contacts to broker for farm equipment.