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  • Joe Turner

Disciples of Destruction, The Mont Vernon Cult Murder

Author’s note: I’m currently writing a detailed book on the Disciples of Destruction case, so if you have any personal stories to share or if you had personal contact with Steven Spader, Christopher Gribble, Kimberly Cates or anyone else involved in the crime, please contact me through here or at joe_turner87@outlook.com.


The Disciples of Destruction & The Murder of Kimberly Cates


In the annals of true crime, certain cases stand out for their brutality and the chilling insights they offer into the darkest corners of the human psyche. The case of Steven Spader and Chris Gribble, infamously known as the "Disciples of Destruction," is one such tale that shook the nation to its core. This article delves deep into the lives of these two young men, exploring their backgrounds, the heinous crimes they committed, the legal proceedings that followed, and the lasting impact on the community and society as a whole.


Background


Steven Spader and Chris Gribble were born and raised in Brookline, New Hampshire, a small, tight-knit community known for its tranquility. Both came from seemingly ordinary families, and their early lives offered little indication of the horrors that would unfold in the years to come. Yet, beneath the surface, something sinister was brewing in their young minds.


The Perpetrators


Steven Spader: Born in 1990, Spader had an upbringing that didn’t hint at the violence he would later commit. His parents, Christine and Steven Sr., had a seemingly typical middle-class lifestyle, but while the Spader family appeared average, Steven exhibited problematic behaviors from a young age.


Reports and accounts suggest that he was a manipulative individual. As he grew older, his actions became more concerning, with outbursts and episodes of cruelty.


Spader's school experience was tumultuous. He had difficulty maintaining friendships, often resorting to manipulative tactics to control those around him. This behavior led to alienation and furthered his sense of isolation.

Skinhead murderer being arrested by police.
Steven Spader being arrested.

Christopher Gribble: A few years older than Spader, Gribble was known to have a deeply religious upbringing. His parents were devout Christians, and their beliefs were central to their family life, but despite his faith-based upbringing, Gribble displayed disturbing behaviors, including animal cruelty. Such actions are often seen as early indicators of sociopathy or severe mental health disorders.


While there's limited public information about the intricacies of Gribble's family life, it is clear that he faced challenges. There were mentions of his struggle with the strict expectations set by his family, which might have exacerbated his underlying issues.

However, there were indications of mental health struggles and cruelty, including incidents of animal abuse.


Gribble, much like Spader, found it challenging to fit into traditional educational settings. He was homeschooled for a period, which might have contributed to his social isolation.

Convicted murderer wearing prison jumpsuit in court.
Christopher Gribble in court.

The Genesis of Evil


The story of Steven Spader and Chris Gribble's descent into darkness is a haunting narrative that underscores the unpredictable nature of human behavior. The paths of Spader and Gribble eventually converged during their teenage years, but while the precise moment when they first met is unclear, it is evident that their alliance quickly turned malevolent. A shared fascination with violence, a thirst for notoriety, and a disturbing desire to commit acts of extreme brutality bound them together.


The Formation of the Disciples of Destruction


Spader, aiming to create a criminal brotherhood, founded the "Disciples of Destruction" or "D.O.D." This group consisted of a few teenagers, including Gribble. They recruited a few other adolescents, appealing to their sense of rebellion, need for belonging, or simply the promise of power and money. To many, their plans initially seemed like the exaggerated fantasies of disaffected youths, but it later took a deadly turn.


The D.O.D. wasn’t structured around a clear ideology, as seen with some other notorious groups. Instead, it was driven by a general desire to wreak havoc, gain power, and accumulate wealth.


Within the group, roles were assigned. Spader was the self-proclaimed leader, while Gribble and others occupied various positions that indicated a hierarchical structure, emphasizing Spader's need for control.


Initially, their discussions seemed like mere fantasies of disaffected youths—talks of robberies, destruction, and even violence. But over time, these fantasies began to solidify into actionable plans.


The Murder of Kimberly Cates


The chilling climax of the Disciples of Destruction's journey into the abyss occurred on the night of October 4, 2009. Armed with knives and driven by a complete lack of empathy, Spader and Gribble embarked on a mission that would forever scar the quiet town of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire.


For reasons that remain mostly unknown, Spader, Gribble and two other members of the Disciples decided to carry out a home invasion. The Cates residence, where 42-year-old nurse Kimberly and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, lived, became their target.

Smiling brunette woman close up.
Kimberly Cates, murdered by the Disciples of Destruction.

In the early hours of October 4, 2009, the group entered the Cates home. The intent, as later revealed, was burglary and causing harm. What transpired, however, was far more tragic than a simple break-in.


Armed with a machete and a knife, Spader and Gribble launched an unprovoked and brutal attack on Kimberly and Jaimie Cates. While Jaimie miraculously survived the violent onslaught, Kimberly was not as fortunate. The sheer brutality of the crime and the apparent absence of any discernible motive left the community and the nation in a state of shock.


The Aftermath and Investigation


Jaimie's bravery during and after the attack was remarkable. Despite her injuries, she managed to call 911 and get help, later providing crucial details that would aid the subsequent investigation. The local police, with the help of state agencies, launched a massive manhunt. Given the brutality of the crime, there was significant pressure to apprehend those responsible quickly.


Spader and Gribble, along with their accomplices, were soon arrested. The evidence, including the weapons used in the attack and the testimonies of their associates, linked them conclusively to the crime.


During the interrogations, the chilling details of the crime and the intentions of the so-called "D.O.D." emerged.


Both Spader and Gribble were tried as adults and were found guilty of their respective roles in the murder of Kimberly Cates and the attempted murder of Jaimie Cates. Spader was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Gribble received the same sentence.


The Trial


The subsequent legal proceedings against Steven Spader and Chris Gribble were nothing short of harrowing. Both men were swiftly apprehended and faced a slew of charges, including first-degree murder. As the details of their crimes emerged during the trial, it became apparent that the pair had meticulously planned the attack, reveling in the terror they would inflict upon their unsuspecting victims.


Court prosecutor pointing at photographs of murderers during trial.
Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley points to photographs of the Disciples in court.

The defense attempted to paint a picture of Spader and Gribble as deeply troubled individuals, beset by a range of psychological issues. However, this did little to sway the jury, who were confronted with a mountain of evidence pointing to premeditated, cold-blooded murder.


The Motive


The question that haunted the community was, "Why?" What drove these young men to commit such an unimaginable atrocity? The answer, as it emerged during the trial, was chilling in its banality. The motive appeared to be a disturbing cocktail of factors, including a thirst for notoriety, a desire to experience the adrenaline rush of violence, and a chilling disregard for human life.


Perhaps the most shocking revelation was the sheer indifference displayed by Spader and Gribble toward their victims. The fact that they targeted a seemingly random household, with no personal connection to the victims, emphasized the cold, calculated nature of their actions. Their motive defied rational explanation and left many in the community and beyond searching for answers.


Sentencing and Aftermath


Both Steven Spader and Chris Gribble were ultimately found guilty of first-degree murder, among other charges. In November 2010, they received sentences that reflected the gravity of their crimes—life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The community of Mont Vernon was forever changed by the actions of these two young men who had, at one point, been a part of their peaceful town.


The aftermath of the trial left lingering scars on the community. Mont Vernon, a place where violent crime had been virtually unheard of, was now synonymous with one of the most horrific crimes in the state's history. Residents grappled with the trauma of the event, and the sense of security that once defined their town was irrevocably shattered.


Convicted murderer being escorted into courtroom.
Steven Spader during trial.

Public Reaction and Reflection


The Mont Vernon murder was a jarring reminder that senseless violence can erupt even in the most unsuspected places. It left the community in shock, grappling with the realization that such young individuals could commit such a heinous act.


The trial and subsequent media coverage brought attention to the influence of group dynamics and peer pressure on young individuals. It raised questions about the ways in which adolescents, especially those with underlying psychological or emotional issues, can be drawn into destructive paths.


Impact on Society


The case of the Disciples of Destruction, Steven Spader and Chris Gribble, serves as a stark reminder of the depths to which human depravity can sink. It is a chilling cautionary tale that forces us to confront the darkest aspects of human nature and question how seemingly ordinary individuals can embark on a path of unimaginable violence.


This case also prompted nationwide discussions about the justice system, particularly concerning the sentencing of juvenile offenders. Both Spader and Gribble were teenagers when they committed their crimes, raising complex ethical and legal questions about whether they could ever be rehabilitated or should face life imprisonment.


In the years that followed, there was a renewed focus on juvenile justice reform, with advocates arguing for a more nuanced approach to dealing with young offenders who commit heinous crimes. This case highlighted the need for a comprehensive examination of the factors that lead young people down such destructive paths and how society can better address these issues.


Conclusion


The case of the Disciples of Destruction, Steven Spader and Chris Gribble, is a haunting reminder of the capacity for evil that can reside in the human heart. The brutal and senseless murder of Kimberly Cates and the terror inflicted upon her daughter, Jaimie, are etched in the collective memory of a community and a nation.


As we reflect on this chilling tale, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that such acts are not limited to the realms of fiction or distant headlines. The story of Spader and Gribble serves as a stark reminder that evil can emerge in even the most ordinary of circumstances. It underscores the imperative of vigilance, empathy, and understanding as we navigate the complexities of the human experience, ever mindful of the darkness that can lurk within us all.


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