As a lot of people have been doing recently, I have been diving into the recently-released Unsolved Mysteries episodes on Amazon Prime Instant Video. The episodes are, for the first time, available in their original format. Previously they were only available in the "redone" episodes that change the music, the host to something that strips the original series of its character. Either that or you could watch the compilation DVDs from the early-mid 2000s. I'm already going off on a tangent, aren't I?
In 1988, Unsolved Mysteries ran a story about the death of Kurt McFall, a 17 year old male whose death, to some, is shrouded in mystery. Kurt was, on the surface, a normal 17 year old but once you got to know Kurt more you find out the evil truth... Kurt played Dungeon and Dragons!
That's right, the House that Stack Built wasn't above feeding into the Satanic Panic that dominated pop culture in the 70s and 80s! Following incidents like Jonestown and the Manson Family murders America was ready to tear down anything that even vaugely resembled cult-like behavior. Conveniently, D&D also rose to prominence in nerd circles during this time. Due to the fact that it invoked elements from fantasy storytelling it was easy for people who feared THE WRATH OF SATAN to lump the game and its fans in with the worst of humanity.
The story of Mr. McFall is a sad one, and anyone looking for answers in a mysterious death is going to examine everything they can to make sense of it. It does sound like the groups that Kurt frequented went beyond simply playing D&D and dabbled into occultism, but on the surface there doesn't seem to be any serious evidence that they were involved in his death.
To the show's credit, it doesn't use this segment to attack the game or the people who participate in it. For the most part it presents the information in a pretty level-headed manner, but it does give that crowd something to chew on and I'm sure they did.
The net that Unsolved Mysteries cast was a vast one. Even though the show primarily focused on true crime stories (missing persons, murder, etc.) it did sink its teeth into things like occultism, aliens, conspiracy theories, etc. as well so covering all of its bases on this story isn't inherently a bad thing. Also, the show almost always presents its information as-is and let's the audience put together what it wants.
Whoever owns the rights to Unsolved Mysteries is pretty quick to take down any clips used on YouTube, so if you want to see the segment, check out Season 1, episode 2 on Amazon Instant Video. Here's a linkGo home