By all accounts, John Alexander Lawson began life uneventfully in San Francisco, California on August 12th of 1978. His father, Timothy J. Lawson, and mother Cynthia Priddy Lawson had married on December 18, 1971 in the same town in California. What happened in the years that followed is still unfolding, but by 1990, Cynthia and Timothy were divorced in Forsyth County, North Carolina. John and Cynthia stayed in Clemmons, and at some point his father Timothy went back to his native California. In 1993, Cynthia married a man named Johnny L. James in Cocke County, Tennessee. On their marriage license they gave their address as 2749 Knob Hill Drive in Clemmons.
Over the next 20 years, John Alexander Lawson would drop out of West Forsyth High School, and re-invent himself as a Satan worshiping drug dealer. His new identity claimed an Iraqi descent, and a Satanist mother who named him after the demon from the movie The Exorcist. No longer little John Lawson, he would become known as Pazazu, Paz, and Diablo to the kids who partied behind the black door at 2749 Knob Hill Drive.
It seems everyone was either scared of him or under whatever spell this darkly charismatic kid was weaving. He would skate away from murder charges in the death of Joseph Emmrick Chandler. He would skate away from a beating he and his wife Amber allegedly delivered to his mother Cynthia. Finally, on October 5th 2014, his luck ran out. In shallow graves behind 2749 Knob Hill Dr, the decomposing bodies of two human beings were found by Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office investigators and the SBI.
All sources interviewed for this story, people who knew Lawson as Pazuzu, said that they were terrified of him. His completely fake narrative where he tried to paint himself as a combination of Charles Manson, Anton LeVay, and Alistair Crowley, and descriptions of animal and human sacrifice spooked some, while his teeth (reported to have been filed to sharp points with a Dremel tool) filled others with horror. According to one source Lawson’s house was filthy and adorned with “Hot Topic Satan stuff” like mall-rat incense burners and statues of demons. “There was something about him that just made me feel terrible,” stated one source who said they had purchased drugs from Lawson several years ago. “It was just, like… I don’t know. Just his presence made me feel uneasy.”
According to his former West Forsyth schoolmates, John Lawson began his transformation into Pazuzu in the mid-90’s right before he quit high school. The name change came during some time in California in his Father’s hometown. It is incredibly easy to change your name in California. Most of his high school friends blamed his behavior on a new-found interest in hard drugs. According to sources, Lawson became deeply interested in Satanism. He began to tell others that he could control the weather like his namesake Pazuzu – the Assyrian demon so powerful and low that he took over that little girl in The Exorcist. According to one source, Lawson began performing rituals that he called “Black Magic”. This extended into reported (and in some cases observed) activities including mutual blood-letting in local cemeteries, animal sacrifices (which is often the first step in a serial killing career) down by the Yadkin River, where Joseph Emmrick Chandler’s body was later found, and attempting to set several local churches on fire.
Church of Satan-style Satanism started to lose some of its edge for Lawson. Satanism and the Church of Satan is less a religion and more of a parody of Roman Catholicism merged with the philosophies of Ayn Rand, Alistair Crowley, and Anton LeVay’s own twisted sense of humor. “Do what they wilt” was Satanism’s mantra (lifted from Crowley). Most Church of Satan followers, however, identify as atheist and do not believe in the supernatural, God, or Satan. When playing the black magician didn’t do it for him anymore, Lawson moved into Luciferianism or Theistic Satanism, which involve worshiping the fallen Angel, Lucifer, but not in the way that main-stream Christians or Muslims would consider Satan. Rather than the embodiment of evil, the Luciferian sees Satan as having gotten a bum rap and wishes to use violent and fetishistic rituals to tap into dark forces. While this might seem ridiculous to most, the people around Lawson, and Lawson himself, took it very seriously.
By the 21st Century most of the kids who knew and hung with Lawson had started to grow up, and he had moved on to a younger crowd. By all accounts his propensity for violence had also increased. He claimed to get a drug-like high from eating the still beating heart of a sacrificed animal.
Local message boards were padded with stories about Lawson/Pazuzu’s evil before this latest incident. Reportedly, Lawson constantly smelled like dog shit and his body odor was overtly offensive. The stories of ritual animal murder and “black magic” are pervasive. One wonders, however, what is the truth and how much of this “magic” took place inside of Lawson’s over-heated imagination. Whether that was real or imaginary, Lawson did have the ability to instill fear in others. One person (a self-professed former drug dealer) told CCD that he had a beef with Lawson at one point, but had backed off when, “He killed that other guy and got away with f***ing murder.”
There has been some chatter that Lawson had recently become interested in Islam. This is ridiculous, and most likely was more of a part of his attempt to convince people he was of Iraqi descent. His behavior included wearing a Jihadi head scarf around and “friending” real, middle-eastern Jihadist on Facebook. True Muslims, however, don’t shoot up coke, perform black magic, beat their mothers, or eat animal hearts.
John Lawson began as a kid and has done everything he could for the last 20 years to make himself seem evil, powerful, and frightening. This kid from West Forsyth looked in the mirror one day and decided that what he saw wasn’t good enough. What he wanted to see… was the boogey man. By all accounts he succeeded in spades.
To be continued…
You can read CCD’s initial coverage HERE.
Police have identified the remains found at the Clemmons home. You can read about them HERE.
You can meet one of Lawson’s alleged victims HERE.