The 1st season of True Detective starts with the finding of Dora Lange's body, arranged with antlers and stuff. Also, later on, Papania and Gilbough suspect that Rust is behind the killings, based on a similar recent killing in Lake Charles.

But when Marty and Rust track down and confront the actual killer, they find more bodies there (wrapped in sheets and arranged in various ways). We also learn, throughout the show, that there were dozens of victims, possibly hundreds, due to a good year that the killer(s) (probably) had when the hurricane hit.

Why were the two bodies (Dora Lange and the one from Lake Charles) exposed, while all others were either kept by Errol Childress or made look like an accident (like Rianne Olivier)?

Why am I asking this: While the above question might seem like nitpicking, the reason I want to know is because these two bodies stick out from the crowd, which is quite weird when rituals are involved, but they (or, more precisely, the one of Dora Lange) are the sole reason that the police investigation started in the first place and that some of the culprits were found and killed. In other words, this (apparent?) inconsistency in the murderers' actions is a major plot point, so I'd like to make some sense of it.

2 Answers 2


This is an excerpt from an article on nerdcoremovement.com


For all the dead bodies and bones found at the house that Errol occupied with his half sister, the only two that were discovered came in 1995 and 2012 and both were Errol’s attempts at being found so his ‘work’ could lead him to the ascension. As he states when talking to his sister that it’s been weeks since his last work was witnessed, he’s waiting on the cops to finally be worthy enough to discover his trail.

While Rust is walking through the catacombs hunting for Errol, he calls him ‘little priest’ and says that he ‘blessed’ Reggie and DeWall while referring to them as acolytes (a person who assists in a religious experience). Obviously, Rust was involved in Reggie and DeWall’s deaths so this was the ascension that Errol spoke about, and now he’s hoping to follow their same path and escape from this plane.

Creator Nic Pizzolatto also confirmed as much when speaking to EW.com

"In the beginning, when he says, 'My ascension removes me the disc in the loop,' he’s describing the cosmology of eternal recurrence of various characters, including Cohle and Reggie Ledoux hit upon, and he’s hitting upon his personal mythology. When he says, 'It’s been weeks since I left my mark, would they have eyes to see,' we can tell from that that he’s angling for a reckoning, for a showdown. He’s waiting for it. He believes the murders ritually enacted over a period of time, upon his death, permit him an ascension that removes him from the Karmic wheel of rebirth."

It also stands the reason that’s why Errol attacked Cohle and Hart because they had to kill him so he could ascend off this plane. He couldn’t be captured, he had to be killed.


Its not nitpicking, at all, it's a very good question.

Unfortunately, I doubt you'll acquire a definitive answer to this, as the nature of the show priveleges the denial of a neat narrative, and the mystery you pose is just one thread in a carpet of loose ends that purposely don't get tied up.

I think one of the fundamental components of True Detective is the notion that there are no happy endings, and it is for this reason the show is so closely compared to film noir. The truth remains out there, but simply unobtainable (by either the protagonists, or us as spectators). Denial of conclusion is an established technique within Noir, at least: look no further than Chinatown for good examples.

Whilst its unlikely we'll be able to form an answer you'd be able to mark as correct, a little deduction lets us reasomanly speculate as to why no more murders were exhibited so publicly. I hope others will contribute their theories and observations, and we might collaberatively move towards a 'most likely' scenario.

For me, the key to this lies hidden in your question: The fact that the year of Hurricane Andrew is described as a 'good year' is revealing, when attempting to discover the significance of it. Conventional Wisdom often declares that in a crisis, humanity will automatically band together in support of mutual security. [Stories from Hurricane Katrina](, however, flew in the face of this misnomer, revealing tales of people taking advantage of chaotic circumstances to mask their own deviant behavior, and getting up to some pretty dark shit.

From the BBC:

"There is rapes going on here. Women cannot go to the bathroom without men. They are raping them and slitting their throats," she told Reuters. [...] Death was everywhere, both inside and outside the Superdome [...] "They killed a man here last night," Steve Banka, 28, told the Reuters news agency before he left on Sunday. "A young lady was being raped and stabbed. And the sounds of her screaming got to this man and so he ran out into the street to get help from troops, to try to flag down a passing truck of them. He jumped up on the truck's windscreen and they shot him dead," Mr Banka said.

It is no co-incidence that a hurricane features so prominently in the series, and the behavior of Childress (and those who made themselves accesories to his ritualised murders) foreshadows the 'darkness' within humanity that was exhibited during Katrina. Its a brand of depravity that fits perfectly into Cohle s nihilistic pontifications on the latent evil within mankind.

The reason Hurricane Andrew was a 'good year' was because of the total lack of accountability it created. Childress, who is a sociopathic (but NOT stupid) man understood that, much like Katrina, he could excorcise his barbarity without consequence by taking advantage of the disorder. Anyone that went missing during this period would be most likely comsidered lost to the disaster.

It was a good year because Childress didn't have to be as careful, which would infer that the rest of the time he was careful.

Now Dora Lange and the Lake Charles victim were murdered ritualistically, but at a seperation of over 15 years. Whilst the link will inevitably be made, the low frequency of these discovered corpses makes the task of finding the culprit incredibly unlikely. Couple this with the fact that Tuttle was interfering/supressing the investigation on account of his involvement, it's understandable to believe how the cult (comprised of powerful and influentual men, if Tuttle is anything to go by) would believe they possess the neccesary influence to bury a murder investigation every decade or so.

Whilst murder is perhaps the most serious of crimes, managing the aspects of its investigation so as to limit the force of response is an aspect of the very thrill the cult is pursuing in the first place. These are people that obtain arousal at the extension and execution of their own power. By comitting such a barbaric act, in such a sinister way, making it public and getting away with it is the very point of the excorcise.

The bodies were found because they were supposed to be found. The others that Childress killed were for his own pleasure.

Childress didn't want to be caught, but the cult (which used him as a tool) could facilitate a 'smothering' of the ritualistic murders, but obviously not all the murders Childress commits. It is for this reason that the only bodies that are found are the ones that are meant to be found.

  • +1 for the long and elaborate answer. However, as you said, it is inconclusive. I still see no motivation in exposing the bodies. It was not a part of the ritual (as others would have to be exposed as well, assuming that the cult killed more than these two), I find it unconvincing that they just wanted to mess with the authorities a bit,... I understand that the show wants to leave many loose ends, but I feel that the lack of a viable explanation (or at least a guess) about this makes a gapping hole in the whole show, and I don't think they really did let something like that slip by. Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 17:01
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    The way I see it, the answer is in your comment: 'assuming that the cult killed more than these two', there is nothing to indicate the cult did kill more than these two. Childress killed potentially hundreds, but as you noted in your question, these were carried out in privacy at Carcosa. The public ritual was a rare ceremony, only performed every decade or so, as sacrifice to the Yellow King. The cult enabled Childress, but it was Childress who carried out the murders.... Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 18:21
  • ... and perhaps I didn't explain well enough: they weren't trying to mess with the authorities, they were trying to consolidate their power amongst their own ranks by executing a deed and watching as it goes unpunished, as though they were protected by the Yellow King himself, as though his power makes them beyond reproach. The entire purpose of the ritual was to make it public, and get away with it. Its the fetishization of their own influence. Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 18:24
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    There is a problem with that theory: Marie Fontenot. Her murder was ritualistic (we know so from the tape), but her death was covered up, not exposed. Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 20:22
  • You're right. That pretty much blows my theory out of the water. Damn. Hope someone else has a crack at this, too! Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 20:23

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