Troubling deaths of spiritual seekers: Allegations of mind control follow Dallas couple's suicide

Before they killed themselves, David and Glenda Goodman had transferred significant wealth to Terri Hoffman, their self-styled spiritual master

Dallas Morning News/January 28, 1990
By Pete Slover

Dallas - He was Jupiter and she was Venus. In their minds, David and Glenda Goodman were not a former Southern Methodist University professor and his wife; they were astral travelers, soul mates to the gods.

Long before they shot themselves in their Lake Highlands home in late October, the Goodmans had seen the "purple realm," their promised land. And, according to the couple's writings, spiritual guide Terri Hoffman has shown it to them.

They, in turn, had written checks to Hoffman for more than $110,000.

Manuscripts found in the Goodman's home show that their lives were steeped in Hoffman's teachings of gods and spirits, rays, energy and karma - teachings she had spread among a modest but tightly knit circle of followers for nearly two decades.

"You are no longer David Goodman, son of Alice & Leonard. That person is gone because the programming is wiped out. You are Jupiter now," says one passage addressed to Goodman in his wife's hand.

Yet, David Goodman's entries reflect a growing doubt, fed by a belief that the spirits are singling him out for physical and mental torture. Interspersed with the answering exhortations in Glenda Goodman's script are oblique references to drugs and guns as paths to spiritual transcendence.

Neither a suicide note nor a will has been found among the Goodman's belongings. The writings they left offer no pat answers to the puzzle of their deaths. The events described in the manuscripts are often as vague as they are enigmatic.

And yet, these scribbles offer a glimpse into lives that were deeply touched by Terri Hoffman and her teachings - and that were to end with sudden violence.

Hoffman's attorney, Fred Time, denounced the notion that Hoffman was connected with the Goodman's deaths.

When they killed themselves, the Goodmans both 48, joined seven Hoffman followers, or people who were associates of followers who have committed suicide or died in accidents since 1977.

Like the others, they had transferred significant wealth to the self-styled spiritual master, giving her checks for as much as $40,000 at a time. Writings found in the house indicate that the Goodmans were considering transferring title to a car and a home to Hoffman too.

In a pair of Dallas lawsuits, Hoffman is accused of profiting and "mind control" in the deaths of the seven who died before the Goodmans. The lawsuits, filed by Dallas attorney James Paul Barklow on behalf of survivors allege that Hoffman used hypnosis to make her associates change their wills and insurance policies to favor her and her metaphysical organization, Consciousness Development of Body, Mind, and Soul Inc.

Then, the suits allege, Hoffman caused her followers to take their own lives or suffer fatal accidents.

"This is character assassination," Time said when questioned about the writings from the Goodman's house. "You have nothing to go on... What's wrong with giving a large gift in return for spiritual guidance? Call up some of the big churches and see if anybody died and left them money."

He refused to discuss specifics of the Goodman's case or to allow Hoffman to be interviewed.

In an interview given before the Goodman's; writings came to light, Hoffman described herself as a victim of a horrific string of coincidental tragedies.

Her relationship with the Goodmans, she said, was a "very close friendship" that had trailed off to occasional phone conversations. She said she had not seen the Goodmans in person since several months before their deaths.

Police say the Goodmans had notified most of their relatives about a year ago that they wanted no further contact.

Because the bodies were badly decomposed when they were found on Nov. 25, authorities could not determine the exact circumstances of the deaths. But they have ruled that no third party participated in the shootings. It is possible, they say, that David and Glenda Goodman each committed suicide;that one shot the other and them committed suicide, or that they simultaneously shot each other.

The deaths - and the details that have surfaced since - confound those who knew only the Goodman's public personae.

He was a former SMU business and computer professor, a confident, quiet man with a dry wit and a love for sports. Berkeley and Yale-educated, he left teaching in 1987 to start an investment counseling service and newsletters.

But in the couple's writings, David Goodman is Jupiter, the Roman war god, lord of the sky. Some associates assume he adopted this alter ego in the early 1970s when he told them that Hoffman had pronounced him a reincarnated warrior.

Glenda Goodman was an articulate woman, the daughter of a respected Dallas physician, a Berkeley graduate, longtime homemaker, mother and devotee of the arts.

But in the writings, Glenda Goodman is Venus - the Roman goddess of love, adopting the role of enforcer in her and her husband's struggle to shed their earthbound, mortal selves.

The manuscripts abound with references to spirit guides known as Marcus and Terri. Scrawled on a Christmas shopping list in Glenda Goodman's hand is a triangle with the word "Christ" at the apex, "Terri" in the lower right corner and "Marcus" in the lower left . Below Terri on this flow chart is Venus; below Marcus is Jupiter.

Although Marcus appears in the spiritual realm, Terri frequently shows up on the physical plane as well.

Check registers found at the Goodman house show payments to Hoffman totaling $110,000 between late 1986 and early 1989, the last period for which records were available. Most of the payments were marked as fees of between $50 and $100 for frequent counseling sessions. Other payments were in lump sums, thousands of dollars, some of which were designated as gifts. But it was their extra-physical journeys that seemed to preoccupy the Goodmans as they chronicled their lives.

Among the writings found in the house is an account by Glenda Goodman of a meditation that took place about a year before her death: "Terri and Marcus took Jupiter and Venus by the hand and led us to a beautiful, glittering house in the purple realm. It was OUR house," she wrote. "They wanted to show us our home in the purple realm where we go to rest and renew ourselves after time in the physical."

The realm is described as a magnificent crystal city with towering temples and purifying pools.

This account closely parallels an instructional meditation lecture recorded and sold by Hoffman under the title "The Violet Flame Meditation." On that tape, Hoffman narrates a trip to a valley with a violet-roomed temple and a purifying pool.

Hoffman's teachings, as embodied in hundreds of pages of literature and hours of cassette lectures, do not conform to any major schools of religious thought.

A biography distributed by Conscious Development says Hoffman was born 51 years ago in Fort Stockton, Texas, then orphaned and adopted by a Dallas family.

However, the biography says,"Terri has always felt that the masters were her real family." The masters , it explains, are invisible beings - Christ and 11 others - who visited her when she was an infant and child and taught her to harness 'energies'"

Other masters, including Marcus - the spiritual guide in the Goodman's writings - and the Malathion, a master with the same name as an agricultural pesticide.

David Goodman first crossed paths with Terri Hoffman in the early 1970s. He began attending her meditation classes when he was a newly hired SMU professor. Goodman apparently turned to Hoffman for counseling after his divorce from his first wife, Peggy, in 1972.

"He told me he wouldn't have made it through that period without her," said one intimate friend of the Goodman's , who asked not to be identified. He said Goodman spoke often of Terri over the past 17 years, expressing awe at her powers and teachings.

After their initial meeting, Hoffman performed each of Goodman's three subsequent marriages, reportedly after approving each prospective wife as a proper "soul mate". In 1984 she presided at the wedding of David and Glenda, who had studied under Hoffman since the mid-1970s.

In 1982, David Goodman testified as a character witness for Hoffman in a lawsuit over the will of Sandra Cleaver, a follower who left her estate to Hoffman and Consciousness Development. The case was settled before a jury could reach a verdict.

Colleagues said Goodman's professional interests expanded beyond technical computer matters to finance - making money - as he studied the application of computer analysis to stock market trends in the early 1980s.

Hoffman has described herself as a financial adviser, and she apparently remained in Goodman's life as he ventured into the investment world.

In the early 1980s, co-investors said, Hoffman joined Goodman as an investor in a California real-estate partnership that later went bust.

When Goodman co-wrote an investment strategy book published in 1986, "Hyper-profits", he acknowledged Hoffman's "Inspiration and support."

And Hoffman's lawyer said that she helped Goodman begin the newsletters that grew out of the book, although that relationship ended a year later.

Glenda Goodman was vice-president of Perfume Oils International, Inc. a now defunct perfume mixing company founded by Hoffman in ;1985.

Although David Goodman specialized in giving investment advice, some of his own investments proved problematic.

Internal Revenue Service records show that in 1982 Goodman and his previous wife claimed more than $100,000 in tax shelters through Hillcrest Securities Corp., a company whose organizers later were indicted and pleaded guilty to tax fraud. Goodman and his wife were not implicated inn criminal activity but their deductions as customers of Hillcrest were disallowed, leaving a $176,000 bill for back taxes.

The appealed the ruling to the US Tax Court. A lawyer working on the case said a settlement was reached about a year ago. It would have allowed Goodman and his former wife gradually to retire a tax debt estimated at more than $300,000 - the original taxes due, plus interest, with no penalties.

According to the lawyer, no turning points in the case had occurred in the month preceding the Goodman's deaths.

Neither is there any record to indicate that the Goodmans were deeply in debt. Although a probate attorney still is working to assemble a financial post-mortem, family members play down money woes as a possible motive for the couple's suicide.

Yet the writings leave no doubt that in the months before his death, Goodman was in severe distress - both physically and mentally.

The handwritten pages range from Glenda Goodman's rapturous descriptions of encounters with the masters to the angst-filled catalogues in which David Goodman hurls questions at her and them.

"God would it be possible for you to make us feel well?" David Goodman pleads at one point. "god, I don't feel that I ;can continue."

The theme that dominates these pages, which appear to be among the more recent portions of the manuscripts, is that David-Jupiter must endure a period of painful testing in order to attain full knowledge of his spiritual self ultimately.

Police say recently that the deaths of David and Glenda Goodman are still under investigation. "Even though the evidence indicates that these two deaths were not caused by an outside agency, the unusual circumstances have caused us to keep this case open," said Deputy Chief Ray Hawkins.

Glenda Goodman's mother, who asked that her name not be published, said she had never heard of Hoffman before her daughter's death. But she expressed concern about Hoffman's influence over her daughter and others.

"I believe mind control is real. If anything can be done to stop it, it should," she said.

Glenda Goodman's children could not be reached for comment, and her sister declined to be interviewed.

David Goodman's parents, Leonard and Alice Goodman of Santa Maria, Calif., reserved judgment on Hoffman, but mourned their son.

"I never wanted to outlive any of my kids," said Leonard Goodman, 74. "It'll never be the same; 48 years of my life are gone."

David Goodman's 24-year-old son, Tony, of Dallas, said the financial exchanges with Hoffman could be explained as "wages" paid by his father to his associate in an expanding financial consulting business. He offered no comment on Hoffman, other than to say he had not noticed any ill effects she had on his father and stepmother.

David Goodman's other son, Rick, 28, of Boston has declined to comment on Hoffman and his father's death. He and his brother have resumed publication of their father's financial newsletters.

Grim roster of Hoffman followers

The deaths of David and Glenda Goodman last November were the most recent in a series of suicides and accidental deaths that have stalked the followers of self-styled spiritual leader Terri Hoffman.

In a 12-year period, several people who were followers of Hoffman or associated with followers, died in accidents or by suicide. Most of them knew each other from a weekly meditation class that Hoffman, then Terri Cooley, taught in the early 1970s at Southern Methodist University. Students said the non-accredited course was a blend of metaphysical and Eastern philosophies.

Several of those who belonged to the group or were associated with group members have since died.

They include:Glenn Cooley, the then-Teri Cooley's second husband, who committed suicide January 31, 1977 - four days after their divorce became final. Under the terms of his handwritten will, she was the sold beneficiary of his estate.

Deveraux Cleaver, the 13-year-old daughter of long-time follower Sandra Cleaver, was not a member of the group. On Feb. 25, 1979, she drowned off the island of Hawaii while swimming with her mother and another member of Terri Hoffman's group. Devereaux left a will leaving everything to Terri Hoffman.

Kenneth Wilder, Hoffman's son, who was killed when he fell from a building under construction in August 1979. He left his mother his death benefits and other funds.

Sandra Cleaver died about three years after her daughter. She and family housekeeper, Louise Watson plunged in a rented car over a cliff in Colorado. Both Cleaver and Watson - who friends said was not a Hoffman follower -- bequeathed everything to Terri Hoffman in wills made several months before their deaths. Terri Hoffman also was named beneficiary of insurance policies totaling $300,000.

Robin Otstott, a former curriculum writer for the Dallas Independent School District, thought she had a fatal disease when she shot herself in the head April 22, 1987. Otstott told people that she had contracted viral hepatitis from a banana peel. Medical tests later showed she did not have the disease. Otstott had revised her will within months of her death to include Terri Hoffman.

Richard Donald Hoffman, Hoffman's third husband, who took a fatal overdose of pills in September 1988, leaving all his property to his wife.

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