Fairmont, West Virginia, April 8, 1948:
Ernie Lee Russell Yost

Here was a man who killed his wife and her lawyer in cold blood and then killed himself. Before that he devised an ingenious plan to destroy his home by fire. He chisled the words "Hell's Half Acre" on the steps leading to his property and he called his power boat "Hell's-a-poppin." He kept a grotesque figure of a woman before him at his table and he may have been motivated by his horoscope.
(courtesy of the Times West Virginian)
(Complete newspaper articles available at ernieyost.com)

What the Stars Forecast
April 1948

...his thoughts became darker and darker as he looked into the future. His guide in that search of the future may be seen on the table today. It consists of two pamphlets which are supposed to foretell the future...

"April. It should now be possible to reach settlements and to clear up matters that have been troublesome...There are indications of possible loss, trouble through papers, figures and mistakes, as well as talk and intrigue..."
"April 7. Favorable. You have 24 hours of favorable planetary aspects."

Mad Effigy of Mrs. Yost Found At Residence
It was seated at the table, a mad effigy of a woman -- of Nellie Marie Yost, who died yesterday at the hands of her crazed husband.
It was the bust and head of a woman, a thing fabricated out of excelsior covered by muslin, with a plastered neck, and a painted face, and dirty straw for hair, what one might see in a nightmare.
Years ago, Yost was an upholsterer, and there was a certain craftsmanship to his creation, but there was something about it that stood the hair on end.
Across from the effigy, as the police believe, sat Yost for who knows how many weeks. There he ate, presumably, and thought about what life had done to him. And his thoughts became darker and darker as he looked into the future.
(Photo published with permission of the Times West Virginian)

The Yost Home
"Hell's Half Acre" are the words chiseled into the stone steps which give entrance to the Yost property on a hill high above Chesapeake. Those words, apparently newly cut, assumed a terrible meaning yesterday.
(Photo published with permission of the Times West Virginian)

1940s poster for the travelling sideshow Hell's Half Acre

1941 Movie Hellzapoppin'

Original 1938 Broadway Musical poster

1941 Movie poster

Herbert Arthur Sloane, Spiritualist Minister and Satanist
in his Dragon Room in Toledo, Ohio, in 1970.
His life-size doll, April Belle, is sitting behind his right shoulder. He had her made for him in 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, based on pictures he had seen in a book about Spiritualism a few years before. In, 1948, he founded the Satanic Lady of Endor Coven of the Ophite Cultus Sathanas in Cleveland, only a few hours drive from where Ernie Yost was living in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Scottish Spiritualist and medium Helen Duncan
during a seance in 1928 with her life-size doll Peggy.
(from The Cheese-Cloth Worshippers, chapter 11 of Leaves from a Psychist's Case-Book by Harry Price, 1933)
In 1944, well-known spiritualist Helen Duncan was one of the last people convicted of Witchcraft in Britain, before the British Witchcraft Act was repealed.

A possible scenario for Yost and Sloane meeting is pieced together in Charlotte Laws' book, "Devil in the Basement":
Devil in the Basement

Synagoga Satanae