A plastic tarp, a hatchet, a 96-gallon trash can, bleach. Michael Lane paid for it all with a gift card that belonged to Ginger Candela, who had little use for the store credit, being dead in the back yard of her central Las Vegas home.
They had been meditating, Michael and Ginger, in her bedroom. He was compressing her carotid arteries, helping her, he told police, reach a deeper state of meditation. Then deeper still.
Lane got a frying pan and hit Ginger over the head with it, two, maybe three times. Then he wrapped an electrical cord around her neck, tied each end to a bedpost, and strung Ginger up by the throat. Then he moved her body to the back yard. Then he went shopping.
The Angels will protect you. Angels are always with us. Angels always listen. They can pass between all 7 plains of existence and thus be many, all and every place at once. Angels do not get tired, they are the servants to our needs and gladly listen, help and guide us along our paths. Have you ever had your Angel cards read? You’ll be amazed at the accuracy of the readings.
–Excerpts from Michael Lane’s website—myhealingangels.com—created March 2009. Readings are $150 each.
Michael cut Ginger in half. He stuffed her body in the garbage can, put the garbage can in the garage, filled it with bleach, then weighed her down with cinderblocks.
He moved in with Ginger around November 1, police say. Investigators figure the murder happened two weeks later. That’s when Ginger’s diary entries just stop. That’s when the seams of Michael Lane’s story—his scams, his selves—start to unravel.
He’s 37. He’s British. He’s lived, it appears, all over the globe. He’s left traces of himself online, and with old friends; over time, the sum of these shadows starts to look like a hydra: a monster who grows two new faces for every one that’s cut off, a con man for all occasions, Mr. Multiple Aliases, Dept. of AKA.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the months before Ginger’s murder, when Michael was living in Southern California, trolling the deepest waters of the New Age scene. He was moving up in the loose-linen crowd, the energy healers, the chakra set, the divine goddess earth mother crystal karma mafia. To them, he was Michael Bodhi, enlightened practitioner of angel readings, spiritual Twitterer to 687 followers, meditation guide to All That Is.
One self-professed psychic, who didn’t want her name used, says she and other highly evolved mediums never felt bad energies in Michael.
At least not the Michael they knew. Not the Bodhi who confessed to butchering a woman. Not the deep soul who allegedly entertained a transsexual lover, with Ginger 10 days dead in the garage.
Excerpts from online profile of “MasterMikeLane” on BDSM personals site, Alt.com, created February 2008:
Tall, dark, intelligent, charismatic and very handsome man with an attractive Russian/Dutch female slave as his shadow. I am willing to receive subs/slaves from all over the UK ... interested? Discuss your requirements and fantasies with me.
Looking for: Women, couples (2 women) or TS/TV/TG for erotic email exchange, phone fantasies, performing only, watching only or active participation.
Sexual orientation: Bi-curious.
Male Endowment: Long
Level of experience: Whole adult life
(Two profile photos included: Mike Lane’s face, anonymous erect penis.)
Defi Nurhariyanto told police they met on Craigslist. Michael wanted to hook up with a transsexual. She was living in a weekly motel by the Strip. He picked her up around 2 a.m. on November 24 and took her back to Ginger’s house, where they had sex.
She asked for a ride home around 8 a.m. They got into a maroon Toyota SUV. Michael was angry during the ride, she told police—he wanted to go back to sleep. She called her uncle from the car, asked if he could come get her. This seemed to make Michael angrier, she said. They were driving. Michael told her to get out of the car. She did. Then she heard the car accelerate and says she saw Michael coming toward her. He hit her. She was on the ground, lodged under a fence. Part of the car’s bumper was stuck in the fence. Her uncle was on the phone. Michael was out of the car, punching her in the face, she told police, with his right fist.
Witnesses. Two of them, running to the car, screaming. She told them to get the licence plate. They did. Michael drove away. She went to the hospital: broken collarbone, severe abrasions, irregular heart rate.
She was on a heart monitor for two days. She described Michael, the house, to police. Detectives found it. Nobody home. They asked neighbors: Seen a maroon Toyota lately? Nope.
The detectives handed out their business cards and left.
Ginger was reported missing a few days later by her youngest daughter, Tabatha. On November 30, different detectives came to the house, met neighbors.
Yeah, another cop was out here the other day, looking for a guy driving Ginger’s Toyota.
Detectives found the garbage can, the bleach, the body. Then they went inside the home. Mail and paperwork inside indicated Michael was using Ginger’s address. The house was ransacked. Items appeared to be missing. The Toyota was gone.
By this time, Nurhariyanto had identified Michael from a photo lineup. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
Press release: “Metro Homicide Investigators Seek Public’s Assistance,” December 8, 2009 (Excerpt):
Lane was raised in London. He is known to have visited Las Vegas, Portland, Oregon and San Diego. He may also have lived in the Philippines, and may possibly have a daughter living there.
Lane is heavily involved with the concept of “spiritual healing” and motivational speaking and frequently has contact with individuals within those professions. Detectives believe Lane may have befriended numerous women, and possibly defrauded them without their knowledge.
Detectives would like to talk to anyone who had any contact with Michael Lane while he was in Las Vegas.
Angel cards are used like tarot—a deck to determine the future.
Sometime after Michael Lane came to Southern California in early 2009, sometime after he became Michael Bodhi, he started offering angel card readings. In March, he created a website, myhealingangels.com, where interested parties could book card-reading appointments and purchase his meditation CD—7th Plane Meditation—for $2.99 a track.
Listening to this meditation will allow you to connect simply and easily to All That Is, the energy source that everything comes from.
Michael Bodhi would create more websites in the months to come. Most blend New Age nonsense and salesmanship—on one he appears to be selling an “electrolized water machine”—“an incredible tool of preventive medicine at home.” On another, he offers “holistic” website hosting. On a third, he offers “meditation teleclasses” and personal coaching. On a fourth, he solicits donations for an unnamed charity over PayPal: “We are trying to raise $1,000,000.00 for charity by pure free will. Someone’s life will change because of you!!”
At the same time, Michael Bodhi began to weave a tight network of online profiles: Facebook, Linkedin, Meetup, Twitter, YouTube. Online, he comes off as a popular soul-seeker, a member of New Age groups, friend of high-profile New-Age practitioners, a man who can offer guided meditations. He was good at amassing online friends, and built an army of hundreds.
He became an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church (where anyone can become a minister in a matter of days). He created an online profile on the church’s website and posted a photo with it: Lane, now Bodhi, seated in some kind of garden, faintly smiling. His white button-down shirt was open at least three holes.
By this time, he was describing himself as an “enlightened being.”
Across the Atlantic, his former friends saw this and began to worry: MasterMikeLane is up to something.
Archived instant messenger conversation between Michael Lane and friend from UK, 04/11/2008:
14:35:54 Mike: my left wrist is fucked!! handcuffed ;)
14:36:07 Cat: ahhh yeh - get the fur ones
14:36:13 Mike: they were ;)
14:36:21 Mike: had wax dripped all over me too ;)
14:36:32 Cat: not coloured wax I hope!
14:36:34 Mike: with a dildo up my bum and whipped with a cat n 9 tails ;)
14:36:40 Mike: not a bad weekend in total
Claire sold sex toys online from her home in Manchester, England. Michael Lane was her customer, and then her friend. He was also in England at the time, several hours away. They would chat for hours online, or with web-cams. He was charming, funny and completely obsessed with sex, she said in an interview. He would set up fake profiles on BDSM websites, posing as a woman, and then try to get money from the men who fell for it. He would detail sexual exploits over long Internet chats—instant messenger accounts of multiple partners, bondage, violence and boxes of condoms spent in the space of an evening—punctuated with winking, smiling emoticons: ;) :D
“Because I’m open-minded, he enjoyed talking to me,” Claire said. “I think I did actually see the real Michael. A side of him maybe not many people have seen.”
Claire doesn’t want her last name used in this story.
Things started going bad when Michael asked Claire to help him start an erotic web-cam business. Claire had experience running a website, a woman they knew had experience as a web-cam model, and Mike had the idea. At first, Claire was enthusiastic—a new source of income for a single mother, working from home.
But there were problems. Mike started asking Claire for access to her business website. Then he claimed he was sending her money through PayPal, but the cash never came through—PayPal, Claire recalls, told her it was a “fraudulent transaction.” Claire and the web-cam model decided they couldn’t trust Michael, and ended their partnership.
Shortly after, Claire says, Michael told her he was moving to Marbella, Spain. She remembers Michael telling her, in his usual self-satisfied way, that he was working for a finance company as a front for ripping people off. On the side, she remembers, he was selling Viagra online.
“He knows what he is doing. He meets people, becomes a charming person, and you don’t realize he completely sucks you dry. He was nothing but a con man. As far as him being this religious, spiritual person? Those people were the perfect victims for him—gullible people. He would have looked at them and laughed.”
Message posted on Michael Bodhi’s online Universal Life Church profile, by anonymous, 12/18/2009:
ANYONE WHO KNOWS MICHAEL BODHI, AKA MICHAEL LANE AKA MICHAEL SAVILLE AKA CHAE SAVILLE, SHOULD CONTACT THE LAS VEGAS METRO POLICE IMMEDIATELY.
Sarah Demellweek was once Michael Lane’s business partner. She was also a romantic partner. Both relationships went wrong.
In 2007, while living in Devon, England, Sarah and Michael tried to launch a string of coffee shops. Sarah invested, by her account, just over $110,000 in the venture, while Michael invested nothing. On the company’s website, Michael was described as an “international businessman and IT expert” who already owned several Internet cafes in Asia. All Sarah knows is that Michael spent years living in the Philippines before they met—if she knew much more, Sarah says, she’d never have involved herself.
Once the business was founded, Sarah remembers Michael became impossible to deal with: “pathological lying, domination, manipulation, constant living on the edge, callousness, grandiosity, verbal outbursts, bad business practices, threats of violence.”
After a year, she began to withdraw from the cafe company, letting Michael manage things. On the day the cafe was set to open, Sarah says, she walked in to find the place ransacked, and Michael gone. Later, she says, she learned Michael tried to take out a £10,000 loan on the business. When it failed, he fled to Spain, leaving behind a string of debts in her name.
In total, Sarah figures she lost £220,000 to Michael Lane.
So she was surprised when women in California contacted her for information on Bodhi last August. Her old business partner, it turns out, was trying to get a job as a website administrator for a “spiritual community” in California—he had listed Sarah as a reference.
This may have been the most galling move of all.
Sarah says Michael always mocked her spiritual intrests, her reiki, her color and crystal therapy, her tarot and natural healing. Now here he was, using her interests as “raw material for the next scam.”
“He is no more a healer,” Sarah said, “than I am a brain surgeon.”
She set to work contacting everybody Michael was associated with in California. She contacted the police, his girlfriend at the time and his business partners.
But Michael Bodhi’s new friends told Sarah she was all wrong, that her negative energies were palpable, that she needed to focus on putting out positive light, think about her karma, and maybe consider some angel card readings.
Archived instant messenger communication from Michael Lane to Claire, 13/10/2008 :
21:51:05 Mike: ha ha
21:51:07 Mike: women!!!
21:51:13 Mike: can’t live with them, can’t kill them
Ginger Candela had a plate in her head. Her ex-husband, Eric, remembers it was hidden under her hair, big as a saucer.
She was 15, riding a scooter down a Florida road, when a she was hit by a drunk driver. This was 1980. At first, Eric says, the doctors declared her dead. Then she fought back.
The second injury came two years later, when Ginger slipped in a Wendy’s kitchen and cracked her head again.
“The doctors told her the plate was right close to the brain, and if she got hit again in the head—like our buddy hit her with the frying pan—that she would probably die.”
Ginger’s cause of death, according to the Clark County Coroner: blunt force trauma and strangulation. Homicide.
Ginger and Eric lived in Lee, Florida, population 350. They spent three years there, with Ginger’s two young daughters from an earlier marriage, until Eric moved them all to Las Vegas.
He worked casino security, and Ginger never worked again. She was on lifetime disability from the government, Eric said. She suffered from bouts of tremendous head pain. She had a fleet of neurologists who gave her a slew of pain pills.
The couple lived together but grew apart: Eric worked swing shifts, signed over his paychecks to Ginger, and saw himself as protector, supplier and father—somewhat removed from family life.
Ginger, meanwhile, fell in deep with a local church. When their daughters had grown, and Eric was ready to get out of Las Vegas, Ginger didn’t want to leave. He moved to South Dakota, she stayed with her church. The couple got a divorce neither really wanted, Eric says, in June 2009. They remained close, however, as Ginger started to struggle.
The brain injuries had taken their toll.
“A lot of times, she would just want me to hold her,” Eric says. “She had some hallucinations, and she had fear, and she would be in bed scared, she didn’t know what of. I’d talk her down. I’d sooth her. You had a woman who had been in pain most of her life. Her brain was deteriorating.”
Ginger was 44 when she died. She was a “straight-ahead Christian woman,” Eric said—a lover of small dogs, a journal-keeper, a mother who found herself, with two children now grown, living alone.
Ginger’s daughters continued to receive text messages from their mother’s cell phone after police calculate she died. Lane was carrying it when he was arrested in California in December.
“I find that I don’t hate Michael Lane at all,” Eric says. “I hate the act. I think he should never walk among innocents again. Whatever he is, he should never be free again.”
They found him at a Motel 6 in Ventura, California, on December 3. He was booked under Ginger’s name. Her car, the Toyota SUV, was parked outside. Her stuff was in the hotel room: stereo system, laptop, credit cards, checkbook, passport. He talked with police for hours. He confessed to killing Ginger Candela. It’s unclear whether he confessed to hitting the transgender woman he met on Craigslist with Ginger’s car. Both cases have earned him an ugly set of charges: Murder with a deadly weapon, attempted murder with a deadly weapon, battery with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon, auto theft, leaving the scene of an accident.
Lane’s bail was set at $2.6 million on December 16. He can’t afford to post it.
The preliminary hearing has been set for January 11. Prosecutors have suggested they may seek the death penalty.
In California, Michael Bodhi’s old friends have gone silent. Most won’t talk to reporters. Those who will want to remain anonymous.
Nobody really understands how Michael met Ginger. Some think it was at a motivational speaking conference (subject: “think and grow rich”) in Anaheim last October. At that time, friends say, Michael Bodhi had just started to use a different name—Chae Seville. Others assume they met online, and Michael saw something he wanted in Ginger.
At the Clark County Detention Center, new inmates have their photo taken during booking. Michael looks tired in his mug shot, and slick with sweat. His beard is beginning to grow in, his eyes are fixed hard and flat, his jaw is set square and his face is blank as an empty book.