March 9, 2010— -- Michael Goucher was found dead in the woods last February after having been stabbed with a knife and a meat cleaver more than 20 times. The two men arrested in connection with the attack on the 21-year-old called themselves "Juggalos."
"We've got multiple individuals committing gang-related crimes, gang-motivated crimes and they're using the name Juggalo," said Arizona Department of Public Safety Detective Michelle Vasey.
Tony Locascio, 21, was left to die, wearing only his boxer shorts after being beaten with baseball bats more than 70 times. He called himself a "Juggalo," but it's alleged he snitched and lost his life for that.
Juggalos are devoted followers of one of the most successful music acts that you've likely never heard of -- the Insane Clown Posse, or ICP. The Detroit-based duo is part of a hip-hop genre called Horrorcore -- music that celebrates murder, suicide and decapitation.
The ICP's latest album, "Bang Pow Boom," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard independent chart. Not a single track was played on mainstream radio or on television, because the material was deemed too offensive.
"Our stuff is so unique because it's not on the radio, it's not on video channels and all that," said ICP member Joseph Bruce, who goes by his on-stage alter ego Violent J. "You have never heard no s--t like this. That's why our word of mouth works so well, because we're so different than everything that's on MTV."
"Nightline" visited the Detroit set of the ICP's music video shoot for a song called, "In Yo Face," whose lyrics at first brush seem like they characterizes a brutal assault with hatchet and axes.
The lyrics are undeniably graphic: "Bang to the pow, Wang to the mouth, Boom go tha wicked clowns southwest style. From Pluto to your anus, we are underground famous..."
But when we asked Violent J about the vulgar verse, he told us they were "dope."
"Welcome to the world of rap," he said. "Maybe it's not your cup of tea; it probably sounds ridiculous to you. ...Your music probably sounds ridiculous to me."
These lyrics -- which sound almost like nursery rhymes laced with murder -- make the ICP $10 million a year. They've earned two platinum and three gold albums and have made themselves into a brand, producing masses of "Hatchet Gear" merchandise trademarked with a man brandishing a hatchet.
Insane Clown Posse: 'We're About Theatrics'
And then, there are the concerts. "Nightline" attended a show in Richmond, Va., where the ICP duo arrived at the venue packing.
"We bring three semis, three busses, and we bring clowns, a ringmaster, show girls, monsters," said Violent J. "We bring everything we can because we're about show business, we're about theatrics."
Their performances are carefully choreographed events, performed at full throttle for their dedicated fans -- the Juggalos.
"Most kids working all week at Taco Bell and he's going to buy a ticket for $25, $30, you don't want to see some a--hole up there sitting on a stool, playing a guitar. You want to see a show," said Joseph Utsler, the second half of the ICP pair, who's on-stage persona is "Shaggy 2 Dope."
"We are constantly an inch away from passing out," Violent J said.
"Many times I walk off the stage and puke," Shaggy 2 Dope added.
After two support acts, the duo prepared to unleash themselves on stage with an entrance marked by the thunderous sound of bass and pyrotechnics.
During the show, the Juggalos are transported, erupting when Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope let it all rip. Their set climaxes with a routine in which 800 bottles of fizzy Faygo soda are unleashed on the audience.
While the music has fans invigorated, its message has raised eyebrows among law enforcement.
"We can't necessarily say that [the music's] to blame. But I think it definitely does have some influences," said Vasey, who came across the Juggalos in Arizona. "As an officer we have to decide when we're talking to these guys, who do we need to worry about and who don't we need to worry about."
After a series of murders and other violent acts linked to their followers, Juggalos are now classified as a gang in Utah, Arizona and Monroe County, Pa.
"I don't want people to go out there and look at every Juggalo and say, 'Oh, he's a gang member, he's got a machete and he's going to slice and dice everybody,'" Vasey said. "But people need to be aware that there are huge issues that have evolved in just the last three years both in the eastern and western United States where we've got multiple individuals committing gang-related crimes, gang-motivated crimes, and they're using the name Juggalo."
Police Say Homicides Linked to Juggalos
In connection with the murder of Goucher, Shawn Freemore, one of the accused, was wearing an ICP T-shirt at the time of his arrest and police say he wrote a rap about the alleged killing: "Sitting here quietly thinking about my sin, Over and over about the knife going in. I try to comprehend exactly what we did, Just stealing the life of some poor kid."
"Some of the homicides that we're seeing with these guys are pretty nasty, gruesome, disgusting homicides," Vasey said. "Where they don't care who's around, what's around, they're just out to kill anybody."
The crimes are mounting. Horrorcore rapper Sam McCroskey, also known as "Syko Sam," was charged last October with the brutal murder of his girlfriend and three others in Farmville, Va.
"There are Horrorcore rap artists out there that have no boundaries to what they say," Violent J said. "They talk about skinning babies and killing, anything they can possibly think of that horrible and grotesque, they rap about it. But ICP is a little more classy than that."
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope said their lyrics about rape, violence and murder -- including the song, "I'm Gonna Kill You" -- are strictly for entertainment and that they don't condone violence.
"If you're a kind of murderer to begin with, it might affect you," Violent J said. "But everybody else, I could take you to Wal-Mart and show you some pretty scaring sounding horror movies. Just by their name, P.S. I'll Kill You."
We asked Violent J about another disturbing string of lyrics he raps about stabbing people: "I stab people, 4 or 5 people every day. I'd like to see a shrink to stop that s--t, but it ain't no f--king way."
He said the verse might speak to his "subconscious anger, but not in real life."
"We're sitting here in clown paint, we're entertainers," Violent J said. "Anybody who reads that or hears that and takes that seriously, needs to seek help."
"Needs to see a shrink," Shaggy 2 Dope added.
On the serious criminal acts and murders that officials claim are connected in some way to the Juggalos or the ICP, Violent J denied the connection, "Bulls--t, it's not true."
Both performers said individuals who listened to their music and committed these assaults were "insane to begin with."
"Individuals who listen to our music? Come on, man, who else do they listen to? Why don't you blame them?" Violent J said.
"There's a bad apple in every bunch, so you know if that kid's got a screw loose, it might take something else to set him off, not us," added Shaggy 2 Dope.
Violent J conceded that some Juggalos have likely perpetrated murders and acts of violence.
"Out of millions and millions that have bought our albums -- some of them have probably committed horrendous crimes," Violent J said.
After 90 minutes, the show ended and the duo was escorted away -- drenched in Faygo and sweat.
There remains no definitive evidence that watching a horror movie, playing a violent video game or listening to the Insane Clown Posse actually causes people to go commit crimes.
"I think Juggalos are all very smart men, like they're wiser people than that. They're smarter," Violent J said.
But others, like Vasey, argue that the ICP, knowing the devotion of their Juggalo fans, should take more responsibility for their violent lyrics.
"They've got so much influence, so much influence especially on these younger kids," she said. "If they could use what they have and the power through music even, they could change and influence these young kids' lives."
Though they sing about homicide and hatchets, this band of rappers wanted to make their position absolutely clear.
"We're not encouraging anybody," Violent J said. "We're sitting here telling the world we have face paint on. If any of our fans kill anybody, please don't buy any more of our f--king records. Get out of our lives. You're a sicko."