Religious Tolerance logo


horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

One of the seven classifications of ritual abuse that we have identified is perpetrated by psychotic or psychopathic individuals, or by people pretending to be serial murderers. Some contain Satanic symbolism. We do not consider this to be Satanic Ritual Abuse because either:
bullet The acts are primarily motivated by the perpetrator's mental illness, not any Satanic religious beliefs, or
bullet The stories they tell to explain their actions are fictional. 

Some examples are:

bullet Sandy Charles, 14, of Saskatoon, SK, Canada stabbed and smothered a 7 year old boy in La Ronge SK on 1995-JUL-8. He and an 8 year old accomplice carved 10 to 15 strips of flesh and fat from the body. He took the body parts home, cooked them, and ate them. Charles was suffering from bizarre delusions and becoming schizophrenic when he watched the movie Warlock and its sequel Warlock II at least 10 times. One media source also quotes The Exorcist. The Warlock series are horror movies which describe Gothic Satanist rituals and concepts, including the belief that if a person drinks the liquefied fat of an unbaptised child, they would gain special powers - in this case, the power to fly. He told the police "There's a spirit in my room that gave me these thoughts". He had been contemplating suicide but a voice told him that it might be just as good to kill someone else. At his trial in 1996-JUN, a psychiatrist testified that the accused "did not see the victim as human but as an object whose death was necessary to fulfill his deluded plan". On 1996-AUG-2, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge concluded that Sandy Charles "was suffering from a mental disorder so as to be exempt of criminal responsibility".

There was no organized Satanic group involved in this murder. Charles was driven by his own delusions and mental illness, rather than by any religious belief in Satanism. The source of the child's particular delusions were based on the "Gothic Satanism" hoax promoted by the movies. That hoax is in turn based on late Middle Age and Renaissance beliefs which are unrelated to Satanism and Witchcraft as they were practiced, then or now.

horizontal rule

bullet Richard Ramirez has been called "the chief example of a serial killer with Satanic overtones". 1 He was named The Night Stalker from his habit of randomly entering homes at night and murdering and/or raping people who lived there. He created Satanic graffiti in the homes which he entered, made some of his female victims swear allegiance to Satan and showed an inverted pentagram on the palm of his hand during the trial. He apparently was not involved in any Satanic group. His crimes seem to have been influenced by a heavy metal rock song "Highway to Hell".

horizontal rule

Sponsored link:

horizontal rule

bullet David Berkowitz is a serial killer who is called The Son of Sam. The author of a book claimed that he was a member of The Process Church and that Berkowitz was a look-out who did not take part in all of the killings. 2 The Church was incorrectly described as being Satanic; they were in fact a Christian sect. The police investigation revealed that he was in fact a lone murderer. Berkowitz has since claimed to have been a Satanist, and to have converted to Evangelical Christianity in prison. He claimed that the "Sam" in "Son of Sam" came from the name of the Celtic God of the Dead, Samhain (which he pronounced "Sam-hane"). His story is suspect, because his pronunciation of the name of the holiday is incorrect, the Celts never had a God of the Dead, there is no God called "Samhain" and because Satanists do not worship or recognize Celtic Gods. In reality, Samhain means "end of summer", was a Celtic seasonal day of celebration, and remains a Wiccan Sabbat. It would appear that Berkowitz developed his Satanic story after reading some anti-Wiccan publications.

horizontal rule

bullet Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr., Damien Echols, and Charles Jason Baldwin were found guilty of the assault, rape, mutilation and murder of three 8 year old boys in the West Memphis AR area on 1993-MAY-5. Much controversy exists over these convictions. A movie called "Paradise Lost, The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills" was released in early 1997. It was written and directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. Like their earlier film, Brother's Keeper, this movie was described as "a doorway into a kind of social investigation of a community under siege." 3

There was considerable publicity in the press about this case. Newspapers and other media often did not differentiate between Wicca, other Neo-pagan religions, religious Satanism and evil Satanic cults that were believed by local residents to be active thoroughout the country. Considerable anger was directed by members of the public at a variety of Neo-Pagan religions during the investigation and trial of this case. The hatred erupted into an attempted mass execution by stoning during a march which was organized to promote religious tolerance and freedom in nearby Jonesboro AR. Many deaths would probably have resulted, if it were not for the prompt and action of over 5 area police forces who protected the demonstrators.

We conclude that there was no significant linkage to any Satanic group in this case, and that the crimes were perpetrated by one or more sexually sadistic psychopaths. Whether the convicted trio are guilty of the crime is debatable. A detailed description of the crime and trial is available.

horizontal rule


Some of these murders appear to be linked primarily to the mental illness of the perpetrators. That is, the mental illness comes first; it then leads to an interest in Satanism. In other cases, the Satanism connection is claimed only after the criminal is caught; he uses it to support his "the Devil made me do it" defense. Sometimes, the Satanic link is provided by sensational reporting in the media. These murders were caused by the mental illness or homicidal behavior of the perpetrator, not the Satanism.

There is abundant evidence that a small number of individuals suffering from a psychosis or who are psychopaths sometimes kill others ritually. One or two cases a year surface in North America. Other murders are accidental, having been caused by brutal beatings or suffocation which occur during Christian exorcisms. These also are quite rare -- perhaps on  a year is reported in the media. So the problem is thankfully uncommon (when compared to the approximately 30,000 annual homicides in the US and Canada).

horizontal rule


  1. Sorry, we have lost the citation.
  2. Maury Terry, "The Ultimate Evil," (1989).
  3. Liam Lacy, Film Critic, The Globe and Mail, Toronto ON, 1997-FEB-21, P. C3

horizontal rule

Copyright 1996 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-JAN-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or go to the Satanic ritual abuse menu, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.