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Religious Tolerance logo


Misinformation about Wicca, a Neopagan religion

Part 1 of 2: 2015-AUG: A Florida sheriff refers
to a triple murder near the time of a
"blue moon" as a "Wiccan ritual killing."

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full moon Recent historical information about ritual abuse and murder -- "The Satanic Panic:"

A book, titled "Michelle Remembers," was published during 1980, It discussed the horrendous memories recalled by a young woman during recovered memory therapy (RMT). They were of extreme forms of ritual abuse. Unfortunately, at the time, therapists did not realize how easy it was to induce memories of events that never happened into the brains of suggestible clients.

These recovered false memories of abuse triggered a widespread "Satanic Panic" which continued until the late 1990s. It included beliefs that a massive network of underground and sometimes inter-generational Satanic cults were murdering as many as 60,000 people per year. The cults were also believed to be sexually and physically abusing many additional victims. A lot of their victims were believed to be children. No dead bodies were ever found. However, this was often explained away with the assumption that Satanist had arranged with local crematoria to have the bodies of their victims cremated and thus destroy any evidence.

The panic declined rapidly a decade later because of lack of hard evidence that it had ever existed. However, some religious conservatives still believe that Satanists are profoundly evil, that they worship the Devil, and perform evil deeds up to and including ritual murder. Some people with these beliefs also do not differentiate between Wicca which is a neo-pagan, earth-centered, and gentle faith, and a version of Satanism that was believed to be active during the 16th Century. The latter never actually existed. However, it was believed at the to be extremely widespread and abusive. The Christian Church burned at the stake, hung, or drowned tens of thousands of suspected Satan worshipers from the 16th to the 18th century.

Currently, mental health professionals know a great deal more about the dangers of implanting false memories into their clients. Recovered memory therapy has been abandoned by almost all therapists and is rarely discussed today. Unfortunatley, many former client-victims of recovered memory therapists continue to have false memories of abuse which are just as distressing and damaging as real memories.

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A multiple murder in Florida is attributed to a "Wiccan ritual killing:"

An isolated case of this belief surfaced on 2015-JUL-31, amost two decades after the "Satanic Panic" had subsided. Voncile Smith, 77, and her two sons, Richard, 49, and John, 47, were found murdered in their home in Pensacola, FL. The police believe that the trio were murdered sometime after 7 PM on JUL-28. Sheriff David Morgan described the brutal murders as part of a:

"... ritualistic Wiccan killing."

He concluded that Wicca was involved because of the:

"... method of the murder, blunt force traumas, slit throats, positions of bodies and then our person of interest has some ties to a faith or religion that is indicative of that.

Those of you that follow any of that will also note that at the time of death we believe on Tuesday it also coincides with what’s referred to as a blue moon."

According to the police, the murders happened on the evening of JUL-28, but the blue moon happened on JUL-31, three days later.

He also said:

"“It’s witchcraft, I’ll say that right now. You know, there are different factions of that [religon]. While it doesn’t bother me to release that particular thing, we most assuredly do not want to defame or demean any particular practice, if you will."

He seems to be saying that not all Wiccans engage in ritualistic mass murder, but that some denominations or traditions within Wicca do.

Spokesperson for the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Andrew Hobbes said of the brutal murder:

"It appears that this might be connected to some type of Wiccan ritual killing and possibly tied to the blue moon."

When asked why he associated the multiple murders with Wiccans, he responded:

"The elements of the case are odd at best. The injuries to the victims, the positions of the bodies and also the person of interest right now is a [Wiccan] practitioner."

Ken Lester, a neighbor of murder victims, said:

"It's frightening to think about. Especially when you have small children. To find out that it was this weird, satanic cult, witchcraft whatever, is just really unsettling." 1,2,3,4,5

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Responses to the article in People.com:

Many readers of the article responded negatively to the police allegation that one or more Wiccans were involved in the triple murder. There were no readers' comments in support of the police theory. 3 Some were:

  • "Amanda" posted:

    Any Wiccans better hide. Looks like the witch trials are coming back. Wiccans don't kill or harm. Heck Christians have killed more than Wiccans.

  • Ashley Adams posted:

    "This is ridiculous. Wiccans do not believe in any kind of violence, much less human sacrifice."

  • Stephanie Zimmerman posted:

    "This is BS. Wiccans worship nature. Wiccans believe any bad thing you do to someone else will come back to you two times worse. Wiccans do not do sacrifices or anything like that."

Webmaster's note:

    Actually, Wiccans do not worship nature. They respect nature and observe its cycles. Also, the Threefold Law of Wicca states that any harm a person does is returned to them three times over. Wiccans sometimes sacrifice living entities, but never higher on the evolutionary scale than an apple.

  • "Lisa9fan" posted:

    "This is absolutely asinine. Wiccans do not believe in violence like this. I am Wiccan and those I know who are would never do anything like this. Our belief is do no harm to others. I absolutely live by those rules. Maybe the Sheriff needs to do some research before spewing words of hate like this."

  • Autumn Michelle Basham posted:

    "Really? Someone must not have paid attention in history class. Cuz if they had, then they'd know that Wiccans don't like guns & don't do violence to ANY degree. This pointing the finger crap when you have no conclusive evidence is getting old & gives that police department a bad name."

  • "Elarie" posted:

    "Apparently IQ tests aren't required for Florida sheriffs." 3

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This topic concludes in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Erin Calibers, "'Wiccan Ritual Killing' Leaves Family of Three Dead in Pensacola: Police," NBC News, 2015-AUG-04, at: http://www.nbcnews.com/
  2. "Wiccan killing: Florida family faced terror-filled final night," Rebar. 2015-AUG-05, at: http://www.breitbart.com/
  3. Tara Fowler, "Mother and 2 Sons Found with Throats Slit in Florida Were Killed in Wiccan Blue Moon Ritual, Cops Say," People, 2015-AUG-05 at: http://www.people.com/
  4. Meg Wagner & Tobias Salinger, "Florida mom, sons found with slit throats may have been victims of ‘Wicca ritual killing’ tied to blue moon," NU Daily News, 2015-AUG-05, at: http://www.nydailynews.com/
  5. Nicky Woolf, "Wicca experts denounce Florida sheriff for linking triple murder to 'witchcraft'," The Guardian, 2015-AUG--5, at: http://www.theguardian.com/

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2015-AUG-10-
Latest update : 2015-AUG-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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