Satanic Panic hits Florida
Satanic Panic Strikes After Gory Florida Murders
There’s only thin evidence that a triple-homicide with slit throats was related to witchcraft, but police and the media are acting like the devil has landed.
Three throats were slit in Pensacola, Florida, under a full moon. Was it witchcraft?
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan thinks so, and the press conference he gave, calmly and methodically, has now made the rounds on the Internet, where the response has been anything but calm. Witchcraft!
When you look at the evidence has been released, however—bearing in mind that there may be more that the ongoing investigation has not yet made public—it seems quite scant. What is evident is the resemblance to the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, during which dozens of cases of “Satanism” were investigated, countless sensational news programs were created—and yet hardly any Satanic crimes actually took place.
What the sheriff’s department has made known is this: Three people, 77-year-old Voncile Smith and her two adult children—one of whom worked for the Department of Homeland Security—were savagely murdered in Smith’s home on Friday. The DHS worker, 47-year-old Richard Thomas Smith, was shot in the head. But the other two victims were beaten to death with a hammer, and then had their throats cut.
Moreover, the sheriff’s department says, the three bodies were arranged in a specific way—and the killing took place around the time of the “blue moon.” And the person of interest in the killing apparently has ties to Wicca.
In sum, “initial research has led us to believe it was a ritualistic killing,” Morgan said. “The method of the murder—blunt force trauma, slit throats, positioning of bodies—and our person of interest has some ties to a faith or religion that is indicative of that. The time of the death on Tuesday also coincides with what’s referred to as a blue moon, which occurs every three years.”
Well, wait a minute. First, the blue moon was Friday, not Tuesday. If this were a ritualistic murder, the specific time would matter. There’s no “around the time of” in nature-based religions.
Second, this pattern actually has nothing to do with contemporary paganism. Dr. Gwendolyn Reece, whose research at American University focuses on the phenomenon, told the BBC that “if [the sheriff’s department] had done even a modicum of research it would be clear this had nothing to do with paganism.”