Get ready for some Satanic Panic.

In Pensacola, Florida, 77 year old Voncile Smith and her two adult sons, Richard Thomas Smith (aged 47 and an employee of the Department of Homeland Security) and John William Smith (aged 49) were found murdered in their home.  The immediate cause of death for all three victims was blunt force trauma, said to have been caused by a claw hammer, but all three also had their throats slit.  The Smiths’ home was not robbed and there was no indication of forced entry– an interesting detail since the Smiths were known to be “reclusive.”  In a local press conference, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan stated, “It’s witchcraft.  I’ll say that right now.”

While this mode of thinking may be considered to be a relic of the past, this murder, and that seemingly ludicrous statement by the county sheriff, didn’t happen during the 1970’s Satanic Panic.  The Smiths were murdered last week.

Sheriff Morgan and the investigators attached to the case believe that this is connected to some form of witchcraft because of the ritualistic way the Smiths were killed, the postmortem positioning of the bodies as discovered at the crime scene, and the fact that the murders coincided with the blue moon, which happens every three years.  The investigators have already identified a person of interest, who has been described as a white man known to practice witchcraft.

In an effort to be diplomatic and to quell any literal witch-hunts in the county, Sheriff Morgan stated that not every practitioner, in any religion or religious sect, behaves in such fundamentalist or murderous fashions.  He disclosed that he has family members who practice Pentecostal Christianity, sans snake-handling and strychnine consumption.

In addition to the sheriff’s statement, a petition on Change.org has been started to combat harmful anti-Wicca/ anti-Pagan sentiments; representatives and experts of the religion maintain that ritual murder is not now, nor has ever been, related to the practice of Wicca, which holds the key principle “If it harm none, do as you will.”  Furthermore, this crime is also not likely to be associated with Satanism or The Satanic Temple (which, by the way, is pretty damn rad).

Whether or not this triple-homicide is truly connected to witchcraft, the occult, or any other spiritual practice, we can expect that the reaction from religious zealots, fundamentalists, and conspiracy theorists will be swift, loud, and misinformed.  As this is an ongoing investigation, further information and details are not yet available, but we will do our best to keep you updated with any future developments.

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