Should Fatal Encounters Fill in the Blanks on Witchcraft Slaying?

Actors portraying Angela Sanford and Joel Levya.

Through 2010, and into the beginning of 2011, I covered the case of Angela Sanford, a Wiccan who killed Joel Leyva in what some media described as a ritualistic sacrifice. While Sanford initially said the killing was in self-defense after Leyva tried to rape her, that story started to unravel when evidence surfaced that the violent encounter may have been premeditated. Ultimately, Sanford plead no contest to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Now, the story is … [Read more...]

Will Santa Muerte Spark a New Moral Panic?

Joseph Laycock, scholar and author of "Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism," examines media coverage of the killing of two boys and one woman over the span of four years in Mexico, allegedly the work of Santa Muerte cultists. Laycock's Religion Dispatches piece argues that "these murders will likely have lasting consequences for alternative religion in North America," that they are a "Manson moment" that will have potentially harmful reverberations in the years to come. "It … [Read more...]

Quick Notes: Christopher Vaughn’s Druid Beliefs, John Friend’s Scandal, and the Occult Crimes Taskforce

Image from the O.C.T. comic, featuring Sophia Ortiz/Rosario Dawson.

Just a few quick news notes for you today. Lawyers May Not Mention Druid Beliefs in Vaughn Murder Trial: Earlier this week I mentioned that lawyers for Christopher Vaughn, accused of murdering his wife and three children, were trying to block any mention of his Druid religion from court proceedings.  Public Defender Jaya Varghese said that “The word ‘Druid’ alone is prejudicial,” and would “significantly impact” his right to a fair trial. Today, Judge Daniel Rozak ruled that … [Read more...]

Updates: Georgia School Harassment Case, Saudi Arabia’s Sorcery Beheading, Peruvian Shaman Slayings, and Dan Halloran

Today I have some updates and new developments in stories previously covered here at The Wild Hunt. Georgia School Harassment Case: Last week I reported on an official joint statement sent out by the North Georgia Solitaries, Dogwood Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess, Lady Liberty League, and its parent organization, Circle Sanctuary, on the difficulties faced by the Turner family of Bowden, Georgia, whose son, Christopher (11), was facing religiously-motivated harassment … [Read more...]