Three Have Throats Slit in Possible Witchcraft-Related Murders


An elderly woman and her two middle-aged sons were found hammered to death with their throats slit in their Pensacola, Florida, home last Friday in what may have been a ritualistic killing associated with witchcraft.

Voncile Smith, 77, Richard Thomas Smith, 49, and John William Smith, 47, were discovered by police in positions that suggested a connection with witchcraft, and that suspicion was heightened by the fact that last Friday marked an appearance of a “blue moon.” Blue moons occur when two full moons appear within the same calendar month.

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Andrew Hobbes told NBC News, “It appears that this might be connected to some type of Wiccan ritual killing and possibly tied to the blue moon.” He doubled down on that point, adding, “The injuries to the victims, the positions of the bodies and also the person of interest right now is also a practitioner.”

Hobbes said Richard Smith worked for Homeland Security, and when he did not show up for work, a supervisor contacted the sheriff’s office, prompting the discovery of the bodies. Richard Smith was also shot in the head in what police believe was an attempt to make sure he did not survive.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan was careful to eschew blaming any specific form of witchcraft, saying, “There are different factions of (witchcraft). While it doesn’t bother me to release that particular thing, I most assuredly do not want to defame or demean any particular practice.”

Morgan said the victims were murdered with a claw hammer, adding, “Initial research has led us to believe that there was a potential that it was a ritualistic killing… The elements of the case are odd at best.” Sena Madison, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office told CNN there were “some indications in the investigation that witchcraft may have been involved.”

There were no signs of a forced entry or a robbery at the home. Queried by investigators, neighbors of the Smiths who had lived near them for years said they were extremely reclusive and unknown to them.

In 2008, the American Religious Identification Survey estimated the number of Wiccans in America at 342,000 in 2008.

According to Margaret Studer, writing for, the blue moon’s significance for witchcraft can be explained this way:

There is one even more important factor in the blue moon’s influence than those mentioned above. It is the most important factor of all. That is the mindset of those conducting the spell or ritual. In other words, in pagan magic, many things simply mean what you think they do. Your belief is the main influence on the spells you cast and the rituals you perform.


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