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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.



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Photo Illustration by Alex Williams/The Daily Beast