Murders associated with the Occult are the subject of sensationalist media and some great (and a few awful) TV shows. In real life, though, most murders people imagine to be associated with the occult are pretty disappointing in that regard. Most supposedly-occult serial killers, people like the “Son of Sam” or the “Night-stalker”, were really just mentally ill individuals who created their own fantasies, but what they were doing had no grounding in anything resembling historical occultism of any kind. A lot of other supposedly ‘occult’ crimes were really just labeled that way because the killer dabbled in satanism or listened to Ozzy.
However, there were a few infamous murders in history that had a more or less real occult angle. In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at a few of those, plus one case that highlights the danger of ‘satanic panic’.
1. La Casa de Los Lamentos
Most accounts of ‘houses of horror’, however gruesome, don’t have a real ‘occult’ element to them. At least not unless you believe in ghosts. But the Casa de los Lamentos certainly does meet the bill. You might never have heard of it before, because it’s in Mexico (on the other side of that future wall).
In the city of Guanajuato, in the 1890s, the home of a well-to-do engineer named Tadeo Fuljencio Mejia became the site of horrific occult crimes.
Mejia and his wife had bought the house in 1890. But shortly thereafter, his wife was murdered in a failed mugging. She was the love of Mejia’s life, and he went mad with grief. He took on the services of a bruja, a folk-witch, in an attempt to communicate with the spirit of his dead wife. Likely inspired by ancient Aztec-themed witchcraft, he became convinced that he could commune with his lost love only through rituals of human sacrifice. For the next decade or so, he proceeded to ritually murder young men and women in the basement of his home.
His crimes were only discovered after he committed suicide. The remains of two of his victims’ corpses were found complete, but a much larger number of bone fragments were found that had apparently been disposed of by burning in his furnace. An accurate victim count has never been established, but it is believed to have likely been in the dozens.
Mejia’s home came to be known as the “Casa de los Lamentos” (the House of Lamentations), and naturally assumed by locals to be haunted by the ghosts of Mejia and his victims. It was left derelict for several decades but a few years back it was restored and turned into an incredibly cheesy thematic museum, filled with ridiculous haunted-house style spooky items in an inimitably Mexican style.
2. Adolfo Constanzo
For whatever reason, certain countries seem to be more prone to occult-themed murders. Mexico appears to be one of them. Our next case relates to Adolfo Constanzo, who was actually an American-born Cuban but moved to Mexico City in the mid-1980s. As a teen, Constanzo had become involved with sect called Palo Mayombe, which is related to Voodoo. Palo is not necessarily ‘black magic’ but has elements that could be considered sinister, and its ceremonies involve animal sacrifices. In any case, Constanzo certainly chose to go the ‘evil sorcerer’ route, and quickly gained a reputation as a powerful and amoral witch doctor. His most loyal clientele were the dealers and hit men of the Narco gangs.
Constanzo would charge exorbitant amounts of money for his magical services, to bring success and protection to his clients and harm or death to their enemies. The more intense the ceremony, the more powerful his magic spells allegedly became, so his rituals evolved from involving animal sacrifices, to grave-robbing, and eventually to human sacrifice. Soon some of the most powerful Narco-crime families of Mexico were employing him as their personal sorcerer. Constanzo and his 14 apprentices came to be known by them as a the “Narco-satanists”.
Constanzo’s undoing came about when he required a ‘superior brain’ for one of his ceremonies. To get this, his men kidnapped a young medical student; unfortunately for them, this victim was a US citizen. Under intense pressure from the US Government, Mexican authorities were reluctantly obliged to investigate. They raided Constanzo’s ranch-house and there found the remains of 15 mutilated victims, including the young medical student, who’s brain had been removed.
Constanzo had managed to escape the scene back to Mexico City, but when he spotted police near his hideout, he mistakenly assumed they had found him (in fact, they were there for unrelated reasons). He opened fire on the police with a machine gun. When backup was called and Constanzo found himself surrounded, he had one of his followers shoot him, preferring death to facing justice.
3. Adrian Lim
Adrian Lim was a Singaporean “bomoh” or “spirit man”; part of a tradition of magicians from that culture which were said to be able to communicate with the forces of nature in order to perform a variety of spells. This was said to work by the medium allowing himself to possessed by spirits, and then use that spirit’s power through his body to grant blessings, healing, wealth, fertility and good luck. But it also gave them the power to make curses.
Lim had been trained as a “bomoh” but was not really a conventional spirit-man. His magic involved a mixture of Catholic, Hindu, and traditional Siamese religious details, including the worship of an ancient Siamese ‘sex god’ named “Phra Gan”. His ‘rituals’ included a variety of cheap stage-magic tricks meant to fool the gullible, and between these supposed ‘miracles’ and his showmanship he quickly developed a small cult of mostly working-class women. Although he married one of his early clients, he also went on to have (totally non-legal) “holy marriages” with 40 other female followers as his ‘spirit wives’, with his legal wife’s consent. His criminal activities graduated from mere fraud to rape in 1980, when he had told one female client that she was cursed by an evil spirit, and proceeded to drug and rape the reluctant woman during the ‘exorcism ritual’ he was performing for her. He was arrested, but let out on bail as the investigation continued.
This is where things became truly morbid. Lim decided to engage in rituals of human child-sacrifice; depending on which theory you believe, it was either as a cynical plan to distract the police from the rape investigation, or because he truly believed that through blood-sacrifice he would be able to use his magic to thwart his enemies. He was aided in this by his wife and one of his “spirit wives”.
Their first victim was a 9 year old Christian girl, who was coerced into Lim’s apartment, drugged, raped, and ritually smothered to death. Her blood was placed on an altar of Kali as an offering, and then her naked body was dumped not far from her apartment.
Their second victim was a 10 year old Muslim boy. He was similarly led into the apartment and drugged, but woke up prematurely and began to struggle against his bonds. He was bled and then drowned in a bucket of water but as he was dying he kept thrashing, and his bodily fluids ended up scattered throughout the apartment. His naked body was also hastily deposited near their apartment, but the police quickly found a blood-spatter trail leading to Lim’s apartment block. Incredibly, Lim presented himself to police, trying to use his “holy man” act on them, and invited them into his apartment, where they quickly found traces of blood and hair from the dead boy which Lim’s wives had failed to fully clean.
The murders utterly stunned Singapore, whose strict law & order culture had the lowest crime rate in the entire region. Lim and his two female accomplices were sentenced to death by hanging.
4. Ahmad Suradji
Ahmad Suradji was an Indonesian (Sumatran) “dukun”, a shaman of that culture. In a case not unlike that of Adrian Lim, Suradji was a practitioner of a tradition of magic-men who could perform healings, blessings and curses. Part of the supposed powers of the “dukun” was being able to speak with the dead.
In 1986, Suradji had a vision of his deceased father. In that vision, his father told him that if drank the saliva of 70 dead women he would become the most powerful of healers. Thus, he started to ritually murder some of the young women who came to him as clients of his sorcerous powers. He did this by convincing them that his ritual would require them to be buried up to the waist. Once they were trapped in that way, he would strangle them to death and drink their saliva.
Suradji was found out in 1997, when a young woman disappeared after being dropped off at his house by a rickshaw driver. When the driver saw that his client was missing, he went to the police and told them that he’d dropped her off there. Suradji would strip his victims naked before disposing of the bodies, and when police searched his home they found the girl’s dress and purse there, as he’d not yet gotten rid of them.
What was truly stunning was that by the time Suradji was finally caught, he had already ritually murdered 42 girls and women. When he was found out, Suradji willingly confessed to the crimes, but was very concerned about making it clear that it was not his dead father’s fault; his father’s ghost had not told him to kill anyone, but Suradji felt that without killing, it would take him too long to taste the saliva of 70 dead women.
He was sentenced to execution by firing squad.
5. Varg Vikernes
The story of Varg Vikernes took place in the context of the utterly insane “Black Metal” Scandinavian music scene of the early 1990s. It involves Nazis, Satanists, and a spree of church-burnings.
Norway was the birthplace of “Black Metal”, which was kind of the last thing you’d expect from the land of soft-spoken polite feminists and Socialized Everything. Or maybe that’s exactly why. In any case, there were some very, very angry young musicians around at the time, that decided that cacophonous screeching and excessively fast distorted guitar play just wasn’t enough, you also needed face-paint and felonies.
The earliest Black Metal musicians put on occult airs in the same way many heavy metal musicians do, they sing about satan worship and black sabbaths but don’t really mean it or know anything real about it. But somehow, at some point shortly thereafter a number of musicians who really DID mean it jumped into the movement, and soon a totally new legit denomination of theistic, anti-egalitarian and totalitarian Satanism had become intrinsically tied to the Black Metal genre.
Enter Varg Vikernes. He had a somewhat different idea of what the main religion of the Black Metal scene should be. Although he initially played along with the Satanic trappings, Vikernes was already a Neo-Nazi by the time he’d started performing, and it would later become evident that he actually despised Satanists because “Satan” was still a figure from “Christianity” which was itself a “Jewish Religion”. He wanted Metal (and, well, everything else) to center around the bullshit mythological Thulean myths of Nazi Occultism.
At first he did try to find some common ground with the Satanist superstars of the Black Metal scene. They both hated churches a lot, so when 50 churches were victims of arson attacks (several of them burning to the ground) and it became clear that Vikernes was the prime suspect, he became something of a hero to the movement. Vikernes was arrested and charged with several church burnings, but was released shortly after.
At this point Vikernes started getting into some serious confrontations with the other Black Metal stars, particularly Oystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, possibly the most central individual in the entire scene, and a dedicated Satanist. Ironically, he had been Vikernes’ early mentor in the scene and helped him become popular. There were various reasons for the rivalry, but one of them was very likely a religious difference and what Euronymous and others felt was an intrusion of Neo-Nazi ‘heathen’ occultism attempting to steal the musical scene from the theistic Satanists. Vikernes’ growing influence was likely making Euronymous concerned that it would also translate to more and more of the Black Metal scene becoming Neo-Nazi “Odinists” and abandoning Satan.
This all came to a head when Vikernes decided to kill Euronymous, probably to get rid of his greatest obstacle to his plan of Neo-Nazi doimination of the scandinavian Metal scene. Working with a pair of acolytes, one as his accomplice at the scene, and the other to stay behind and pay Vikernes’ bills for him and watch TV in his apartment so that it would look like he’d never left town, Vikernes drove from Bergen to Euronymous’ apartment in Oslo, and stabbed him 23 times. Ridiculously, he would later try to claim that he did so in ‘self defence’.
When Vikernes was arrested, police found 3000 rounds of ammo and and over 300lbs of explosives in his home, which he was apparently planning to use to execute a terrorist attack on a local socialist/anarchist youth center that was heavily active in anti-Nazi campaigning.
Vikernes was eventually sentenced to 21 years in prison for murder, the arson of multiple churches, theft, and possession of illegal explosives. In prison he became a major author of neo-nazi literature. In 2003, only 10 years into his sentence, the Norwegian government let him go on leave. He promptly ran off, hijacking a car with children on board at gunpoint, and attempted to flee, having clearly received assistance from Neo-Nazis on the outside. He was recaptured less than a day later, and sent back to jail.
In the USA, that would be pretty well the end of the story, but namby-pamby Norway actually released him again just six years later in 2009, this time permanently, having served only 15 years for murder, arson, attempted terrorism, escaping leave, and armed kidnapping.
He has since moved to France, and has published several albums with Nazi folk-mystic themes. Unfortunately for the hobby I’m a part of, this piece of human garbage also produced a disgusting tabletop RPG based on the idiotic myths of ‘ancient Thule’ and Aryan supremacy.
6. The West Memphis Three
The Vikernes case was a ‘heavy metal’ murder connected to real occultism, both Nazi and Satanic, but the final entry of this article is here to make a point that most murder-cases that involve rock music or ‘satanism’ aren’t actually the real thing at all. And sometimes, the sensationalism involving ‘satanic panic’ can lead to miscarriages of justice.
In 1993 in West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year old boys went missing. After a large scale search, tragically the boys were found, dead in a drainage ditch. They were naked and had been hogtied, and one boy’s genitals had been mutilated (although it’s possible that might have been later animal predation). While the conditions of the bodies was clearly horrific, there was no evidence of any overtly occult element to the crime.
Investigators quickly expressed an interest in the possibility of three local youths as suspects. Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley were known as the local troublemakers, having been caught shoplifting and engaging in vandalism. They were also known to just not fit in with the heavily religious Bible-belt culture of West Memphis, and Echols was known to have an interest in occult subjects, which led to suspicions the boys were “Satanists”.
In spite of receiving reports of an unknown disoriented-looking adult man having wandered into a local restaurant with blood-stained clothing, local police felt so sure that the ‘satanists’ had done it that they focused their entire investigation on the trio.
They took all three boys in for questioning, and in the case of Misskelley, who had an IQ that was borderline mentally-handicapped, they grilled him for 12 hours straight until he confessed to the killing. This was combined with the highly confused ‘testimony’ of an 8 year old playmate of the victims who claimed that he saw the boys die, and when given leading questions ended up claiming that he’d seen them murdered in a satanic ritual. There was also the testimony of Vicki Hutcheson, an acquaintance of Damien Echols; she was facing charges for stealing money from her work, and in exchange for having the charges against her lifted she testified that Echols had confessed the killings to her. Years later, she would completely recant her testimony, admitting they were all lies.
All three teens were tried in 1994 for the murders, in an atmosphere of Satanic Panic and massive media coverage. The hysteria plus the coerced confession, dubious testimony of a child, and false testimony of a criminal led to all three being convicted; there were also claims by the accused that police officers made false testimony regarding untaped conversations they had with the teens. Echols was sentenced to death, and the other two were sentenced to 20 years and Life.
All three were finally granted a retrial, where they made a deal to an Alford Plea (basically accepting a ‘guilty’ verdict while continuing to protest their innocence) and were sentenced in 2011 to the time they had already served (which by then had been over 18 years), allowing them to go free.
The real killer of three little boys in West Memphis was never found, because of crooked police and a community obsessed with moral panic fueled by fantasies of satanic cults.