Premeditated Wiccan Sacrifice?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 9, 2010 — 14 Comments

A new development in the Angela Sanford case, a Wiccan who claims to have killed  Joel Leyva in self-defense during a Spring ritual gone awry, seems to point to the murder being premeditated.

A self-described Wiccan had a man’s phone number programmed in her cell phone under the word “sacrifice” before she stabbed him to death, then claimed he had tried to rape her, authorities said Thursday. Angela Sanford, 30, is accused of killing 52-year-old Joel Leyba last month with a dagger after inviting him to join her in a Wiccan celebration of spring near a popular hiking trail east of Albuquerque. “It makes us absolutely confident there was something more here than her claims of self-defense,” said Patrick Davis, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County district attorney’s office.”

This is a pretty damning revelation, and one that would erase any claims of self-defense or even a temporary trauma-related psychotic break. There has been no comment from Sanford’s court-appointed defense team.

While the local Albuquerque Pagan community say that Sanford was all but unknown to them, and have been working to educate the local police about Pagan faiths,  this will surely prompt a new firestorm of sensationalist press, and opportunistic editorials from folks like Chuck Colson wanting to prove that polytheistic faiths are inherently, violently, sacrifice-oriented. You can also bet the network of “occult experts” who talk to law enforcement officials will be having a field day with this.

The important thing right now is to let the legal process move forward, assist law enforcement when they ask for information, and not rise to the temptation of engaging in any public speculation to the press as to why this murder was committed. We don’t know Sanford’s mental state, we aren’t sure what she actually believes, if she believes in anything at all, and we have no idea what actually transpired on the day of the killing.

What we can do if the press comes calling is to state that no modern Pagan faith teaches or condones premeditated or ritual murder, that we have no information as to what Sanford’s belief system was, and we aren’t willing to offer conjecture as to why she felt the need, if true, to “sacrifice” Joel Leyva. Anything else will simply muddy the waters and provide ammunition for those wanting to turn this into a “Wiccan killing”.

You can read all my previous coverage of this story, here.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • paganwise

    Sacrifice is an act to make sacred the offering unto the god[s]. This was not a sacrifice, if that is what is to be found as the motive of this murder. In classical culture only the worthy would be made sacrifice be they a worthy, defeated enemy, a great warrior, a king, or an unblemished animal. Today, most of us do not make blood sacrifice for one reason or another, as you are all well aware, but it is a lack of honest knowledge coupled with a very unhealthy mind and the sensationalism that lead to this act. Saddly, it will only lead to more poor information and sensationalism.

    • She got him to tie her up, untie her and then let her get on top of him. Sounds like a defeat to me.

  • Ash

    Well, at least they're using "se'f-described" accurately in this case.

  • I said no "modern" Pagan faith.

  • Great! More positive press!

  • RedeanSidhe

    Seriously, we don’t need any negative press like this. People love turning it into a witch hunt.

  • leea

    It’s already been televised on my local news channel, and I’m in Ohio. The media seems to be reporting the same old not-accurate info about Wicca here, so far, with no clarification of what Pagan religion is all about. I’m starting to think we need some sort of active “anti-defamation” league, consisting of knowledgeable reps from at least the majority Pagan faiths to send decent info to news outlets when this stuff is reported. They may choose not to use it, but then we can come back with that, too (you had reliable info, why didn’t you use it, sensationalization, etc..). Also, I wonder-the more we’re pushed into closets, the harder we are to find-will there be more misinformation? More psychotic wannabe’s who act out ? Hmmm…

  • "the sky is green"
    what a perfect way to describe it!

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The most important question is whether she's being tried as a witch or as a homicide defendant.

  • Wow..this is going to be really public soon. It may be fascinating to find out what the media will do.

  • True dat.

  • Well said!

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