A Spell Gone Bad: Witches and Pagans Again Dragged Into the Muck with A Killer

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There was a new story in my inbox this morning about a nutjob in Iowa who killed his two step-daughters. My first thought was “why was I sent this?” Then I realized that this bottom-feeder, Lawrence Douglas Harris Sr., told police that he had not, in fact, killed the girls, but instead described what happened as a spell that “had gone bad”. The “witchcraft” part was the reason my filters kicked out the story. Harris spoke extensively to the investigator about witchcraft, saying he was trying to cast a spell to help his 13-year-old stepson straighten out his life, that the spell must have reversed, killing the girls and causing a fire in the family’s basement.

Oh, yeah. That happens to me all the time. Why, the last time I tried to cast a prosperity spell in the hopes of improving my financial fortunes, six people died just in my neighborhod, and it took the fire department a week to get the blazes under control downtown.

Okay, so some people might be horrified that I’m making light of a situation in which two little girls were murdered. Hopefully no one is stupid enough to believe that their murders are the part I’m making light of.

The particulars of this case are horrifying. Firefighters found Alysha Suing, 8, and her sister, Kendra Suing, 10, dead in their second-floor bedroom while responding Jan. 6, 2008, to a report of fire in the basement of their home. Criminologist Kristan C. Evans said Alysha Suing’s DNA was found in several samples taken from Harris’ hands at the time of his arrest. Alysha Suing’s DNA also was found on the tip of an approximately 12-inch knife found on the top shelf of Harris’ bedroom closet. Another expert testified two of Harris’ fingerprints were found on the knife. Kendra Suing’s DNA was found on one of Harris’ shoes.

In his opening statement last week, Assistant County Attorney Mark Campbell told the jury Harris and his former wife, Marla Stroman, were having marital problems and implied Harris killed the girls to get back at Stroman for a suspected affair. In videotaped police interviews shown to the jury earlier this week, Harris said he was responsible for the girls’ deaths as “the spellcaster” but denied murdering them.

I assume this all means that demons leaped out of the ether or something. If they did they certainly used natural, not supernatural, means to kill the girls. Forensic pathologist Michelle Catallier, an associate state medical examiner, told the jury that Alysha Suing, who was found with a green cloth belt wrapped around her neck, had a broken neck and died of strangulation due to asphyxiation. The Irving Elementary third-grader had marks on her neck and a tear in her genital area, but investigators testified they did not find evidence of semen on either girl. Kendra Suing died of asphyxiation, Catallier testified, saying marks on the girl’s neck were consistent with the use of a woman’s slip found with the body. She also suffered two deep parallel cuts on one of her arms and a cut in her genital area.

So. This sick monster murdered two little girls. It’s a terrible thing. But why am I writing about it here? What does it have to do with PaganCentric, or the types of issues I like to talk about? Simple. It’s what else has been brought up in the trial that makes this of interest to people like me. Prosecutors brought several items into the courtroom Thursday, including a drawing of an inverted pentagram with a goat’s head inside the symbol, bells, a necklace with an inverted pentagram pendant, seven black candles and one white candle. Jurors also saw several books police say they found in the house, which included texts about casting spells, paganism, witchcraft, Marilyn Manson and the writings of occultist Aleister Crowley. Although it was referenced in court documents filed in the months leading up to the trial, police said they did not find a copy of “The Satanic Bible” in the home.

Wow. The prosectors really hit the gold-mine on this one, didn’t they? Witchcraft. Satanism. Aleister Crowley. A goat’s head. And Marilyn Manson, too! We all know what that means. Why, anyone who would read those kinds of books or listen to that kind of music is just the type of person who would murder two little girls.

Personally, as a Pagan, this offends me. Deeply. This maggot of man maintains that he cast a spell and it somehow resulted in a fire and the death of two little girls. What other evidence do you really need to determine that this guy is a mad dog that needs to be put down? Do you really need to fan the flames of hatred and intolerance by suggesting that one of the reasons he murdered those little girls was apparently because he had an interest in witchcraft? It’s not enough that the guy’s a sick fuck that could do something like that because his wife might’ve been cheating on him?

I doubt many Pagans would be surprised by this. It’s just sad that the horror of this case is been made worse by the demonization of an innocent group of people. Namely Pagans. It’s bad enough that this guy claimed he worked a spell the resulted in the death of these little girls. But by making his interest in witchcraft a centerpoint of their case against him, the prosecutors have put not only Lawrence Douglas Harris on trial, but every Pagan in this country. I think we’ve all had quite enough of that.

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About Claire

Claire Mulkieran is a teacher of Pagan-related spirituality and the unofficial patron saint of meandering misfits (or a delusional lunatic, depending upon whom you ask). If you're ready to read between the lines, consider her guiding motto; "Are you a figment of my imagination, or am I a figment or yours?" Claire is also rumored to be a glorified computer programmer by trade, but you can call her a “Systems Security Designer” (which is fancy way saying she's paid to break things).

8 Responses to A Spell Gone Bad: Witches and Pagans Again Dragged Into the Muck with A Killer

  1. Nikki December 20, 2016 at 10:54 pm #

    This is why im a solitary witch. I learn alone i practice alone, i usually stay in the shadows and just read however..i do feel compeled to give my humble opinion. I do see that we all agreed on a couple of things. First is that this puke catcher was a sick twisted idiot..second. ..its not doing witches any better. We already have a bad enough rep.
    I know im a few years short but..meh.
    We as people all believe in all sorts of different things..and thats fine. Harm none…but when it leads to killing other fellow humans ..then its not ok.

  2. Tonilyn November 19, 2013 at 5:26 am #

    Is there anyone that is willing to give me advice or at least their outlook on my situation, and genuinely knows what their doing as far as spells go. Im trying to better understand my situation in regards to an attempted love spell possibly gone wrong. Everything was done with the best intensions using white magic.

    • Nikki December 20, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

      A little late, did you figure out what went awry ?

  3. Lord Draco August 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    I was born into this life. I have never seen nor hard of living sacrifices except in Christianity. I have been in 32 diferent religions now and i have never seen this act preformed. I am a high priest in wicca , of white and black. So this man is lieing from what I see. I am not saying that he was a bad man but i have never seen this.

  4. Magistra Ygraine February 18, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    I wish I could make heads or tails of Nichole’s post. The only things I am getting clearly are that she is really pissed off, and that she seems to think that my mentioning this article and responding brought Satanism into the fray, where it would not have been had I and Harris not mentioned it. There also seems to be an accusation of victim mentality.

    Just to clarify, my position with the Church of Satan requires me to take note of when our trademarked name is mentioned in the press. That is how I discovered this case at all. Next, the Church of Satan was contacted by the defense. The Court solicited affidavits from the CoS, and I myself was mentioned in the proceedings. Do I feel “special?” Not in the small bus way Nichole may be accustomed to, but I do do feel that I serve a purpose by clarifying fact from fantasy.
    The one place where we are in staunch agreement is when she say that I/the CoS are not the victims. Those poor girls were and as a church and a religion we refused to allow that motherfucker to get off by manipulating the fears based on popular misconceptions about Satanism. So why the hostility?

    AAAAhhh, the organized religion thing.

    Well, good luck with getting around that.

    Y~

  5. Claire January 31, 2009 at 12:36 am #

    I wasn’t going to approve the comment by Magistra Ygraine because it’s nearly as long as the original article. But somehow I thought Nichole might find it illuminating to realize that a Satanist understood the point I was trying to make, and certainly didn’t take the inference that I was equating Satanism with Paganism. What Nichole clearly did not understand or take from my article was the point I was trying to make. But since “a Catholic preacher” was mentioned, I think it would be a good time to point out that when certain priests were arrested for molesting children, the Christian Bible was not introduced into evidence as proof of their depravity. Those Catholic priests were prosecuted because they were sick fucks, not because they were Christians. At no point was it suggested that because they might have drawn crosses on pieces of paper, or had in their possession books regarding prayer and spiritual warfare, or listened to Michael W. Smith CDs, that they were clearly driven by their depraved appetites to molest and murder children.

    The very point I was trying to make was the fact that having in his possession materials pertaining to witchcraft, paganism and Aleister Crowley made Lawrence Douglas Harris Sr. no more guilty of his crimes than the absence of them would have made him innocent. If such materials are used against him to obtain a conviction by playing on the fears and stereotypes of Christians in regard to Wiccans, Pagans and Satanists (who many habitually lump all together), it’s no different than putting a yellow armband around his bicep and shouting “Juden!” Lawrence Douglas Harris’ crimes are horrific enough in and of themselves to obtain a conviction, without the prosecutor needlessly resorting to stage-craft and all-to-easy provocation. And THAT was the point of what I wrote.

  6. Nichole January 30, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    Why are you seeing and missing the obvious at the same time. It was not the law who brought witchcraft into this as the issue, it was the deviant person who I hope will get his in prison. Not only that it is fully pertainent to the mental state of this man. When you are talking about a catholic preacher it matters, when you are talking about an occult leader who is engaging in sexual relations or torture, it matters. Being in the positions that they are in may just be a way to get prey or it may be a way to feel right about their sickness. It still matters, and they’re still just sick as hell and need to suffer. So with your argument you would have to say what does any of those circumstances have to do with it. Anyway they are not just talking about witchcraft they’re talking about being satanic, your the one compairing yourself! If you want to equate satanism with paganism perhaps you should rethink it. Your NOT the victim, but maybe you want t o be so you can feel a little more special, huh. For the record I can actually help you arguement by saying I don’t like organized religion or people in those positions because I think they’ve got the most t o hide, and me and mine won’t be their next prey.

  7. Magistra Ygraine January 24, 2009 at 3:13 am #

    While I certainly understand how any Pagan would be concerned, try seeing this nightmare from a Satanic point of view!
    This is one of the Church of Satan’s press releases based on this issue:
    Regarding: Lawrence Harris Trial, Sioux City, Iowa
    and the misrepresentation of the religion of Satanism

    From: Magistra Ygraine Mitchell
    Church of Satan Priesthood
    Occult/Alternative Religions Expert
    Host/Radio Free Satan “The Culture Cauldron”
    Magistra Ygraine’s Various Satanic Rants

    Contact: mitchwitch381@yahoo.com
    407-738-9752 Ygraine’s cell/voice mail

    Ever since Lawrence Harris committed the most heinous and repulsive of all crimes, Satanists have endured a continual assault against our religion, both in the media and within the courtroom. As a result, and to prevent another decade long Satanic panic Satanists are asking responsible journalists to do their jobs properly and research Satanism prior to printing/reporting any further misinformation.

    From the moment this crime was committed the Church of Satan found itself in the unenviable position of wanting to deal with Harris Satanically—meaning we want justice with no forgiveness for his horrific crimes, while in no way wanting to validate Harris’ defense.

    We are thoroughly frustrated that the most basic information about our religion and this case specifically is being ignored! The following are verifiable facts that have been ignored, either intentionally for the purpose of sensationalism, or through the ignorance and laziness of those reporting:

    1. Harris was never a member of the Church of Satan.
    2. Harris was not a Satanist.
    3. There are no rituals in The Satanic Bible that require or even imply any form of living sacrifice.
    4. There are no rituals/ceremonies in the entire canon of Satanic dogma that requires or even implies living sacrifice.
    5. Satanism prohibits the harming of children and animals.
    6. The Church of Satan does not endorse, and will terminate the membership of those who commit, criminal activity.

    After 43 years as a legal, growing religion there are hundreds of other quotes and samples of our dogma that could be used here to substantiate our point, but surely these examples would seem worthy of mention when reporters are writing about this case. There certainly has been no shortage falsehoods printed as if they were fact!

    Twenty years ago Satanists were forced to hide and were persecuted because a cottage industry sprung up where evangelists, unethical therapists, notoriety hungry authors and dubious journalists created a myth about sacrifices, breeders, and other completely untrue crimes attributed to Satanists/Satanism. The end result was thousands of NON_Satanists had their lives destroyed and many Satanists were forced underground. When the smoke cleared, with the FBI’s Lanning Report, one would have thought humanity would have learned something. Instead journalists are swallowing the same lies with the same disregard for truth. We can only hope their refusal to do the most perfunctory research, won’t again, destroy the lives of the innocent.

    The Church of Satan’s High Priest, Magus Peter Gilmore ushered in the age of Justice after 9/11. In that spirit the membership of the Church of Satan wants nothing more than to see Lawrence Harris pay dearly and brutally for his heinous and repugnant crime. One fact about the religion of Satanism that might be of interest is that Satanists do not do forgiveness, and Harris is worthy of no mercy. The same harshness however is not deserved by the many legally practicing Satanists who are being slandered and libeled each and every day.

    The information is available and it is free. Surely it isn’t too much to ask professional journalists to look at it before making statements that hurt the innocent.

    Sincerely,

    Magistra Ygraine Mitchell
    Church of Satan

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