Florida triple murder may have been ritualistic killing: police

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Blue Moon Triple Homicide Believed to Be Ritualistic

A Florida woman and her two adult sons were killed in their Pensacola home in what investigators believe was a ritualistic murder linked to last week's "blue moon," police said on Tuesday.

The victims, identified as Voncile Smith, 77, John William Smith, 49, and Richard Thomas Smith, 47, were found dead on Friday, three days after police believe someone the family knew entered the home and killed them as part of a witchcraft ritual.

"The elements of this case are odd, at best," Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told a news conference.

"We have a very reclusive family. Obviously we've canvassed the neighborhood, spoken to people who've lived there for years and years. Neighbors have related to us that they've never met members of this family," he said.

All three victims had their throats slit and were bludgeoned with what was believed to be a claw hammer, Morgan said, and Richard Thomas Smith, a Department of Homeland Security employee, was also shot in the head, perhaps to incapacitate him before the murders.

See developments from the ongoing investigation:

'Ritualistic' killings may be tied to blue moon
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Florida triple murder may have been ritualistic killing: police
Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies talk with an unidentified man on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, outside the Pensacola-area home where three family members were found dead on July 28. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan has said investigators believe the three may have been victims of a ritualistic killing. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson-Gabriel)
Sheriff: 'Ritualistic' killings may be tied to blue moon - http://t.co/lCzn21xlrM (Ben Twingley/Pensacola News/AP) http://t.co/SFidX2CpBt
Killing of 77-year-old woman and her sons in Fla. investigated as possible ritual killing linked to blue moon: http://t.co/2dxOPjM880
Three dead in possible blue moon 'Wiccan ritual killing' http://t.co/RwVZiuuGiT http://t.co/W3qeFdnynq
Witchcraft suspected in murder of family of 3 http://t.co/AJlxoiCFnI http://t.co/jiNXSlVASp
Investigators say a triple homicide in Florida could be linked to witchcraft. http://t.co/AlabyjPP7v http://t.co/CYZBQiWe5H
Family murdered in 'ritualistic killing planned to coincide with Blue Moon' http://t.co/JFu5m7YhrG

"Initial research has led us to believe it was a ritualistic killing," Morgan said. "The method of the murder ... and our person of interest has some ties to a faith or religion that is indicative of that."

The crime appears to have been part of a witchcraft practice linked to the July 31 "blue moon," a reference to the second of two full moons that appear in a calendar month, Morgan said.

Police discovered the bodies after a colleague of Richard Thomas Smith at Homeland Security reported him missing from work.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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