• ‘Witches’ killed with hammer… in NYC

    A deluded guy killed his girlfriend and her daughter because he thought they were witches casting spells onto him:

    The district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said Mr. Amarillo told a 911 operator: “Two females are dead, they were assassinated, hurry they are dead. I killed them because they are witches. I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer.”

    Prosecutors said Mr. Amarillo, who was in a relationship with Estrella Castaneda, was seen walking to the street, clutching a Bible and saying: “I killed them. I killed them.”

    An official familiar with the case said detectives were investigating whether drugs might have been involved. In statements to the police, Mr. Amarillo said he believed both victims had been “performing voodoo and casting spells” on him.

    Two innocent lifes snatched away by belief in nonsense.

    Category: Skepticism and Science


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker
    • Vandy Beth Glenn

      This story seems to me to be more about mental illness than about superstitious intolerance.

      • Doesn’t have to be one or the other. Mental illness can interact synergistically with religious doctrine, e.g. giving a paranoiac a reason to believe he can causally connect happenstance with those he fears.

        But for the fact that the Bible Mr. Amarillo was clutching tells us that (1) witches are real and (2) they should be summarily killed, who knows how this might have played out.

      • I did say he’s deluded. Don’t delusion count as a form of “belief in nonsense”.

        (To be honest, I like the Bill Maher approach: religion is very much like a mental illness.)

        • Vandy Beth Glenn

          Sure, but when I think of skeptical writing, I like to believe it’s shining a light into a dark place, thus eliminating the darkness. I maintain hope that we can change the minds of the misguided. But crazy is just crazy; there’s no rhetorical or forensic cure for that.

          • I’d have to go over the literature, but I don’t think we can dismiss this just as “crazy that has nothing to do with superstition”.

            Just like Jim said (on another comment in this post): “you can’t have someone killing someone else for being a witch if they’re not involved with a belief system that says witches and spells and magic are actual things”.

            It may not be the central part of it, but it is quite plausible to state religion had *something* to do with this, wouldn’t you agree?

            Anyway, I’ll take your point into account and try to post stuff more related to misguided instead of crazy. Thanks 🙂

            • Vandy Beth Glenn

              Here’s how I’m looking at it: if you met a sane person who believed witches can fly on brooms, you could explain to them how a broom has no power source, control surfaces, or lifting ability, and that nothing like magic has ever been in evidence that could explain how a broom could be used for flight.

              If you met an insane person who believed the same thing, there’s nothing you could say to them to make them think otherwise.

              The former scenario seems, to me, like a job for scientists (and logicians, and every other variety of skeptic). The latter is for mental health professionals.

            • I’ve met ‘sane’ people who believe you can glue an ear back to its owner if you’re a cosmological zombie jew and that water can turn into wine just by snapping your fingers… and there’s no talking them out of it.

    • GemmaSeymour

      It is troubling to me that apparently the author has no difficulty making light of the fact that two people were brutally murdered, in order to push a scientistic agenda about something they regard as “nonsense”. A true scientific mind seeks to transcend the boundaries of their ingrained assumptions about the nature of Reality. When you take Science further, beyond the mundane frame of reference that limits so many people who claim Skepticism, you find that Reality is far more subtle than you once believed.

      • kraut2

        I am not clear what you try to say. Does his assertion that the claim of witchcraft is nonsense to justify two murders is making light of the victimes death? Or are you saying that witchcraft should be taken seriously and can be taken as a justification to kill someone?
        You come across as someone who might happily endorse Chopra Deepak.

      • Don’t like it? Well, I have the feeling no one is forcing you to read my blog. The door’s right there.

    • Brian Hartman

      I agree with both Gemma and Vandy. This is a story about mental illness. I don’t see anyone asserting that the girlfriend or her daughter were witches (in the Wiccan sense). This isn’t a religious issue.

      • I did state he’s deluded. I encourage you to check my answer to @vandybethglenn:disqus.

    • Jim

      It’s a religious issue because you can’t have someone killing someone else for being a witch if they’re not involved with a belief system (or living in a culture heavily influenced by a belief system) that says witches and spells and magic are actual things.