North Carolina Satanist Killed and Ate Two Victims

pazuzu-amber-algarad

“Pazuzu Algarad” and accomplice Amber Burch

A North Carolina man named “Pazuzu Algarad” (he changed it to the name of the demon from The Exorcist) has apparently confessed to murdering two men and eating parts of their bodies during Satanic rituals. The men–Joshua Wetzler, age 37, and Tommy Welch, 26–were then buried in his backyard with the help of two women.

There was also indications of animal sacrifice during Satanic rituals, with “Pazuzu” boasting of eating the “still beating hearts” of animals. The Winston-Salem Journal has more details, and the strong content warning for this one should be obvious.

More details continue to emerge about the lives of Pazuzu Algarad and Amber Burch, the two people arrested on Oct. 5 and charged in the murder and burial of two men at their Clemmons home.

According to a friend of Burch, Algarad’s girlfriend, he claimed to get a high from eating the “still-beating heart” of a sacrificial animal and bragged openly about having killed two prostitutes.

That friend visited the house in 2009 where the couple lived on Knob Hill Drive in Clemmons. Algarad and Burch are each charged with murder in connection with the deaths of two men whose remains were found recently in the couple’s backyard.

As a front-end loader scooped up tires, lawn mowers and other debris from the couple’s yard Thursday morning, Burch’s friend told about conditions inside the house that were so bad she thought she might vomit.

“It reeked of feces and urine,” said the friend, whose identity was confirmed, but who spoke with the Journal only on condition that her name not be used. Her identity has been confirmed with other people the Journal has interviewed in the last two weeks. “You didn’t get a good feeling walking into that house at all. It was dark. It was like a lifeless house. It was creepy.”

When the friend first arrived to visit Burch in 2009, Algarad was completely naked and never put on any clothes during the visit. The excrement on the floor might have been both animal and human, the friend said.

“He was on all kinds of drugs and drink when I got there,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I witnessed him peeing in the corner.” The friend said Algarad’s behavior was “very sexual, very provocative.”

“He commented on a number of occasions that he was trying to get in my pants,” the friend said, adding that Burch “was all for it. I made it clear that that it was not going to happen.”

Burch’s friend said she was only a teenager when she visited the couple’s house on several occasions during those months in 2009, and that the atmosphere was one of partying, loud metal music and drugs.

“At that time I was experimenting with different drugs, and all I knew was, ‘Hey, it’s a party.’ Granted, it took a lot not to throw everything back up.” The one night she actually spent the night, the friend said, “I was woke up numerous times with Pazuzu over me trying to mess with me.”

Burch told her friend that she and Algarad had met through a mutual friend.

“She was living with him for a long time, and she kept telling me about this really weird but super-great guy that she was with. He wasn’t the average person that she would be with. Amber was always a very clean-cut person. After about a month, she quit taking showers. She started to dreadlock her hair. She filed her teeth down to points. She quit shaving. It was not Amber at all.”

Walking into the house, trying not to step in excrement, Burch’s friend saw Satanic sayings written on the walls and filthy dishes piled up with “bugs crawling all over them.”

Algarad bragged about killing two prostitutes, the friend said, adding that neither she nor Burch really believed he had done it.

“The facial tattoos, the Satanism, I never gave it much thought,” the friend said. “I figured he was just trying to psych everybody out.”

The friend said she never saw anyone from the Winston-Salem area at the couple’s house when she was there, and doesn’t know anything about Joshua Wetzler and Tommy Dean Welch, who have been identified as the two men buried in the backyard. She said she and her friends have been wondering about the victims — who they were, and how they might have ended up at the house.

Tertullian’s Deceiving Devils [Ghosts and the Church]

In De anima, Tertullian acknowledges the extensive literature about ghosts, but rejects it as a “fraud.” He has specific pagan lore in mind: the idea that some could “call back from Hades the souls of those who are sleeping out their destined time, those who died through violence and those deprived of burial.”

His explanation reveals just what the early Church made of these encounters: they were demonic:

What are we to say, then, of these pretensions of magic, except what everyone says—that it is a fraud. Christians are the only ones to see through this fraud, since we have come to know the evil spirits, not, of course, by consorting with them, but by the knowledge that unmasks them; not by trying to solicit their assistance, but by a power which subjugates them. Thus do we deal with that universal pollution of the human mind, the inventor of all falsehood, that plunderer of the soul’s salvation. By magic, a second form of idolatry, the demons pretend to be dead men [come to life], just as in ordinary idolatry they pass themselves off as gods. And that is reasonable, since the gods are dead. [De anima, 57]

Tertullian specifically cites the aoroi and the biaiothanatoi in this section as spirits to whom people pray. Aoroi were those who died in youth. Biaiothanatoi were those who died violently. Both were invoked by people to bring harm to enemies. The idea was that their untimely or violent deaths made them thirsty for revenge on the living.

This is where Tertullian gets interesting, because although he dismisses the notion of spirits of the dead being summoned by magic to get vengeance on the living, he does allow demons a similar power:

The demons inhabit those souls especially in whom they used to dwell when they were alive and whom they drove to this kind of untimely end. We have already suggested that every man is attended by a demon and many are aware that sudden and horrible deaths, which usually pass for accidents, are really work of demons.

And, I think we can prove that the evil spirit tries to deceive us by hiding in the persons of dead men, from the facts that come to light in exorcisms. We know that the demon tries to pose as a relative of the person possessed, or sometimes as a gladiator or as a fighter of the beasts, or even as a god. And, in this, his object is always to disprove what we are here affirming, namely, that all souls go down to Hell at their death, and to weaken our faith in the Judgment and Resurrection. Yet, the Devil, after trying to deceive the bystanders, is overcome by the power of Divine Grace, and at last, much against his will, admits that he is an evil spirit.

I have to pause here to explain Tertullian’s use of the word “Hell.” He believed that only the great saints went straight to heaven. Everyone else went to “Hell” until the resurrection. Clearly, this is not an orthodox view (there’s a reason Tertullian is a Church Father but not a Saint), but what Tertullian is describing as “Hell” functions somewhat like Purgatory. Souls wait in Hell for the Second Coming, when they will get their reward (heaven) or punishment (damnation).

Pacher: St. Wolfgang and the Devil

Pacher: St. Wolfgang and the Devil

Tertullian goes on to explain another trick of the devil, in which he “brings back the souls of the dead and exhibits them to view.” This is a more effective deceit, since it offers the witness a visual stimulus: namely, the physical form of the deceased, which the devil has possessed. As he says, “it is easy to deceive the eyes of a man whose mind is so easily taken in.”

Intriguingly, he says that “even now” (in his lifetime) the followers of Simon Magus are attempting to use magic to bring back the “Prophets from Hell.”

Like other Fathers, Tertullian grants the devil one great power: the power to deceive. It’s the same power wielded by the Witch of Endor, but it is only the power of lies. “God forbid we should believe that any soul, much less a Prophet, could be called forth by a demon.” What Saul saw, therefore, was a demon in disguise, not Samuel.

This seems to contradict the previous passage, where he suggests that the devil can bring back the souls of the dead to exhibit for view. Though he’s not particularly clear here, he seems to saying the devil does have a measure of control over the souls he has possessed, but that souls cannot be “called forth” by a mere demonic or magical agency. He also appears to distinguish between those who died peacefully in their own time and the aoroi/biaiothanatoi. (Clarifying this point is difficult because my two translations contradict each other, and I find several passages in the original Latin confusing.*)

Tertullian concludes by addressing dreams of the dead. This has unsavory connotations for him since the pagans practice such things as incubation (sleeping on graves), which is deeply offensive. Thus, he rejects the idea with an explanation that a modern skeptic would embrace: “These things are not real because they are seen, but because they are fulfilled. A dream is true because it works out, and not because a vision is seen.” Essentially, the fulfillment of the vision makes the dreamer believe he has been contacted by the dead with a prophetic utterance.

The basis of all his theology is the story of Dives and Lazarus, which closes on the door on the notion of people returning from the afterlife. Any apparitions people claim to witness, therefore, is due to the work of the devil or “the trickery of magicians.” We’ll see this developed in more depth when we get to St.  Augustine.

Related posts on Ghosts.

*Esoteric language point: My Latin is gawdawful, which means I don’t like to rely on my own translations of difficult passages. The sentence in question reads “Publica iam litteratura est quae animas etiam iusta aetate sopitas, etiam proba morte disiunctas, etiam prompta humatione dispunctas euocaturam se ab inferum incolatu pollicetur.” Arbesmann/Daly translate “etiam prompta humatione dispunctas euocaturam se ab inferum incolatu pollicetur” as simply “those deprived of burial,” while Thelwall renders it as “had even been buried with full rites and proper ceremony.” Those are, I’m sure you’ll agree, completely opposite translations, but I think Thelwall has it right.