Man Murdered Allegedy During Wiccan Celebration of Spring

Police say Angela Sanford stabbed man with Wiccan dagger.

ByABC News
March 24, 2010, 12:18 PM

March 24, 2010— -- A woman who claims she was going to perform a Wiccan celebration of spring is accused of using a ritualistic dagger to kill a man she invited to the ceremony.

The victim, Joel Leyva, was found with 13 stab wounds. The suspect, Angela Sanford, was found by police at the murder scene in her underwear. Sanford, 30, appeared in an Albuquerque, N.M., court today and pleaded not guiltyy.

"Sanford is currently facing a single count of murder and she's being held on $500,000 bond," Pat Davis of the Albuquerque District Attorney's office said today to ABC News.

According to Sanford's statement to police, she had met Leyva, 52, a few days prior to the Monday attack. She invited him to join her because she was "going up to the mountains to celebrate Beltane," the police statement said.

Beltane is a celebration of spring typically observed at the end of April or begining of May by followers of Wicca, a pagan religion associated with witchcraft.

Sanford told police she and Leyva met on a hiking trail where they shared beers and tequila. According to the statement, the suspect claimed that Leyva then tied her arms, made "inappropriate sexual gestures," and removed the dagger from her pants.

"Angela advised the dagger was to be used as part of her Wicca ritual. Angela stated she was in fear that Leyva was going to rape her," the report states.

According to the statement, Sanford said to keep from being raped, she decided to let Leyva think she wanted to "seduce him," the report stated. After slipping her arms free of the ropes, she allegedly laid Leyva on his back. Sanford removed her clothing except her underwear and knelt on the ground over him, and used her dagger to stab Leyva "three times in the stomach area," the report says.