Dolls with pins in, a shrunken head or two, that’s about the extent of most people’s knowledge of the practice of voodoo. But in some nations the ideas are still believed and practiced in the modern day…
Voodoo has its origins among slaves in Haiti and a related religion by the same name is to this day still very popular in West Africa. Contrary to popular belief, it’s mostly for peaceful purposes.
But just like any group, there’s always a few that always fuck it up for the rest of them and take their beliefs to a terrifying extreme.
True to form, these people have done some pretty messed up shit in the name of voodoo…
1. L’Affaire de Bizoton, Haiti
This story made headlines across the world and changed the perception of voodoo forever, and it’s no wonder why. Just over 150 years back Congo Pele of Bizton, from Haiti, asked his sister, Jeanne, a voodoo priestess to help him gain wealth and power. After consulting with other voodoo priests, Congo kidnapped Jeanne and his young niece. They performed a gruesome ceremony strangling, flaying, decapitating and dismembering the bodies of their victims before cooking and eating them, as well as storing their blood. Not long after they were arrested and charged, before being publicly executed.
2. Jummai Hassan, Nigeria
The disappearance of a two-year-old boy prompted national outcry back in 2001, with Jummai Hassan, who was only 13 at the time being arrested in connection with the toddler’s disappearance. She confessed to murdering the boy and selling his body parts to a witch doctor, but it didn’t stop there. She had been involved with a cult seven years earlier and said she had been involved with 48 other murders, including that of her own father. But they could not find any of the bodies and investigations into a mass killing eventually dried up.
3. James Paul Harris, U.S.
In April 2011, James Gerety’s lawyer in Topeka, Kansas, reported the 49-year-old missing. The top of his skull wouldn’t be unearthed for another year, at the property of a guy named Jeff Harris. After his girlfriend made the grisly discovery, she brought it back to the house, and the couple called the police. It wasn’t for another two years that more progress would be made on the case, with authorities eventually finding out it was the property owner’s son, James Paul Harris, who committed the horrendous crime. More grim details leaked out, with Harris’ ex-girlfriend saying Harris shot Gerety in the stomach, torturing him for two days and then decapitated him with a guitar string before using his head for voodoo rituals. The case proved difficult to prosecute as only that body part was discovered and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter – he will only serve four years and two months in jail.
4. Gregory Friesner, U.S.
In the summer of ’97, a middle-aged tech CEO called Mark Foster was found dead on the roadside in Wisconsin. Dressed in white clothes, he was the high priest of a small cult. He found himself in desperate financial times with a failing business, so he decided to pass his soul on to Gregory Friesner – one of his disciples. Apparently, Foster had been involved in a similar ritual in New Orleans which he believed he passed on his soul after murdering his predecessor. Friesner agreed to shoot Foster, the first attempt failed, but the second time round a bullet wounded Foster in the chest, ultimately killing him. Friesner got 10 years in prison for his murder.
5. Willie Maxwell, U.S.
Willie Maxwell was a voodoo priest in Alabama, with many in the African-American community living in constant fear of the man after apparently training in black magic in Mississippi by a group called the ‘Seven Sisters’. Their fear ultimately meant he got away with a few murders – the first being of his first wife in ’69. Found strangled and beaten in her car, he was charged with murder but ultimately acquitted and bagged $90,000 on her insurance policy. Not long after, his brother and second wife were found dead from excessive alcohol consumption and acute asthmatic bronchitis respectively – allowing him to collect another $40,000 (can you see a pattern here?). Only a couple of years later his nephew was found dead of natural causes after driving off the highway and his stepdaughter was founded dead under a car in the last of the deaths in ’76. It appeared she had been crushed by her car while changing a tire. At her funeral Maxwell was confronted by his stepdaughter’s sister and uncle and shot in the face three times at point blank range – killing the priest.
6. John Preston Rooks, U.S.
In the 70’s, once again, a small town in Delaware would be the centre of a horrific, bloody murder. Frank Snyder was found in his bathtub with a butcher knife in his chest, having been stabbed around 18 to 24 times. Police investigated for months on end, but struggled to get witnesses to co-operate, as the main suspect, John Preston Rocks, was infamously known as “Black Jesus”. It’s believed he was involved with three other brutal deaths. One was after a game of craps, losing hundreds of dollars the victor was hacked to death with an axe by Rooks, Ricky Tolson and Charlie Barrows. Both of his accomplices met rather unpleasant deaths before they could even be charged, with Tolson being run over by a car, and Barrows choking to death on his own vomit. Their getaway driver George Reyonds eventually admitted the Snyder killing was a voodoo ritual. No one to this day knows where Rooks is…
7. Josephine Gray, U.S.
In 1974, Josephine’s husband, Norman Stribbling, was found shot dead in his car in Maryland. Stribbling had learnt that his wife had been unfaithful, having an affair with Robert Gray. Both were arrested but charges were later dropped. After they married in 75’, his family said he began acting strangely, with many saying he had been under Jospehine’s spell or trance. This lasted until 1990, when Gray had sex with her teenage cousin, Clarence Goode, who was living with Robert and Josephine. Once he found out, Josephine pulled a gun on him, but he luckily escaped, but this was only the beginning of a game of cat and mouse. Robert was driving and was shot at by Goode, but managed to escape harm once again. He finally ran out of luck as he was shot twice when entering his apartment. However, she escaped prosecution yet again until she was accused of shooting and killing Goode – who was found in the back of her car. Her second life committed to voodoo was discovered with dolls with pins stuck in them. It was found that she had received massive insurance payouts and in 2002 was finally sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.
8. Frantz Bordes, U.S.
Just under a decade ago, Francoise Mercier returned home to Staten Island, after her nurse aide shift. Her fiance, Frantz Bordes, had been left to look after their two young children, but she made a heartbreaking discovery. She learnt that Bordes had jumped in front of a subway train, committing suicide. She then later found her young children drowned in the bathtub. Police later found notes, in which Bordes – who was a Haitian immigrant – had scribbled with voodoos and curses.
9. Esteis Liberis, Haiti
In 1910, a police inspector turned in a report that voodoo high priestess Esteis Liberis carried out several ceremonies, with members praying to a snake god. After several animal sacrifices, Liberis suggested sacrificing children. A cult member then kidnapped his young niece, strangled her, cut her head off, and her blood was then drunk by all the members. Her body was than cooked, but not eaten, just preserved. That wasn’t even the end of the tragic and gruesome saga, with as the two girls who cooked the body apparently ‘offended the god’, so they were sacrificed as well. A few days later, two more children were then sacrificed. When the inspector searched Liberi’s house, he found the remains of a 12-year-old child pickling in a barrel.
10. The Cholera Lynch Mobs, Haiti
A serious cholera outbreak destroyed the island after a devastating earthquake back in 2010 and it’s needless to say that the citizens – with nearly half of the population studying voodoo – believed it was down to the voodoo priests. Mobs gathered and killed 45 voodoo priests in cold blood over the span of only a few weeks – they were lynched, stoned, or hacked to death with machetes. During the 2010 outbreak, 200,000 Haitians died of cholera and even to this very day it’s still a major problem.