An elderly woman and her two adult sons may have been murdered as part of a ritualistic killing ahead of last week's blue moon, Florida authorities say.
Voncile Smith, 77, John Smith, 47, and Richard Smith, 49, who worked for the Department of Homeland Security, were found murdered at their Pensacola-area home on Friday, although cops think they died on Tuesday.
The position of their bodies and the way they died led investigators to believe their deaths were ritualistic, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said on Tuesday. Authorities have a person of interest in the case who practices witchcraft, he added.
In addition, Friday was a blue moon - which is a rare, second full moon in a month.
"The time of death on Tuesday also coincides with what's referred to as a blue moon, which occurs every three years," the sheriff said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The sheriff did not explain why exactly he believed the family was killed - on Tuesday - to mark the blue moon, which was on Friday.
The family members were each struck multiple times with a claw hammer and had their throats cut. Richard Smith also had a gunshot to his right ear, Morgan said.
The home showed no signs of a break in, he said.
Detectives have not named the person of interest in the case and are appealing to the public for tips.
They said that the family members were quiet and kept to themselves. Richard Smith worked for the Department of Homeland Security at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
"The elements of this case are odd at best," Morgan said.
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