So-Called Wiccan Stabs Man Listed in Phone As “Sacrifice”


A woman who describes herself as a Wiccan is being held on charges of fatally stabbing a man, whose phone number she had listed in her cell phone alongside the word “sacrifice.”

Angela Sanford, 30, claimed that the stabbing was in self-defense, and that the man had tied her up with her own rope belt and attempted to rape her. Sanford told police that she stabbed Joel Lebya three times in the stomach, but the 52-year-old was found to have been stabbed at least 11 times.

The two met at a casino, about a week before the incident. Sanford had invited Lebya to a hiking trail near Albuquerque, New Mexico, in order to celebrate spring in a Wiccan ritual. While walking and drinking alcohol together, the pair stopped so that Sanford could urinate. At that time, she told police, Lebya attacked her, tied her hands up with a rope belt she was wearing, and took a Wiccan dagger from her pocket. She also said that he made sexual gestures toward her.

In order to keep Lebya from raping her, Sanford claimed, she pretended to seduce him by stripping to her underwear and encouraging the man to lie down. At that point she knelt above him, grabbed the dagger, and stabbed him three times before running away.

Sanford was crouched behind some boulders a short distance down the trail, still wearing only her underwear, when a witness came upon her and made eye contact. Sanford then said that she had been raped, the witness told police, and several others came over to offer assistance. Before then, however, none of them had heard calls for help or saw Sanford fleeing from Lebya.

A detective later discovered Lebya’s telephone number stored in Sanford’s phone under the nickname “sacrifice.”

Wicca, a neo-pagan religion and a form of modern witchcraft, is not generally associated with sacrifice or violence; in fact, one of its main tenets is the so-called Law of Threefold Return. This concept is similar to karma, and states that the actions a person commits, whether benevolent or malevolent, will come back to them with three times the force.

Members of Wiccan groups in the Albuquerque region have said that they are not acquainted with Sanford.

Sanford was indicted by a Bernalillo County grand jury, and bond set at $500,000. She is being represented by a public defender.


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