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2011 – 2013 The Kirsty Theologo “Satanic Murder” Trial

The following are articles covering the Kirsty Theologo murder repeatedly and incorrectly referred to as “a satanic killing”. The use of the word “satanic” runs through each and every article and virtually every single headline used to report on this crime and every court appearance, even though the accused were clearly “legend trippers” and even the court heard that the accused had NO working knowledge of the occult or Satanism as a religion, or its practices, and the source of their “satanic instruction” was a Christian documentary video and the Christian Bible itself. Despite this, the case has remained a “satanic/occult/ritual killing” from 2011.

The Kirsty Theologo Case & Unethical Media Coverage:

Rarely, if ever, are attempts made by the press to convey a clear distinction between religious Satanism and crimes resulting from “legend tripping”. In some cases, papers openly adopt a hostile stance towards any kind of non-Christian or non-Abrahamic religion and seem to delight in applying the “satanism” label to any crimes that lend themselves to SRA hysteria. Often, the use of ‘quotation marks’ is not intended to clarify anything, but more to protect journalists and news-media against lawsuits in the same way these use the word “allegedly”. Quotation marks as used to imply “allegedly” are far too subtle for today’s largely under-educated readership and are NOT SUFFICIENT to clarify anything in such a case. Even in TV coverage, use of the word “allegedly” flies over the heads of what is largely an English second (or third) language audience. It is unclear if there is even a workable equivalent to “allegedly” in 9 of the 11 official languages in either broadcast or print forms. We live in a country populated by a majority of LITERALISTS (and especially biblical literalists), and where virtually everything needs to be spelled out in order to avoid misunderstandings.

Frequently, the media stokes the fires of hysteria by pushing an angle of reporting which (sometimes due to poor reporting skills, and sometimes due to demonstrable personal bias on the part of the journalist or the newspaper itself) creates connections between a tragic crime and a particular religious, lifestyle or other identity group, resulting in increased suspicion, hatred and persecution of that group – a situation which belies completely the reality of the situation – that no such connection exists, is purely imaginary and the work of propagandists and religion-fuelled bias.

It is this kind of unethical reporting that fosters an inaccurate perception in its audience, especially those who do not know better (and are unlikely to pursue any research into the topic due to their own religion-based inclination to believe the worst of other groups), and encourages the continuance of such confusion to create yet more “legend trippers” or “reverse Christians” who believe that the way the press and Christian warfare ministries describe Satanism is the way actual Satanism operates. All this is, in summary, the manifestation of extremely irresponsible and unethical journalism. It is media MANUFACTURING or putting its own SPIN on the news instead of just reporting it.

[As an aside, there are a very few journalists in South Africa who strive to keep to journalistic ethics which promote responsible reporting, sometimes under pressure from their supervisors to focus on sensation or profit. Some have been in contact with the A.R.F. to convey their experiences in this regard.]

  • 20111024 – “Girl set alight in ‘satanic ritual’” – (“A teenage girl is in a coma after she and a friend were doused with petrol and set alight in an apparent satanic ritual. The girls, one 18 and the other 16, were among eight youngsters who went to a koppie behind the Linmeyer pool in Johannesburg on Friday night. According to Samantha Theologo, her 18-year-old sister Kirsty has 75 percent burns to her body from the waist up. Doctors had told them, she said, that they were worried about her sister’s recovery because her lungs and throat were damaged.” “The boys are said to have poured petrol over her sister and set her alight. Her friend then tried to put out the flames, rolling Kirsty in the sand. In the process she was also burnt. The rest of the group ran away, leaving the two girls to climb down the hill on their own. “In the state she was in, my sister made sure they walked to safety,” said Samantha. “She walked all the way to Rosettenville – about 2km away. “I wasn’t home, but my mom told me she found my sister in the bathroom washing her face. My mom said it was horrific.” According to a medical source, speaking to The Star, sister newspaper of the Daily News, on condition of anonymity, the teenagers were driven to South Rand Hospital by their pastor, then transferred to other hospitals. “It was impressive that they walked all that way in their condition.” The source said a third girl told them that the boys cut her hand and held it over a Bible so that the blood could soak it, while Kirsty was burnt. Provincial police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsingane said the girls were tied up and there was speculation the attack was a satanic ritual, but they still needed to investigate. A case of attempted murder was opened.”)
  • 20111124 – “Girl, 15, charged in satanic rite murder” – (“The youngest of a group of six allegedly responsible for the satanic ritual that claimed Kirsty Theologo’s life was charged with her murder on Wednesday. The 15-year-old girl stood alongside her five co-accused for the first time since their arrests last month, teary-eyed and nervous before she was called to the dock. She was charged with murder and the attempted murder of two teenage girls. Her tidy appearance and large eyes belied the fact that she is accused of luring the girls into the hills, where they were tied up, beaten and burnt.”)
  • 20130330 – “17 years for satanic ritual killers” – (“Two of the men who admitted to the so-called satanic ritual killing of 18-year-old Kirsty Theologo have each been sentenced to 17 years in jail, according to a report on Friday. The sentences – of which five years were suspended – were handed down to Lester Moody and Jeremy King, both 18, in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, The Citizen reported. Both men entered into a plea bargain with the State in a bid to get a lesser sentence. In return they are expected to testify against the other accused: Lindon Wagner, 21, Robin Harwood, 18, Harvey Isha, 23, and a minor aged 15.”)
  • 20130417 – “‘Satanic ritual’ victim was ‘hysterical’” – (“A girl who survived an apparent satanic ritual attack in 2011 was hysterical afterwards and hid herself under a bed, the High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court heard on Wednesday. This was the testimony of the 17-year-old brother of Kirsty Theologo who died in hospital after the attack. He said his sister’s friend ran past him into Theologo’s bedroom, to hide under her bed. She mumbled inaudibly and made a “wheezing sound”, he testified, adding: “She was irrational.” Theologo’s brother said the girl had bruises on her arm and was partially burnt. Theologo and her friend were set alight in an apparent satanic ritual on top of a koppie, south of Johannesburg in 2011. Three men and a teenaged girl accused of being behind the attack pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.”)
  • 20130419 – “Groep snap satanisme nie, hoor hof” – (This Afrikaans article in Beeld reported that evidence was presented in court that the killers of Kirsty theologo didn’t understand religious Satanism, were merely curious and were essentially “legend trippers”, although the article never ventured that far to clarify. “Groep Snap nie Satanisme”, essentially nonsensed the satanic claims but the paper continued calling it “satanic” anyway. “Kirsty Theologo se vriende was nuuskierig oor satanisme, het nie mooi geweet wat dit behels nie en het besluit om ’n offer te brand toe hulle petrol oor haar en ’n vriendin gegooi en hulle aan die brand gesteek het, het die hooggeregshof in Palm Ridge aan die OosRand gister gehoor.” “Adv. Lydia van Niekerk, vir Wagner, het gesê die vriende het drie weke voor die aanval gesprekke oor satanisme en offers gehad. “Niemand het satanisme werklik verstaan nie en het bespreek hoe dit gedoen moet word.” “Hulle was nuuskierig, het Van Niekerk gesê, maar Wagner het dit as ’n grap gesien, al het hulle beplan om ’n Bybel te verbrand.”)
  • 20130424 – “Girl’s satanic horror” – (“Kirsty Theologo thought that she was going to a party with friends she trusted on the night of October 21, 2011. She brought another girl along. She had a drink. She trusted her friends when they told her they needed to stop by a petrol station to get sweets, then again when they said there had been a change of plans and that they would be going into the “mountains of Linmeyer” instead. The “party” turned out to be a satanic ritual in which Kirsty was drugged, bound, drenched in petrol and burnt so severely that she died later in hospital.”)
  • 20130430 – “‘Satanic ritual was badly planned’” – (“An apparent satanic ritual after which a teenage girl died was badly planned, the High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court heard on Tuesday. Lester Moody, who has admitted to his role in the killing, said the group failed to discuss in detail what each individual would do during the ritual. Having Kirsty Theologo, the intended murder victim, at the meeting was another blunder. Moody was testifying against four people accused of setting alight Theologo and her 14-year-old friend in an alleged satanic ritual on October 21, 2011.”)
  • 20130520 – “Bid to drop satanic ritual charges fails” – (“Moves to have charges dropped against two of the people accused of killing Kirsty Theologo in an apparent satanic ritual were dismissed on Monday. Their lawyers argued in the High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court that the quality of evidence against their clients was suspect. Judge Geraldine Borchers ruled that the credibility of witnesses was not an issue at this stage of the trial.”)
  • 20130521 – “Court hears of dagga, vodka in satanic killing” – (“The effect of using dagga and vodka in succession was graphically explained to a Johannesburg court on Tuesday by murder-accused Harvey Isha.” “He told the court he and the group had been smoking dagga and later drank vodka mixed with juice as they sat around a fire on the hill. He later ran away when Wagner poured petrol onto Theologo and her friend and set them alight. Sidwell was trying to get Isha to explain the state of a person who had smoked dagga and drank vodka. Isha said the effects of both substances differed according to an individual’s system. “If you smoke dagga and you just sit, you will feel relaxed, but if you take a walk you will become more energetic.””)
  • 20131010 – “Satanic mastermind ‘knew’ what he was doing” – (“The alleged ringleader of a ritual which caused the death of a girl and another who was severely injured knew exactly what he was doing when he attacked them, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Thursday. “From the way I recall it, I knew what I was doing…. I knew where everything was [for the ritual],” Linden Wagner told the high court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. He said he had no feeling, thoughts or emotion during the attack on a hill in Linmeyer, south of Johannesburg, in October 2011. He had been under the influence of alcohol and drugs.”)
  • 20131012 – “Anguish of two mothers over occult killings” – (“A man who confessed to assaulting and setting alight his friend Kirsty Theologo in an apparent satanic ritual said he was testifying for her, the Johannesburg High Court, sitting in Palm Ridge, heard on Friday. “From the very beginning, we (he and his co-accused) confessed. We turned ourselves in to the police, so I won’t be standing here trying to defend myself or lie to the court,” said Linden Wagner. “I’m not doing this (testifying) for myself… I’m doing it for Kirsty,” he told the court. Wagner allegedly masterminded the satanic plot which resulted in Theologo’s death. On Thursday, he testified that he repeatedly hit Theologo, 18, with a rock on the head before dousing her with petrol and setting her alight on a hill in Linmeyer, Joburg, in October 2011. “Kirsty had regained consciousness (after he hit her with the rock) and was standing. I splashed her with petrol. I then looked for a light. I heard Kirsty say she thought we were friends,” said Wagner. It was then that he set her alight and she was engulfed in flames. Theologo died a week later in hospital. Wagner also confessed to assaulting Theologo’s 14-year-old friend, who survived the attack. He claimed it was part of a satanic soul-selling ritual to help him gain power.”)
  • 20131017 – “Wagner: We didn’t need to burn them” – (“No human sacrifices were needed to perform the Satanic ritual in which Kirsty Theologo died, the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, heard on Thursday. “I believe that without the burning of anyone, we could have sold our souls,” said Linden Wagner, the alleged mastermind of the ritual. He said the burning of a “prostitute” was suggested by Lester Moody after he found a Bible verse to this effect in the book of Revelations.”)
  • 20131017 – “Movie inspired ‘soul-selling’ ritual” – (“A movie was behind the idea that led to the death of Kirsty Theologo after a “soul-selling ritual”, the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, heard on Thursday. Linden Wagner, the alleged mastermind of the ritual, said the participants needed some way to alert the devil that they wanted to sell their souls. “The idea came from a video called ‘The Anti-Christ’,” said Wagner. He said the movie was about six-hours long, and that he had seen only parts of it on a cellphone.” “He also told the court he had wanted to gain power from selling his soul, while his co-accused Lester Moody had wanted to gain wisdom. “I wanted power to be able to lift you up with my eyes and then throw you on the other side of the room if you didn’t want to accept it. “The wisdom was for Lester to be able to invent a chip and install it into people (so that we could control the world). “When I heard of American artists selling their souls, it was something I wanted to be part of… Like Tupac, Bone Thugs and Snoop Dogg.” He said these singers claimed to have died and come back to life under the power of Satan.”)
  • 20131017 – “Kirsty ‘wanted to sell her soul’: Wagner” – (“Kirsty Theologo was aware that her friends wanted to sell their souls and wanted to sell hers too, the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, heard on Thursday. Linden Wagner, the alleged mastermind behind the soul-selling ritual, testified that Theologo was present when he and the other accused spoke about what they wanted to do. “She wanted to be part of it and I said no because I cared about her,” he told the court. “There were things she wanted in life and selling her soul would have taken it away from her.” This was because she would have lost all emotion after selling her soul, Wagner said. He had hoped to gain power from selling his soul. He told the court that, days before the ritual, Theologo offered herself to be burnt, her flesh to be eaten and her blood to be drunk. His co-accused had believed she was the prostitute who needed to be sacrificed to resurrect the beast spoken of in the book of Revelations in the Bible. Theologo had denied that she was a prostitute. “Kirsty came in with a big smile on her face and said she wanted to be burnt with fire and her flesh could be eaten,” said Wagner. He told the court that Theologo had perhaps not believed them capable of doing so. “I don’t think she believed we were capable of doing that to her…. She trusted us,” said Wagner. Theologo was assaulted and set alight in a ritual at the top of a hill in Linmeyer, Johannesburg, on Friday, October 21, 2011. She died of her injuries in hospital the following Friday. Her 14-year-old friend survived the attack.”)
  • 20131024 – “Satanic trial: accused ‘blocked out’ events” – (“One of the men implicated in the alleged satanic killing of Kirsty Theologo may have blocked out parts of what had happened, psychologist Suzette Heath said on Thursday. “It could be that he wants to lessen his contribution to the incident,” she told the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge on the East Rand. She said while Robin Harwood might have been aware of his actions, he might not have fully understood the consequences. Theologo, 18, was doused in petrol and set alight on a hill in Linmeyer in October 2011. Heath said peer pressure, alcohol, drugs, and the fact that the incident involved dealing with the devil could have played a contribution to Harwood not backing out. She said that while Harwood had perhaps agreed to the soul-selling ritual that he and his co-accused embarked on, they possibly could have not digested that it would result in the death of at least one of their friends. Harwood, Linden Wagner, Courtney Daniels and Harvey Isha are on trial for Theologo’s murder and the attempted murder of her 14-year-old friend who survived the attack. Two others, Jeremy King and Lester Moody, earlier confessed to the crime and were each sentenced to 17 years in prison, five of them suspended. – Sapa”)
  • 20131024 – “Alleged satanic killer ‘found God’” – (“One of the men implicated in the death of Kirsty Theologo after an alleged satanic ritual found God through the incident, the High Court in Johannesburg sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Thursday. Clinical psychologist Suzette Heath said Robin Harwood seemed to believe his role in Theologo’s killing was all part of God’s plan. Theologo, 18, was doused with petrol and set alight on a hill in Linmeyer in October 2011 as part of a “soul-selling” ritual. She died in hospital a week later, while her friend, who was 14-years-old at the time, survived the attack. “The whole thing went wrong so he (Harwood) believes this is how God led him to meet with Him 1/8God 3/8,” said Heath. “He is sad that Kirsty was killed, but remorse is a complex emotion.””)
  • 20131024 “Satanic killing ‘not properly planned’” – (“The alleged Satanic killing of Kirsty Theologo was not properly planned, the High Court in Johannesburg sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Thursday. Clinical psychologist Suzette Heath said Theologo’s alleged killers never documented their plans. Heath had held consultations with one of the accused, Robin Harwood. “There was even confusion about when the killing would take place. Some thought it would happen about three weeks later.” She said for people who had planned to burn a person they had insufficient petrol. It was understood that the group of attackers had bought a small amount of petrol which they had carried in a juice bottle. Theologo, 18, died in hospital on October 28, 2011, a week after she was repeatedly hit on the head with a rock, doused with petrol and set alight as part of a “soul-selling” ritual on a hill in Linmeyer. Her friend, who was 14-years-old at the time, survived the attack. Heath said it was never verified who would play what part in the attack. “There was never consensus from the whole group.” She told the court, however, that Harwood had loved Theologo. “He saw her as the woman of the house,” said Heath. In earlier proceedings, it was revealed that Harwood and Theologo had been in a brief relationship. Heath told the court Harwood believed Theologo’s killing led him to God. “The whole thing went wrong so he (Harwood) believes this is how God led him to meet with Him (God).” Reading from her notes, Heath said Harwood told her: “I do regret that it happened… I can’t look at it in a negative way ’cause then I will break.” Harwood, Linden Wagner, Courtney Daniels and Harvey Isha are on trial for Theologo’s murder and the attempted murder of her friend. Jeremy King and Lester Moody earlier confessed to the crime and were each sentenced to 17 years in prison, five of them suspended. The case was postponed to October 29 when another psychologist was expected to testify.”)
  • 20131029 – “Satanic trial accused ‘emotionally immature’” – (“The alleged mastermind of a satanic ritual that left Kirsty Theologo dead was emotionally immature, the High Court in Johannesburg sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Tuesday. Clinical psychologist Sunette van den Heever said Lindon Wagner had “impaired intellectual ability”. He was isolated and lonely. Van den Heever said Wagner had accepted responsibility for the part he played in the killing of Theologo, 18.”)
  • 20131029 – “Murder accused opposes women abuse” – (“The alleged mastermind of a Satanic plot which led to the death of Kirsty Theologo was opposed to women abuse, the High Court in Johannesburg sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Tuesday. Psychologist Sunette van den Heever said Lindon Wagner claimed to hate violence against women, as he had witnessed his own mother being abused. State prosecutor Karien Coetzee argued, however, that Wagner had injured three women during a Satanic ritual, and one of them died as a result of it. During earlier proceedings, Wagner told the court he hit Theologo, 18, several times on the head with a rock, doused her with petrol and set her alight in a “soul-selling” ritual on a hill in Linmeyer, Johannesburg in October 2011. He also assaulted Theologo’s 14-year-old friend. Theologo died in hospital a week later while her friend survived the attack. He had also helped to cut the hand of female co-accused Courtney Daniels, as they dripped their blood into a fire during the ritual.”)
  • 20131104 “Satanic trial: spectator’s role queried” – ( “A photograph of Kirsty Theologo, who died after being set alight in an apparent satanic ritual, is seen at the High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Werner Beukes” “A man who claimed to be a spectator in the murder of Kirsty Theologo was actually a participant, a prosecutor submitted in the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge on Monday. In her closing argument, prosecutor Karien Coetzee recalled Harvey Isha’s testimony that he froze and watched from behind a tree as Theologo, 18, was doused with petrol and set alight in an apparent Satanic ritual. Isha had told the court he had remained with his friends, who were allegedly directly involved in the attack, until the next day. “If he really wasn’t involved, he should have sought the first opportunity to remove himself from the situation,” said Coetzee.”)
  • 20131104 “Satanic trial evidence summarised” – (“Linden Wagner, Courtney Daniels, Robin Harwood, and Harvey Isha are charged with murdering Theologo, 18, and attempting to murder her 14-year-old friend in October 2011. Theologo died in hospital after being assaulted, doused with petrol and set alight at a hill in Linmeyer, Johannesburg. Her friend survived.” “In previous proceedings, Wagner told the court he repeatedly hit Theologo on the head with a rock. He said he poured petrol on her and set her alight as part of a Satanic “soul-selling” ritual, which was meant to awaken the beast spoken of in the Bible. He and the others then chanted a poem calling on the beast to awaken, but nothing happened. Wagner said he and his co-accused had hoped to gain certain things from the ritual. He was hoping to gain power. He told the court they drew a five-pointed star and put a Bible in a fire. Some of them cut their hands with a knife and dripped their blood into the fire. It was alleged that he believed that Theologo was the prostitute spoken of in the book of Revelations in the bible.”)
  • 20131108 “Kirsty used all her energy to save me” – (“As four church-going youths answered for their roles in a sensational “satanic” murder case rife with Biblically inspired rituals, petrol attacks and drugs, the portrait of their victim watched on from the bench. Kirsty Theologo, 18, was lured by her friends to the Linmeyer koppies one October night in 2011. She was bound, hit on the head with a rock several times before she lost consciousness, doused with petrol and set alight as a human sacrifice to the devil. She died in hospital a week later from multiple-organ failure. Her best friend, 16-year-old Bronwyn Grammar*, was similarly burnt, though she survived. Despite the fixation on these grisly details during the year-long trial of Lindon Wagner, Courtney Daniels, Robin Harwood and Harvey Isha at Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, evidence has nevertheless provided fleeting glances into the victim’s real character. According to witnesses, Kirsty fought her assailants when they tried to tie her hands. She fought so hard it required three men to subdue her. And although she later died in hospital due to the severity of her injuries, she somehow found the strength to trek home after the attack carrying Bronwyn on her back. To Kirsty’s family and friends, however, she was lovingly mocked as “Cleopatra” due to her obsessive preening, and “Thirsty Kirsty” for her love of a party. For her notoriety as gang leader of her siblings in all trouble-making affairs, Kirsty also earned the term of endearment “Bitch”. To the four youths, she was “Braaivleis” – the term they allegedly used as code for Kirsty when they conspired to murder her.”)
  • 20131108 “Relief for two satanic murder accused”  – (“Harvey Isha is a free man. After two years behind bars, Judge Geraldine Borchers found him not guilty of the murder of Kirsty Theologo. On Thursday Isha, who was almost shocked at the outcome, knelt down in the dock and closed his eyes after the verdict was given in the “satanic” murder trial. Judge Borchers, who delivered her judgment for the high court trial sitting at Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, said she believed him to be an honest witness, and added she could not infer that he had acted with the intention of assisting the group to murder Theologo.”)
  • 20131109 – “Devastated mom faces teen’s killers” – (“Sylvia Theologo took a deep breath. Then another. Haggard and worn, she approached the dock, holding tightly on to the reams of paper she had scribbled on furiously. She was here to read it to her daughter’s killers.” “Before proceedings got under way, Theologo and Vanessa Arendse, Lindon’s mother, briefly embraced. Both she and Deidre Moses, Harwood’s mother, implored the Theologo family to forgive their sons. But Theologo cannot give any more. “As far as forgiveness is concerned, you won’t be getting that from me,” she addressed the two men. “You speak to your maker, okay?” She didn’t get to tell them what she had written: “You’re heartless murdering rubbish. You can say and call what you did Satanism, the truth is you killed my Kirsty and you ran away like cowards.”“)
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