Mother and 2 Sons Found with Throats Slit in Florida Were Killed in Wiccan Blue Moon Ritual, Cops Say

Mother and 2 Sons Killed in Florida Ritualistic Murders
The Florida home where three were found dead on Friday

08/05/2015 AT 07:55 AM EDT

An elderly woman and her two sons were brutally murdered in their Pensacola, Florida, home last week in what police are calling a "Wiccan ritual killing."

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said that investigators believe the murders of Voncile Smith, 77, John William Smith, 49, and Richard Thomas Smith, 47, were part of a religious ritual, according to The Pensacola News Journal.

"The method of the murder – blunt force trauma, slit throats, positioning of bodies – and our person of interest has some ties to a faith or religion that is indicative of that. The time of the death on Tuesday also coincides with what's referred to as a blue moon, which occurs every three years."

Police discovered the three bodies last Friday during a welfare check on the home after one of the son's employers noticed that he hadn't shown up for work, NBC News reports.

Voncile and John died of blunt force trauma, while Richard was shot in the ear as he came into the home. All three had their throats slit, police said.

Investigators believe that the murders happened on July 28. There was no sign of forced entry to the home.

"It's frightening to think about. Especially when you have small children," neighbor Ken Lester told WECT. "To find out that it was this weird, satanic cult, witchcraft whatever, is just really unsettling."

No arrests have been made in the murders as of yet, though as Morgan mentioned above, police have identified a person of interest in the case.

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