Updated: Tuesday, 23 Mar 2010, 6:35 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 23 Mar 2010, 1:10 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque police arrested a self-described Wiccan follower for the murder of a man in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains Monday evening.
Angela Sanford, 30, is charged with an open count of murder in the stabbing death of Joel Leyva.
Police said the two had previously met at an Albuquerque-area casino about a week ago and exchanged phone numbers.
Around 4:00 p.m. Monday, police said Sanford called Leyva and invited him to the Sandia Foothills Open Space east of Tramway Boulevard to celebrate a Wiccan ritual for spring.
Sanford claims to be a witch in the religion of Wicca, according to police.
"This is a very unusual case for the Albuquerque Police Department to have to investigated," APD Chief Ray Schultz said. "We'll continue to investigate this to find out more about Angela's history."
Wicca is considered a modern pagan religion with many followers practicing forms of witchcraft.
Albuquerque police gave this account of what happened as detailed in a criminal complaint:
When Leyva arrived, the two walked from the Copper Avenue trailhead into the open space where they drank some beer and a miniature of Tequila. It was then that Sanford said she had to use the restroom and Leyva asked if he could watch.
While she was using the restroom, Leyva removed a rope belt from her waist and tied her up. He also removed a dagger she had in her back pocket.
Sanford said the dagger is used in Wiccan rituals and also told investigators she convinced Leyva to untie her as she wanted both of them to get undressed.
When they did, she got on top of Leyva and stabbed him with her dagger. In her version to police, she said she only stabbed him about three times, but investigators reported finding as many as 13 stab wounds to Leyva’s head and torso.
Sanford said she later told witnesses that she was raped and needed them to call police. Witnesses later stated that when they found Sanford she was only wearing her underwear.
The investigation by police later proved that the story of rape was false. Sanford is being held on a $500,000 cash or surety bond.
A second man police said had been detained for questioning Monday now is being described by police as a witness.
On Sanford’s MySpace age, her screen name is “Glitch.”
She lists her religions as “Wiccan” and calls herself a “Proud Parent.”
Many of her blog entries include poems, Bible quotes and passages about spirituality.
“Doing some research into this case, this is a time of Wiccan holiday being the solstice, and we're still in the process of determining whether or not that had anything to do with this particular homicide case occurring,” Schultz said.
Sanford’s neighbors told News 13 she kept to herself, but was always nice.
Her criminal history in New Mexico includes a dismissed DWI and minor traffic violations.