Debra Jean Kawaguchi and Sarah Ann Casey (WNDU-TV)
Authorities in Indiana believe witchcraft played a role in the double suicide of two 13-year-old girls who intentionally walked into the path of an oncoming train.
Debra Jean Kawaguchi and Sarah Ann Casey were eighth-grade classmates at Knox Community Middle School, and were killed Saturday morning by a Norfolk and Southern freight train.
The train’s engineer said he saw the girls walk onto the tracks at about 3 a.m., but was unable to stop in time. Authorities say both of the students left notes to their families, indicating they planned to take their own lives.
“The girls did take their own lives, and it appears that some of the decision-making involved Wicca and, to some degree, witchcraft,” Knox Community Schools Assistant Superintendent Steve Sailor told the Gary Post Tribune.
“All of the school community itself was shocked and saddened by the deaths, we are trying to do our best, both students and teachers, to deal with the grief involved in this tragedy,” he said.
According to WNDU-TV in South Bend, Ind., sources indicate the girls allegedly left a note saying they killed themselves because they believed they would be reincarnated.
“At 13 they should, the family should, be dealing with religious concepts together,” Dr. Morris Newton told the station. “I think the 13-year-old mind is not sophisticated enough to appreciate the nuances of not just Wicca, but any sort of religious tenet.”
Investigators also are trying to determine if there are others who may have been members of a Wiccan group along with the girls.
“It’s not every day that two 13-year-old girls do something like this, so obviously there’s a lot of legwork to be done … to get to the bottom of this,” Starke County Coroner Mark Smith told the South Bend Tribune.
But he also warned against stating witchcraft could be the only reason.
“I think we would be misinforming people if we focused on Wicca as the precipitating factor,” Smith said. “It may be part of a bigger picture.”
Brian Casey, Sarah’s father, told the Tribune he wasn’t aware his daughter had ever been interested in Wicca, an earth-based pagan religion.
“I found nothing of that nature,” he said. “Nothing in Sarah’s room. Nothing on her computer.”