Investigators say a horrific set of murders was committed as part of a Wiccan blue moon ritual.

Investigators in the Florida Panhandle are looking into the deaths of a woman and her two adult sons as a ritualistic killing that could be connected to the recent blue moon.

“It’s witchcraft, I’ll say that right now,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan, to the Pensacola News Journal. “You know, there are different factions of that. While it doesn’t bother me to release that particular thing, we most assuredly do not want to defame or demean any particular practice, if you will.”

Investigators say they’ve questioned a person of interest who actually practices witchcraft as a religion, the New York Daily News reported. But they’re not naming the person of interest just yet.

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Deputies discovered 77-year-old Voncile Smith and her two sons, Richard, 49, and John, 47, dead inside their Pensacola home on Friday, hours before the rising of the blue moon – a significant event for Wiccans. Initial investigation revealed the three had been beaten and had their throats slit, in “wicca[n] ritual killing” style, deputies said, the New York Daily News reported.

The beatings were brutal. The mother and younger son were clubbed to death with a claw hammer. The older son, who was shot in the ear and suffered another gunshot wound to the head, WKRG-TV reported.

He was employed by the Department of Homeland Security and worked at Naval Air Station Pensacola, but officials with the Naval Criminal Investigative Services “have determined there are no issues involving … national security elements,” Morgan said.

Investigators say the claw hammer, slit throats and purposeful positioning of the bodies led them to the witchcraft conclusion.

“The elements of this case are odd at best,” Morgan said.

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