Satanic Ritual Ends With Stabbing

Florida Teen Faces Attempted Murder Charge 28, 1999
By Valerie Kalfrin

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- A 17-year-old accused of repeatedly stabbing a friend he asked to participate in a satanic ritual pleaded not guilty today to a charge of attempted first-degree murder, authorities said.

Darrel Wayne Harris will be tried as an adult and faces up to life in prison for the attack, which caught the alleged victim, Robert Menendez, 22, and the ritual's other participants by surprise, officials said.

"The victim thought he was involved in one level of activity and became an unwilling participant in another," Broward County Assistant State Attorney Alex Urruella told

"This is the kind of case that makes you want to go home and hug your family at night."

Became friends through e-mail

Authorities said the two struck up an acquaintance through e-mail and an interest in satanic Web sites, which they frequently visited at public libraries.

They met in a wooded area along S.W. 20th Street around 4:15 a.m. to perform the ritual along with Harris' unidentified girlfriend and at least one other person, Detective Mike Reed, a police spokesman, said.

Investigators said the two sliced their hands, mixed their blood and drew a pentagram in the dirt while chanting. Harris then allegedly took the bloodshed one step farther and turned the butcher knife on Menendez, striking him as many as nine times in the neck, Urruella said.

During the attack, Menendez later told police, "he was convinced he was going to die," Reed told

Injured boy abandoned

Although the group left Menendez lying on the ground, he managed to find help. "He banged on a neighbor's door, and the man called 911," Reed said.

Paramedics transported Menendez to Broward General Medical Center, where he was treated for several days and released, authorities said.

"He was very lucky to have survived," Urruella added.

Charges upgraded

Arrested at the downtown public library on May 13, Harris was initially charged with aggravated battery. But Urruella said he upgraded to the more serious offense when the evidence revealed "a clear intent to kill someone." Harris has been held without bail at the Broward County Jail since his arrest and will likely be represented by a public defender, though one has not yet been assigned to the case, officials said.

Attempts to reach his and Menendez's families in Fort Lauderdale were unsuccessful.

Urruella does not intend to charge the ritual's other participants in the attack. "There's been no evidence presented that anybody else knew this was going to happen," he said.

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