Teen Accused of Stabbing Student to Death Was Into Online Blood Rituals and Conspiracies

A month before a 17-year-old student was stabbed to death in Alberta, the accused shared online videos promoting conspiracy theories and participated in a YouTube blood ritual.

Vice/march 24, 2021

By Kevin Maimann

The teen charged with murder after a 17-year-old student was stabbed to death in Alberta last week was engrossed in conspiracy theories and occult practices on YouTube in the days leading up to the killing.

Dylan Pountney, 19, shared content on social media promoting debunked theories about the Earth being flat, world leaders being reptilian shapeshifters, and the U.S. election being “stolen” from Donald Trump.

He also participated in a YouTube blood ritual established by a man who claims to be the reincarnation of Satan.

Police were called to Christ the King High School in Leduc on March 15 after 17-year-old Jennifer Winkler was stabbed by a fellow student. The suspect fled the school but police arrested him in a nearby neighbourhood more than two hours later. Pountney is facing one count of first-degree murder.

“I’m serious when I say this, the world is already ended,” Pountney said, shirtless and pensive, in a 20-minute video posted Feb. 25. “The world is in a state of upheaval. We’re trapped in our bodies; we’re trapped in an iron grid. If I were to start a war I would do it silently, just like the rulers did, by means of fluoridation, by means of chemtrails, by means of false food.”

Pountney also promoted more obscure conspiracy theories. One posits that most people on Earth are “human prison bars,” or inhuman beings existing to keep real humans in line. Another claims people are “gang stalked,” or surveilled, by demons.

Experts say ideas like these are dangerous and spreading quickly.

Marc-Andre Argentino, a PhD candidate at Concordia University who studies conspiracy theories and how extremist groups leverage technology, said conspiracies are also starting to gain younger followers.

“(The demographic) has gotten a lot younger with the pandemic, simply because of how a lot of the conspiracy-type disinformation had blended in together into the mainstream around COVID-19,” he said.

Argentino said it’s hard to make conclusions about the influence conspiracy theories might have on a person committing an act of violence. Some people might post to be “edgy,” while others might take the ideas more seriously.

On Christmas day in Nashville, a man who set off a bomb that killed himself and injured eight others had talked about a conspiracy of lizard people taking over the planet. In October, a Wisconsin pharmacist who believed in Flat Earth and other conspiracy theories destroyed more than 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses. In 2018, a man affiliated with Proud Boys and QAnon stabbed his brother because he believed he was a lizard posing as a human.

“Conspiracy theories alone don’t necessarily lead someone to violence, but they do create an environment that the right person with the right trigger could mobilize through violence,” Argentino said.

Pountney posted 37 videos on YouTube in the past four months, most of them in the month leading up to the killing. About half were unrelated to conspiracy theories. He uploaded more than 80 videos to Instagram in the same time frame, most showing him smoking cigarettes.

Janja Lalich, a sociology professor, researcher and educator specializing in cults and extremist groups, said the groups she studies recruit most successfully in times of societal turmoil.

“The last few years people have been really unsettled between Trump and all the protests and riots and then COVID and all of that,” Lalich said. “People are pecking around on the internet and they’re getting directed here, there, and everywhere and they’re taking the time to check things out, and they’re just going from one thing to the next.”

In one video posted to YouTube a week before the stabbing, the 19-year-old cuts his finger and bleeds onto a handwritten letter that reads, “I spill my blood to bring fourth (sic) heaven on earth for the benifit (sic) of all. Thank you Mr Satan.” At the end, he says, “Our movement is growing.” He posted seven similar videos over the last three months.

Dozens of people have made nearly identical videos on YouTube as part of a blood magic ritual called Blood Over Intent. In a separate video dated Feb. 15, Pountney mentions being on escitalopram for PTSD and said the pharmaceutical drug, along with Blood Over Intent, opened up a “flow of information” and pathway of memories.

Blood Over Intent appears to have been started by Mark Braun, better known by his YouTube alias Quasiluminous, who claims to be Satan incarnate. Braun says he opened the “book of life” in 2013 and he alone holds the power to bring 144,000 people to a paradise entered through a black hole in the centre of the flat, hollow Earth. The only way for followers to get into the book—thus gaining entrance to paradise—is to state their intent and spill their own blood in a YouTube video.

Two days after the killing, a YouTube user commented on Pountney’s blood ritual video, saying, “I worship you.”

Dangerous groups “are proliferating online in a way that is fairly incredible,” said Rick Ross, a deprogrammer, cult specialist, and founder of the Cult Education Institute.

None of the ideas Pountney espoused online explicitly encourage violence against others, but Ross said imagery of blood, death, and the apocalypse can push someone who is already mentally unstable over the edge.

After the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol Building that was largely organized on the internet by conspiracy-peddling groups like QAnon, Proud Boys, and Three Percenters, Ross worries that violence from online groups could become more common. He said YouTube should be looking more closely at people who use the platform for recruitment and indoctrination.

“All of us need to be involved, but that doesn’t negate the fact that YouTube also has a responsibility–as does Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,” he said.

YouTube deleted 30,000 videos in the past five months for spreading coronavirus misinformation, and has suspended Donald Trump’s YouTube channel since January citing a risk of violence.

YouTube reviewed the Quasiluminous channel and several Blood Over Intent videos and sent Vice World News an email saying its teams “determined they do not violate our harmful and dangerous policies. We also didn’t find any segments explicitly encouraging others to participate.”

Alberta RCMP would not say whether they are investigating Pountney’s online activity or his belief in conspiracy theories. A spokesperson sent Vice World News a statement saying police “continue to investigate all background information that may be of relevance to this homicide” and “it will be a lengthy process for the RCMP to accurately determine what the motivation was behind this crime.”

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