Updated: Nov 29, 2020
The following has been transcribed from an original 1975 Lakeland Ledger digital newspaper archive. This article has been re-typed and organized from existing digital Lakeland Ledger archives; I've simply transcribed them for informational and readability purposes. I do not claim any ownership/authorship of these particular articles.
above: The Lakeland Ledger original newspaper article - Monday, October 27th, 1975.
Sourced from Google News Lakeland Ledger Digital Archives.
The Lakeland Ledger:
Monday, October 27, 1975
'Witch of Lakeland' Urged Kill, Kill, Kill
Drug And Demons And Polk's Youth
Editors Note: The only names that have not been changed in this story are those of
Ralph Miller and law enforcement officials. All others have been changed for two reasons: some persons still fear for their lives, and to protect those close to Miller's disappearance who have not been charged with a crime.
By Jim Degennaro & Calvin Engh | Ledger Staff Writers
Kill narcs and cops for any reason.
Kill your parents if they hassle you.
Kill preachers because they tell you lies.
These commands are cold and empty but they made up a satanic philosophy preached several years ago to many Lakeland teenagers by a middle-aged woman who believe she would give birth to the devil's baby.
Shortly after Charles Manson and some of his followers were arrested in California in 1969 for the brutal Tate-LaBiance murders, Sara, the Witch of Lakeland, left that state and came to Lakeland where she soon attracted an occult-like following.
Teenagers high on drugs and in search of kicks were her raw material. Shaping this material into a band of faithful disciples, Sara employed a variety of techniques. She sensed and capitalized on their needs. If they needed drugs she gave these away freely.
Black magic and satanism were also her tools of deception. And most importantly, Sara used fear, very, very effectively. Sara did not need guns or knives herself to control her followers - her word was enough to evoke fear into people.
According to persons close to Sara five years ago, it was on her orders Ralph Miller was taken to the Lakeland Highlands in September of 1970 and killed because she believed he was a drug informant. She was known as the "Witch of Lakeland" and had several Hell's Angels for bodyguards.
Police knew her as a heavy drug dealer. Some of the youths under her influence, who were as young as 12, called her "mother". What went on in Sara's dark and bizarre world of Satan worship and black masses, and how did she manipulate the minds of local teenagers and turn them against authority?
Some of her inner circle, including her understudy in the black arts, gave taped statements to The Ledger and Sheriff's Sgt. Al Lang. Following are conversations from these tapes with Mary, Sara's understudy and successor as the Witch of Lakeland.
"Soon after I met Sara, she started telling me about her beliefs in witchcraft," Mary said. "She gave me the Satan's Bible and all the books on the supernatural, the occult, witchcraft, and witches' rites." There was one book in her satanic library, however, that Sara wanted her young apprentice to study thoroughly and and understand clearly. That book was "Rosemary's Baby."
"I never read the book or saw the movie or anything, and this was much later, but she forced me to read the book and said, 'This is my prophecy - this is what I'm here for. This is what I'm going to be.' The book was about a woman who was raped by the Devil and had his devil-child," Mary said. "At first, I didn't know what Sara was talking about." The ambiguity soon faded. Sara told Mary that she thought she would conceive the devil's baby but she would not be raped. The older witch believed that she was chosen - "A Virgin Mary-type to the Devil" - and that the right man would come along and that man would be Satan.
Later, Sara thought she had found her "Satan-lover," a man who was recently charged with three violent murders and who is in a Florida jail awaiting trial. "Sara believed her baby would grow up and be another Jesus and preach things, except he would turn things around in a different direction from the way Jesus tried to do it," Mary said. "She honestly believed all of this."
Soon after the confused teenager heard about Sara's strange prophecy, her life changed drastically. She began going to Sara's Lakeland home every evening where she would receive daily rations of drugs, some of which were manufactured in the house where a chemical lab was set up. It was during these nights that Sara began preparing her new follower for an internship for witchcraft.
"She was constantly preaching to me like a preacher to me like a preacher would preach about Jesus," Mary said. "She told me about the coming of the devil and that the only way to survive was to turn to witchcraft and Satan worship. She also said she would protect and take care of me and that I would become one of hers." Mary by this time realized her satanic teacher was schizophrenic. At one moment, Sara would comfort her like a mother like a mother coddles her child, and the next minute she would be a ruthless demon.
"Sara preached if anybody was a narc or a policeman, it was fine to kill them under any circumstance." she said. "It didn't matter if they were after you or had done something wring to you - if they had anything to do with the police they should be dead." Sheriff's Lt. Chuck Keeney, who has been investigating Ralph Miller's disappearance, said his life was threatened at the time he was interviewing persons associated with Sara's cult-like following.
"If you didn't like someone or someone aggravated you or got on your nerves, Sara said you should kill them," Mary said. "If they bothered you, then they shouldn't be on this earth because we were the chosen ones. We were the devil's disciples."