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 - Wednesday, October 29th, 1975.
Sourced from Google News Lakeland Ledger Digital Archives.
The Lakeland Ledger:
Wednesday, October 29, 1975
Sara's Fear Of Reality Believed Key To Violence
Drugs And Demons And Polk's Youth Part 4
Editors Note: This is a continuation of taped statements made to the sheriff's department and The Ledger by persons close to the Ralph Miller case. The only names that have not been changed are those of Miller and law enforcement officials. All others have been changed to protect persons who fear for their lives and those who have not been charged with a crime.
By Jim Degennaro & Calvin Engh | Ledger Staff Writers
"Sara was always talking about killing people and bragging about how many people she killed and how killing was so much fun." Mary, in a taped statement made to the Ledger and Sheriff's Sgt. Al Lang last week. "I hear her threaten to blow all kinds of people's brains out. Sara could be very ruthless - she had fire in her eyes." - a statement made by her former neighbor of the "Witch of Lakeland" to the Ledger Tuesday night.
As shocking and sickening as those statements sound, they helped compose part of the violent and very real world Sara and her mostly teen-aged following emersed themselves in here less than five years ago. The middle-aged, bleached blonde, lived in a home near Florida Southern College. From there, she built a powerbase from which she dictated the lives of a handful of hard core followers and influenced the lives of many young persons.
She gathered men with Hell's Angels connections around her and employed many psychological tools, most prominently fear, to insure her role of dominance.
"Sara, I believe, was frightened of the real world outside her door," Mary, her "adoptive daughter," said. "By raising the level of fear around her, Sara's own fear seemed more normal and socially acceptable." But in the end, this fear she created snapped back at her and many of those under her control:
• Persons close to Sara five years ago have said that because she eventually reached the point that she even distrusted her friends, she ordered that Ralph Miller be taken to the Highlands and killed. The 17-year-old youth had tried to win her approval but she thought he was a drug informant.
• Her youngest son was shot in the heart and killed in a gunfight in California.
• Her former lover is in a Florida prison for armed robbery and auto theft.
• Detectives in California, prompted by investigations made by The Ledger and sheriff's department in Polk County, have reopened a five-year-old homicide case connected to Sara.
And then there is Mary, the distraught teenager to whom Sara preached witchcraft and the occult. According to statements Mary made to the sheriff's department and The Ledger, the satanic teacher also professed violence, even towards loved ones. "Sara once asked me to kill my father because he kept coming by her house, trying to get me out of there," Mary said. "She also devised this plan where I would murder this narc I was dating. She even gave me the knife I was to have used."
Instead of setting the drug informant up to be killed, Mary warned him of his peril. "I got away from Sara for a while, and in my own head, with my own thoughts, I decided killing someone was not sane," she said. "I loved her, but I would not kill for her." Two days after the 22-year-old Lakeland woman made the statement, she threatened to kill Ledger reporters Calvin Engh and Jim DeGennaro.
Engh had picked Mary up at her home and was driving her to Christina Park where an interview was arranged. Just before he reached the recreational area, Engh pulled into a gas station to call DeGennaro and inform him of the rendezvous place. When Engh returned to his car from the phone booth, Mary had picked up the campers pocket knife with a three-inch blade which was lying on the automobile console and in tears, yelled, "I want to kill you and DeGennaro."
She was red-faced, near hysterics, and muttering something about "voices in my head won't leave me alone. Stop it. Stop it." Later, when she had calmed down near to normal, Mary said "Sara was telling me to kill anybody who got in my way - but only for a purpose. To protect Sara from you and what you know about Ralph Miller." Mary also explained that by killing one or both of the reporters, she would become "one of the chosen few"- those with blood on their hands whom Sara professed would take over the world next April.
"Sara was telling me through voices in my head that I had muffed two other chances to join the group who would take over, and that time was running out for me," she said. The chosen few, Mary said, would follow an anti-Christ figure who would radically alter the social and moral structure of the world. Her beliefs in this matter are not new or original. Mass-murderer Charles Manson heard the Beatles "White Album" and believe "Helter Skelter" or a world changed-over - "was coming down so fast so don't let it break you."
Another person who feels that April, 1976 will be the beginning of a whole new ballgame is an inmate of a Florida prison who is awaiting trial on three charges of first degree murder. The person was once associated with Sara and said of her crowd, "I was probably the least violent of the bunch."
When Ledger reporters asked that person about Ralph Miller's disappearance, the inmate said flatly, "Why bother with Ralph Miller? You should be more concerned with what will happen this April. It's coming down and if you don't believe in it, you're lost."
Below is an image showing an additional excerpt within the latest article about Ralph Miller - it's a piece sourced from two undercover narcotics agents who came forward to The Ledger in an attempt to validate the Witch of Lakeland story. They also claim that some involved with Sara and her group are members of prominent families within Lakeland and will never be held fully accountable for their actions: