New Jersey student Jeanette DePalma Murder has links to witches, demon worship and serial killers

A series of shocking events lead to the discovery of Jeannette DePalma’s body in the woods, where it has “rotted” but the girl’s suspected murder case remains shrouded in mystery 50 next year is still unanswered.

On September 19, 1972, a dog returned from playing in a wooded area with a foreign object in its mouth and began “playing with it” on the lawn of a nearby apartment building in Springfield. , New Jersey.

Moments later, the pet’s owner went to examine what appeared to be a “large bone” and screamed when he realized it was “a human arm,” according to a police report obtained by The Daily Beast. . The Springfield Police Department was called to the scene and officers involved later recounted what they saw upon arriving at the woman’s home before the horrifying discovery.

“She took me to the back door of her apartment and in a blue bag she gave me the arm of a woman,” Officer J. Schwerdt said in the report.

“The lower left arm. On the nails is a layer of white nail polish. “

Jeanette DePalma, content, and media posts about her suspected murder.

Illustrated by Luis G. Rendon / The Daily Beast / Getty

Search teams then scoured the Houdaille Quarry behind the residential building. It wasn’t long before they stumbled across an “upper arm bone” and the remains of a corpse, face down and fully clothed in a small clearing atop a steep hill.

“Around the body were logs across the head to the right side and a small branch under both legs,” Schwerdt stated in the report.

Chief Medical Examiner Bernard Ehrenberg was also called to the scene where he declared the girl, who was unidentified at the time, dead.

Dental records later confirmed that the body belonged to 16-year-old local high school student, Jeannette DePalma, who had been reported missing by her mother six weeks earlier.

“She was found… lying face down with a block of ice surrounding her body,” Ehrenberg wrote in his medical examiner’s report.

He determined that an autopsy could not be performed because of “a marked state of decomposition”. For the same reason, an undetermined cause of death should be classified as “suspicious” rather than a homicide.

According to the report, an examination of the skeleton and X-rays revealed no evidence of bullet holes, fractures or trauma.

The case remained unsolved for half a century later.

But one theory that dominated early media coverage persisted for decades after it was rumored that DePalma’s body was found surrounded by sticks formed into the outline of a saint. rack and a coffin.

News headlines about DePalma’s death inquest shouted: “Murder investigation sheds light on witchcraft cult” and “Jersey murder investigation sheds light on witchcraft” .

The Associated Press reported at the time that “authorities say Jeannette’s death may be related to an ‘organization’ or witchcraft association believed to exist in the area.”

Springfield Sheriff George Parsell was then quoted in the article as saying: “I heard that some people from the department were said to have brought a witch out there (to help with the investigation) but I have no idea what that is. there,” he said.

There have also been reports of demon worship, with locals also sharing stories of children holding poses, praying to Satan and sacrificing chickens, pigeons, and the occasional goat in the park around the nearby Watchung Reserve. And then there’s the name of the cliff where DePalma’s body was found: Devil’s Teeth.

Pastor James Tate, pastor of the church DePalma attended, told reporters he believes Satanists captured and killed the girl because of her faith.

“She was very religious so she often talked to her friends and acquaintances about God,” he said at the time.

He claims that she tried to preach to demonic worshipers about Christ, and that “their fanaticism arose and they killed her” but admitted his theory was not based solely on on a personal belief. However, it is one that has been shared by many others.


Jeanette DePalma’s death is linked to claims of witchcraft and Satanism.

Illustrated by Luis G. Rendon / The Daily Beast / Getty

Edward Salzano, now 59, grew up around Springfield and also believes that “an evil group of Satelliteists killed Jeannette”.

Salzano was a close friend of DePalma’s nephew, John Blancey, who was living with his aunt at the time of her death, according to Freedom of Information documents obtained by The Daily Beast.

He said the two tried to solve the case on their own when it looked like the police had reached a dead end. Blancey tragically died about four years ago but Salzano says it only made him determined to uncover the truth about what really happened to DePalma, despite never having met her.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Salzano said he spoke to many of DePalma’s friends, family members and acquaintances, as part of an independent investigation into her death over the past eight years. . And, according to him, there was a common theme: “They were all scared to death,” he said.

About what, he said he didn’t know, but Salzano insists there was a “huge cover-up” and that almost everyone he spoke to either knew about the case or DePalma shared his beliefs. that “a Satanic cult targeted Jeannette and killed her.” He said DePalma is a “devoted Christian” who “will preach to others about leaving paganism and witchcraft behind.” He believes this made her a target and even has an unverified theory as to the timing of DePalma’s death.

“The legend is there,” he said.

“They wanted to kill someone — a child — for Halloween and that’s what they did.”

Salzano also claims he developed a relationship with the last person to see DePalma alive – one of her girlfriends died – and who he said he believed was linked to the cult. and possibly the death of her friend.

“She would call me in the middle of the night,” he said.

“One thing she never stops talking about is the Satanic cult.

“(Jeannette) has been set up.”

For years, rumors swirled around Springfield about other possible suspects: a transient working nearby; a watchman; and a guy driving a red Ford, among others. But the police did not find anything to connect these people to the crime.

There is even speculation that her death was the work of a serial killer.

A New Jersey State Police investigative report obtained by The Daily Beast found that officials discovered the possibility that DePalma was the victim of a potential serial killer by comparing her case with four other murders in the area but eventually found they had “nothing in common”.

The investigators also looked into the possibility of accidental drug overdose or suicide, but found no evidence to support either hypothesis.

The clues in the DePalma case eventually dried up and the case cooled until a letter was sent to the editors of the DePalma case. Strange New Jerseya magazine devoted to local folklore and lore, sparked interest in DePalma’s death in 1997.

Then, in 2015, authors Jesse P. Pollack and Mark Moran released a book on the case, Death on the Devil’s Teeth: The Strange Murder That Shakes Up New Jersey suburbs and presented theories but no specific answers as to what happened to DePalma.

In 2019, the writers obtained a case file with photos of the body, which casts doubt on this cult theory. An expert on Satanic images says that the arrangement of the rocks, sticks and logs appear to have been placed naturally and is not the work of devil worshipers.

Springfield Police Chief John Cook told The Daily Beast that the case received no new evidence.

“What I can say about this case right now is that it is still an active suspicious death case, as there is not yet any evidence to be able to officially make that judgment. a murder,” he said.

Salzano, who has unsuccessfully sued the Union County Prosecutor’s Office in hopes of being able to force the agency to examine DePalma’s clothes and fingernails for DNA, believes there is only one way to find DePalma’s killer.

“We need to determine the cause of death by making the X-Rays public… and we need to do (advanced) DNA testing,” he told The Daily Beast.

“We heard everything (about how she died) from being strangled, to being shot with an arrow, to being stabbed in the head.

“An agency other than the county office needs to address this.”

Today, a Facebook page — Justice for Jeannette DePalma — run by Salzano and his partner is dedicated to preserving her memory and searching for answers.

“The main reason her murder could not be investigated and solved is that no cause of death has been determined, so her case is still being treated as a ‘suspicious death’,” Salzano said.

“This terrible murder will never be solved until this first step is taken.

“Jeannette just turned 16 years old and was a sweet loving person who believed in God and was brutally murdered and left in the rotten woods… and we want Justice for Jeannette DePalma before it gets too late.”

Springfield Deputy Mayor Chris Weber, also a retired detective and Newark Police Chief, said he spoke with Springfield Cook Sheriff about reviewing DePalma’s case. According to Weber, Cook was receptive and “wants this case resolved as well.”

He told The Daily Beast: “A fresh set of eyes and a fresh perspective always helps confirm or question facts of the case.

“I don’t think this is a perfect crime. Somewhere, something, some connection is waiting to be found and that will be the breaking point of the case.”

Weber said locals are still interested in finding answers to what happened to DePalma.

“In my few years as a town official, I have had several people ask me about this case,” Weber said. “They’re always interested in it or they recall a time when it happened and some of the stories they’ve heard over the years.”

“I believe any law enforcement officer has the same desire to be able to have a case, as important as this one, finally resolved. That’s why we became policemen.” New Jersey student Jeanette DePalma Murder has links to witches, demon worship and serial killers

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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