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Couple admits ritual killings

By JOHN M. LEIGHTY

SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- A couple professing beliefs from pacifism to Moslem militancy admitted Thursday they killed three people in mystic rituals in the suspicion their victims were a demon, a witch and a religious faker.

Michael Bear Carson, 32, and his wife, Suzan, summoned reporters to a jailhouse interview and said higher powers called upon them to dispose of their enemies for their own protection and for the sake of the country's future.

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The Carsons were in Santa Rosa County Jail on charges they murdered Jon Charles Hillyar, 30, in January. They admitted brutally slaying two other victims because Suzan, described by her husband as 'a yogi and a mystic with knowledge of past, present and future events . . . ordered each killing.'

'Witchcraft, homosexuality and abortion are causes for death,' Carson said in the course of a rambling interview the couple gave to reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle and KGO television news. The plain-looking pair said they wished more publicity for their acts and spoke calmly and with frequent smiles for the television camera.

Carson said they fatally stabbed their San Francisco housemate, Keryn Barnes, 23, in March, 1981, because Miss Barnes had 'faked' a conversion to the Moslem religion and was secretly draining Mrs. Carson of her health and mystic powers.

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On a hitchhiking trip through Oxnard, Calif., a rainstorm struck and Mrs. Carson 'got orders' to slay Miss Barnes, she said.

'Each time Suzan said it (that Miss Barnes should be killed) the thunder would clap,' Carson said.

When they arrived back home, Carson said he took a pan off the kitchen stove and hit Miss Barnes over the head 'as hard as I could, three times.'

When she continuedto make slight sounds, he said he stabbed her twice in the neck with a small paring knife, which he later buried on the roadside.

The Carsons admitted fatally shooting Clark Stephens, a man they had worked with on a northern California marijuana farm in 1982, and Hillyar, 30, who they accused of being 'a witch' who sexually abused Mrs. Carson.

Carson said he shot Stephens, 'a demon,' twice in the head and once in the side, burned his body and buried it under chicken fertilizer because he sexually abused his wife.

The couple's hippie lifestyle began in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district and led to wanderings through Europe and the southwestern United States. They said their beliefs ran the gamut from pacifism to their current self-styled version of Islam. They said they adhered to a vegetarian diet and the practiced yoga.

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Carson claimed Hillyar, like Stephens was 'a witch' who had 'abused Suzan sexually.'

He said struggled with Hillyar for 10 minutes before fatally shooting him in the back.

Carson said 'disgust' with the American way of life and a desire for reform contributed to the reasons for his acts, along with the sexual abuse he said his wife suffered from the victims.

He had no choice but to commit the murders, Carson said.

'It was part of the Koran.'

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