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Crime News Snapped

"Evil, Demented": Man Kills Girlfriend After He Claims She Broke Wiccan Blood Oath

“What he did was not Wicca,” Julie Roberts said on Snapped of Eric Christensen's crime. “It was demonic … sick."

By Caitlin Schunn

A Washington state man laughed as he was being sentenced for the brutal murder and dismemberment of his girlfriend.

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Police said Eric Christensen and Sherry Harlan had made a blood oath to stay together just days before her death, and when he believed she “broke” the oath, he got revenge. But the extent of that revenge shocked law enforcement and the community.

“This is a really ugly, heinous, heinous crime,” Rebecca Morris, a true crime author, said on Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.

Sherry Harlan Goes Missing

On January 5, 2010, Sherry Harlan’s coworker called 911 in Everett, Washington to say she was worried after Harlan had missed a few shifts. Her friends had also expressed concerns that they couldn’t reach Harlan. When officers went to Harlan’s apartment for a welfare check, they immediately knew something was wrong.

“There was an obvious odor of bleach,” Craig Matheson, prosecutor, said on Snapped. “There were portions of both tile from the flooring and carpet that had been cut out. In the back bedroom, on all four walls, there was blood splatter. So, it was pretty evident that violence had occurred in the bedroom.”

Eric Christensen and Sherry Harlan featured on Snapped season 32 episode 26

Police discovered knife marks in the bedroom mattress. A bloody footprint was also found on a T-shirt inside the apartment. Both Harlan and her dog were missing from the apartment.

A neighbor reported hearing yelling about a week before Harlan was reported missing and seeing a man outside next to Harlan’s car with the dog inside of the car.

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As police interviewed family and friends, they learned Harlan had two important men in her life and was romantically involved with both.

In the spring of 2009, Harlan had begun dating a man named Eric Christensen that she met through a dating app. She also met a man named Dan Young on a dating site. Young was aware that Harlan was dating Christensen, but by November 2009, he bought her a laptop, provided a down payment on her apartment, and even helped her get furniture.

Sherry Harlan's Relationship with Eric Christensen

As Harlan and Christensen dated, they both practiced the pagan religion of Wicca and belonged to the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. But churchgoers said Christensen didn’t fit the typical Wicca mold at the church, and wanted to break off to start his own coven.

“He was trying to recruit people into that,” Belladonna Laveau, Wiccan archpriestess, said on Snapped. “He had these other ideas that are not really Wiccan that he wanted to incorporate into that coven culture.”

Friends expressed concerns that as Harlan dated Christensen, she became afraid of him.

“There was something odd about him, and he was quick to anger,” Julie Roberts, a friend of Sherry’s, said on Snapped. “He was always right on that edge of dangerous, and I didn’t like it. He scared me.”

Christensen was a registered sex offender for a previous statutory rape and had also been in prison before for trying to kill an ex-girlfriend. Harlan and Christensen met not long after his release from prison, but she was unaware of his history.

By November 2009, their relationship became strained, so she left him and moved into the apartment Dan Young helped her to get.

“I asked her what she’s going to do next, and she’s like, ‘Well, I have to go back to him,’” Elizabeth Kohl, a friend of Sherry’s, said on Snapped. “I’m like … 'You don’t have to go back,’ and she just very nonchalantly said, ‘No, he’ll kill me if I leave.’”

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Christensen soon discovered her new address. Her phone records show Christensen was the last person to call her before she disappeared.

Eric Christensen Investigated for Murder of Sherry Harlan

Police searched for Christensen and found him at a medical center, where he was being treated for a hand injury that he claimed came from three men attempting to rob him.

He admitted he was angry with Harlan during the conversation.

“Yeah, I was mad,” he said on a police recording. “I was really mad at her … because of her sugar daddy.”

Christensen said in order to “purify” their relationship, he went to Harlan’s apartment on Dec. 18, 2009, and the two made a blood oath to each other where she promised to be with only him.

“She said she wanted me,” Christensen said on the police recording. “And so, she put three drops of her own blood in … and mix[ed] it up, all up, and it got burned.”

Christensen also told officers the consequences for breaking a blood oath.

“If we were in the ancient times, you could get stoned, beaten, bludgeoned, cast out,” he said on a police recording. “And in some cases, from what I understand, death.”

But just two weeks later, he told officers he discovered she was breaking the oath, when he went through her phone and saw she’d been texting Dan Young. He admitted to confronting her over the oath.

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“That means she is no good. Her blood is garbage,” Christensen told police during an interview. “The ancient text, ways, she’d become a warlock … it’s a Scottish word. It means oath breaker, traitor, enemy.”

Although he admitted they had a fight, he told police he didn’t know where the missing Harlan was located.

When police searched his home, they found jeans with blood, a bloody sock that had been partially burned, and a shoe that matched the bloody footprint left behind at Harlan’s apartment.

Although no body had been found, Christensen was arrested.

On January 7, 2010, police got a tip concerning an abandoned vehicle in the wilderness. Identified as Harlan’s missing vehicle, it had been set on fire and burnt.

A skull, belonging to Harlan, was on the front seat of the vehicle. Knives, identified as coming from Harlan’s kitchen, were also found in the vehicle. The tip of a knife was found in the skull.

Just days later, on January 11, 2010, a man named Ryan, who was a friend of Christensen’s, contacted police and said he’d been a witness to the couple’s blood oath. He also told police Christensen contacted him on Jan. 3 and wanted his help. He found Christensen with Harlan’s car.

“As they were driving in the car, Eric said he had Sherry’s body in the trunk,” Tedd Betts, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Detective, said on Snapped.

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Ryan agreed to help Christensen dispose of Harlan’s body parts. Over two days, he told police he drove Christensen around, while Christensen threw bags out the window, or even stopped to bury some. He agreed to show investigators the locations of the stops.

“There were some parts that were never found,” Kelly Lafrance, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Detective said on Snapped.

The medical examiner found Harlan had several stab wounds to her torso, and a stab wound to her head. There was evidence her body had been cut apart with a knife.

Harlan’s missing dog was never found.

In May 2010, Christensen went on trial for Harlan’s murder. His friend, Ryan, got immunity for testifying at trial.

On June 18, a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.

“What sticks out the most is that he just laughed about it,” Lafrance said. “He was being led away, and he was just smirking, and he didn’t even care.”

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Christensen was sentenced to 37.5 years in prison.

“There’s no justice in 37.5 years,” Kohl said. “But I don’t know that 99 years or the death penalty would be justice either. He had zero remorse. And if you aren’t sorry for what you’ve done, there’s nothing to stop you from doing it again.”

Christensen is scheduled to be released from prison in 2047. He’ll be 78 years old.

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