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Self-Proclaimed Satanist Who Took Name of Demon From The Exorcist Kills Multiple People
Pazuzu Algarad and his girlfriend, Amber Burch, were rumored to be devil worshippers who performed rituals like drinking blood and animal sacrifices.
His name was connected to rumors of devil worshipping, animal sacrifice, and other unspeakable things for years in North Carolina — his girlfriend rumored to join in the heinous acts. After years of speculation, searches, and investigations, police finally arrested Pazuzu Algarad and his girlfriend, Amber Burch, after the bodies of missing men Tommy Welch and Joshua Wetzler were found buried in the backyard of the home they shared with Algarad’s mother.
“As she got more and more involved with Pazuzu, she became almost just a female extension of Pazuzu,” Nate Anderson, a friend of Pazuzu Algarad, said on Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5 on Oxygen. “She got more heavily involved in the rituals that they did. They drank one another’s blood. Everything Paz did, Amber did. She was his queen, he was her king, kind of thing.”
Why did police begin investigating Pazuzu Algarad and Amber Burch?
On Feb. 15, 2010, a woman, Stacey Carter, showed up at the Davie County Sheriff’s Office in the North Carolina suburb of Mocksville to report her ex-fiancé and the father of her child, Joshua Wetzler, had been missing for six months.
He had been slowly drifting away from family and friends, so they assumed he’d just gone off the grid for a while. It wasn’t until a friend called Carter and told her, “Josh is buried in Pazuzu’s backyard,” that she became alarmed. Unsure who Pazuzu was, Carter went to law enforcement.
“When I saw Pazuzu's Myspace account, the first thing I thought in my mind was the Manson family,” Lee Whitesides, former Davie County Sheriff’s Lieutenant, said on Snapped. “In the photos, this guy was trying to live that lifestyle. You could tell by the graffiti on the walls, the feel — claiming to do animal sacrifices and the dark moon.”
As police investigated, friends of Algarad shared they were scared of him and said that he’d publicly announced he was a devil worshipper.
“He had tattoos on his face, and his teeth were sharpened,” reporter Michael Hewlett said on Snapped.
Algarad had a history of both anxiety and agoraphobia and started following a religion that used animal sacrifices soon after legally changing his name from John Lawson to Pazuzu Algarad. “Pazuzu” is the name of the demon in the film The Exorcist.
Rumors were flying that he’d killed people, but nobody could prove it.
“In the photos, Pazuzu was doing Satanic worshipping … he made general statements he wanted to be a demon so therefore everybody should bow down to him and respect him and be fearful of him,” Whitesides said. “I’ve never seen anything exactly like this. Pazuzu sorta reminded me of something you’d watch on TV. A horror flick. But here it was in North Carolina.”
Algarad’s home was in neighboring Forsyth County, so law enforcement in Davie County asked for assistance. After Josh Wetzler was reported missing, deputies were able to get a search warrant for Algarad’s home — and found unbelievable living conditions.
“Filthy. Nasty. Unkept,” Whitesides said. “Spiderwebs everywhere. Dirt all over the floors. Supposedly animal carcasses laying around. Unless you’ve been in a death house, there’s no way to mentally prepare yourself for something like this. It was like an air of evil resonating from the basement area where all this was supposedly taking place.”
Although deputies used four K9 cadaver dogs to search the home, there were no signs of dead bodies.
How did family and friends of Pazuzu Algarad change the case?
After nearly two years of investigation but no new leads or evidence, police got a break. In November 2011, Algarad’s mother, Cynthia James, came to them. She reported that in October 2009, a man named Tommy Welch was at the home she shared with her son and his girlfriend, and she heard a gunshot.
“She went down to the basement, at which time she witnessed a male subject slumped over, and he appeared to have been shot,” Whitesides said.
James told deputies the person holding the gun was not her son, but rather his girlfriend, Amber Burch.
Tommy Welch had been reported missing around the same time as the alleged shooting, in October 2009. But police were unable to prove what happened to Welch and didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Algarad or Burch.
Almost three years went by of a stalled investigation until Matthew Flowers, a friend of Algarad’s, came forward in September 2014. He’d been away on a military deployment, but when he returned, his girlfriend, Dixie Ross, told him she’d been contacted by Amber Burch years ago, in 2009. Ross told Flowers when she got to Burch and Algarad’s home, she saw Tommy Welch dead on the ground.
“He’d been shot,” Whitesides said. “Amber and Pazuzu told Dixie, ‘We need your help to bury him. If you say anything, you’ll join him.’”
Ross told Flowers she dug the grave with Burch, and even used a shovel to break Welch’s legs so he’d fit in the grave in the backyard.
Flowers told law enforcement he reported this anonymously in 2009, but nothing happened, so he agreed to go on record with the story this time.
Ross gave deputies a 13-page statement detailing where the body was located. Ross also had pictures of Welch’s dead body and photos of the grave. This was enough evidence for the sheriff’s office to get another search warrant. The bodies of two men were found in Algarad and Burch’s backyard: Tommy Welch and Joshua Wetzler.
“It’s not really something I can wrap my head around,” Anderson said. “I didn’t realize the monstrous things he was capable of.”
Algarad and Burch were arrested and charged with the murders of Welch and Wetzler.
“I think this is an individual who became increasingly anti-social — psychopathic in nature,” Dr. Samuel Gray, forensic psychologist, said on Snapped. “Those traits were reinforced over time. I believe Amber Burch was brought into the influence or circle of Mr. Algarad, and she was willing to engage in whatever behavior he encouraged her to do.”
Pazuzu Algarad never went on trial. He died by suicide in his cell on Oct. 28, 2015.
“He took the coward’s way out,” Martha Wetzler, Josh’s mother, said on Snapped. “And killed himself. Let’s hope he burned in hell.”
Amber Burch pled guilty to multiple charges, including second-degree murder, in Welch’s death.
“Amber just took it upon herself, on the night that they took him, to shoot him,” Carrie Welch, Tommy’s sister-in-law, said on Snapped. “’Let me do it this time.’ That’s cold-blooded.”
Burch was sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison. She’s scheduled to be released on May 20, 2045. The house where Burch, Algarad and his mother, Cynthia James, lived was eventually demolished.
James was never charged in the murders.
“It’s just the evil, the place, I mean, it could never be washed out of it,” Stacey Carter, Wetzler’s ex-fiancé, said on Snapped.
Watch all-new episodes of Snapped on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen and the next day on Peacock.