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Satanist Held Over Ritual Killing In Park
Police in Greece are investigating whether a self-proclaimed satanist, who has confessed to performing a human sacrifice in a public square in Athens, is part of a bigger cult of dark witchcraft.
The move follows a clandestine police hunt that on Tuesday led to the arrest of Alexandros Papageorgiou, who told authorities he was preparing a second killing to coincide with the weekend summer solstice.
"It appears that he was acting alone," a senior police official told Sky News.
"But the investigation is continuing - trying to determine whether there could have been other accomplices."
The 22-year-old suspect, who was arrested and is currently in custody pending trial, confessed to killing a 41-year-old homeless woman two months ago, on Easter Sunday.
He told police and a local prosecutor the killing was "a ritual act in respect and admiration of Satan".
Described as "deeply disturbed" and a drug addict by his father, he is alleged to have bludgeoned his victim to death, using a heavy stone which he picked up from a park in a southern suburb of Athens.
"I slit my hand with a knife and as blood oozed out I looked around and she was the first person I saw," he said in his confession, leaked to local media Wednesday. "It could have been anyone."
DNA analysis and a fingerprint on a plastic bag containing the murder weapon which police found in a nearby bin led authorities to track the suspect who publicised his activities through social media.
"Plug in the words Satan worshippers on social network sites and you'll find scores of followers here in Greece alone," said Vassilis Doumas, president of Greece's union of elite police forces.
"The hunt now is to decipher whether there are others who could follow."
The suspect, who claimed he confessed his ritual killing to his parents the same night, embraced black arts from the age of 13.
During his arrest, authorities said they confiscated 165g of cannabis from his family apartment.
The murder has kept Greeks glued to their television sets, recalling harrowing memories of similar killings waged by a cult of witchcraft worshippers over a decade ago.
And with the rate of homelessness having spiked by 40% in the four years of financial crisis, public safety concerns have heightened.
Authorities insist police patrols will be beefed up to prevent copy-cat killings.
"We have already increased patrols with the addition of rapid reaction units," Christos Parthenis told Sky News.
"The homeless are citizens of this country also and they, too, will be protected."
The suspect, who faces life imprisonment if convicted of the murder, is due to appear in court on Thursday.