LOWELL, Ma. – A Massachusetts woman is at the center of a kidnapping investigation after authorities say she broke into a neighbor’s home and lured an eight year-old boy into the woods before using ‘black magic’ to turn him into a salamander. Nineteen year-old Audrey Raines of Lowell was taken into federal custody on January 29th and is being held without bond at Bridgewater State Hospital.
The victim – whose name has been withheld because of his age – was transferred to the FBI’s state-of-the-art crime lab in Quantico, Virginia, where forensic scientists are working around the clock to determine if and how they can revert him back to human form. “It’s baffling,” said FBI Special Agent Matthew McGillicuddy. “When you look at the newt, you don’t think, ‘That’s a human being in there.’ But that’s the truth. It’s a hard thing to wrap your mind around.”
Under the supervision of a Catholic priest, federal investigators conducted a prayer test on Ms. Raines in late January with the intent of establishing proof of devilry. While authorities say Ms. Raines passed the prayer test, new evidence suggests it may have been a ruse. “At the time, the suspect was able to recite the Lord’s Prayer and did so without mistakes or omissions,” explained Special Agent McGillicuddy. “However, as Ms. Raines has no known affiliation with the Catholic Church, we have reason to believe she may have been coached prior to the session.”
On February 8, a federal judge issued a court order granting the FBI the authority to force Ms. Raines to perform an incantation on the salamander in an effort to free the victim from the curse. “Essentially they’re talking about placing the suspect in a room with the victim and compelling her – by whatever means are at their disposal – to recite a spell or chant,” Richard Sullivan, a professor at UMass Amherst, told Real News Right Now. “The hope is that this would, in effect, reverse whatever malediction was used to render this poor child into an altered state.”
While federal authorities remain hopeful that the incantation will work, experts say it’s unlikely the eight year-old victim will ever regain the opportunity to lead a normal life. “This particular species of salamander has a very short lifespan – we’re talking twelve to fifteen years at best,” said Franklin Park Zoo’s chief herpetologist, Dr Maurice Fillmore. “My advice to the family is to keep it in a damp container with ample ventilation,” Fillmore told Real News Right Now, adding, “I think it’s the best they can do given the circumstances.”