PALM COAST — The account of a woman recovering from critical injuries she said were inflicted by members of an occult group may be difficult to unravel because it doesn’t match the typical methods used by such groups, an expert in cult activities said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, police investigators released little new information about the case but cult experts and police documents raise some questions about the woman’s account.
But Giambalvo, a Flagler Beach resident, said that doesn’t mean the devil-worship ceremony, stalking, kidnapping and beatings Palm Coast resident Michelle Wood told investigators she endured over the past weekend in two counties didn’t happen.
Wood, 42, of Palm Coast was found lying on the side of U.S. 1 in St. Johns County early Monday with a rope around her right wrist and a bungee cord around her left ankle. She told sheriff’s investigators she had been abducted twice over the weekend by members of an occult group she once associated with and the beatings were in retaliation for her leaving the group to become a Christian.
Wood was said to be recovering from her injuries Wednesday at a St. Augustine hospital. Flagler County sheriff’s investigators, who are now handling the case, said they have spoken to her in the hospital but what they learned isn’t being made public.
Giambalvo said it’s highly unusual for an occult group to employ physical violence against a person, either in a ritual or to stop someone from leaving.
“They stay low-key because they don’t want attention,” Giambalvo said. However, she said it might occur if the person involved was privy to information about illegal activities the group was engaged in.
“Her (Wood’s) statements are inconsistent with known voodoo practices,” Engborg said.
The events of last weekend as described by Wood become more unclear when her explanation to St. Johns investigators of what happened on Sept. 18 — the first time Wood said she was abducted — is compared to a Bunnell police report from that day.