Police: Killing details suggest ritual

Posted Sept. 25, 2009, at 11:08 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Police in Maine’s largest city say items at the scene of the death of a woman who was strangled, decapitated and set afire in May are suggestive of a ritual.

Newly unsealed court affidavits indicate defendant Chad Gurney placed a crucifix and other items on and around the victim’s body before setting a fire in his Portland apartment. The Portland Press Herald says Gurney admitted during a 10-hour interview to buying $2.50 worth of gasoline and using it ignite the victim’s body.

The 28-year-old Gurney is charged with murder and arson in the killing of Zoe Sarnacki of South Portland on Memorial Day. He’s using an insanity defense.

The killing happened two days before Gurney was to fly to Thailand. Gurney’s best friend told police Gurney considered himself “some type of ‘prophet.”’

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