Pazuzu Algarad, an avowed Satanist accused of killing one of two men buried for five years in the backyard of a Clemmons house, apparently killed himself the day before he was due in Forsyth District Court, officials said Wednesday.

Algarad, 36, who was facing a first-degree murder charge, was found unresponsive with a wound to his arm at 3 a.m. Wednesday at Central Prison in Raleigh, where he had been since May 13 on a sealed safe-keeping order. Prison officials tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at 4:20 a.m.

State prison officials notified the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office at 5:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Algarad’s death comes about a year after the skeletal remains of Joshua Fredrick Wetzler and Tommy Dean Welch were found in the backyard of a now-demolished house on Knob Hill Drive in Clemmons where Algarad lived with his girlfriend, Amber Nicole Burch, and his mother, Cynthia James. Algarad and Burch were each charged with first-degree murder and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Officials have not released many details of Algarad’s death, including how he died, what kind of wound he had, whether there were any weapons in his cell or if he had ever attempted suicide. This was Algarad’s second time at Central Prison. He was first sent there in December 2014 on a safe-keeping order and stayed until mid-April.

Keith Acree, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Public Safety, has said that a transfer for safe-keeping can be for three reasons — security, mental health disorders or medical conditions.

Pamela Walker, a spokeswoman for the agency, said Wednesday that Algarad was housed with the general population and that prison officials conduct bed checks every hour, along with additional formal counts several times a day. She said an autopsy has been requested. She said she could not release more information because of the investigation.

Officials did not say Wednesday whether Algarad was under suicide watch.

The State Capitol Police Department, along with the Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification, is investigating the circumstances of Algarad’s death.

Jim O’Neill, Forsyth County district attorney, said at a news conference Wednesday that it would have been at least a year before Algarad’s case would have gone to trial.

The background

Arrest warrants allege that Algarad killed Wetzler in July 2009 and that Burch, 25, helped Algarad bury Wetzler.

The warrants also allege that Burch killed Welch in October 2009 and that Algarad helped Burch bury Welch.

Krystal Nicole Matlock, 29, is charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and is accused of helping bury Wetzler.

Algarad, Burch and Matlock were all scheduled to appear in Forsyth District Court today, though the case would likely have been continued. Burch and Matlock remain in the Forsyth County jail.

Missing for five years

On Oct. 5, 2014, Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at 2749 Knob Hill Drive in Clemmons. They soon found skeletal remains later identified as belonging to Wetzler and Welch. Wetzler disappeared in July 2009, and Welch vanished in October 2009.

Sheriff’s detectives have not said what connection, if any, Welch and Wetzler had with Algarad and Burch.

According to autopsy reports, Welch was shot once in the back of the head and Wetzler was shot at least seven times, including three times in the head.

Stacey Carter, Wetzler’s former girlfriend and the mother of his son, said Wednesday that a sheriff’s detective called her about 11 a.m. and told her about Algarad’s death. She said she wasn’t surprised.

She said since Wetzler’s body was found, she has been focused on helping with a documentary about the case called “American Monster” that she hopes will help raise awareness on mental illness.

“You can’t throw them away,” Carter said about people who suffer from mental illness. “I think we live in this throw-away society.”

She said there needs to be more efforts at intervention and prevention so that children suffering from mental illness don’t grow up and hurt people.

“We need to address mental illness just like we would if smallpox came back,” Carter said.

A woman who said she was Welch’s aunt said the family did not want to comment.

Mother worried Algarad would kill himself

Algarad’s mother worried that her son might kill himself one day.

In 2010, psychiatrists had interviewed Cynthia James while Algarad awaited trial on accessory after the fact to involuntary manslaughter. That was in connection with the June 2010 death of Joseph Emmrick Chandler, whose body was found near the Yadkin River. Psychiatrists wanted to see if Algarad was competent to stand trial.

He was eventually convicted of the charge.

Algarad, according to the psychiatric report, had told psychiatrists at the now-closed Dorothea Dix Hospital that he had practiced a Sumerian religion that involved the monthly sacrifice of a small animal. He said he would have to perform the ritual during what he called the “black moon” and asked if he could get out of the hospital to perform it.

James told psychiatrists that she was afraid Algarad might try to kill himself if he could not perform the “dark moon” sacrifice.

Law-enforcement officials have said that Algarad had performed “satanic rituals and animal sacrifices” at the Knob Hill house. Pentagrams and other Satanic messages were scrawled onto the walls of the house, and there were what appeared to be animal carcasses. The house was deemed unfit for human habitation by Forsyth County inspectors and later demolished.

‘A life is lost’

O’Neill declined to comment on how Algarad’s death might affect the pending cases against Algarad’s co-defendants.

“In any case where a life is lost ... he has a family and he has friends and we don’t celebrate the loss of life in these sorts of situations. It is sad for them and out of respect for them we just wouldn’t have any further comment on it,” O’Neill said.

A friend of Burch’s who lives in South Carolina said she was not shocked that Algarad had died.

“I’m not the kind of person to wish death on anybody,” said Burch’s friend, who spoke to the Winston-Salem Journal last spring about Burch, and did not want to be named in the articles. “I think he got what he deserved, either way. It is not for me to judge. I am not shocked. It is a full moon. Halloween is just around the corner. I’m a true believer in karma: You get what you get.”

She said last year that Burch had gone from being a cheerful woman who people had nicknamed Bubbles to someone who never bathed and who had filed her teeth to give them sharp points.

The friend wondered then and wonders now if Algarad brainwashed Burch.

“The last week or so, Amber has been on my mind,” she said. “Little things or a song would click and make me think of her. The way I think about it now, if I ever get a chance to talk to Amber this is going to be my turning point on how I see her: If it is really Amber, or if she is really crazy as well. I hope it is the case that he was crazy enough to drag her in.”

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily morning newsletter.

wyoung@wsjournal.com (336)727-7369 mhewlett@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7326

Recommended for you

Load comments