Salisbury man’s body found buried at home of self-proclaimed Satanist
Published 3:27 pm Friday, October 24, 2014
This week the family of Joshua Wetzler are preparing for his funeral, but are left with unanswered questions following his mysterious disappearance and subsequent murder.
Two weeks ago investigators with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office unearthed skeletal remains of Wetzler and another man, Tommy Dean Welch, buried in the backyard of a Clemmons home.
Wetzler and Welch, who had been missing for five years, were found in shallow graves Oct. 5. Investigators believe the two men were killed in 2009.
Pazuzu Algarad, 35, and Amber Nicole Burch, 24, have both been charged with first-degree murder and accessory after the fact. Krystal Nicole Matlock, 28, was also charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder.
Investigators believe Algarad, who changed his name from John Alexander Lawson, to the name of the demon from the movie the Exorcist, killed Joshua Wetzler in July 2009 and Burch killed Welch in October 2009. Both Algarad and Burch helped the other bury Wetzler and Welch in the backyard. Algarad is a self-proclaimed Satanist and is said to have performed satanic rituals at his home.
Earlier this week autopsy reports say the two men died as a result of gunshot wounds. The three charged are expected to appear in court today.
Wetzler’s mother, Martha, arrived earlier this week from New York to help make funeral arrangements and speak with North Carolina law enforcement officials. The Post was unable to reach Martha Wetzler for comments, but did speak with Stacey Carter, the ex-girlfriend of Wetzler and the mother of his 10-year-old son, Jared. She and her son live in Salisbury.
The former couple met in 1999 while Carter was traveling and Joshua Wetzler was living in Olympia, Wash. The two moved back to North Carolina. Wetzler soon enrolled in school where he learned to shoe horses. In 2002, Carter and Wetzler bought property in Mocksville where they planned to open an equine center.
The pair got in over their heads with the construction project and weren’t able to continue. Soon after Jared was born, Wetzler and Carter split and she moved out of the home they shared.
She said Wetzler ran into some trouble after he was charged with possession of psychedelic mushrooms. He’d begun hoof trimming and lost some clients because of his conviction, Carter said.
She said despite his troubles, Wetzler was a “wonderful dad and a super nice guy.”
Wetzler couldn’t be put into a box, was very outspoken and very much into animal welfare, she said, which was one of the reasons he stop shoeing horses and switched to hoof trimming.
She last saw Wetzler in 2009 and he’d been working for the Renaissance Festival. The festival organizers wanted Josh to travel with them, but his probation prevented him from doing so, she said.
She assumed Wetzler just absconded from probation and left anyway.
“I didn’t hear from him. I told Jared ‘I think your dad went on a long trip and there’s no phone,’ ” she said.
It never occurred to Carter to report Wetzler missing, she said, until sometime in early 2009 when a friend to tell Carter she’d heard a rumor that “Josh was buried in Pazuzu’s backyard.”
Carter said she didn’t know Algarad and figured police would think she was crazy, but she contacted them. According to Carter, authorities searched Algarad’s yard, but found nothing.
A friend of Carter’s said she spoke to a girl who lived in Winston-Salem and said she’d seen Josh Wetzler being buried in Algarad’s back yard. So Carter contacted law enforcement again and they found nothing following another search.
She’d heard Algarad would tell people stories just for shock value and she believed maybe it wasn’t true Wetzler was in the backyard. Wetzler’s car had been found abandoned behind a Winston-Salem apartment building.
It was in 2010 that Carter gave up hope of finding Wetzler alive. She’d contacted members of his family who all reported they’d not seen or heard from him.
“There’s no way he’d be alive and not contact his son,” Carter said.
When she told Jared his father was dead, she said, he seemed relieved.
Carter said she believes for him the feeling of being abandoned was psychologically harder than accepting his father’s death.
She figured law enforcement had done all they could and she went on with her life. She worked at a number of horse farms where she specialized in equine facilitated therapy
“It was hard to talk about. What do you tell people, that he’s missing or presumed murdered,” she said.
She’s relieved to know what happened to Wetzler, but wishes she had more answers.
For instance, she isn’t sure how Wetzler met Algarad and Burch.
“Somehow their paths crossed. Maybe he knew someone who knew them. I don’t know what brought him there. He had a lot of new friends,” Carter said.
She said throughout the years she’d heard rumors of Wetzel’s body being buried behind the Clemmons house, but there was never any mention of a second body. She said she’d never heard of or met Tommy Welch. She’s not sure if Wetzler had met Welch before.
Carter admits she was nervous about speaking to media when the story was first reported. She soon warmed to the idea of speaking about Wetzler, she said, so people know the real Josh Wetzler.
“It was important for me to let people know he was not someone associated with satanic rituals. We’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from family and friends,” Carter said.
She explained a few things to her son as much as was age appropriate.
“We prepared him. He’s going to find out and he needs to know,” she said.
The Salisbury native recently branched out on her own to form — Heart Centered Horsemanship, where she teaches riding, horsemanship and holds horse camps and workshops.
She believes therapeutic riding programs can help at-risk youth and wishes some similar program had been available to help Algarad as a youth.
Authorities have released few details, but say they are continuing to investigate.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.