Santa Fe Witches (17th century) Two women accused of murder by bewitchment who were tried by the Inquisition.
The charges were made in Santa Fe, New Mexico, by Spanish immigrants against a mexican Indian, Beatriz de Los Angeles, and her daughter, Juana de la Cruz, a half-breed. Both women, especially de Los Angeles, were feared by many in Santa Fe for their alleged diabolical powers. It was rumored that de Los Angeles had poisoned two of her servants to death in order to test out a new recipe for a potion. Another servant told stories of her mistress casting evil spells with poppets that she buried beneath her hearth or hung from trees.
De Los Angeles was rumored to have poisoned to death one of her lovers, Diego Bellido, who beat her during an argument. The poison was mixed in a bowl of cornmeal gruel. Bellido fell ill with severe abdominal pain and died within a few weeks. She also put a death hex on a royal officer, Hernando Martinez, because he slept with her daughter.
De la Cruz was said to have the Evil Eye, causing children and animals to fall ill and sometimes die. She flew
about at night inside an egg to spy on her lovers. When she discovered that her husband was unfaithful, she gave him some poisoned enchanted milk and killed him.
The anxiety over the women reached such a pitch that an officer of the Inquisition was informed of their evil deeds. After a thorough investigation, however, Father Estéban de Perea concluded that there was no evidence of witchcraft and that the women were the victims of malicious gossip. The case against them was closed.
Had the case arisen in Europe, where the witch hysteria was much stronger, the two women most likely would have been tortured, tried and executed.
- Simmons, marc. Witchcraft in the Southwest: Spanish and Indian Supernaturalism on the Rio Grande. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1974.