A U.K. man has been convicted in the stabbing murders of two sisters at a park in London last year as part of a supposed “demonic pact” that he carried out in exchange for a devil-influenced lottery win.
Danyal Hussein, 19, was found guilty on Tuesday of murdering Bibaa Henry, 46, and her sister Nicole Smallman, 27, in the brutal knife attack last June.
“Today we remember our girls as the wonderful strong women they were,” the victims’ mother, Mina Smallman, told reporters after the verdict was read out in London. “We hope that some good will come out of this horrible story,” she said.
London Metropolitan Police say Hussein killed the sisters in order to fulfill a “contract” with a “demon” called “King Lucifuge Rofocale,” which he signed with his own blood. Hussein had promised to “sacrifice” six people every six months in exchange for a Mega Millions Super Jackpot lottery win, according to police who found the contract at his mother’s house.
The sisters were celebrating Henry’s birthday with some friends at Fryent Park in Wembley before they were killed, according to police. The party broke up but the sisters stayed into the early hours of the next day, snapping more than 100 photos together during the night. Authorities say they found a “haunting” final photo that showed the women turning to look at what may have been their killer.
Hussein attacked the women with a knife, stabbing Henry eight times before an extended struggle with Smallman. She “put up a very brave fight” and suffered 28 wounds before she was killed, according to Det. Chief Insp. Simon Harding, who led the investigation.
The victims did not know their killer, police said.
Hussein suffered a hand injury during the attack and left bloodstains at the scene, which ultimately helped investigators trace him back to the home where he lived with his mother. He was arrested four weeks after the murders.
Authorities found Hussein’s blood-inked contract and several losing lottery tickets at the home, including three that he’d purchased before the murders. They also found satanic symbols and a hand-written book of spells, including a love spell to make him attractive to women.
“He had a contract made out to the devil,” Harding said. “And it was about sacrificing six women every six months. And in return, this demon would give him wealth.”
Police say Hussein was active on the dark web, but they were not able to crack his passwords in order to see what he was doing. They did find an online conversation that he’d had about love spells. They also uncovered a years-long association with far-right ideas, including a 2017 incident that caused his school to refer him to the U.K.’s counter-extremism program. Hussein was ultimately discharged from that program with no outstanding concerns, police said.
Harding described Hussein as a “very arrogant young man” who denied all the evidence against him while claiming to be the victim of a vast conspiracy.
“I am totally convinced and my team are that he would have gone on to commit more murders,” Harding said. “It’s difficult for any normal person to comprehend. It’s almost sort of movie-like.”
He added that Hussein had been diagnosed with autism and had no involvement with mental health services.
It was not clear how Hussein became interested in the occult. His supposed “demon,” King Lucifuge, is described as a sort of treasurer of Hell in the Grand Grimoire, a century-old black magic text. The book contains instructions for summoning Lucifuge, who supposedly is in charge of tracking deals with the devil.
Police faced several rounds of criticism for their handling of the case last year.
The victims’ mother, who is a retired archdeacon from the Church of England, blasted police at the time for an apparent lack of urgency after the women were initially reported missing.
The family launched its own search for the missing sisters in early June, and it was Nicole Smallman’s boyfriend who ultimately found their bodies in the woods. Family members also found the murder weapon on their own.
Two police officers are still under investigation for allegedly sharing “inappropriate” photos from the crime scene on WhatsApp. They have been charged with misconduct in public office.
Mina Smallwood acknowledged her past criticism of police on Tuesday, before hailing them for the guilty verdict.
“Today I have to say that I can only commend them,” she said. “This team moved heaven and earth to ensure we felt that we were being supported. This is the kind of police force that I believe in and we need to work towards so we have justice and families are treated with respect.”
Hussein is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22.
— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press