A Houston teen is charged with killing his 16-year-old friend in what some are calling a satanic ritual—weeks after the suspect’s own parents told local TV reporters that their son was a “devil worshiper.”
Police arrested Edward O’Neal IV on Wednesday, accusing him of stabbing his pal, Ryan Roberts, to death and dumping his body near an overpass.
The 18-year-old O’Neal was in Harris County Jail on a $50,000 bond Thursday afternoon. A spokesman for the district attorney said O’Neal was slated to appear in court on Friday morning.
Prosecutors said on Thursday that O’Neal voluntarily confessed three times to the killing, and tried to commit suicide two days after Roberts’s body was found, ABC 13 reported.
While police haven’t revealed a suspected motive or many details of the killing, relatives of both the suspect and the victim say O’Neal was obsessed with the dark lord and have implicated the teen in the gruesome crime.
Authorities began investigating O’Neal after Roberts’s mother, Christina, reported her son missing on Jan. 15 when he didn’t return home from school.
Days later, the horrified mom received a tip about where Ryan might be found and alerted search teams, according to KHOU.
Christina Roberts says a cousin of O’Neal came to her and said O’Neal confessed to the slaying. The cousin then shared a grisly account of how Ryan Roberts allegedly died, KHOU reported in January.
“He sat there and said that he hit my son in the back, stabbed my son multiple times in the side,” Christina Roberts said at the time of O’Neal’s supposed confession. “My son was screaming and begging for his life and then the final blow was to the neck.”
Roberts said O’Neal was so close to her son that he had lived with the Roberts family for a spell—and was even at her home during the search for Ryan.
“He sitting here in my house, looking at me in my face, trying to help me find my son,” Roberts told KHOU. “He knew everything and come to turnaround, he was the one who killed my child.”
In January, KHOU interviewed the father of a teen whom Christina Roberts believed had killed her son—weeks before police even named a suspect.
At the time, the dad, who spoke anonymously, said his son was a devil worshiper but not a murderer. “They was best friends,” the man told KHOU. “He go to his house, he come over my house.”
The father said his teen was in a psychiatric ward and has a history of mental illness. “I knew that. He’s worshpping the devil and stuff,” the man said.
In an article from around the same time, a man named Edward O’Neal III apparently went on the record with Houston’s ABC 13 and told the station that Ryan Roberts was his son’s “best friend.” “He goes over to that house, they come over to my house, they eat,” he added. “I know his mother, brother, sisters. I don’t know what happened.”
When a reporter asked O’Neal Sr., “Has your son talked about the devil and worshiping him?” he replied, “Yeah. He just said he don’t believe in God; he just believe in the devil.”
O’Neal Sr. allegedly told the ABC 13 reporter that his son drew demonic pictures and would carve tattoos into his body that were signs of the beast.
Meanwhile, a woman who said she was the suspect’s mother echoed these claims. She told ABC 13 that her son composed devil art and killed family pets
“I didn’t raise him like that, as a child he was born and raised in the church home,” the mother said, adding, “He doesn’t believe in God, he believes in the devil.”
The woman said she expected her son to be arrested for Ryan’s murder at any time, ABC 13 reported. “He did the crime he needs to do the time,” she said.
Still, Christina Roberts wasn’t buying suggestions that her son’s alleged killer was in the throes of insanity or possessed by Beelzebub.
“He’s trying to play like he’s crazy,” Roberts told KHOU. “He’s far from it. He know [sic] right from wrong.”
She added, “My son did not deserve to die the way he died.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Houston Police Department issued a press release announcing the charge against O’Neal but did not mention the suspect’s alleged proclivity for satanic worship.
According to cops, Christina Roberts told police on Jan. 18 that she had reason to believe her son might be dead and that his body had been left in a wooded area near their apartment complex. But Ryan Roberts wasn’t found.
The next day, Texas EquuSearch, which searches for missing persons, found Ryan Roberts’s remains near railroad tracks under Houston’s South Loop Freeway.
O’Neal “was arrested without incident … and admitted his role in Roberts’ death,” Houston police said in a statement.
Before detectives collared O’Neal, Click 2 Houston broadcast images from the inside of an abandoned home where neighbors claimed the suspect wallowed in his satanic obsession.
Inside the building was a white wall scribbled with the words “Back to Hell Satan in Jesus Name !!!” and a drawing of a cross with “Jesus!” in the center. The TV cameras also focused on what appears to be a hexagram carved into a concrete floor.
On Facebook, O’Neal posted images of a hexagram formed by $1 bills, a photo that had only one like—from Ryan Joseph Roberts. In another photo, O’Neal appears to wear a black shirt and necklace as he stares intently into the camera, his eyebrows arched.
A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, told Click 2 Houston the person who killed Ryan Roberts was rumored to practice satanic rituals.
“Bro kept saying he wasn’t himself. He kept saying he sold his soul. He told me some crazy stuff, stuff that didn’t even make sense,” the neighbor said, according to Click 2 Houston.
As allegations of devil worship played out in local press, Roberts’ classmates at Jefferson Davis High School planned to release balloons in his memory and started raising funds for his family.
“This is a sad tragedy, this should never happen around here,” classmate Doris Shaw told ABC 13. “He was just an all-around happy dude. You would never see him with frown or something on his face.”
An obituary stated that Ryan wanted to be chef someday and was a member of his high school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
“Lord why did you have to take my baby from me so soon,” Christina Roberts wrote on Facebook last month. “He had so many plans for his future. He want to join the reserves and be a chef and now my baby won’t be able to.”
“I love my son and feel I like I never told him enough and that he is gone I will never be able to say it to him again,” she continued, adding, “You will be missed so much.”