Man Admits Killing High Priest Of Voodoo

A bizarre case plead out before a federal court in Madison Thursday. News 3's Joel DeSpain reported on the story of a high voodoo priest and the man who killed him because that priest reportedly asked him to.

Prosecutors say it was just an ironic twist of justice that it happened on Halloween.

Gregory A. Friesner, 29, of Minneapolis, is charged with the death July 18, 1997, of Mark Foster (pictured, left), 46, who was found shot to death in northwestern Wisconsin. His body was found by the side of the road, clothed in ceremonial white.

Friesner pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of using and carrying a firearm in what prosecutors called the ritualistic shooting death of the Minneapolis pharmacist five years ago.

Friesner, a self-proclaimed high priest of voodoo, met Foster at a Twin Cities bookstore.

"Mr. Foster saw him one day at a bookstore and kind of focused on him ... brought him into his cult," said defense attorney Greg Dutch (pictured, left).

The cult involved voodoo, high priests and ritual killings, according to the criminal complaint.

"They do spells," Dutch said. "They do chants. They try to elevate themselves into some kind of higher spiritual frame."

"That's correct, Mr. Foster recruited them, and was involved in the conspiracy to have his own murder to occur," said J.B. Van Hollen (pictured, right), U.S. attorney.

After an extensive collaborative effort between local and federal investigators, Friesner pleaded guilty, and finally explain what happened: Foster had Friesner shoot him in the chest with Foster's own .44-caliber carbine rifle.

"Foster was this high priest and had inherited the lineage and the spirits of the people who had gone before him, and that the person who then killed him would inherit the same linage, and same spirits, and things like that," Hollen said.

"He still feels very deeply for Mr. Foster," Dutch said. "He still tries to communicate with him on a daily basis through prayers and spiritual awakenings. He feels that he's still at peace with himself. And that's the tragedy of this whole case is that this guy, Mark Foster -- if he wanted to kill himself, well, kill himself."

Friesner will be sentenced Jan. 9. He could get anywhere from five years to life and a $250,000 fine.

Voodoo Religion

In many places, such as Africa and Haiti, the religion of voodoo is held in high esteem, DeSpain reported. It's a way believers connect with their ancestors, and seek answers to the mysteries of life.

A journalist from Ghana, who is visiting Madison, told News 3 it would be wrong to judge the religion by cases like this one.

"Trust me, every religion will have what we call extremists -- who will use the same good values to pursue their selfish ambitions," said Mary-Ann Acolatse (pictured, left), a TV reporter from West Africa.

She is Christian herself, but says voodoo helped hold her country together long before white people came with their religion.