Joseph “Joey” Cala II held no grudges against his mother.
But the witches did.
And he said in a prison interview last week that their spirits took him over on the evening of Oct. 15, 2001.
“The day it happened I was feeling real violent because I knew they were trying to make me do violent things,” Cala said from a prison break room at the Michael Unit. “I decided to leave [the house] and told my mom. I walked down and got a hamburger at Red Robin and I felt fine.”
But minutes later, Cala returned to his Hurst home and beat his 79-year-old mother to death, sliced her open, cut out her heart and bit off part of it.
For the first time since the vicious killing, Cala, 55, agreed to an interview and recently talked to the Star-Telegram.
Dressed in prison whites, but not in handcuffs or leg irons, Cala talked about his childhood and the mental problems that have engulfed him for more than 30 years. He declined to go into any details of the slaying.
The 55-year-old Hurst man never raised his voice during the one-hour interview.
“I know it sounds very strange,” Cala said. “I have no choice but to tell the truth.”
Born in California, Cala was the youngest of Joseph and Lydia Cala’s two children. His father was from New York and his mother came from Harlingen, but the couple met in California and lived there a few years.
Cala was 4 when his family moved to White Settlement, and then to Hurst. His father retired from Bell Helicopter and his mother was a teacher at Nash Elementary School in Fort Worth.
“Christmases were good,” he said.
Cala attended Richland High School and was a straight-A student, but he said he began drinking and smoking marijuana, which caused his grades to drop. He eventually got his GED certificate.
He quit drinking in 1997, but doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia in 1982. He continues to battle the illness. Cala has been treated at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth for the disorder, taken medications such as lithium and thorazine for it and has been treated at MHMR halfway houses in Tarrant County.
He previously served time for drug possession and aggravated assault of a public servant, according to Tarrant County criminal court records. Cala said he went to prison in 2000 for DWI, served six months and was released in December 2000, the same month he went to live with his mother.
From the time he was diagnosed with schizophrenia until today, witches have invaded his thoughts, Cala said.
Cala described his experience as being like that of Linda Blair in the 1973 supernatural horror film The Exorcist, in which a 12-year-old girl is possessed by a demon.
He said his family believed him when he told them about the witches, after he became ill. “It never made any sense,” he said.
Cala said he has prayed about his illness and went with his mother regularly to church.
A naked, bloody man
Court testimony and documents gave this account of the fatal attack:
Lydia Loggins, Cala’s sister, testified in a 2003 hearing that she went to her mother’s Hurst home in the 200 block of Cooper Drive on the evening of Oct. 15, 2001. Windows had been shattered from inside the house.
Loggins testified she didn’t go in because she was scared of her brother and instead called Hurst police.
Officer Kevin Meador testified that when he arrived and looked through a window, he saw a naked, bloody man standing over what he later learned was a woman’s mutilated body. The man was later identified as Cala and the woman was his mother.
Another officer saw Cala eat what appeared to be an organ, according to Hurst police reports.
Cala said he believed he had fought off the voices of the witches when he decided to return home that evening.
“The second I came to the door, the [witches’] spirits took over me and I attacked my mom,” Cala said.
Hurst officers said they heard Cala saying that he worshipped the devil and they had interrupted his sacrifice.
“As far as I know, I never did anything to let the devil in or spirits in or anything like that,” Cala said.
An official with the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office testified that the 76-pound victim suffered a broken nose, teeth, collarbone, ribs and multiple bruises and cuts likely caused by fists or feet rather than an object.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to hell for killing my mom.
After she died, her chest and abdomen were cut open and some organs were removed, including her heart. Part of her heart contained teeth marks and a piece was missing, according to court testimony.
After his arrest, Cala said was placed in solitary confinement for three weeks, and cried every day.
“There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to hell for killing my mom,” Cala said.
In 2003, Cala entered a plea agreement with prosecutors after a three-hour hearing and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. That same year, his father died from diabetes.
He could have faced life in prison if convicted in a trial
But attorney Robert Ford had filed a motion to present an insanity defense if the case went to trial. He could have been sent to a state hospital for just a few years if he were found to be insane.
“My goal is to make sure Mr. Cala is never allowed out again,” said Alan Levy, then a Tarrant County assistant district attorney. “I thought 30 years, at his age, would accomplish that.”
Cala last got a letter from his sister in 2006, but she last visited in 2004. No one else has come to see him.
Cala was denied parole in August, the first time he was eligible, and he admitted that he was disappointed.
“I haven’t been in any fights, I’m taking college courses,” Cala said. “I mostly keep to myself here.”
He’s still on medication for schizophrenia and sees a psychiatrist at least once a week.
If he serves his full sentence, Cala will be 70 when he walks out of prison.
“I still hear voices,” Cala said. “I try my best not to listen.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.