Segments of Twitter are alight with rumors surrounding the April 2020 death of Virginia teenager Kat Restin and the alleged circumstances regarding her demise.
An obituary for Restin, 19, was published on April 23 2020.
In that obituary, Restin’s name is given as “Katelynn Anne ‘Kat’ Restin,” and no specific cause of death is provided:
Katelyn Anne ‘Kat’ Restin, 19, bright spirit who inspired others to forge on during challenging times
Katelyn Anne “Kat” Restin, 19, of Virginia Beach, passed away unexpectedly Sunday, April 19, 2020, at her mother’s home … Katelyn was born Nov. 29, 2000. She was raised in Virginia Beach and attended Plaza Middle and Green Run High School.
Katelyn was a proud new mom and adored her baby, Aaliyah. She was always the bright spirit of any gathering, and her resilience to keep going in challenging times inspired many of her family and friends. Katelyn will always be so deeply loved and very missed by all.
According to the obituary, Restin and her five-month-old daughter Aaliyah lived in Virginia Beach. Restin died suddenly at her mother’s house, and a GoFundMe was established for her infant daughter.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Restin’s services were livestreamed on April 25 2020.
A GoFundMe Campaign for Kat Restin’s Baby
On April 23 2020, four days after Restin died, a GoFundMe campaign titled “For Aaliyah…in memory of Katelyn Restin” was organized and went live.
As of May 1 2020, the campaign had exceeded its goal of $2,000 several times over, sitting at over $9,200 on that day. Tagged “funerals and memorials,” the campaign’s description explained a goal of providing a trust fund for Aaliyah:
Katelyn Restin…Beautiful soul, loving mother, cherished daughter, beloved sister, and faithful friend was taken from this life unexpectedly and way too soon at the age of 19.
She leaves behind a beautiful daughter…Aaliyah, whom she loved more than anyone or anything. “I never thought I could ever love anyone as much as I love her,” Katelyn would say following her birth. She didn’t expect or plan on leaving her so soon in her young life. Aaliyah is only 5 months old.
Katelyn was blessed with a loving family and many supportive friends. Many have asked how they can help, and they want to be there for Aaliyah.
Therefore, in honor of Katelyn (and the love she had for her daughter), this GoFundMe account is set up to establish a trust fund for Aaliyah, to assist financially in the next phase of her life without her beloved mother. Katelyn was a single mother, with a limited income, so your donations will help to give Aaliyah a better start in her life.
An additional comment on the day the campaign was established acknowledged that their goal was met very quickly, and thanked supporters for their contributions and kind words:
Wow…amazingly, we have reached our initial goal within 5 hours of setting up this GoFundMe account! Our family is so grateful and happy to see how much love there is for Katelyn and Aaliyah. We thank everyone who has donated. For those still interested in donating, please do so. Going over the top of our initial goal would be a blessing for Aaliyah. She will definitely grow up knowing how much her mother was loved. Thank you so much!
One of the more recent comments made reference to the contributor’s “fellow witches”:
One of my fellow witches told me about what happened and I wanted to anyway I could. I send my love to her family and wish them only the best
Kat Restin’s ‘Doll Baby’ Tweet
An initial Twitter search for “Kat Restin” returned active results, alongside frequent mentions of her name and rumors her death was linked to occult practices. Mentions appeared by the dozens every hour, but the static “top tweets” referenced a rumor that Restin’s death was caused by dabbling in culturally-specific workings.
In part, the rumors appeared to have been fueled by a tweet published by Restin herself on March 29 2020:
In that tweet, Restin described herself as “Wiccan” and said:
Let people live and have their own religion. If someone is into something different accept that. Stop saying “no you come from God” I’m Wiccan and I always will be so shut the fuck up and let me be…
Restin attached three photographs to that tweet, and the photographs appeared to depict a “doll baby.” Doll babies are commonly used in practices like hoodoo (also known as “conjure” or “rootwork”), and Restin’s looked as it it included a “personal concern” — hair obtained from the presumptive target of the activity.
In a 2010 blog entry, the late Eddy Gutiérrez described the function and purpose of doll babies in specific traditions:
Doll babies, poppets, or voodoo dolls (as they are inappropriately called) are little dolls made in the likeness of an individual you seek to target. Doll babies (as they are called in hoodoo) are very firmly rooted in the concept of sympathetic magic. “If this looks like that, when I affect this, it will in turn affect that”. The same magical concept is used when burning figural candles, skull candles or working with evil eye charms that are shaped like eyes.
Interestingly, the use of doll babies in magic isn’t a native Congolese/African practice, per se. It actually comes from European magic that African-American slaves were exposed to through their magical interactions with other cultures.
Doll babies are usually made out of cloth and stuffed with herbs and personal concerns tied to the intended target.
On the matter of a “personal concern,” Crescent City Conjure’s Sen Elias explained:
Personal concerns are anything that carries the DNA of a person such as hair, nails, blood, urine, semen, sweat, clothing and anything else you might be able to get your hands on (although you might not want to get your hands on any of it). Personal concerns are used for a variety of reasons in hoodoo work. Unlike other forms of magic, they aren’t just used as a sympathetic connection, their use is much more varied and direct …
My favorite way to use a targets hair is on the head of a doll. What better way to connect them to the puppet. Hair can be used in the place of blood when trying to establish a link although it cannot be used to “feed” an item or impart life to it. Depending on how much hair you’re able to get will determine the workings you’re able to do. If you have a lock of long hair you can braid protections into it or use it to bind your target. Small strands of hair can be buried with other ingredients for specific effects. Because of its string-like nature hair can be used by cutting it, knotting it or sewing it into a piece of clothing.
Social Media Posts and Rumors about Restin’s Cause of Death
As we already mentioned, Restin died on April 19 2020, and her memorial service was on April 23 2020. By April 27 2020, screenshots of a post purportedly shared by Restin to a closed group began circulating. In the post quoted below (archived here), a Facebook user shared a screenshot of the purported post by Restin to the group on April 17 2020. In it, Restin purportedly claimed to have “seen Papa Legba“:
The commenter claimed that they had done a psychic reading for Restin at some point in the days before her death. That user said that they “asked Papa Legba” about visiting Restin, and received an answer that Restin in fact encountered Baron Samedi:
I just want to take a moment to say R.I.P Kat ???????????????? I just did a reading on her and I asked Papa Legba was that him and he said naw it was Baron smh y’all have to be careful what y’all tap into
✨Reply to the Trolls commenting on my post: I never did a reading with her (I asked After I heard she had pass) and if I did do a reading with her the only way you’ll know if she made a post about it, and the reason I posted that pic because people need to wake up, y’all don’t even know her and her people called and we had spoken so shut the fuck and mind your business if you coming talking shit about something you have no idea and no she was not one of my clients never did work with nor for her, so yea shut the fuck up…
In the above post, which was edited, that user clarified their reading occurred after Restin had already died; the original post was not changed, and the only difference was the second comment.
Notably, that post indicated:
- The poster knew Restin, presumably through the Facebook group seen in the screenshot;
- The poster was aware Restin believed she “saw Papa Legba” two days before her death;
- The poster exercised divination after Restin died, to determine whether she “saw Papa Legba”;
- In the course of that divination, “Papa Legba … said naw it was Baron”;
- Originally, the post concluded by warning others “y’all have to be careful what y’all tap into.”
The poster did not say:
- Restin did anything specific to summon any spirit, entity, or consciousness;
- Restin spoke of dabbling in any specific practice, closed or otherwise;
- What specifically transpired between Restin’s April 17 2020 post about Papa Legba, her death, and their divination endeavor on or around April 27 2020;
- Why they warned others to “be careful what y’all tap into.”
Nevertheless, Restin rapidly became the subject of rumors she tried to “summon” or “attract” Papa Legba or Baron Samedi, an act which led to her subsequent sudden death. Some shares of the post (archived) typically drew conclusions or read between the lines to conclude Restin’s death was caused by her untrained dabbling in complex traditions.
The quoted post further claimed Restin “died of an anxiety attack in her bathtub” due to her summoning activities, adding on further claims about Restin “hexing” a girlfriend:
**** This is why you do not mess with witchcraft unless you are fully aware and have full knowledge of what you are doing. You should NOT be invoking Dieties, spirits, or any other entities unless you are sure of what you are doing.
Baron Samedi, is a loa of the dead. He is a powerful healer and is especially sympathetic to terminally ill children.
Many people invoke him to speak to the dead. But only if he chooses for them to. No one can die unless he chooses so.
She invoked a deity and believed it was Papa Legba. Papa Legba stands at a spiritual crossroads and gives (or denies) permission to speak with the spirits. But instead she spoke to Baron. From a reading in which Terell (The original post) gave her.
*** supposedly she was trying to give a hex to her gf and it seems she was hexed herself causing alot of damage
**She died of an anxiety attack in her bathtub (via From someone who knew her.)
May she Rest In Peace.????
Anxiety Attacks as a Cause of Death
It is not possible to directly die of an anxiety attack (as frightening as experiencing one can sometimes be) although technically it is possible an anxiety attack could cause dangerous cardiac activity or resulting accident. When a commenter asked the poster above how it was possible for someone to die of an anxiety attack, the poster reiterated that the claim was secondhand:
I’m unsure if she had any other health conditions. This is just from people in which knew her. I feel as though she went into shock.
In additional comments, the user responded with a screenshot of Restin’s “I saw Papa Legba” post as evidence, but again, neither she nor the first poster said Restin intentionally summoned any spirit or deity — just that others should exercise caution in “what [they] tap into.” By then, the rumor ball was already rolling.
Instagram and Twitter
It seemed apparent the rumors about Restin’s cause of death began in a Facebook group and via Facebook posts, but the story eventually made its way to Twitter and Instagram.
“non black people when we say that this particular craft isn’t for you we really do mean it,and don’t base your research on what AHS coven tells you cause that shit is heavily changed for tv. Papa legba is a kind spirit and summoning him for evil is tedious[.]”
“RIGHT. the fact that she didn’t do proper research and didn’t have the common sense to know that papa legba is kind. she end up summoning baron samedi and ultimately DIED from trying to hex a BLACK PERSON. when will white ppl learn that african practices won’t go well for them?”
“She’s dead now. She was warned not to mess with closed practices. She invoked African spirits without proper reverence to attack a black girl. Now she’s dead. That’s why.”
““this didn’t age well” nah this aged like fine wine. Shouldn’t have tried to hex a Black girl with a Black spiritual practice ????”
“Imagine being so full of yourself that you not only think you, as a white person, can just start practicing something that is CLOSED but also summon a black spirit to bring harm upon another black person. That’s on her ???? RIP tho”
An April 30 2020 Instagram post featured imagery of American Horror Story: Coven‘s Papa Legba character (Lance Reddick) alongside a photograph of Restin:
Its caption read:
Late in March, Katelyn “Kat” Restin, a 19-year-old white woman in a Facebook group about casting spells, thought it would be a good idea to attempt a voodoo summoning spell as a novice, even after some warned her not to. Two and a half weeks later, #KatRestin posted, “I seen papa legba [sic] today and I’m scared.” Two days later, Restin was found dead, after allegedly drowning in her bathtub. I don’t know who convinced her that it would be a good idea to casually try to summon a Loa given the history of white oppression and the tortures they’ve put us and our ancestors through over the last 500 years. Someone in Restin’s group did a reading and claimed that it was actually Baron Samedi. What do y’all think of this? Are any of you experts in Voodoo and able to provide some insight? #KatRestin
Although the timeline between Restin’s “doll baby” tweet, her “Papa Legba” post, and her death was fairly accurate, much of the rest of it was speculation. As the story continued spreading on social media platforms, readers questioned the veracity of the most common versions –with many ending up speculating that death was a fairly strong consequence for dabbling:
Although a common claim was that Restin attempted to weaponize spiritual practices against someone else, purportedly her girlfriend, no reference to it appeared in the original posts. That element of the rumor may have originated with a tweet Restin published on March 27 2020 (two days before the “doll baby” tweet), in which she mentioned a girlfriend:
However, nothing in that tweet indicated Restin was angry with any possible girlfriends. In a repost of a TikTok video we were unable to locate, a white woman appeared to be addressing rumors spreading on that platform about Restin’s death:
Responses to the Rumors from a Spiritual Perspective, and Ancillary Claims
A video shared to Twitter on April 30 2020 by @brujoknight addressed the rampant rumors about Restin, the circumstances of her death, and the accuracy of the claims, and the role of Loa (the primary spirits of Voodoo):
In this video, @brujoknight identified many misconceptions in the rumors and said in part:
- “Number one, we [initiates of the religion] don’t ‘summon Legba'”;
- “Number two … [practitioners] don’t use dolls to ‘call Legba'”;
- “Number three … American Horror Story made the biggest error in making Legba look like [Baron Samedi] … everyone who does voodoo knows that Legba does not look like that”;
- “Next point … if she happened to see Legba, I promise she did not see Legba, Legba does not claim lives from this Earth. Legba is a gatekeeper for our Loa.”
- ” … the most surprising thing of all of this …and in all honestly this tells me so much … you don’t know your own Loa, you don’t even know voodoo if you’re really sitting there thinking spirit gives a fuck about race or racism … we do”;
- “Loa doesn’t give a fuck … if she was claimed by a Loa, guaranteed it has nothing to do with her dabbling because of the color of her skin …”;
- “You do not know voodoo, and you do not know Legba, if you really think he killed this poor child because she was white”;
- ” … and another thing, a lot of people do not use their fucking heads … ya’ll don’t know why she died … it could have just been a coincidence” she died four days after she allegedly engaged in the rumored activity.
In a second video, @brujoknight reiterated that the rumors were insulting to Loa:
A commenter concurred, adding:
EXACTLY ! Making our Loa seem ruthless and insane just out here killing people! Stop demonizing PAPA LEGBA ! HE IS SO HUMBLE AND KIND !
A May 1 2020 video posted by a self-professed psychic reiterated and spread still more rumors about Restin’s death. In that video, they claimed that Restin struggled with insomnia and took the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, that she died after combining the medication with alcohol, and that she may have drowned in the bathtub. (There is no indication that this claim is true.)
In late April and early May 2020, rumors Kat Restin “died of an anxiety attack” after a misguided attempt to “summon Papa Legba” circulated, additional rumors claimed Restin endeavored to “hex” her black girlfriend. Restin died on April 19 2020 in Virginia Beach, no cause of death was disclosed, and she left behind a five-month-old daughter. Rumors of a paranormal cause of death for Restin appeared to have been patched together from a March 27 2020 tweet about her “girlfriend,” and a tweet on March 29 2020 depicting her burning a doll with human hair attached (“doll baby.”) A self-identified friend shared what they claimed was information they received psychically about her practices after her death, but that person did not claim Restin tried to summon any spirit or entity. In the ensuing controversy, practitioners of that religion pointed out that the rumors were disrespectful to the Loa, characterizing those spirits as having human motivations. Despite this, the rumors continue.