Exorcism deaths were reported in Germantown, Maryland after Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, tried to perform an exorcism on her children, according to a Huffington Post report on Monday. Two of her four children, Norell Harris, 1, and Zyana Harris, 2, died of multiple stab wounds adminsitered during the exorcism attempt. Her other children – aged 5 and 8 – were also injured and hospitalized, but they survived the exorcism attempt.
The Montgomery County Police released a statement which asserts that Avery was charged with two counts of first degree murder as well as two counts of attempted first degree murder.
Avery told investigators that she performed the exorcism because she thought it was necessary to remove the devil and evil spirits from her children.
Besides Avery, Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, was also charged with two murders for her involvement in the exorcisms. Sanford apparently lived with Avery and her children.
On Thursday night, police were called to the Avery home after someone reported that a child was in a car alone. When police arrived, the child was apparently taken inside the home. No one answered the door when police tried to investigate that incident. Then on Friday, at the same location, police were notified that there was a vehicle with a door open and a knife lying outside of the vehicle. That’s when the police found the two dead children and the two injured children – all stabbed by a knife.
Police Captain Marcus Jones of the crime division said, “She thought the devil was in the kids, and that’s sort of the thing she centered it around as to why she had to conduct an exorcism. She just thought that there were evil spirits within the kids.” According to the police, Sanford made similar statements about the crime.
Avery and Sanford allegedly met at Excusia Ministries in Germantown – a church. However, Darryl Jones, the pastor of the church refused to discuss the murder case and wouldn’t confirm that Avery and Sanford attended services at his church.
In spite of it all, Sylvia Wade, Avery’s step-grandmother, says Avery was humble and meek and is a woman who loved her children.
The surviving children are going to be with their father who does not live in the area. He was separated from the children’s mother.
Germantown is some 20 miles northwest of the nation’s capital.