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Exorcism deaths: Women kill innocent children in exorcism attempt

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Two exorcism deaths of innocent children in a misguided attempt to wipe their sins from evil happened in Germantown, Md. on Friday. Two women have been charged with the stabbing and killing of the children. One of them is the mother, Montgomery County Police said.

ABC News reported Jan. 19 that police have arrested the mother -- Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28 -- and another woman -- Monifa Denise Sanford, 21. They are being charged with "two counts of first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder" in the exorcism deaths, according to the report. Sanford was not related to anyone in the exorcism, but may have once lived at the townhouse.

"Investigators have learned that the two defendants believed that they were performing an exorcism," police said Saturday.

Police responded to a 911 call that a resident in the neighborhood made around 9:30 a.m. Friday. The resident had noticed blood on a vehicle and a knife lying outside of it. Police then entered the townhouse where Avery allegedly fled the scene. Officers described a "very bloody" crime scene when they went upstairs and found the children.

The police found Norell Harris, 1, and Zyana Harris, 2, dead with numerous stab wounds. Avery's two other children were found alive, but severely injured. They were Taniya Harris, 5, and Martello Harris, 8. The two were taken to the hospital.

Avery was arrested when she tried to escape following the exorcism deaths of her children and is being held without bond. She was unharmed in the grisly exorcism attempt, but Sanford was arrested after she was treated for her wounds and released from the hospital.

"Cases like this are heartbreaking" Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said in the statement after the two women allegedly killed the children. "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims along with the 911 operators, police officers, evidence technicians, and fire and EMS personnel that responded."

The same neighbor that made the 911 call Friday morning called Thursday night "reporting a child left unattended in a vehicle."

When law enforcement arrived, the two women "left the townhouse, retrieved the child, and re-entered the home. Police investigated and arranged for child protective services to visit the home of the child."

The idea that the women believed to have killed two children and harm two others in an attempted exorcism is incomprehensible. Such crimes are irrational and nothing can justify exorcism deaths -- especially for children that have no choice and are suffering at the hands of their mother.

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