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Exorcism: Second woman charged after two children killed in attempted exorcism

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A second Maryland woman has been charged with murder after the stabbing deaths of two children during an attempted exorcism on Friday. The Chicago Tribune reported on Jan. 19, 2014, that the two children died of multiple stab wounds and two other children have been hospitalized with undisclosed injuries after the would-be exorcism.

21-year-old Monifa Denise Sanford was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. 28-year-old Zakieya L. Avery has also been charged on the same counts. Avery is the mother of the children.

Police have said that Avery stabbed two of her children to death and wounded two others while attempting the exorcism.

The children that suffered fatal stab wounds were one-year-old Norell Harris and his sister, two-year-old Zyana Harris. Their siblings that suffered injuries were the ages of five and eight.

Sanford was charged after being released from the hospital. She was there being treated after the incident. It is not believed that she is related to the family, but does live in the same residence.

A neighbor called 911 on Friday to report suspicious activity at the home. The neighbor said they saw a car with a door open and a knife next to it. Upon arriving on the scene, the police found the four children.

Police have not given any reason as to why they suspect exorcism in the incident.

"Investigators have learned that the two defendants believed that they were performing an exorcism. The investigation into this motive and other aspects of the crime continue at this point," police said.

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