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Md. mom charged with stabbing murders of 2 babies in attempted exorcism

On Jan 18., a mother from Germantown, Md., Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, and another woman, Monifa Sanford, 21, were charged with the stabbing murders of Avery’s one-year-old and two-year-old children. The two women were also charged with the attempted stabbing murders of Avery’s two other children, ages five and eight.

Dead are the mother’s 1-and-2-year old children, with her 5-and-8-year-old children hospitalized in critical condition.
Montgomery Co. Police Department

The motive for the violent stabbings and murders is also shocking. According to WJZ in Baltimore, the two women were actually carrying out exorcisms on the four children on Friday, Jan. 17.

The two babies were pronounced dead at the scene, while the two older children remain hospitalized in critical condition.

Neighbors from the Germantown neighborhood contacted the Montgomery County police after seeing a blood trail and a knife outside of Avery’s home on Friday morning. Witnesses described police charging Avery’s home, as Avery and Sanford attempted fleeing out of the home’s back door.

“These officers tackled one person and then the other person ran into a vehicle,” according to one witness.

Neighbors, who are trying to make sense of the mother’s violent and tragic exorcisms, claim that Avery seemed normal enough before this horrific incident took place.

“Just like a young 20-year-old with kids. Single mother. She seemed happy to move into the neighborhood,” said Timothy Darden.

“Shocked, but devastated at the same time because there’s kids involved and you hate to see or hear something happened to kids. I’m still kind of devastated by it,” said Michelle Smith.

Both women are being held without bond, according to WJLA.

Dead are Avery’s two youngest children, one-year-old Norell N. Harris, and two-year-old Zyana Z. Harris.

Still hospitalized are Avery’s two surviving children, Taniya Harris, 5, and Martello Harris, 8.

The crime scene at Avery’s home rocked even the most experienced veterans of the Montgomery County Police Department.

"Cases like this are heartbreaking," says Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger.

"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."

Both women were charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Police are continuing their investigation into the stabbings and murders of the children.

Anyone with information to share regarding this case is asked to call the Montgomery Co. Major Crime Unit at 240-773-5070.

Also see:

Mom accused of raping her three young children while other adults paid to watch

Baby girl beaten by stepfather so badly, suffers brain injury and blindness

Mother shoots, kills 2 young daughters and then herself in Utah murder-suicide

7 hungry, dirty, shivering kids left in frigid van, 2 zip-tied to car seats

4-year-old boy dead after being tortured and abused in Hell’s Kitchen high-rise

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