Women Indicted in 'Exorcism' Stabbings of Children

No bond in exorcism murder case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two Maryland women, with ties to Philadelphia, were indicted Thursday for the first-degree murders of two small children stabbed during what police say was an exorcism.

    The women, Zakieya Avery and Monifa Sanford, are accused of killing Avery's 1-year-old and 2-year-old children Jan. 17 in a Germantown townhouse.

    The women were indicted Thursday on two counts of attempted first-degree murder for stabbing and wounding Avery's older children, a 5-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, said Montgomery County, Md. authorities.

    Avery and Sanford told investigators that they believed evil spirits jumped between the bodies of the children and that they needed to perform an exorcism to drive the demons out, said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy.

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    [DC] Prosecutors Ask for Psychiatric Exams in Child Exorcism Deaths
    Prosecutors asked that two women suspected in the deaths of two children undergo psychiatric exams. News4's Mark Segraves reports. (Published Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014)

    When being questioned by police, the women told investigators that they tried multiple methods to remove the presence of demons from the children, progressing from attempting to break the neck of the youngest child, to strangulation, to stabbing.

    A neighbor called 911 after seeing a car with an open door and a knife that appeared to have blood on it. The timing of that 911 call likely helped saved the lives of the older children, police said.

    Prosecutors say the women left the bodies of Norell Harris, 1, and Zyana Harris, 2, on a bed. The older children were found with stab wounds.

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    [DC] Exorcism Questioned in Double Murder
    News4's Darcy Spencer reports on new details of a double murder in Germantown. (Published Saturday, Jan 18, 2014)

    Authorities said Sanford had recently moved into the townhouse where Avery had been living with the four children. The women identified themselves to investigators as members of a group known as the "demon assassins."

    Avery described herself as the commander and Sanford her sergeant.

    Edward Leyden, a lawyer for Sanford, told reporters after a hearing in January that "everyone who is involved in this case is in deep pain."

    The family has ties to Philadelphia. After the women's arrest, NBC10 spoke with an uncle of the victims who did not want to comment on the attack. The children's grandmother is also from the city.

    911 Phone Calls Released in Md. Exorcism

    [DC] 911 Phone Calls Released in Md. Exorcism
    Two women have been charged with murder and attempted murder after attempting an exorcism on four young children. News4's Shomari Stone has the latest on two recently-released 911 calls in the case. (Published Monday, Jan 20, 2014)

    The women face a sentence of life in prison if convicted.