A Maryland mother-of-four told police she ‘thought the devil was in the kids’ after she allegedly stabbed-to-death her 1-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter and seriously injured her two older children during a disturbing exorcism.
Can anyone see the devil with the physical eyes? A Maryland mother-of-four told police she ‘thought the devil was in the kids’ after she allegedly stabbed-to-death her 1-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter and seriously injured her two older children during a disturbing exorcism.
‘That’s sort of the thing she centred it around as to why she had to conduct an exorcism. She just thought that there were evil spirits within the kids,’ Montgomery County police captain Marcus Jones said Sunday night of Zakieya Latrice Avery, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the shocking slayings of her babies.
Officers responded to Avery’s Germantown home Friday morning following a neighbour’s 911 call and found little Norell Harris, and his 2-year-old sister Zyana Harris dead in a disturbing, blood-splattered crime scene.
Two other siblings, 5-year-old Taniya Harris and 8-year-old Martello Harris, were found injured with stabbing wounds. The surviving children remained in the hospital Sunday and are listed in stable condition.
Avery’s stepgrandmother, Sylvia Wade, told The Washington Post that Avery was ‘humble and meek’ and said she loved her children.
‘I don’t know what triggered it,’ she said. ‘She wasn’t herself. When a person is not of themselves, they are not responsible for what they are doing. They are in another zone.’
Another woman charged in the killings, Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, made similar statements about evil spirits during questioning, police said. Sanford was arrested Saturday. The two women had been living together at the house in recent months.
Jones said the women are believed to have met each other at a church, which he identified as Exousia Ministries in Germantown.
The pastor of that congregation, Darryl Jones, declined to discuss the case after services at an elementary school Sunday or even confirm that the women worshipped there.
‘This is a tragic situation. We’re keeping the family in (our) prayers and we are respecting the privacy of the family,’ he said.
Both women were being held without bond on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder and are not expected to appear in court until Tuesday afternoon. Court records do not list lawyers for the women.
The father of the children, Martin Luther Harris Jr., relocated to Los Angeles after he separated from Avery. He was returning to be with the surviving children, Jones said.
Offices were called to the Germantown home where the women lived on Friday. A neighbour called 911 after noticing a vehicle with the door open and a bloody knife lying outside of the vehicle.
Avery was arrested when authorities say she tried to flee from a townhouse near the vehicle. Police found the two children dead inside the home, and their siblings and Sanford were taken to the hospital with injuries.
Police say Sanford was arrested Saturday after being released from the hospital.
The tragedy unfolded at around 9.30 a.m. Friday when police officers responded to a home in the 1900 block of Cherry Bend Drive, where they came upon a ‘very bloody scene’ involving six people, four of them children under the age of 10.
One-year-old Norell and 2-year-old Zyana were pronounced dead at the scene. Their siblings were rushed to a hospital to be treated for multiple stab wounds.
NBC Washington reported that the children were found in the bedrooms and may have been stabbed in their sleep.
The two surviving victims of the attack were treated at Children’s National Medical Center.
Cases like this are heartbreaking’ said 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,’ according to the station WUSA9.
According to her Facebook page, Avery lives with her family in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and works as a pharmacy technician.
Most recently, she wished happy New Year to her family on January 2. In mid-November, the 28-year-old indicated that she was in a new relationship.
Avery’s four children, including the two deceased toddlers, were fathered by her ex-boyfriend Harris, 30, a Philadelphia native who currently lives in Los Angeles.
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