Zakieya L. Avery, 28, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of two of her children and the attempted stabbing deaths of two other children in an alleged exorcism attempt, reports CNN.
“She thought the devil was in the kids, and that’s sort of the thing she centered it around as to why she had to conduct an exorcism,” said Capt. Marcus Jones, director of the police department’s major crimes division. “She just thought that there were evil spirits within the kids.”
Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, a woman Avery is believed to have met at church, was also charged with the same counts.
Norell Harris, 1, and his sister, Zyana Harris, 2, suffered fatal stab wounds while their siblings, who are 5 and 8, were hospitalized, authorities said.
“Cases like this are heartbreaking,” county Police Chief Tom Manger said. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims.”
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Police said they found the four children Friday morning after a neighbor called 911 to report suspicious activity at the home. The neighbor reported seeing a car with a door open and a knife next to it.