Psych Screening for Md. Women Held in Kids’ Deaths

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  • ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — Two women who police say killed two children while performing what they thought was an exorcism will remain held without bond and have psychiatric evaluations to determine if they are competent to stand trial, a judge said Tuesday.

    The women, 28-year-old Zakieya Latrice Avery and 21-year-old Monifa Denise Sanford, have told investigators that they believed evil spirits moved successively between the bodies of the children and that an exorcism was needed to drive the demons out, said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, releasing new details. The women also reported seeing the eyes of each of the children blackening and after the intended exorcism took a shower, cleaned up the scene and “prepared the children to see God,” he said.

    The women identified themselves as members of a group called “Demon Assassins,” and police are looking to interview other people who might be part of the same organization.

    Avery and Sanford face charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of two of Avery’s children, ages 1 and 2. Two older siblings were also found injured with stab wounds and might have died had a neighbor not called 911, police said.

    Police who responded to Avery’s home in Germantown, where she lived with the four children and Sanford, found the two children’s bodies in the master bedroom.

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