A 3-year-old girl whose death in September was convicted of a homicide was killed by family members during a 12-hour exorcism ritual, San Jose, California officials said.
Arely Naomi Proctor, 3, died after family members performed a ceremony to ‘free her from evil spirits’, church officials told the San Jose Mercury News.
The forensic pathologist in Santa Clara County determined that the death of the young child was a homicide, caused by suffocation.
The child’s mother, Claudia Hernandez, 25, was charged with assaulting a child resulting in death. She is being held behind bars without bail.
Arely died inside a small church after she was strangled by her mother, uncle and grandfather on September 24, according to prosecutors.
Her family ‘believed the child was possessed by a demon and was at church prayer for her,’ wrote Deputy Attorney Rebekah Wise in court documents according to KRON-TV.
‘The victim’s grandfather was identified as the leader of the church and claimed to be a certified priest,’ Wise wrote. The grandfather has not been charged with her death.
During police interrogations in the days after her daughter’s death, Hernandez said she thought the child was obsessed because she regularly woke up in the middle of the night crying or screaming.
On September 24, Arely’s mother and uncle drove her to Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas, a small Pentecostal church in San Jose. There, her mother, uncle and grandfather kept her down her neck, upper body and legs for several hours. They stuck their hands and fingers down her throat in an attempt to make her vomit.
Arely lost consciousness and suffered ‘more injuries around her eyes, neck and chest,’ Wise wrote.
The three-year-old died later that night after 12 hours of torture, according to court documents. Her mother told police that no one provided medical care to help her daughter before or after she died.
The family waited two hours before calling 911. Paramedics arrived to find Arely’s body on the floor of the church. A forensic pathologist determined that she had died of homicide, caused by suffocation and suffocation, and her mother was arrested in connection with the case.
The church where the exorcism took place is the same church where kidnappers who abducted a 3-month-old last month met and became friends with the child’s grandmother, according to ABC7.
No evidence has linked the church to the abduction of the child, even though it was searched after the kidnapping. The baby was found safe and sound several hours after the abduction was caught under surveillance. Police arrested three suspects, including at least one, a woman who went to the same church and became friends with the child’s grandmother.
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