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Women Indicted on Murder Charges in Child Exorcism Case

The Montgomery County women told officials they were exorcising a demon.

Zakieya Latrice Avery (left) and Monifa Denise Sanford were indicted in the slaying of Avery's children. (Photo Credit: MCPD)
Zakieya Latrice Avery (left) and Monifa Denise Sanford were indicted in the slaying of Avery's children. (Photo Credit: MCPD)
Two Germantown women who told police they were performing an exorcism when officials found two children stabbed to death in their home were indicted by a grand jury Thursday for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, according to reports.

The children's mother, Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, of the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive, was charged in January with murder and attempted murder in the stabbings of her four children.

Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, of the same address, faced the same charges in the case.

Both women were indicted Thursday on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, according to WTOP.

When police were called to their home on Jan. 17, officials found two children—identified as 1-year-old Norrell Harris and 2-year-old Zayna Harris—dead in an upstairs bedroom. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the deaths were homicide by multiple stab wounds.

Two other children—identified as 5-year-old Taniya Harris and 8-year-old Martello Harris—were found seriously and critically injured at the scene. 

Police were called to the house after a neighbor saw a vehicle with a knife next to it and the door open. The vehicle was bloody and contained house keys that police used to get into the home, according to WTOP.

Avery was captured by police as she tried to flee out the back door of her residence, according to police, who said the women believed they were performing an exorcism on the children.

When interviewed by police, Avery and Sanford reportedly said they saw the children’s eyes blacken as demons entered their bodies and jumped from one child to the next, from youngest to oldest. They claimed the exorcism was needed to cast out the demons.

"Both defendants alleged that the demon leapt from the body of the last child into Mrs. Avery and then back to Sanford,"  Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said during a January hearing. "She was able to fight off that demon."

Sanford was also stabbed, though it was unclear whether she was stabbed by Avery or if her wounds were self-inflicted, police said.

Police said the crime scene was "horrifying."

Both women were ordered to seek mental health evaluations at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital in Jessup.

Currently, Avery and Sanford are being held without bond, according to WUSA 9, and if convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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vinnie March 14, 2014 at 08:07 PM
MO. Are you for real? Prove the existence of your god or even the devil for that matter. With real facts . please
Mo March 15, 2014 at 07:24 PM
Just look outside, consider the human eye, or watch a baby nursing. You expend more energy trying to disprove God rather than just accept Him. On the fence about God? Well satan owns the fence. Then just look at the two people above who the devil tricked into stabbing their own children, is that not enough fact to prove his existence?
vinnie March 17, 2014 at 07:08 PM
MO. If you really expect people to believe that a god created this world then you also must believe that he also created| Hurricanes, typhoons, floods . Earthquakes , fires, plagues Etc. NICE GUY YOUR god!
Mo March 18, 2014 at 04:49 PM
Hey vinnie, I used to wonder the same things! Ok then bear with me on how I learned what the truth was. When Lucifer was cast out of heaven he came here. So basically, spiritual warfare is taking place. The devil came to kill, steal and destroy! If you can just leave your earthly sight behind for a moment, picture a really angry person who hates God and knows he can hurt God by hurting His children. God does not author the hurricanes, typhoons, floods etc. but speaks to us through them a times. Then there are times where God will speak to you in a still small voice in the back of your conscience. So if you can get anything out of this, our God is love and he sometimes allows things to happen so either He can get our attention or if we need correction. The rest is from the "god of this world" as satan is sometimes referred to. Please, try to look at this with the eyes of your heart. fond regards

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