Two Maryland women have been charged with the deaths of two young children. Zakieya L. Avery, 28, the mother of the children, and her friend Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, claimed that they were attempting an exorcism when they stabbed four of Avery's young children. A 1 year old boy and 2 year old girl were killed as a result of the stabbings and the two other children were injured during the alleged exorcism.
Police have not revealed much about the incident and are likely still questioning both women to determine why they were conducting the exorcism and how it led to the children being stabbed. Exorcisms are not commonly practiced, and when they are, they are usually conducted by a priest. This is not the first time an alleged exorcism has led to a death. So what makes these rituals so deadly?
The Catholic Church recognizes demonic possession as a real thing and use exorcisms to remove demons from people. Exorcisms are not very common and the church only authorizes priests who are thoroughly trained to conduct them. During most exorcisms, a doctor, nurse or other medical personnel are present in case the victim needs medical care.
When someone believes they are possessed or shows signs of possession, they can often turn violent quickly and try to harm themselves or others. It can take several people to hold down the possessed person while the priest attempts to cast out the devil or demon that is tormenting them. Exorcisms can last for days and even weeks, and usually leave everyone involved exhausted. The violence and exhaustion of exorcisms is what makes them potentially dangerous.
So is this the case for the exorcism that took the lives of two young toddlers? Not likely. It is more likely that Avery and Sanford were either mentally ill or under the influence of drugs when they decided they needed to exorcise the demons from Avery's children. Exorcisms do not require anyone to be stabbed, so it is likely that these women were mentally unstable when they committed the acts or are lying to cover up the real motive for the heinous crime.
Do you believe these women really thought the devil was inside the two toddlers?