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Community Mourns Toddlers Killed In Attempted Exorcism

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Monique Griego 370x278 Monique Griego
Monique Griego joined the WJZ News Team in July 2011 as a General...
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GERMANTOWN, Md. (WJZ) — New developments in the toddler murders which Montgomery County Police say may have been the result of an exorcism. Police arrested two women for those crimes.

Monique Griego has new reaction and the latest on the investigation.

Saturday night the community came together to show support for the two children who were killed and the two who survived. For many of them, they simply can’t believe this happened right in their neighborhood.

It’s hard to imagine the impossible grief this family must feel as they place candles in front of the home where police say two toddlers were stabbed to death by their own mother.

“I couldn’t even imagine something like this happening,” one woman said.

Montgomery County Police say 28-year-old Zakieya Avery and her friend, 21-year-old Monifa Sanford, killed the children as they attempted to perform an exorcism.

Investigators say both 1-year-old Norell and 2-year-old Zyanna Harris died from multiple stab wounds. The older siblings, 5-year-old Taniya and 8-year-old Martello, were wounded but survived.

“For those kids that survived, I hope they know that there’s hope,” one man said.

“I hope they know there is somebody thinking and praying for them,” another neighbor said.

Ever since the community learned of the horrible tragedy that happened inside the house, they’ve been leaving mementos to pay their respects. Many of them–strangers–telling WJZ they didn’t even know the family.

“How could you kill a child? How could you harm a child? I felt compelled to bring flowers here and just leave them on the porch as a thought,” said Charles Sellars.

Unable to comprehend how and why someone, especially a mother, would commit such a horrific crime, community members are banding together, offering symbols of hope for a family torn apart by tragedy.

“I just wanted to show some support to the family and let them know that there are people out there that care what’s going on,” one woman said.

While police have said the murders may be linked to an exorcism, they haven’t released many details as to why they believe it may have been the motive.

Both women are charged with murder and attempted murder. They remain in jail without bond.

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