ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP/WJZ) — 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.
Mary Bubala reports this comes as a 911 call reveals police were at the home the day before.
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. The women are also facing attempted-murder charges for injuring the children’s siblings, ages 5 and 8.
At least one neighbor knew something was wrong at that home the day before the children were killed.
In a 911 phone call from Thursday about 10:15 p.m., a male caller reports a baby being left unattended in a blue Toyota Corolla. While the man is talking to the operator, he reports that two women have come out for the child and are attacking and walking after him. He later tells the 911 operator that one of the women is talking to herself.
911 Caller: “I have a baby in a car. It’s been here, from what’s being reported to me, about 45 minutes. The mother came out. She had something going on and she didn’t want her baby to be in danger in the house.”
As the neighbor spoke to the 911 operator, two women came out and told him to mind his own business.
911 Caller: “Back up off of me, ma’am.”
911 Operator: “Why are they attacking you?”
911 Caller: “Because they came to check on the baby out here. They are chasing me down.”… “A kid in the car for an hour is my business. A baby in the car for an hour is my business.”
One of the women then took the child back into the home. When officers arrived, they knocked on Avery’s door but no one answered. Police say they didn’t see or hear anything suspicious, so they just left.
Police returned Friday when a neighbor called 911 after noticing a car with the door open and a knife that appeared to have blood on it.
“I heard loud noises in the night,” says the woman, a neighbor.
She adds that she heard what sounded like “jumping” and “running” but didn’t think anything of it because there were four children living in the home.
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. Police said they suffered multiple stab wounds.
The father of the children does not live in the area, police said.
The women face a possible life sentence if convicted, but a screening will first determine if they’re mentally competent to stand trial.
Edward Leyden, a lawyer for Sanford, told reporters after the hearing that “everyone who is involved in this case is in deep pain.”
“It obviously has details that are salacious and we just ask folks to give an opportunity for all of us to get a handle on just what happened here,” Leyden said of the case, “so that when the time comes to present this to a judge and a jury, all of the facts are here.”
A lawyer for Avery did not return a call seeking comment.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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