In Germantown, Maryland, two women who believed their children were possessed, have been charged with their murder. Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28 and Monifa Denise Sanford, 21 believed they were doing an exorcism on the children, 1-year-old boy, Durell and his 2-year-old sister, Zyana. Both children belonged to Avery. The women are also facing attempted murder charges for injuring the children’s siblings, ages 5 and 8.
In one 911 phone call on Thursday around 10:15 p.m., a man reported a baby had been left unattended in a blue Toyota Corolla. While the man was talking to the operator, he said that two women came out for the child and were “attacking” him (the caller) and walking after him. He can be heard telling someone, “You need to back up off me, ma’am” and “A baby in the car for an hour is my business.” He later told the 911 operator that one of the women was talking to herself.
In another 911 call on Friday at 9:30 a.m. a woman reports seeing a blue Toyota with a door open and a knife with blood on it.
“I heard loud noises in the night,” says the woman, a neighbor, adding 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.
A vigil was held for the children following the arrest of the two women. At the vigil, Avery’s sister is seen crying, saying, “I could have saved them.”
Another attendee, a man obviously seeing the part mental illness played in this, spoke to the media and seemed to bring the voice of reason to a situation where reason is hard to grasp.
“That’s everybody’s first reaction, ‘Oh my god, how can this happen? How can they do this to a child?’ But you don’t know what is going on in another person’s mind.”
This tragedy and others’ like it continues to give urgency to the need for all of us to step up in our efforts to demand that lawmakers make mental illness a priority. These people are in dire need of assistance and continuous support.
How many more children have to die in order for this issue to be taken more seriously?
See the WJLA news report below and read more at Huff Post CRIME