Police charged two women with murder Saturday, after a mother’s attempted exorcism of her children left two dead and two others hospitalized.
Montgomery County police investigators in Maryland found the bodies of Norell N. Harris, 1 and Zyana Z. Harris, 2, both children of Zakieya Latrice Avery in a home in Germantown Friday evening. Police have charged both Avery, 28, and Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, both held without bond. Both children had been stabbed to death, the coroner said.
Police came to the scene twice, once in the morning on a report of an unattended child in a car, police said. Investigators said two women left the townhouse to retrieve the child. “Officers attempted to speak with the residents but received no response at the door. Montgomery County Child Protective Services was notified about the report and was asked to follow up on this incident,” police said.
Later that day, police returned and entered the townhouse, to find the women, the dead children and the survivors. One of the women fled out a rear door but was quickly taken into custody, police said. Investigators said they later learned the women “believed that they were performing an exorcism.”
Avery’s two other children, Taniya Harris, 5, and Martello Harris, 8, both remain hospitalized.
Police found a knife on the sidewalk outside of the home, and believe the red-handled knife may be one of the weapons used in the attack, NBC Washington reported.
Watch a report on the case below.