911 Tapes in ‘Exorcism’ Killings: ‘I’ve Never Seen Something Like This’

Police released the 911 calls from neighbors who alerted police to the Germantown townhouse where two children were found murdered.

Police were on the scene in Germantown on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, where the bodies of two children were discovered. Photo: Tiffany Arnold | PATCH
Police were on the scene in Germantown on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, where the bodies of two children were discovered. Photo: Tiffany Arnold | PATCH

Montgomery County police on Monday released audio of 911 calls from neighbors of the Germantown mother charged with murder after two of her children were found stabbed to death, an incident that police are describing as an attempted exorcism.

On Saturday, police charged Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, of the 19000 Block of Cherry Bend Drive, with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder after police found her 1- and 2-year-old slain and her other two children seriously injured from stab wounds.

Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, of the same address was also charged with murder and first-degree murder.

The first call came from a neighbor who dialed 911 on Thursday night to report that a child had been unattended in a blue Toyota Corolla for “45 minutes.”

“The mother came out, she reported that she had something going on and she didn’t want her baby to be in danger in the house,” the neighbor told the 911 dispatcher.

During the call, the neighbor could be heard talking to two females. The caller told the dispatcher the women were following him and trying to attack him.

“This is my business. A kid in a car for an hour is my business,” the man said during the recording.

He later told the dispatcher that one of the women was talking to herself.

Police said two women brought the child inside before police arrived. No one answered the door when police knocked. Police said they did not have cause to enter the home at the time.

The other call released by police came Friday morning, when another neighbor called to report that she saw a bloody knife and a child’s jacket near a vehicle—a blue Toyota Corolla. The car had its door open, the woman told the dispatcher.

The windows to the home were also open, according to the caller.

“I’ve never seen something like this,” the caller said.

The neighbor described hearing “jumping” and “running” coming from the townhouse the night before, but she said she didn’t think anything of it at the time because there were four children in the house.

When police arrived to the townhouse in the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive, they found the bodies and what they’ve described as a “bloody” scene.

Police alleged that Avery tried to run out the back of the home when police arrived. Sanford was arrested Saturday, after she was released from the hospital for minor injuries. 

The women claimed they were performing an “exorcism” on the children, according to police.

The Maryland Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Saturday that Norell Harris, 1, and  Zyana Harris, 2, died Friday from multiple stab wounds. The cause of their deaths was determined to be homicide.

Two other children—identified as 5-year-old Taniya Harris and 8-year-old Martello Harris—were found seriously and critically injured at the scene.

Both women were being held in jail without bond. Court records did not list attorneys for the women.


This story included reporting from Patch Editor Jenni Pompi

Barbara January 21, 2014 at 10:05 AM
I find it so hard to believe that the police just walked away because no one would answer the door. That alone should have alerted them to something not right.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »