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Police: Children Killed in Attempted 'Exorcism'

A second woman was charged in the incident involving the stabbing of four young children in Germantown.

Montgomery County police charged Zakieya Latrice Avery (left) and Monifa Denise Sanford (right) in the killings of Avery's children. Photo Credit: MCPD
Montgomery County police charged Zakieya Latrice Avery (left) and Monifa Denise Sanford (right) in the killings of Avery's children. Photo Credit: MCPD
Police said that two women are facing murder charges after four children were stabbed—two to death—in what they believe was an attempted exorcism Friday in Germantown.

The mother of the children, Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, of the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive was charged Saturday with attempted murder in the stabbings of her four children. Montgomery County police said a second suspect, Monifa Denise Sanford of the same address, was also charged with murder and attempted murder in the same case.

Police said that the women believed that they were performing an "exorcism" on the children. The incident is still under investigation.

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. They remain in the hospital as of Saturday evening being treated for injuries, police said.

Police found two children dead in an upstairs bedroom and two injured Friday morning, after responding to a 911 call. A neighbor reported seeing a vehicle with its door open and a knife outside of the vehicle.

Sanford was treated for minor injures related to the incident and Avery was not injured, according to police.

There have been no other charges in this case, and no further details have been released. The case is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

Editor's note: This story was updated Sunday, Jan. 19, to include Sanford's booking photo.  
Sharon January 19, 2014 at 07:10 PM
http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/2014/01/19/exorcism-germantown-children-murdered/4650185/ HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WUSA9) -- A former family pastor says exorcism was never brought up. The Germantown woman accused of killing her two children and trying to kill her other two children sought help from a Hagerstown church a few years ago because the family had no money.
Sharon January 19, 2014 at 10:45 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/attempted-exorcism-cited-in-death-of-two-md-toddlers/ "Excerpt: One witness, who didn’t want to be identified, said as police charged the front door, the children’s mother and Sanford tried to escape out the back door. COMMENT: No bogus insanity plea and no claim of exorcism. They knew exactly what they had done...that it was murder when they tried to make escape out back door from police!

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