‘Exorcism’ murder suspects get grand jury indictments

Police were called to the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive in Germantown, Md. in January when the children were killed.
FILE -- Zakieya Avery was ordered to be committed to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital mental hospital for an undetermined time after a judge in Montgomery County, Md. determined she was not criminally responsible for killing two of her children in an exorcism and stabbing two others.
Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division have charged a second woman with murder in the deaths of two children in Germantown: Monifa Denise Sanford, age 21.
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WASHINGTON – Two women were indicted by a grand jury Thursday for the January killing of two children and attempted murder of two others in Montgomery County.

The women said it was an exorcism.

In January, Montgomery County Police charged 21-year-old Monifa Denise Sanford and 28-year-old Zakieya Latrice Avery with murder in the deaths of two of Avery’s children.

The Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the children, 1-year-old Norell Harris and 2-year-old Zyana Harris, died from multiple stab wounds.

The two other siblings were seriously injured but survived.

Police were called to the home on Cherry Bend Drive, off Great Seneca Highway, around 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 18 after a neighbor reported a car, bloody inside and out, was left open in the driveway.

Police were able to enter the home with keys found in the car and found a bloody scene inside.

According to police, the women thought the children were possessed by demonic spirits.

If convicted, the maximum penalty is life in prison.

The night before the children were found, police responded to the home for reports a child was alone in a car, but the women wouldn’t let them inside.

There was no reason to believe the child was in danger and officers asked Child Protective Services to follow up the next morning. However, case workers didn’t get a chance.

Prior to the deaths, social services had no contact with the mother.

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