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Woman Pleads Guilty in Exorcism Murders of Her Two Children

January 17, 2015  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Woman Pleads Guilty in Exorcism Murders of Her Two Children Image courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

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GERMANTOWN, Md. (WUSA9) — A Montgomery County woman has been found guilty, but not criminally responsible, for her role in the gruesome murders of two toddlers in January 2014 in what she believed was an exorcism. Two other children were choked and stabbed, but survived the violent attack.

Monifa Sanford was the roommate and best friend of the children’s mother. We want to warn you that the content of Friday’s testimony is very disturbing and graphic. In fact, the devastated father of the four children erupted in the courtroom and was led out by marshals.

WARNING: Some of the details revealed below may be deemed graphic or disturbing to some. Read at your discretion.

Monifa Sanford’s descent into the depths of mental illness included hallucinations and voices, including one that she believed to be Satan. According to testimony, he told her he was going to “kill the babies. If she wanted them to go to heaven, she had to do it herself.”

“She believed that she had been initiated into this group of demon assassins,” said defense attorney David Felsen.

Those “assassins” included a boyfriend linked to each of the women. The investigation revealed that those men were imaginary. According to testimony, the two women watched YouTube videos of demons and danced feverishly to ward them off.

Felsen said, “They had believed that inanimate objects had been possessed, there were demons in their house, that they had been possessed individually, that at other times, the children had been possessed.”

On January 17, 2014, the children struggled and screamed, but were choked and repeatedly stabbed with a serrated knife. By the time the bloodshed was over, 18-month-old Norell and his 2-year-old sister Zyana were dead. Their 5-year-old sister and 8 year-old brother were also stabbed and choked, but somehow survived.

“I think this case was profoundly disturbing to everyone who’s touched it. They’re children that are involved in this case,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Sanford has been committed to Clifton T. Perkins Mental Hospital for treatment. She could stay there for life.

After the murders, Sanford told police, “I’m glad the children are in heaven, but I miss them.”

Zakeiya Avery, the mother of the four children, is expected to go to trial later this year. We have posted documentation of the State’s evidence against Sanford below.

The children’s father posted an emotional video on his Facebook page after being kicked out of court Friday. WARNING: The video contains very graphic language.

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