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A 3-year-old child was killed during an exorcism ritual performed by her family at a small church in San Jose, California, according to court documents.
Claudia Elisa Hernandez, the 25-year-old mother of Arely, was arrested a few days after she posted a 40-minute video talking about the death of her daughter to YouTube.
Court documents said that Hernandez believed she had been possessed by a demon because she would wake up in the middle of the night crying or screaming. They allegedly brought the child to a family church.
“The victim’s grandfather was identified as the leader of the Church and claimed he was a certified pastor,” wrote deputy district attorney Rebekah Wise in the court documents.
Investigators say Arely’s mother and uncle took her to the small church at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 24. The child’s mother, uncle, and grandfather allegedly held the child down for several hours by her torso, neck, and legs and tried to make her vomit in order to release the demon.
Wise said the child lost consciousness and suffered “multiple injuries around her eyes, face, neck, and chest.”
Arely died after about 12 hours of the abuse by her family and they neglected to call emergency services immediately after her death, police said.
Hernandez later talked about her daughter’s death in the YouTube video.
“Everyone wants to know what happened to her, you know, her cause of death,” she said. “A lot of people turned on me after my daughter passed away; a lot of people thought a lot of things because of how that situation looked. If you weren’t there, you don’t know what happened. I know what happened.”
Hernandez faces up to 25 years in prison if she is convicted.
The small church was also involved in a previous incident where a 3-month-old baby named Brandon Cuellar was kidnapped. A woman charged with the kidnapping was a member of the church, and the grandmother of the baby said that she had become friends with the suspect at the church before the kidnapping.
The baby was later rescued by police, but the motive of the kidnapping is still under investigation.
Here’s a local news report about the incident:
Investigators Say 3-Year-Old Girl Died Inside SJ Church After Exorcism-Like Ritual