Maryland resident Zakieya L. Avery has been accused of stabbing her two young children to death and injuring two others while attempting to perform an exorcism on them on Friday.
The two children, Norell Harris, 1, and his sister, Zyana Harris, 2, died of multiple stab wounds, while their siblings were hospitalized.
Exorcisms are rituals performed to literally "exorcise" and defeat a demon or an evil spirit believed to be inhabiting a person. Though most of the American public may be familiar with exorcisms as the subject of popular horror films, exorcisms are still performed regularly in many parts of the world, with the Catholic Church as one serious advocate for the ritual.
Police were previously called to the house as recently as Thursday over reports of an unattended child in the car. Though the officers attempted to speak to the residents, nobody came to the door. Authorities apparently notified child services of the event but reports are unclear as to whether or not anyone actually followed up the claim.
Though officials did not give a specific reason as to why they suspected the horrific murders were the result of an exorcism gone wrong, police found the four children after a neighbor reported suspicious activity involving a knife to the police.
Avery was charged Saturday with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. A second woman, believed to be unrelated to the family, was briefly hospitalized after the event. She is also being charged with the murders and is currently being held without bond with Avery.