The Maryland mother and the friend who police say helped kill two of her children in what they called an exorcism had only recently met in a church where services feature the casting off of demons, ABC7 finds. Zakieya Avery and Monifa Sanford, who have been charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of Avery's two youngest children, ages 1 and 2, ended up leaving the church and calling themselves the "Demon Assassins," the station's sources say. They allegedly believed one of Avery's children was possessed by the devil, who jumped from child to child as they tried to cut it out.
The women are also facing attempted murder charges for wounds they inflicted on Avery's two older children, ages 5 and 8, reports the AP. Police have released recordings of 911 calls from worried neighbors made both before and after the killings, the Baltimore Sun. A man who reported a baby left in a car a night before the killings told police that "the mother came out, she reported that she had something going on and she didn't want her baby to be in danger in the house," adding that he had been attacked by both women when he raised his concerns. Child Protective Services was going to check on the children the next day—but before they arrived, police received a 911 call from a woman who saw blood and a knife near the car. She told dispatchers she had heard "loud noises in the night," and what sounded like jumping and running. (Read more exorcism stories.)