Mom on 3-Year-Old's Alleged 'Exorcism' Death: 'It Is What It Is'

Claudia Elisia Hernandez Santos faces 25 years to life for her alleged role in the ceremony
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2022 7:07 AM CDT
Mom on 3-Year-Old's Alleged 'Exorcism' Death: 'It Is What It Is'
Claudia Elisia Hernandez Santos   (YouTube)

A California mother who said her 3-year-old daughter would wake up screaming and crying at night took her to have her demons cast out. The girl didn't survive the exorcism. Claudia Elisia Hernandez Santos, mother of Arely Naomi Proctor, is charged with assault on a child resulting in death following the September incident, in which she allegedly deprived Arely of food and water and squeezed her neck, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's office ruled the death at a private San Jose home that also operates as a Pentecostal church to be a homicide by asphyxiation. Hernandez called police just after 8pm on Sept. 24, some 14 hours after taking Arely to the church. Authorities believe the girl may have been dead for as long as two hours by then.

Officers found the 3-year-old unconscious on the floor of the church, Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas, with bruising on her chest, neck, and eyes, an affidavit reads, per the Daily Beast. They "learned the suspects believed the child was possessed by a demon," it adds. The exorcism was allegedly carried out by Hernandez's father, Rene Huezo, who is also a pastor. But he tells the Mercury News that the ceremony didn't cause Arely’s death. Rather, it was "the will of God." Hernandez told officers that her daughter "fell asleep several times" while she pushed on her throat, per the affidavit. She also allegedly "stated she attempted to stick her finger down the victim's throat and squeezed the victim's neck to induce vomiting," believing it would evict the evil spirit.

Hernandez, who later sought donations for Arely's burial, addressed the death in a lengthy YouTube video shared Jan. 27. "I could sit here and … be sad about the whole situation that she passed away, but it's like, there's no point, you know, because it is what it is," the 25-year-old said, per the Beast. "God knows what happened, and the people that were there when she passed away knows what happened." Hernandez was booked into Santa Clara County jail on Jan. 31 on one felony count of assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death. Held without bail, she faces 25 years to life if convicted. Her next court appearance is June 13. Huezo has not been charged, nor has an uncle of Arely who was also present. (Read more exorcism stories.)

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