Police: Toddler died inside California church after exorcism-like ritual performed

SAN JOSE, Ca. — A 3-year-old girl has died after members of a California church says they performed a ritual on her last September, according to court records.

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San Jose police have been investigating the death of a 3-year-old girl, identified as Arely Naomi Proctor, according to Mercury News. Police were called out to Iglesia Evangelicas Apostoles y Profestas in San Jose last fall. KTVU says it’s a small church that is in the back room of a house and posts videos of sermons they do on YouTube.

In court records that KTVU obtained, police learned that the mother told police that her child was possessed by an evil spirit “because the victim would wake up and scream or cry periodically.” The mother took the child to the church for the ritual. The mother along with two other family members held the girl down for about 12 hours, leaving her with multiple injuries. The medical examiner told KTVU that she died as a result of suffocation. No one tried to perform CPR or call 911, according to court records.

The girl’s mother, Claudia Hernandez was arrested and booked on recommended charges of child abuse last January, according to Mercury News. It was only recently that the girl’s death has been classified as a homicide.

KNTV says the church where the girl died is possibly connected to a kidnapping of a 3-month-old boy just a few weeks ago. Brandon Cuellar was kidnapped from his grandmother’s home but was later found safe. Three people were arrested in connection with that kidnapping and one of those members, KNTV says belonged to the same church. While it may be a coincidence, the kidnapping case remains under investigation.