Two more family members have been charged after a 3-year-old was killed during a ritual to remove an “evil spirit” from her at a California church, police and news outlets reported.
The child’s uncle, Rene Hernandez-Santos, 19, and her 59-year-old grandfather, Rene Trigueros Hernandez, were both arrested and charged with child abuse on May 11, police said.
The child’s mother, 25-year-old Claudia Hernandez-Santos, took the girl to a makeshift church at the back of a home in San Jose in September 2021, KTVU reported.
Hernandez-Santos, who already was arrested in the case, said she thought the child was possessed by an “evil spirit” because she would wake and then cry or scream, the outlet reported.
During the ceremony, the child was held down for several hours, choked and forced to throw up to “rid” her of the spirit, KNTV reported.
When the child became unresponsive, the family waited two hours before calling 911 and did not try to perform life-saving measures on her, the outlet reported.
First responders found the child unresponsive on the church’s floor, the San Jose Police Department said in a news release on May 13. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, police said.
Hernandez-Santos was arrested and charged with child abuse on Jan. 31, police said.
Rene Trigueros Hernandez is a pastor in the congregation, Iglesia Evangelicas Apostoles y Profetas, KNTV reported.