Maryland women accused of killing children were part of ‘Demon Assassin’ exorcism cult
Zakieya Avery and Monifa Sanford were reportedly members of a Germantown-based group called the ‘Demon Assassins.’ The women apparently believed they were engaging in spiritual warfare when they stabbed four of Avery’s children—killing the two youngest.
By CAROL KURUVILLA / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Demons and devils are very much alive in one Maryland mom’s world.
28-year-old Zakieya Avery told a Montgomery County court that she is the “commander” of a “Demon Assassin” cult whose calling to hunt demons led her to stab and kill her two youngest children.
Avery and her 21-year-old accomplice Monifa Sanford have been charged with first-degree murder for the deaths of 1-year-old Norrell and 2-year-old Zyana. The women also attempted to kill Avery’s two older children, 5-year-old Taniya and 8-year-old Martello.
The Germantown pair told detectives that they witnessed the children’s eyes turning black and saw a black cloud hovering over the kids. They then saw demons jumping into Norrell.
“She tried to snap his neck,” Montgomery State Attorney John McCarthy said in court, according to the Washington Post. “Then she began to choke him.”
Sanford and Avery stabbed little Norrell, then watched the demonic spirit float over to the other children. At one point, the spirit apparently jumped inside Sanford, who was then attacked.
After the grisly murders, the “Demon Assassins” reportedly washed the bodies of the dead children and wrapped them in blankets so that they would appear clean before God, McCarthy said.
Taniya and Martello are hospitalized in critical condition, but expected to survive, according to The Sentinel.
The families of both women were shocked to hear the news. They had never heard the women talk about exorcisms or demons.
Avery met Sanford at a Germantown church called Exousia Ministries. They formed the “Demon Assassins” group with two other women. Detectives are attempting to locate the other members of the group, but don’t believe they are a threat.
The pastor of Exousia Ministries told police that the women hadn’t spoken to him about attempting to perform an exorcism. The pair stopped worshipping at the church about two months ago.
District Judge Gary G. Everngam ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Avery. McCarthy said that Avery had been committed to a mental health facility in the past.
It appears as if Sanford has also struggled with mental health issues. She reportedly tried to commit suicide twice. Sanford’s mental health evaluation has been postponed until a defense attorney has claimed her case.
“Monifa has always been a very meek, very mild, very obedient person,” lawyer Dana Jones-Oliver told The Washington Post. Jones-Oliver is considering representing Sanford. “She’s always been known as a very nurturing, affectionate caregiver. So this is shocking. It shocks the conscience.”
Capt. Marcus Jones, chief of Montgomery’s Major Crimes Division, said it was difficult to tell if Avery felt sorry about what happened to her kids.
“She just thought that there were evil spirits within the kids,” Jones told The Sentinel.