A 3-year-old girl whose death was ruled a homicide last fall was the subject of an alleged exorcism last year at a Northern California church, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The girl, Arely Naomi Proctor, died last September after family members performed a ceremony to “release her from her evil spirits,” church officials told the San Jose Mercury News. The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide caused by asphyxiation.
The girl’s mother, Claudia Hernández, was accused of assaulting a child resulting in death. The Associated Press could not immediately determine if Hernandez has an attorney.
“He strangled her multiple times to the point where the victim became unconscious, put his hands down her throat, and continued this course of conduct for almost a full day,” Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise wrote in court documents obtained by KRON. .
Details of the case were not made public at the time, but the newspaper reported it amid renewed scrutiny of the Iglesia Apóstoles y Prophetes, a small Pentecostal church in San José, following the recent kidnapping of a 3-month-old baby who carried to the police. to search in the church.
No evidence was found at the church that was relevant to the boy’s abduction and the church was not a party to the case presented to the district attorney’s office, said Officer Steven Aponte, a spokesman for the San Jose Police Department. The baby was found safe in a San Jose apartment several hours after the kidnapping was captured on surveillance video, and police have arrested three suspects, including at least one of whom attended the same church.
The church’s pastor, René Huezo, was the grandfather of the 3-year-old girl and participated in the exorcism but has not been charged, the newspaper reported.
According to court records, Hernandez told police he believed his daughter was possessed because “she would wake up and scream or cry periodically.” She and her brother took the boy to church on Sept. 24, where Huezo joined them to perform an exorcism, the Mercury News reported.
The girl’s family “believed the girl was possessed by a demon and was in church praying for her,” Wise wrote in court documents obtained by KRON.
Hernandez is accused of holding the girl’s neck, squeezing it and starving her while her father and brother held the girl.
The church operates from a basement in a house in San José. Attempts to contact church officials through their social media accounts and the church’s website were not immediately successful.
Huezo said that he feels a lot of pain for the death of his granddaughter, but he does not believe that the exorcism caused her death.
KRON reported that a video posted on YouTube in January, titled with the girl’s full name, Arely Naomi Proctor Hernandez, appears to show the mother talking about her daughter’s death.
“People can talk, but at the end of the day, I know what happened, God knows what happened, and the people who were there when she passed know what happened,” he says in the video.