A three-year-old was allegedly tortured and killed by her family as they performed an exorcism “to liberate her from evil spirits,” according to court documents.
On September 24, Arely died in a small Pentecostal church in San Jose, California, after being strangled by her mother, uncle, and grandfather.
In the court documents, Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise claimed that the family “believed the child was possessed by a demon and were at the church praying for her.”
Her mother, Claudia Elisa Hernandez, 25, believed her daughter was possessed because Arely would frequently wake up in the middle of the night crying or screaming.
Claudia and Arely’s uncle took the three-year-old to the church at around 6:30 a.m. where, along with their grandfather, they held the girl down by the neck, torso, and leg for hours. They also tried to make her throw up by sticking fingers down her throat.
Arely lost consciousness and was found with “multiple injuries around her eyes, face, neck, and chest.” She died at around 6:30 p.m. after being subjected to 12 hours of torture.
The family called the police at around 8:12 p.m. After examining the body, the coroner determined that Arely died from suffocation and smothering.
“The victim’s grandfather was identified as the leader of the Church and claimed he was a certified pastor,” Wise added.
“It’s many reasons why God took her,” explained Hernandez in a YouTube video posted in January talking about Arely’s death. “At least she’s not suffering. In this world, we suffer so much, especially nowadays. Everything is so bad. Everything is going downhill. That’s what I’m thankful for. That she’s not going to grow up in a world we live in.”
“It’s hard to think that I’m not going to see her grow up. But you know, it’s OK. It’s OK because I know she’s in a better place. God knows why He allowed these things. My baby was such a happy baby. Being a mom, it’s one of the best things. Of course, when I think of her I get sad and I cry and I miss her,” she continued.
Arely’s mother was arrested six days after the video was posted. She is charged with felony assault on a child and faces 25 to life in prison.
The case was not made public by the San Jose Police department or the District Attorney’s office, until the court documents were uncovered.
“We know we haven’t done anything dark, and we know that we have a clean conscience,” said Oscar Ayala, a preacher at the church.