Everything about this story is disturbing. You’ve been warned.
A married couple, Mary and James, face multiple charges after the death of their four-year-old daughter. They allegedly let their neighbors, Ethan and Kourtney, to beat her with a belt before dunking her into an icy pond in order to rid her of supposed demons.
The parents were charged with felony child endangerment resulting in death, while the neighbors have been charged with second-degree murder and other charges in connection with the death of the little girl.
Authorities said the 4-year-old girl was found dead at the family home. Sheriff Eric said she had been severely beaten and dunked in an icy pond as part of what appeared to be a “religious-type episode.”
A probable cause statement form Sgt. Chris said the girl was already dead and had “severe purple bruising” over her body, along with ruptured blisters.
Sheriff Eric said a 2-year-old child had also been beaten. An infant son of the couple was apparently unharmed. Both were placed in protective custody.
Sgt. Chris asked James “how he could let people do this to his family?” and he stated they were told his “wife had a ‘demon’ inside her and her children would end up just like her if it was not taken care of,” Chris wrote in the probable cause statement.
James also told investigators he and his wife observed the beating of their daughter but were told they would be beaten or shot if they tried to intervene.
The couples attended the same church, which is not named by authorities.
While the authorities say this is an isolated incident, this is hardly the first time a child has died as the result of deluded religious thinking or a deranged belief that demons must be eradicated. There’s no evidence of mental illness at play here. The question now, as it always is, is what local church leaders plan to do in response if they’re disturbed by what happened.
Will pastors have the courage and good sense to tell their congregations that demons are merely metaphorical and figments of their imagination, or will they go on spreading the lie that Satan and his minions are real? If they firmly believe in literal demons, and they say as much from the pulpit, they shouldn’t be surprised if some people take them seriously, then take matters into their own hands if they genuinely believe others are possessed.
Regardless of how this ends legally, a little girl is dead because people close to her believed in religious superstitions and then acted upon them. Did anyone close to them ever tell them that the churches were lying to them?
The parents, Mary and James, and their neighbors, Ethan and Kourtney, are jailed without bond.