Maryland: church mom kills 2 children in exorcism
HAGERSTOWN, MD (CNN) — A Maryland church community is trying to make sense of the alleged deaths of two children at the hands of their mother, a former member.
The pastor says he knew the family had fallen on hard times, but did not realize how bad things really were.
"What makes this more shocking to me is that Kieya loved those kids," said Pastor Dan Thornton.
Pastor Dan Thornton of Maranatha Brethren church says the Harris family moved to Hagerstown with the prospect of a new job, but when that job fell through, they had no income and no car in September of 2011.
"We met them at a time of need," explained Thornton.
The church knew her by Kieya Harris and her husband martin captured here in a Facebook picture.
They were together at the time with three children and pregnant with the fourth.
"They were confident and happy kids. You get a feel for kids that are abused or neglected and that just did not fit these children," said Thorton.
The mother Kieya Harris, the same woman we know as Zakieya avery is charged with murdering her two youngest children and trying to kill her two oldest children.
"Can't comprehend it," the pastor said.
Another woman, 21-year-old Monifah Sanford has also been charged with the murders.
Sanford has no connection to the church and Pastor Thornton doesn't know how the two met.
The pastor and his congregation really wrapped their arms around this family, investing 7 months of their time while they lived in here.
Driving them to Sunday service, doctor's offices, bought them groceries, and even furniture.
"We got them beds for them, they were sleeping on the floor, so we got them some good beds," Thornton said.
Members took the mother to counseling but they don't know for what type of mental health issues.
Investigators say the two Germantown women believed that they were performing an exorcism
Pastor Thornton says the mother never brought up the topic of exorcism, "There were no conversations here that I know of, any way related to spiritual things like that.”
Seven months later the family was evicted from their Hagerstown apartment.
The two injured children are in stable condition and are expected to survive.