On July 26 48-year-old Ronald Marquez of Pheonix, Arizona allegedly attempted an exorcism of his 3-year-old granddaughter while the girl's mother cowered on the floor nearby, naked and covered in blood. The two adults had been screaming and chanting so violently that Marquez's brother and neighbor called 9/11, fearing for the child's safety. Police found an incoherent Marquez restraining the little girl in a headlock. When he refused to let go of her, they Tasered him twice; he stopped breathing after the second blast.
The 19-year-old mother has not been charged with any crime. (CNN article)
FOX News's Hannity & Colmes of August 15 covered this story by interviewing Bob Larson and showing video clips of his public exorcisms. Larson was able to tell millions of viewers that he has performed over 1000 exorcisms, that he met with Vatican exorcist Gabriele Amorth, and that he has studied the Rituale Romanum. He said dozens of people manifest signs of possession at each of his seminars, adding that he always takes a medical and psychological history prior to exorcism to make certain that the person needs exorcism (some do, others require psychiatric treatment and exorcism). Abuse and trauma, he explained, can create the right conditions for possession by demonic entities. Both Sean Hannity and Larson expressed admiration for the late Malachi Martin, an ex-priest who described his many exorcisms on Coast to Coast AM.
In closing, Larson told the viewers that God intended for everyone to perform exorcisms.
Though the victim of this "exorcism" was saved from any harm, the incident can be added to a long list of fatal exorcisms (notably that of Anneliese Michel, on which the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose was loosely based):
- In February 2007 Father Daniel Corogeanu of Romania was sentenced to 14 years in prison for starving to death a 23-year-old nun, Irini Cornici, in the course of an exorcism. The woman had been chained to a cross for days by Father Corogeanu and four nuns, deprived of food and water. (BBC article)
- In 2003 an 8-year-old autistic boy named Terrance Cottrell was smothered to death by Minister Ray Hemphill of Milwaukee's Faith Temple of the Apostolic Faith Church, while his mother and other church members looked on. They believed Terrance's autism (diagnosed when he was 2) was caused by evil spirits, and in the course of the "prayer service" Hemphill held a pillow over the boy's face to stifle his cries. Hemphill was convicted only of felony physical child abuse, sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. (CNN article, Inclusion Daily Express article)
- In 2004 Memphis police responded to a call about two adults and two young children walking down a street naked. The couple, Christopher and Valerie Carey, were found in a motel room along with their three children, ages 2-8. The oldest child, 8-year-old Quimani, had been stabbed and strangled to death. Both of her arms were broken and Bible pages were scattered around her. According to the mother's confession, the Careys believed Quimani was a demon and that they would be rewarded for killing her. The homeless couple had no known religious affiliation. (MSNBC article)