A mother who was convinced her daughter was possessed attempted to perform an exorcism on her, which nearly resulted in the death of the child.
Authorities say the naked 11-year-old Northern California girl was not having the ritual performed by a priest, but say the Exorcist was the girl’s mother.
The mother, Kimberly Felder, 45 of Ferndale, was charged Friday with attempted murder for trying to kill her daughter, police say.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office released a statement which gave thanks to a Good Samaritan who tried to stop the alleged exorcism. Police said the man fought with Felder until taking her to the ground as she pounded her daughter in the head with a piece of driftwood moments before a deputy arrived and handcuffed Felder.
“If it were not for the intervention and heroic actions of John Marciel, it is very likely that the child would have been killed by Felder,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the press release.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Deputies have said they went to the beach in Ferndale in response to a 911 caller saying that a woman was trying to perform an exorcism on a young girl.
Emergency 911 dispatchers said that the caller stated that Felder had stripped her own daughter naked and was shoving handfuls of sand down her throat in what appears to be an attempt to kill her. In the Mother's mind, however, she may or may not have believed her daughter was possessed by demons.
In the initial press release from the Sheriff's Deputies report on the incident, Felder "stated she was trying to remove the demons from the child” after being interrogated by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Detectives.
The incident report from the scene says that as the exorcism continued, the girl was viciously struck in the head several times by her mother. Several other witnesses on the beach gave statements supporting the events that were alleged in the report, the press release noted.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office also said that the girl was taken to the hospital for further treatment of her injuries that included severe damage to an ear. Child Protective Services will investigate and likely place the child with siblings or find a temporary to permanent residence to protect her.
Felder faces multiple charges that include attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, felony child abuse and aggravated mayhem, the Sheriff’s Office said. She is being held at the Humboldt County Correction Facility in Eureka awaiting a court date and a possible psychiatric evaluation.