3-year-old girl allegedly killed in ‘exorcism’ at San Jose church

Map shows location of Iglesia Apóstoles y Profetas in San Jose.
(Los Angeles Times)

A 3-year-old child whose death last fall has been ruled a homicide was allegedly killed in an exorcism involving her mother at a San Jose church, according to news reports.

Claudia Hernandez, mother of Arely Naomi Proctor, was arrested and charged with assault on a child resulting in death, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Court records show she was charged in February.

The child died last September after family members performed a ceremony to “liberate her of her evil spirits,” church officials told the Mercury News. The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide caused by asphyxiation.


The San Jose Police Department declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We will share info when it is available for public dissemination; at this point we are not ready to release details in an effort to protect the integrity of the investigation,” police officials said in an email to The Times.

Anthony Avalos’ mother and her boyfriend were sentenced to life for murder of the 10-year-old, which exposed shortcomings in L.A. County’s child welfare system.

The incident occurred at the Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas, a tiny Pentecostal church that operates out of a basement in a San Jose home, according to the Mercury News.

Court documents said Hernandez told police that she thought her child was possessed because she would at times wake up screaming or crying.

During the incident, Hernandez reportedly withheld food from the girl and squeezed her neck, the Mercury News said, citing authorities.

Hernandez waited an hour or two after the girl’s death to call 911, the paper said.

Speaking to the Mercury News, Rene Huezo, a pastor and a grandfather of the girl, said that what happened was “the will of God” and that he does not believe the exorcism caused her death.

Another preacher at the church, Oscar Ayala, who was not present at the incident, told the newspaper, “We know we haven’t done anything dark, and we know that we have a clean conscience.”

The small church also made news last month when two people, including an attendee of the church, were arrested and charged with the kidnapping of a 3-month-old baby.

The baby’s grandmother and one of the suspects, Yesenia Ramirez, had met at the church and Ramirez reportedly became “obsessed” with the baby, KTVU reported.

The baby was found safe and uninjured.