Uncle and grandfather arrested in ‘exorcism’ that killed 3-year-old girl

Mugshots of suspects
Suspects Claudia Hernandez-Santos, Rene Aaron Hernandez-Santos and Rene Trigueros Hernandez were taken into custody in connection with an “exorcism” that killed a child last fall.
(San Jose Police Department)

The uncle and grandfather of a 3-year-old San Jose girl were arrested in connection with an “exorcism” that killed her last fall.

The grandfather, Rene Trigueros Hernandez, was a preacher at a small church in San Jose where the exorcism and killing allegedly took place, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The girl’s mother, 25-year-old Claudia Hernandez-Santos, was arrested in January and charged with felony child abuse resulting in death.


She told police that she was worried her daughter was possessed because the girl would wake up screaming or cry “periodically,” the Mercury News reported.

She took the girl to Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas, in the back of a house in a residential neighborhood. There, she, the uncle and the grandfather took turns attempting to make the girl vomit by squeezing her neck, abdomen and legs, according to the Mercury News.

San Jose police arrested the uncle, 19-year-old Rene Hernandez-Santos, and the grandfather, 59-year-old Hernandez, on suspicion of child abuse causing death, the department said Friday in a news release.

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of the child, identified by the Mercury News as Arely Naomi Proctor, as a homicide.

The child died around 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24, but emergency crews were not called for nearly two hours, the Mercury News said.

San Jose police found the victim unresponsive on the floor and attempted lifesaving measures. She was transported to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

The department declined to offer additional details Friday.

In a Mercury News story published Monday, the grandfather confirmed that an “exorcism” had been performed and that what happened was “the will of God.”

Police also responded to the church in April to search for a kidnapped 3-month-old boy who was later found safe, the Mercury News reported.

San Francisco television station KTVU reported that a suspect in the kidnapping met the victim’s grandmother at the church and became “obsessed” with the child.

Two people were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping in connection with that incident.