Relatives of a Phoenix man and his granddaughter who performed an exorcism on a 3-year-old child in July said that the two had abruptly become obsessed with ridding their home of demons and blessing family members in the days before the exorcism.
A detailed report released by the Phoenix Police Department pieces together the events of the days leading up to the exorcism, when relatives began to notice changes in Ronald Marquez, 48, and his 19-year-old daughter.
What began with a car accident involving Marquez’s daughter five days earlier ended when police found Marquez inside his home holding his 3-year-old granddaughter, bloody and screaming, in a headlock on the morning of July 28. His daughter was found in a corner of the same room, naked and bloody, holding a religious picture of some kind.
Police stunned Marquez with a Taser when he would not let go of the child. He died later at a nearby hospital.
Marquez’s daughter told family members after the car accident first that she was God and then that she was an angel sent to save her family. She frequently referred to strange, vaguely religious things around the home, including what she called the beam of God, a line of leaves in the backyard, according to the report.
She drew circles in front of doors in the home, placing flowers inside them. She rid the house of items she said were evil, including shampoo, relatives said.
Relatives told police that Marquez’s daughter began talking about demons and seeing God and deceased relatives four days before the exorcism. She was not taking medication prescribed after the car accident, relatives said.
She later started going through the neighborhood blessing homes, they said in the report.
Marquez began following his daughter while she was blessing homes and eventually went along with his daughter’s claim that she was an angel, family members told police.
The night before the exorcism, Marquez doused his nephew, Edward Ahumada, 19, with a gallon of water, telling Ahumada, “I bless you,” according to the report. Ahumada told investigators that his uncle took him out into the backyard and told him God was with the family.
Marquez then rolled his eyes back into his head and threw his head back, Ahumada told police.
In an interview with police at a hospital where Marquez’s daughter was being treated for facial injuries, she said she believed her father was trying to rid her and her daughter of demons that were inside them. She said her father had been hitting her, but she did not believe he had hurt his granddaughter.
Marquez’s sister, Georgina Medina, who took custody of the child on the morning of the exorcism, told police the child said her mother had been hurting her.
Relatives told police that Marquez had performed an exorcism on the 3-year-old several days before police arrived at the home. According to the report, family members believed the first exorcism only involved praying and was not violent.
Family members said they could hear shouting, swearing, and praying coming from the room where the July 28 exorcism was being performed.