An uncle and grandfather join a mother behind bars after a three-year-old girl is killed in a gruesome 12-hour exorcism.
Claudia Hernandez, 25, of San Jose, Calif., was first charged in January in the death of her daughter, Arely Hernandez, who she says possessed a demon, according to court documents. After the horrific death, Hernandez posted a lengthy YouTube video where she casually asserted that her daughter’s death “is what it is.”
On Friday, investigators also charged Rene Aaron Hernandez-Santos, 19, and Rene Trigueros Hernandez, 59, for their roles in the fatal ritual, the New York Post reports.
According to an affidavit, the mother believed her three-year-old daughter contained an “evil spirit” as she often heard the child cry during the night. On the morning of September 24, 2021, she and the girl’s uncle drove Arely to the Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas church where Hernandez’s father served as pastor. Hernandez later told police that she and her brother began performing maneuvers, such as holding her daughter by the neck and waist, to help her “throw up” and “get the spirit out.”
Hernandez’s father later arrived at the church, and the three adults continued to physically try to force the girl to vomit. According to an affidavit, Hernandez admitted that during the demonic procedure, she decided to “stick her finger down the victim’s throat and squeeze the victim’s neck to make them vomit.” She also said Arely “felt asleep multiple times” pressing on her throat.
Around 8 p.m., Hernandez called the police to tell them his daughter was dead. The affidavit claims first responders noticed Arely had bruises around his eyes, neck and chest, and Hernandez admitted the family waited at least an hour to call 911 once they had noticed that the child had become lifeless.
According to arrest records, Hernandez was arrested on January 31, just days after posting her nonchalant video of the incident, and was charged with one count of assaulting a child with force likely to cause serious bodily harm resulting in death.
Although Hernandez’s father, Reno, was not initially charged in the girl’s death, he told the San Jose Mercury-News at the time: “If you read the Bible, you will see that Jesus casts out demons and restores health to the sick… It’s not when I want to do it, it’s when God, in his will, wants to heal the nobody. The preacher is like an instrument of God; what we do is what God says.
Arely’s uncle and grandfather have now been charged with criminal abuse for participating in ritual torture. Hernandez remains in jail and is due in court on June 13.