A 3-year-old girl was allegedly tortured and killed by her family in a 12-hour exorcism in her granddad’s California church — with her mom later posting a smiling video dismissively saying, “It is what it is.”
Little Arely Hernandez was found dead on the floor of a small house-based church in San Jose last September with “multiple injuries around her eyes, face, neck and chest,”, according to court documents obtained by KRON Wednesday.
She’d been there with her mom, uncle and grandfather who “believed the child was possessed by a demon and were at the church praying for her,” deputy district attorney Rebekah Wise wrote in court documents.
Arely’s El Salvador-born mom, Claudia Elisa Hernandez, 25, told cops she was certain her toddler was “possessed by an evil spirit” — just because she’d woken up screaming, according to police documents published by the Daily Beast.
The mom and her brother then took the toddler to the church where they were met by their father, who “identified as the leader of the church and claimed he was a certified pastor,” the police report said.
They arrived at 6:30 a.m., and over the next 12 hours they violently pinned her down and stuck fingers down her mouth to make her vomit, which they “believed would help her get the spirit out,” the document said.
“One individual was holding victim by the neck, while one held her around her abdomen, and the last held her around her legs,” wrote the officers.
They continued even after little Arely “fell asleep several times.”
“Eventually, the victim vomited a clear/purple liquid,” the report said, with an autopsy determining she died of asphyxia due to suffocation and smothering.
The mom “believed the victim died sometime between 6:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.” — 12 hours after they arrived at the church, the police report noted.
Still, the family did not dial 911 until 8:12 p.m., around two hours after they think she died — and “no lifesaving measures were performed to help” the youngster, the police report noted.
“She strangled her multiple times to the point where the victim went unconscious, she stuck her hands down her throat, and continued this course of conduct for almost a full day,” Wise wrote of the mom, who according to KRON.
The gruesome case was not made public at the time, nor when mom Hernandez was charged in February, and only came to light this week when the court documents emerged, KRON said.
Hernandez is being held without bail, charged with felony assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury, the outlet said, noting she faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
The uncle and grandfather have not been charged, the station said.
Just six days before she was charged, Hernandez posted a nearly 45-minute YouTube video about her dead daughter — smiling and defending herself from apparent critics of her parenting.
“I could sit here and be negative… [but] I cannot change what is. It is what it is,” she said — a phrase she repeated several times.
“I could sit here and be negative, be sad about the whole situation that she passed away, but it’s like, there’s no point, you know, because it is what it is. It is what it is. She’s not here with me — it is what it is,” she told the 58 subscribers to the channel under the name Elisaa Santos.
“It’s like, what’s the point, you know? I’m just gonna be putting myself down when there’s no point for me to do that, you know? I cannot change the situation,” she said.
“When she passed away she was with me,” she said, showing a tattoo of her daughter’s name and date of birth on her chest, again saying, “It is what it is.”
She said that “a lot of people turned on me after my daughter passed away.”
“I don’t worry too much about that because God knows the truth, and the truth always comes out,” she said.
Police had swarmed the same house-based church last month searching for a kidnapped baby, KRON noted.
A woman charged with kidnapping the baby boy, Yesenia Guadalupe Ramirez, is reportedly one of the church’s members, the report said.
“The motive behind the broad-daylight, bizarre kidnapping remains under investigation,” prosecutors wrote in the case, according to the station.