A 23-year-old Annapolis woman has been accused of beating two children, aged 11 months and 2 years, with a Bible and sprinkling them with salt water, following a ritual she said she learned from watching the movie "The Exorcist."
The woman, Camille Booth, 23, was charged with two counts of assault and battery Wednesday and sent to Crownsville State Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation following several days during which she also allegedly held the boys' mother in a trance.
The boys were treated at a hospital for bruises and released.
"I can see where movies and real life have apparently merged," said Cpl. Gary Simpson, the Annapolis police detective assigned to the case. "I really don't know what to believe."
Simpson said Booth, a self-styled exorcist, denied assaulting the boys, although she confirmed many elements of the mother's story.
The events that culminated in Booth's arrest began July 24 when she went to the boys' mother's home in Annapolis and demonstrated karate-type movements that she said showed "new strength from the Lord," Simpson said. Booth said that when the 2-year-old saw this, he attached her "with the ferocity and strength of a man," according to Simpson.
The boys' mother contends that Booth entranced her the next day when they sat opposite each other and Booth's "eyes lit up," Simpson said.
Booth, Simpson said, then seized the 2-year-old's blanket, saying that it possessed" him, threw it into a sink and burned it.
Simpson said that according to the mother's version, Booth then put the two children in a bathtub and splashed them and their mother with salt water. Singing "Holy holy holy, O Lord, protect these children from demons and spirits," according to the mother, the exorcist beat the children with a Bible, giving the 2-year-old a black eye.
The mother said the exorcist broke a glass and cut the 11-month-old boy across the bottocks according to Simpson. Booth then directed the mother to throw the children from a third floor window, Simpsom said the mother told him, but she refused.
Booth told police she never beat the children with a Bible. "she said demons had the older child so greatly, he was thrashing in the tub and hit his head on the side, causing the injuries."
Simpson said Booth denied ordering the mother to throw the children out the window. She said she wanted the mother to hold the 2-year-old up to the window "to shake the water off," Simpson said.
The mother and two boys were found Friday at Booth's house, simpson said. On Wednesday, the day of Booth's arrest, the Anne Arundel County Protective Service Division placed the children in custudy of their father, who had separated from their mother.
The family has since reunited, Simpson said and is living in Lothian, Md. Neither the mother nor the father could be reached for comment.