Two Arlington police officers testified yesterday that the man accused of killing Robert C. Bloom told them he beat Bloom to rid him of "a legion of demons" during one of several "exorcisms" he had performed on him.
General District Court Judge Joseph C. Gwaltney sent the case to the grand jury, which then indicted Daniel R. Kfoury, a 30-year-old maintenance worker, on a murder charge. He has pleaded not guilty.
For nearly two hours yesterday, Officer Robert A. McFarland and Detective Chuck Shelton recounted statements they said Kfoury gave them Oct. 28, hours after Bloom's beaten body was found in the basement apartment he shared with Kfoury at 4907 Washington Blvd.
An autopsy showed that Bloom, 27, died of asphyxiation the night of Oct. 27.
Kfoury scribbled quietly on a yellow legal pad as Commonwealth's Attorney Henry E. Hudson led the two officers through testimony about the discovery of Bloom's body and Kfoury's beliefs in a church identified as the Five-Fold Ministry.
Law enforcement officials are investigating the church and have withheld information on it and its specific location. However, some sources familiar with the case say the church appears to be a loose-knit group of people who meet primarily in an Arlington condominium.
Under questioning by defense attorney Frank Ceresi, one of three lawyers representing Kfoury, McFarland said Kfoury seemed to be "sincere" in his quest to rid Bloom of demons. Shelton also told Ceresi that Kfoury said he had not intended to kill Bloom, but wanted to "exorcise" him.
In his motion to strike the testimony of the two officers, Ceresi argued that there was insufficient proof of malice.
The attorneys have requested a psychiatric examination of Kfoury but have not said whether they plan to present an insanity defense.
Shelton, the homicide detective, told the jury that his first interview with Kfoury was "more or less a catechism class" in which Kfoury told him how demons possess people, how they manifest themselves and how they are exorcised.
Shelton said Kfoury thought Bloom was possessed by demons because Bloom had a "labored speech pattern" and a limp, which Shelton said Bloom developed after a truck hit him years ago.
Bloom's father, William R. Bloom, has refused to talk about his son or his death.
The "exorcism" was not the first one performed on Bloom, Shelton said Kfoury told him.
A week earlier, Kfoury and Bloom were in Kfoury's car on Carlin Springs Road, Shelton said, and Kfoury "thought Mr. Bloom was manifesting demons with a spitting action."
Shelton said there was a "wrestling scene" that lasted four hours until police broke it up.
Shelton said a "similar incident" occurred on Oct. 24 in the parking lot of a church not connected to the Five-Fold Ministry.
On Oct. 25, Kfoury and Bloom were attending a service at the ministry when Bloom was taken into a private room, Shelton said Kfoury told him.
"The other people in the room's job was to restrain Mr. Bloom's hands while Mr. Kfoury performed an exorcism again," Shelton said.
On Oct. 27, the day Bloom died, the two men attended services at the ministry, Shelton said Kfoury told him.
"Shortly after they returned home, Mr. Kfoury noticed what he called a 'cold stare' emanating from Mr. Bloom and interpreted this to mean the demons within Mr. Bloom had become more powerful and were taking over his body," Shelton said.
When Bloom refused to look Kfoury in the eye, Shelton said Kfoury told him, Kfoury forcibly wrapped his thighs around Bloom's head, pulled Bloom's arms back up over Bloom's head, and beat him on the back for seven hours until Bloom died about 10:15 p.m.
Shelton said Kfoury told him he also bit Bloom on one forearm, and "nibbled on the other."
Asked by Hudson if Kfoury gave a reason for the beating, Shelton said, "He said Mr. Bloom was possessed by demons; in fact, he described them as a legion of demons. He told me there were anywhere up to 2,000 demons inside Robert's body and they would have to be removed, each and every one of them, separately."
"He told me," Shelton continued, "the way demons are expelled from a body is in rank order, and that demons actually start off at the top being a general and go down to more or less a private, like the military.
"The lowest ranking demons are fairly easy to deal with, and he was expelling them. . . . When he got to the higher-ranking, the colonel area, he could only do two at a time. Finally, he came face to face with the highest ranking demon, named Orion. He had great trouble dealing with this part. . . .
"However, when Orion left Robert's body, he took Robert with him."
Although Kfoury could not detect a pulse in Bloom, Shelton said Kfoury told him, he "went to get a cup of water for Mr. Bloom in case he was, in fact, not dead. He felt it might be possible to raise Mr. Bloom from the dead."
Then, Shelton said Kfoury told him, Kfoury "raised [Bloom's] body to a kneeling position and began praying for Mr. Bloom. He found a videocassette tape of some Christian songs, put that on, and, with the body in kneeling position, prayed.
"After several hours, [Kfoury] realized it [Bloom's resurrection] was unlikely to happen. Then he got out his Bible, prayed, read some passages, and made his peace with God. God came to him, indicated everything was okay and [said] it was time to notify the authorities."
Officer McFarland said that when he arrived at the apartment about 5 a.m. on Oct. 28, Kfoury directed him to Bloom's badly bruised body, lying face down in a room filled with "religious sayings, posters on the wall, references to the Bible." McFarland said Bloom also had what appeared to be a bite mark on his left arm.
"I asked, 'What's going on?' and [Kfoury] said they had been wrestling. . . . He explained he was trying to get the demons out of Mr. Bloom."
McFarland said Kfoury then showed him a trash can containing vomit, and told him that, during the wrestling, Bloom "vomited quite a bit . . . and this was how [the demons] got out of him."
"I got the feeling I was in a Steven Spielberg movie," McFarland told Judge Gwaltney.