‘Demon Assassin’ suspect ordered to undergo mental health evaluation

The younger of two women accused of killing two toddlers during what they described as an exorcism was ordered by a Montgomery County judge on Tuesday to undergo a mental health evaluation at a state forensic hospital.

Monifa Sanford, 21, will be transferred from the Montgomery jail, where she has been held for a week, to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a maximum security facility in Jessup, according to a brief court hearing.

At issue is whether she is legally competent, meaning she understands her surroundings enough to participate in court proceedings. If she is deemed competent, her attorney could still file a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

Zakieya Latrice Avery (Montgomery County Police Department )

On the morning Jan. 17, Montgomery police were called to a townhouse in Germantown, where they found two children — a 1-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl — stabbed to death in an upstairs bedroom. Two other children, ages five and eight, also had been stabbed, and were hospitalized for their wounds. Detectives arrested two adult residents of the townhouse – Sanford and Zakieya Avery, 28, the mother of the four children. Both were charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

The women told detectives they thought that demons were jumping among the children, according to authorities. Both women claimed to be part of a four-person group they called the “Demon Assassins.”

A judge already has ordered that Avery be sent to Perkins for a mental health evaluation.

Sanford’s attorney, David Felsen, told District Court Judge Eugene Wolfe he would like to review copies of statements his client made to detectives as he plans his next step in the case, an indication he is exploring a possible insanity plea. “The sooner I can have those things, the better,” Felsen said.

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911 calls

Hear 911 calls made in the case involving the deaths of two toddlers.

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First 911 call

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Second 911 call

SOURCE: Montgomery County Police