Two women in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts are facing a long list of charges after allegedly tying down and disfiguring a 5-year-old girl as part of what authorities believe to have been a Haitian Voodoo ritual intended to rid the girl of an evil spirit that caused her to misbehave.
At the request of Rachelle Eddins, the girl's mother, sisters Peggy LaBossiere, 51, and Rachel Hilaire, 40, subjected the child to ritualistic acts, which allegedly included tying her down, cutting her arm and collarbone area with a needle-like object until she bled, and blowing fire into her face, leaving her with permanent facial burns. LaBossiere and Hilaire are also alleged to have poured an unknown liquid into the girl's eyes, causing them to sting, in addition to threatening to use a machete to cut off her 8-year-old brother's head.
These events reportedly took place over the course of five days after the children's mother, who is LaBossiere's hairstylist, took them to LaBossiere and Hilaire's apartment for a "sleepover." Police discovered the children after relatives requested that they conduct a health and welfare check on Eddins and her children, The Boston Globe reports. When police noticed the burn on the girl's face, Eddins originally told an officer that her daughter had woken up with it a few days earlier, before telling another officer that it was caused by a demon leaving the girl's body.
The children were taken into emergency custody by the Department of Children and Families, while Eddins was sent to a local hospital first for evaluation, and then to another hospital for mental health treatment.
LaBossiere and Hilaire pleaded not guilty during their arraignments on Monday on charges of mayhem, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a child with injury, indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, and threatening to commit a crime, Enterprise News reports. A judge ordered them held without bail. It is unknown at this time if Eddins will face any charges.
This isn't the first story concerning voodoo to come out of Massachusetts this month; earlier this week, 43-year-old Latarsha L. Sanders allegedly stabbed her two young sons to death and told police that their deaths were part of a voodoo ritual.
Haitian voodoo practitioners and academics told The Globe that the practice of voodoo has no place for violence, however. Said Kyrah Malika Daniels, an assistant professor at Boston College who specializes in African and African diaspora studies, "No religious tradition, especially Vodou, would encourage behavior to put one's children in danger, and this is a grave and serious matter."
[Photo: NBC 10]