A California woman was arrested after allegedly hitting, choking and biting her 11-year-old daughter during an attempted exorcism.
Kimberly Felder, 45, was at a beach in the coastal town of Ferndale when police say she stripped her daughter naked and began attacking her.
"The mother had stripped the child naked and was shoving handfuls of sand in the child’s eyes and into the child’s mouth," the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release, according to Lost Coast Outpost. "The mother stated she was trying to remove … demons from the child."
Felder was also "viciously striking, biting and choking the child," according to the press release.
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The attack was witnessed by a group of about a dozen people. One witness, local resident John Marciel, intervened and attempted to physically restrain Felder.
Marciel said Felder was hitting her daughter in the head with a piece of driftwood as Marciel, who was on the phone with a 911 operator, wrestled with her in the sand.
"She questioned me about my faith," Marciel told The Associated Press.
He added: "When you see something like this, it shakes your foundation and faith in people."
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When police arrived on the scene, they subdued Felder and placed her under arrest. She was brought to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility, where she was charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse and aggravated mayhem.
Police said that Felder was tested for drugs upon being arrested, but have not announced the results of the test.
Police said Marceil attended to the victim after Felder was restrained.
"John Marciel further assisted by tending to the child while deputies controlled Felder," the sheriff's office said. "Emergency Medical technicians arrived and transported the child to a hospital where she received further treatment for her injuries. The child received multiple injuries from the attack including severe damage to her right ear."
The victim will be placed in the custody of child protective services, according to AP.
In its press release, the sheriff's office applauded Marciel for stepping in on the child's behalf.
"If it were not for the intervention and heroic actions of John Marciel, it is very likely that the child would have been killed by Felder," the press release said. "The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer special thanks for his assistance. The Sheriff’s Office will also be requesting that John Marciel be recognized for the Red Cross Life Saving Award."