A 50-year-old Oklahoma City woman, Juanita Gomez, reportedly killed her daughter on Aug. 27 by shoving a crucifix down her throat.
She did it because thought her daughter was “possessed by the devil,” reported KWTV, according to the Daily Mail.
When the police arrived, they noted that the mother had bruises and swelling on her hands and arms. Gomez admitted punching her daughter several times, according to police. The bruises on her hands were from trying to “rid Satan from her daughter's body,” they said.
The victim, who was 33, was found with a large cross on top of her body and major trauma to her face and neck. The body was placed in the position of a cross, and had been washed by the mother.
Gomez was charged with homicide and remains in jail without bail.
According to a 2013 YouGov poll, half of Americans believe in demonic possession, and exorcism as treatment for demonic possession is not unusual.
"Exorcism is more readily available today in the United States than perhaps ever before," explains Michael Cuneo, a sociologist at Fordham University. Cuneo says the popularity of the book and movie "The Exorcist" has made exorcism more mainstream in recent decades, reports ABC News.
According to Cuneo, the Catholic Church has at least 10 official exorcists around the United States, but that most exorcisms are performed by Protestant religions. "By conservative estimates, there are at least 500 or 600 evangelical exorcism ministries in operation today, and quite possibly two or three times this many," he writes.
"There's an actual formula," says Joseph Scerbo, a Roman Catholic priest who heads the Association of Christian Therapists. Speaking from the evangelical Protestant perspective, the Rev. J.R. Hall, editor of the Pentecostal Herald, says, "We would not see it as any elaborate ritual.” It might be nothing more than praying and laying hands on the person who is allegedly possessed, he adds.
Shoving of a crucifix down someone’s throat does not appear to be part of any official exorcism ritual.