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Police Say Father Beat Son, 2, To Death In Exorcism

April 26, 1985

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The father of a 2-year-old boy pummeled him to death as his wife prayed in an attempt to exorcise demons they believed were inhabiting their son’s body, police said.

Investigators said the parents believed that the child’s bruises were the demons leaving his body.

Daniel Martin Sr., 27, and his wife, Linda Martin, 30, were ordered held without bail Thursday for trial on charges of murder and conspiracy.

Municipal Court Judge Morton Krase rejected defense arguments that murder charges were inappropriate because neither parent intended to kill the child. Sgt. James Henwood said Mrs. Martin told him that her husband thought demons possessed their son, Daniel Jr., because he was imitating singer Michael Jackson.

″ ‘He was moving around like the wicked dance Michael Jackson do,’ ″ Henwood quoted her as saying.″ ’My son was moving around like a wicked snake.‴

Daniel died March 11 at Misericordia Hospital. An autopsy found he died of multiple injuries to the head, neck and chest and also had numerous injuries to internal organs, including the liver and intestines.

Henwood said Mrs. Martin described how her husband told her to chant and pray in their bedroom while, a few feet away, he pummeled the boy about the head six or seven times and pushed on his abdomen two or three times until he vomited.

The Martins have another child, 6-month-old Grace Elizabeth. Police said she was examined on March 11 and found to be unharmed.

Detective Lamont Anderson said Martin told police, ″ ‘I annointed my son, started saying prayers on him and started hitting and stomping on him. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I was wrong.’ ″

Bruises on the child’s head came from hitting him with a nutcracker, Anderson said Martin told him. Tooth marks on the child’s stomach were from a bite Martin said he had inflicted, Anderson said.

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