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A second woman has been charged with murder in the deaths of two children in Germantown, Md. Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division arrested Monifa Denise Sanford, age 21, of the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive in Germantown after she was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon. Sanford has been charged with two counts of First Degree Murder and two counts of Attempted First Degree Murder. She is being held without bond. On Friday, Zakieya Avery, 28, was charged with killing two of her children and trying to kill two more after police found a bloody scene at the home in Germantown.

The Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled today that both one-year-old Norell Harris and two-year-old Zyana Harris suffered multiple stab wounds and both deaths have been classified as homicide. Five-year-old Taniya Harris and eight-year-old Martello Harris remain hospitalized. Montgomery County investigators have learned that the two defendants believed that they were performing an exorcism. The investigation into this motive and other aspects of the crime are continuing at this time.  Five-year-old Taniya Harris and 8-year-old Martello Harris were found injured and taken to a hospital. A 21-year-old woman who lived in the home but was not believed to be a family member was also injured.

Police were called to the home on Cherry Bend Drive, off Great Seneca Highway, around 9:30 a.m. Friday after a neighbor reported that a car was left open in the home’s driveway and that there was blood around and inside the car. Using keys left inside the open car, police entered the home and discovered what Chief Tom Manger described as a bloody scene inside an upstairs bedroom. Police had visited the same home Thursday night for a report that a child had been left alone in a car. When police arrived, the two women would not let them in the house. With no reason to believe the child was in danger, officers asked Child Protective Services to follow up the next morning, but case workers never had a chance to visit the home. Police aren’t saying how the two children died and it is unclear when they were killed. Spokesman Capt. Jim Daly says Avery was caught after she ran out the back door of the home.

Daly says the crime scene extended outside the home. Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

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Zakieya Latrice Avery