A 2-year-old boy who died last month had been starved for more than 20 days by his parents and church members they lived with because they believed he was possessed by demons, according to the arrest warrant for the boy’s parents and a church leader.
The church’s pastor later held a “raising ceremony” to attempt to bring the victim back from the dead before the boy’s family fled to Mexico with his body.
According to the warrant, officers responded to a home in Balch Springs, a Dallas suburb, on March 26 for a welfare check after receiving an anonymous call.
When police arrived, witnesses at the home said the boy, whose name was not released, had died on March 22 after he had been fasting and only given water for 25 days. One witness claimed she tried to feed the boy on several occasions but “was scolded by the pastors of the church,” which operated out of the home. The pastors were later identified as Daniel Zapata Meza, 42, and Araceli Meza, 49.
The witness said the Mezas, along with the child’s parents, Liliana and Zenon Aparicio, wrapped the body in a blanket and took it to Mexico on March 23.
Araceli Meza was arrested Monday and charged with injury to a child. She is being held on $100,000 bond.
The child’s parents remain at large.
Investigators allege that Meza and the boy’s parents believed he had a “demon” inside him, and that he needed to fast in order to survive, said Balch Springs police Lt. Mark Maret.
“They didn’t give the child any food for about 25 days,” Maret said. “They just gave him some water, which ultimately caused the child to die.”
Meza wasn’t affiliated with any traditional religion but held regular services at her home with her husband, Maret said.
“She pretty much kind of ran everything,” Maret said. “I guess she’s kind of looked as like a prophet, if you will.”
SOURCE: USA Today, The Associated Press
Josh Davis, WFAA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth