Police say father killed 6-year old while trying to perform exorcism

A man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after he allegedly killed his 6-year-old son while trying to exorcise a demon from him with hot water. 

Police and members of the FBI were called to a residence on the Pascua Yaqui reservation near Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday after a call that a child had been burned, The Associated Press reported.


The boy’s father, Pablo Martinez, reportedly told officials that he “saw something evil” in the child and “knew that he had to cast the demon out.” Pablo Martinez’s wife and the child’s adopted mother, Romelia Martinez, reportedly agreed with the characterization that the child had been acting "demonic" over the last few days.

Romelia Martinez told police that her husband was giving the 6-year-old and another unidentified child a bath. The other child left the bathroom crying at some point.

She said she “heard a gurgling sound coming from the bathroom" but the door was locked. When she unlocked it, she said she witnessed her husband holding their son under the faucet.

She shouted at him to stop but her husband allegedly said he “needed to save him."

Pablo Martinez told police that he guessed the child was underwater for about five to 10 minutes. He then attempted CPR and poured cold water on the boy. 

Romelia Martinez said she called a pastor, who did not answer, before she called 911, according to court documents obtained by the AP. 

The 6-year-old was taken to the Banner University Medical Center but was pronounced dead. He had burns covering 15 percent of his body.

"On Thursday, September 26, 2019, the Pascua Yaqui Community suffered the loss of a child. As a close-knit community this loss weighs heavy on all of our hearts," a tribal statement issued to the AP said.

Pablo Martinez is not an enrolled member of the tribe, according to the Pascua Yaqui. Romelia Martinez and the boy are both tribal members.