In a 911 call to police just before authorities discovered two dead children in a suburban Maryland home, a caller describes hearing “loud noises in the night” and seeing a bloody knife near the open door of a car.
Inside the Germantown, Md., townhome, authorities believed a mother and another woman stabbed four children in what they said was an attempted exorcism, killing two, 1 and 2, and seriously injuring the others, 5 and 8.
The release of the 911 recordings Monday came two days after police charged Monifa Sanford and Zakieya Latrice Avery with murder in the deaths of the tots and attempted murder in the deaths of the older children.
In a 911 call from 9:30 a.m. Friday a female caller reports seeing a blue Toyota with a door open and a knife with blood on it.
heard loud noises in the night," says the woman, a neighbor.
She adds that she heard what sounded like "jumping" and "running" but didn't think anything of it because there were four children living in the home.
"So I didn't know. I just didn't think anything,” the caller says. “I took my kids to school and I saw the knife with blood outside, I see the car with the door open, I see the windows open. I don't know if something happened there. The knife is still there."
Police said Sunday they believe Avery carried out the attacks because she feared the “devil” was in her children.
"She thought the devil was in the kids, and that's sort of the thing she centered it around as to why she had to conduct an exorcism," said Capt. Marcus Jones, director of the police department's major crimes division. "She just thought that there were evil spirits within the kids."
Sanford, 21, made similar statements during questioning, police said. She is not related to the family, but is believed to have lived in the home, according to authorities.
Authorities have also said they received a 911 call the night prior to the murders, Thursday, from a neighbor who saw an unattended child sitting in a car near the home. Before officers arrived, two women exited the townhome, took the child, and re-entered the home, police said.
In a 911 phone call from Thursday about 10:15 p.m., a male caller reports a baby being left unattended in a blue Toyota Corolla. While the man is talking to the operator, he reports that two women have come out for the child and are "attacking" the caller and walking after him.
“You need to back up off me, ma'am," he can be heard saying in the call. He also says, "A baby in the car for an hour is my business."
He later tells the 911 operator that one of the women is talking to herself.
No one answered the door when police arrived Thursday, and officers asked county Child Protective Services to follow up, according to the police statement. The agency was set to follow up Friday morning, reports CBS affiliate WUSA9.
Police responding to Friday morning’s 911 call discovered the two dead children and two injured children, along with the two women, when they entered the townhome.
One of the women attempted to run out the back door, but was quickly taken into custody, according to the statement. The Washington Post reports it was Avery who attempted to flee.
Avery's stepgrandmother, Sylvia Wade, told The Washington Post that Avery was "humble and meek" and said she loved her children.
"I don't know what triggered it. She wasn't herself. When a person is not of themselves, they are not responsible for what they are doing. They are in another zone."
Avery has received mental health counseling, reports the Washington Post.
Avery and Sanford are due in a Montgomery County court Tuesday for a bond review hearing.