Mom kills sleepwalking daughter because she thought the girl was possessed.

In yet another answer to the question of “what’s the harm in letting people have their silly religious beliefs” we present the following news item:

A young mother has confessed to brutally slashing her daughter to death because she believed the child — who had a history of sleepwalking — was possessed by the devil, authorities in Illinois said this week.

[…] Authorities found the body of Vasquez-Salazar’s 6-year-old daughter, Evelyn Vasquez, early Monday morning in the family’s Waukegan, Ill., apartment. The child, who died of multiple stab wounds to her neck and upper chest, according to the coroner, was found on the floor of her bedroom.

She had been stabbed 11 times, prosecutors and investigators said at a Tuesday news conference. A butcher’s knife that they believe to be the murder weapon was recovered, as was a religious picture featuring St. Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. The artwork had been cut up by a knife.

“She had had conversations with her mother because Evelyn had been sleepwalking and [Vasquez-Salazar] would wake up and her daughter would be standing by her bed,” William Biang, Waukegan police chief, told ABC News. “The theory was that the daughter was possessed.”

[…] Vasquez-Salazar initially told investigators that she killed her daughter in self-defense after the child came at her with a knife, according to Stephen Scheller, an assistant state’s attorney in Lake County, but the woman later admitted to being fearful of a daughter possessed by the devil.

“The first statement we received from the defendant was that it was an act of self-defense,” Scheller said. “After she made the statement to detectives, she later recanted it, made a second statement, which she admitted in fact she had stabbed her daughter multiple times about the body.”

Take that shit too seriously and it’ll make you crazy.

31 thoughts on “Mom kills sleepwalking daughter because she thought the girl was possessed.

  1. Man, am I ever glad my mother wasn’t batshit crazy religious like that when I was growing up.  I used to get really bad nightmares, sleepwalk, and the worst was the night terrors.

    One particularly bad episode I had I woke up everyone in the house screaming in the bathroom, clapping my hands above my head.  Apparently I thought that someone had cut off my head and I was trying to find it, but it apparently wasn’t on my neck any longer.  All I remember is getting shaken awake in the bathroom. 

    I would apparently often get out of bed and go into the living room and watch television with the adults, and I also remember waking up outside on the picnic table several times, staring up at the full moon. I also woke up in this state in the car several times as well (the strangest part about that was the parents always locked their cars and I never remember having the keys…maybe the Devil magicked me there!). I’m guessing that this nutjob would have killed me too.

    My question to her though would be, did ya ever think about…oh I don’t know, locking the kid’s door?  Maybe consulting a doctor, or even a fucking priest (who would hopefully recognize the normal sleepwalking/dreaming thing for what it is…ok, maybe just consulting a doctor)? Being nutso religious, you think she would have at the least consulted with a priest or pastor or whoever runs her church.  Even though exorcisms are bullshit, and often are dangerous, one of those might be slightly more healthy than stabbing the kid.

  2. I noticed that the article accused the 25-year-old perpetrator of being a “mother.” Somehow the actions of that woman do not conjure up in me a picture of a mother. Am I missing something, here? Have you ever tried to get between a mother bear and her cub? Perhaps such a position would be a good learning experience for this woman. I would vote for that!  angry

  3. I can hear the apologists already:  “Yeah, but the mother wasn’t really religious.  If she’d really been religious, she wouldn’t have done that.”

  4. Actually, the mother is just more devout than most other True Believers™…

    This just confirms one of my biases. The more religiously devout people are, the more I suspect them to be batshit crazy, too. The only question in each individual case is whether religion pushed them over the edge or are their religious beliefs a symptom of their pathology.

    Waukeegan, eh. We used to live a couple of burbs south of it…

  5. But isn’t blaming her religion, or her faith, on this killing a little bit like saying that video games caused the school shootings, or that video games cause an increase in real world violence?  I’ve known a lot of people who are very religious, very firm I their faith, real holy roller, bible thumping kinda folk, but they were never closer to brutally murdering their sleepwalking daughter than I am to go out and carjack a police car and then run over prostitutes.

  6. But isn’t blaming her religion, or her faith, on this killing a little bit like saying that video games caused the school shootings, or that video games cause an increase in real world violence?

    Yeah, pretty much.  In college I knew a guy who played D&D;obsessively.  He went kind of nuts, tore up his apartment, his girlfriend’s apartment, assaulted his girlfriend.  Some people are just obsessive-nutso.  Whatever they’re really into is the grist for their obsession.  Lot of people are into religion, some of them are violent.

  7. But isn’t blaming her religion, or her faith, on this killing a little bit like saying that video games caused the school shootings, or that video games cause an increase in real world violence?

    Probably. But wouldn’t you also say that violent video games are probably not suitable for people who have trouble distinguishing reality from fiction? It’s not that religious belief is a sufficient condition for insanity, but it certainly doesn’t help people who are royally screwed up. Like violent video games, religion isn’t really the problem, but neither should it be an excuse for bad parenting or psychological problems.

  8. But isn’t blaming her religion, or her faith, on this killing a little bit like saying that video games caused the school shootings, or that video games cause an increase in real world violence?  I’ve known a lot of people who are very religious, very firm I their faith, real holy roller, bible thumping kinda folk, but they were never closer to brutally murdering their sleepwalking daughter than I am to go out and carjack a police car and then run over prostitutes.

    This makes me wonder why someone hasn’t come out and collected the statistics on deaths blamed on video games vs. deaths blamed on religion.  If someone has feel free to point me to the statistics, I’d definitely be interested in seeing them.

  9. But isn’t blaming her religion, or her faith, on this killing a little bit like saying that video games caused the school shootings, or that video games cause an increase in real world violence?

    Not really.

    Unless you have a serious mental health issue to begin with, you wouldn’t confuse a violent video game with reality. As a rule, frag-happy gamers don’t go on real-life shooting sprees.

    Religion on the other hand encourages you to accept things that just ain’t so as real, which opens the door to an insidious vicious circle if you’re not mentally stable and firmly grounded in reality. There have been quite a few reported murders in the recent past where religion was a prominent feature. It doesn’t necessarily follow that religion is the direct cause, but the correlation is there.

    I can only conclude that too much religion can be harmful to your mental health. And I’m unabashed about a personal bias—I’ve always been uneasy when I was around overly devout True Believers™, because they don’t seem quite right (in their heads) to me.

  10. Elwed beat me to it. Most video games don’t encourage you to accept them as reality or to act the same way in real life that you do in the game. Most religions insist that they are reality and provide rules and guidelines that most believers tend to overlook because they would be abhorrent if actually put into practice.

  11. Jeff:

    But isn’t blaming her religion, or her faith, on this killing a little bit like saying that video games caused the school shootings, or that video games cause an increase in real world violence?  I’ve known a lot of people who are very religious, very firm I their faith, real holy roller, bible thumping kinda folk, but they were never closer to brutally murdering their sleepwalking daughter than I am to go out and carjack a police car and then run over prostitutes.

    How many people have been killed in the name of some religion or other? Centuries of pogroms, the Crusades, Hitler’s “solution,” etc, etc. How many people have been killed in the name of some game or other? I don’t know, maybe one of these is more virulent than the other. Maybe . . .  tongue wink

  12. A fanatic isn’t someone looking to kill or maim you for a cause. A fanatic is someone LOOKING for a cause to kill or maim you for.

    Video games or Religion can’t be held accountable for an individual’s actions. They only provide a context to which a person may take action. But the responsibility lies with that person and his/her mental state.

  13. Video games or Religion can’t be held accountable for an individual’s actions. They only provide a context to which a person may take action. But the responsibility lies with that person and his/her mental state.

    That’s not strictly true.

    As pointed out before, the crucial difference is that almost every gamer knows the difference between playing a game and acting it out in real life and thus the causal link between gaming and acts of violence is tenuous at best. Religion, on the other hand, claims to represent reality and comes complete with superstition, the demand for active or passive aggression against non-conformists, and the cop-out that violence committed in the name of religion is divinely sanctioned. In this case, the causal link can be much stronger.

    Gamers know they play a game, but the overly religious reject the idea that they are play-acting, as well.

    There certainly is individual accountability, but the desert religions in particular are paragons of hypocrisy by emphasizing personal responsibility where it suits them and playing the “Will of the Skydaddy” card when it doesn’t.

  14. If the intelligent Gamer knows he is playing a game, then the intelligent religious practitioner knows the boundaries of his/her faith, regardless of the interpreter. These level-headed people are not part of this discussion.

    It’s the people who don’t know the line between the two that we’re concerned about, and you’ll find these people in all sorts of communities and contexts (religion, gaming, activism, environmental activism, politics, etc.).

    These communities provide the forum for the person to act out their dementia, but it’s not the cause. The problem lies inside the person and the context is only the vehicle.

    If you see a crazy person painting a portrait and suddenly realize that the paint is really human blood, do you blame the act of Painting as the force that pushed him over the edge?

  15. Hobbes, the “intelligent religious practitioner” as you call them do not know those boundaries because of their faith! It’s rather boundaries of civilized society that holds them back from going over the deep end. Look in the bible itself and there aren’t built in “sanity restraints”. If they were to really follow what is written in the Bible, there are all manners of wretched things that may be construed as “divinely sanctioned” that flies in the face of modern sanity!

    Do you see what we’re trying to say? Grand Theft Auto or other types of games don’t flash the words of “Go do this killing out on the streets in the real world!”… Whereas the Bible lists all sorts of commands and messages about how one should kill others for a variety of offenses!

  16. Do you see what we’re trying to say?

    To make it as succinct as possible, religion is like a particularly powerful drug that can remove inhibitions. Some people tolerate it better than others. As opposed to booze, say, religious scripture does put ideas into receptive heads.

    You will find unbalanced people in nearly all walks of life, but religion is the most insidious way to push them over the edge.

  17. Video games or Religion can’t be held accountable for an individual’s actions. They only provide a context to which a person may take action. But the responsibility lies with that person and his/her mental state.

    The main difference being peer groups, I think.  We currently have a President who thinks that he talks to God.  ‘Nuff said.  As Shakespeare’s Isabella put it;  “Thieves for their pilfering have authority when judges steal.”  Mental illness is mental illness, no matter what obsessions it focuses on.  But religion is given a free pass in this society, which I think stands in the way of more people getting help sooner than they do.

  18. well………with all due respect to everyone, I don’t believe religion has anything to do with this tragedy. The woman was insane, period, and she needed help but didn’t want or get any.

    Yes, a lot of horrible things have happened over the years in the name of religion, because people of different religions disagreed, and were horrendously misguided in how they dealt with those disagreements.

    I had more to say……….but I forgot it. It’s very late, that’s probably why.

    Athena of athenivanidx

  19. Yeah, that’s pretty much the response we expect from folks who don’t want to accept the idea that this woman’s religious beliefs may have had an impact on her judgment.

    You don’t have to be insane to kill someone. All you have to do is believe that your mortal soul is in peril. This woman obviously believed that to be the case as a result of her religious attitude. How is this any different than the various people who have been “accidentally” killed during so-called exorcisms over the years?

  20. I don’t believe religion has anything to do with this tragedy.

    With all due respect, you are clearly wrong:

    A young mother has confessed to brutally slashing her daughter to death because she believed the child — who had a history of sleepwalking — was possessed by the devil, authorities in Illinois said this week.

    Let me rephrase that:

    she believed the child…was possessed by the devil

    Insane she might have been, but the point is, she had religious beliefs that she acted on.  Whether she was insane or not, the key is she believed the child was possessed by the DEVIL. 

    dev·il /ˈdɛvəl/ –noun
    1.  Theology.
    a. (sometimes initial capital letter) the supreme spirit of evil; Satan.
    b. a subordinate evil spirit at enmity with God, and having power to afflict humans both with bodily disease and with spiritual corruption.

    You may have heard of this Devil character, he gets mentioned a lot in the Bible (especially the New Testament).  He’s supposedly the former right hand man of God, and he’s so dumb he rebelled against the all powerful creator of the universe.  However, he’s really supposedly screwing stuff up for some reason, and you know, gets blamed for pretty much all the bad stuff that happens in people’s lives.  Kinda a scapegoat for Christians so they don’t have to take responsibility for their own evils.  Throw in magic Get out of Hell Free Jesus to the mix, and Christians can literally get away with murder in the Biblical world. (Good thing here in the real world we have laws not based off the Bible).

    Whew, I went through that whole thing without a single swear word.  FUCK! PISS! ASS! SHIT!

  21. With all due respect, Athena, have you ever lived in Mexico or Brazil for any length of time? Are you aware that for the vast majority of people living in those cultures the Roman Catholic Church has instilled in their minds that both God and the Devil are real? And you’re trying to tell us that “religion” has nothing to do with it? Have you ever served on a jury?

  22. @Bog Brother

    If I remember correctly the Devil isn’t mentioned in the OT, and not all that much in the NT; I believe his greatest role is in the temptation of Jesus.

    And the idea of him being a powerful fallen angel comes from Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, not the Bible.

    A lot of people see Satan in the Fall of Man, but again, no real mention of him there, just the serpent.

  23. There are mentions of him in the OT, but he isn’t THE DEVIL.  It is a bet with God that leads to the tribulations of Job- God says “do what you like and he will still love me”.  The way I understand it in the early texts he is the closest God has to a drinking mate- obviously its hard to be freinds with normal people when you are all-powerful (for the same way a country’s leader being a ‘man of the people’ always rings false).

  24. If I remember correctly the Devil isn’t mentioned in the OT, and not all that much in the NT; I believe his greatest role is in the temptation of Jesus.

    You should probably read the Epistles, and that big one at the end there, Revelation.  The Gospels do not mention the Devil that much, true, though he is mentioned more than just during the temptation of Jesus.  I’ll have more time when I get home to look these things up.

    And the idea of him being a powerful fallen angel comes from Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, not the Bible.

    I don’t have the time right now, but there is a pretty clear passage about the fall of Lucipher in Isiah.  I know some people try to interpret it as the fall of the king of Tyre, but I’m pretty sure it attributes some pretty amazing traits to a mortal if it is the king of Tyre.

    A lot of people see Satan in the Fall of Man, but again, no real mention of him there, just the serpent.

    As with the entire Bible, this is open to interpretation.  I personally hold no stock in this silly fairy tale any more than any of the rest of the book, but one could easily see how the Christians have interpreted the Serpent to be Satan.  Besides, I’m pretty sure Paul tries to tie it altogether and pin it on Satan, but again, my memory of the Bible is shaky at best, not having read it in nearly 10 years.

    Two things to note about the whole Satan issue though:

    1. Satan was not generally an opposing force to god in the Old Testament (that tends to be the Christians laying down their views over it in light of the NT). He was more a tempter working for god (See the book of Job).

    True, he did pull a few dick moves in the OT, especially I think concerning king David, but he either isn’t mentioned/present through most of the OT (especially the Pentateuch…Jeezus Christ! How perfect would it have been to pin all those trials and travails of wandering around in the desert for 40 years on Satan?! I could drop his ass in there and have a better story in about 5 minutes. And what about the shit that supposedly happened to Daniel?)

    2. Paul is really the man pretty much responsible for the modern Christianity we see today.  Sure Jesus is vitally important to the religion, but if you think about how people see Jesus through their religion, Paul played a major role.  He also played a major role in a bunch of dogma and doctrine that do not actually appear in the Gospels (I think).

    /Can of Worms

  25. First of all, BB I’m not disagreeing with your perception of religion and the influence it has on this and similar cases.
    Guess this might be a good time to bring this quote back: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” (Stephen Weinberg)

    My point was to the “mentioned a lot” part of your earlier comment. It’s been a while since I read the Bible too and I haven’t got a KJV or even an english version, but a modern swedish translation.

    Anyways, I didn’t remember the Devil being mentioned in the OT, and perhaps some of this is based on the distinction that LH makes in his post, that he doesn’t become the DEVIL (caps and all) until later – makes a lot of sense having him make an appearance in Revelations, though 😎

    I’ll have to look up Isiah in my Bible when I get home (have to find out what he’s called in Swedish), but as far as I know most of what I’ve heard of the fall of Lucifer is Milton. Perhaps there’s a feedback mechanism there with Milton reading Isiah and elaborating on it and “Paradise Lost” becoming absorbed into “canon”… Hope this makes sense!?

  26. Laage – No problem.  I can see we are pretty much in agreement on this whole thing, I did not take your comments as an attack.

    The Isiah passage is Isiah 14:11-17:

    Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

    For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

    They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

    That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

    I was incorrect, the first part of the chapter refers to the King of Babylon, not Tyre, and I think some people equate the Lucifer part of the chapter to him, but the name is clear in the KJV anyway.  Who knows, all those damn translators took huge liberties (and still do) to twist the stuff to say what they wanted it to.

    I totally agree though that for the most part, especially in the older books like Job (actually Job is the oldest book) Satan is kinda like God’s drinking buddy.  The two work together to fuck up Job’s life, and Satan is on a casual, first name basis with the big G.

    But I think you’re assessment of the Milton thing is pretty much on point.  Milton embellished the Isiah passages in Paradise Lost.

  27. Refer to here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satan
    The Western world mostly uses Dante’s Devine Comedy to define heaven and hell. Milton’s Paradise Lost came about three hundred years later. As others here mentioned, very little details about Satan per se in the Babble Bible. But, then, a myth is a myth is a myth, until you give it power in your own life. Then it becomes the Gospel Truth and therein lies the danger.

  28. Every so often typical preachers will do a sermon on distinguishing culture from the elements of faith.  But that isn’t possible; even the contents of the bible are contextualized by the culture(s) from which they came.

    /inconvenient truth about religion

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