Things That Matter

Father Allegedly Kills 6-Year-Old Son By Performing ‘Exorcism’ In Bathtub

An Arizona father, Pablo Martinez, was arrested on first-degree murder when he and his wife admitted the father had conducted an “exorcism” on their 6-year-old son. The mother and child belonged to the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation in Arizona, although the father lived with them, he is not a part of the tribe. The FBI and Pascua Yaqui police are investigating together, while the father is in custody of the U.S. Marshal Service.  

Authorities say the father poured hot water down the boy’s throat and on his body to perform an exorcism. When the 6-year-old’s body was discovered, 15 percent of it was covered in burns. 

Father allegedly murders his 6-year-old son during “exorcism.” 

Pablo Martinez told police he poured hot water down the throat of his 6-year-old son because the boy “was demonic and had a demon inside of him.” The father described the act as an exorcism. The child’s adoptive mother, Romelia Martinez, said her son “had been acting demonic,” when her husband suggested giving the 6-year-old and their other child a bath. 

Romelia told detectives she heard gurgling coming from the bathroom, she was not in the room, and when she opened the door she saw Pablo holding the boy under the bathtub faucet. The mother claims she screamed for the father to stop, at which point he said: “he had to do it.” Romelia said she called a pastor, then the police when he did not pick up. 

The father insisted he “saw something evil,” in the child. Police say Pablo believed the hot water was “working” to exorcise the demons.

Pascua Yaqui authorities arrive.

On the 911 call, Romelia said her husband was performing CPR on the child and had poured cold water on his body. Pablo told investigators that the hot water he poured down the 6-year-old’s throat was to “cast out the demon” and that the boy had an “unnatural fit of rage.”

According to BuzzFeed News, tribal authorities arrived at the Martinez home after receiving the call. Both parents were standing outside when they asked the mother what had happened, Romelia said, “He can tell you.”  

The father told the Pascua Yaqui authorities they “were not in the right mindset or belief,” before surrendering with his hands in the air and allegedly saying, “I did it.” This comment is particularly interesting because the mother and child are a part of the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation, but the father is not. 

Pablo Martinez is charged with first-degree murder. 

Authorities say Pablo allegedly confessed to holding his son underwater for five to 10 minutes. Fortunately, the other child left the bathroom in tears, seemingly traumatized from what was happening, but physically unharmed. 

Pascua Yaqui police found the child naked and propped up against a pillow in a back room. He was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead. Court documents show the 6-year-old had burn marks on 15 percent of his body, on his head, elbows, and forearms. Pablo was taken into the custody of the US Marshal Service and arrested on first-degree murder. 

The FBI is conducting a joint investigation with the Pascua Yaqui Police Department. 

“The FBI has a strong, long-standing commitment to investigating violent crime in Indian Country. We are dedicated to working alongside our tribal and federal partners to protect all of our communities,” Jill McCabe, a spokesperson with the FBI’s Phoenix division, said in a statement.

Elementary school releases a statement.

The 6-year-old boy had special needs and attended Lynn Urquides Elementary School. Principal Marisa Salcido released a statement about the child’s death. 

“It is with deep regret and sadness that I inform you of the death of one of our students,” Salcido wrote on Facebook. “I want to let you know that Lynn Urquides Elementary administrative team has been working with TUSD Leadership and the Coordinator of TUSD Counseling to ensure that we provide every means of support and assistance to all the students, along with our staff. Our counselors are available to help staff and any student who is struggling with death or other issues that may surface.”

The school will provide grief support and counseling to students. 

Exorcisms today. 

In 2018, demands for exorcisms increased threefold causing the Vatican to address the uptick during an Italian conference. However, the purpose was not to address increase, but rather the methods priests use to perform the exorcisms themselves. Friar Beningo Palila stated there are around 500,000 cases requiring exorcisms in Italy alone. He believes the increase of use in tarot cards and fortune tellers “open the door to the devil and to possession.” 

“A self-taught exorcist certainly meets errors,” Palila said. “I will say more: it would also take a period of apprenticeship, as happens for many professionals.”

The statement seems all the more ominous in the context of the 6-year-old boy’s tragic death. 

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