San Jose toddler's uncle, grandfather arrested in 'makeshift church' exorcism death

Blurred crucifix silhouette on fire flames.
Blurred crucifix silhouette on fire flames. Photo credit Getty Images

SAN JOSE (KCBS RADIO) – Two more suspects – the victim's uncle and grandfather – have been arrested in the death of a young San Jose girl, allegedly taking place during an exorcism ceremony in a makeshift church.

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Rene Trigueros Hernandez, 59, and Rene Hernandez-Santos, 19, were arrested on Wednesday in the death of the 3-year-old girl. The girl's mother, 25-year-old Claudia Hernandez-Santos, has been in custody since Jan. 31.

All three face charges of child abuse leading to the death of the victim.

Officers responded to a home in the 1000 block of S. 2nd Street in San Jose just after 8 p.m. on Sept. 24, police said. The home had "a makeshift church located on the property," reportedly in the basement.

The child was found unresponsive on the floor in the church and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital after life-saving measures were attempted. The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's Office has listed the official cause of death as asphyxiation.

Claudia Hernandez-Santos (left), 25, Rene Hernandez-Santos (center), 19, and Rene Trigueros Hernandez (right), 59, face charges of child abuse leading to the death of the victim.
Claudia Hernandez-Santos (left), 25, Rene Hernandez-Santos (center), 19, and Rene Trigueros Hernandez (right), 59, face charges of child abuse leading to the death of the victim. Photo credit San Jose Police Department

The Mercury News has identified the victim as Arely Naomi Proctor.

Her family elected to do the ceremony at the Iglesia Apostles y Profetas church in order to "liberate her of her evil spirits," the paper reported. Her mother believed her daughter was possessed by evil spirits because she often would "wake up and scream or cry," according to the paper.

During a two-hour ceremony, the girl was held down and had her neck squeezed by her family members.

New information in the girl's death came to light following the high-profile kidnapping of Baby Brandon in San Jose, as a suspect in that case was connected with the church.

The case remains open.

Anyone with information is asked to call San Jose police at 408-277-4166 or e-mail 3810@sanjoseca.gov or 4365@sanjoseca.gov. Submit crime tips and remain anonymous using the P3TIPS mobile app, calling the tip line at 408-947-STOP and at www.svcrimestoppers.org.

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