DALLAS (AP) — A woman who operated a self-styled church was jailed Tuesday amid allegations she helped starve a 2-year-old boy to rid him of a “demon,” then held a ceremony in her suburban Dallas home to try to revive him, according to police.
Police believe the boy died but that his parents returned home to Mexico to bury their American-born son without reporting his death, said Balch Springs police Lt. Mark Maret. He said an anonymous tip about a service to “resurrect” the boy at Araceli Meza’s home in Balch Springs led to the investigation.
Meza was charged Monday with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury by omission. The 49-year-old was being held on $100,000 bond at the local jail, where records didn’t list an attorney. She also didn’t have a listed phone number.
Investigators allege that Meza and the boy’s parents believed he had a “demon” inside him, and that he needed to fast in order to survive, Maret said.
“They didn’t give the child any food for about 25 days,” Maret said. “They just gave him some water, which ultimately caused the child to die.”
Investigators believe the boy died on March 21 or early the next day. Police received an anonymous tip that a service was held March 22 at Meza’s home, where several other families also lived, Maret said.
“Apparently… they had a ceremony called ‘the rising,’ trying to resurrect the child back to life,” Maret said.
Police went to the home to check on the boy, whose name was not released, and discovered he and his parents had returned to Mexico.
Meza wasn’t affiliated with any traditional religion but held regular services at her home with her husband, Maret said.
“She pretty much kind of ran everything,” Maret said. “I guess she’s kind of looked as like a prophet, if you will.”