More details have come out about the beating death of the toddler in Turlock. The perpetrator was the victim's father, Sergio Aguilar. The victim was his two year old son, and it appears certain now that the motive was exorcism. I am surprised to hear that Aguilar had no previous criminal record and no mention is made of prior treatment for a mental disorder in the latest update. This one comes from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Father in stomping death said he had to 'get the demons out' of boyI wish I could say that this sort of thing is unheard of, but it isn't. Some readers may recall that a similar incident occurred in Phoenix, AZ last July, for instance. In that case, a grandfather strangled his granddaughter while her mother helped out. A year ago almost to the day, a woman in New Port Richey, FL stabbed her two year old son to death in an attempt to get the demons out of him, too.
Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
(06-16) 14:47 PDT TURLOCK (STANISLAUS COUNTY) -- A man who police say punched and kicked his 2-year-old son to death on a country road outside Turlock calmly told motorists who stopped at the scene that he had to "get the demons out" of the child, a witness said today.
The man, a 27-year-old Turlock resident, told people who tried to stop him that the boy was "trash," said Lisa Mota, 23...
What prompted Aguilar to carry out the attack is still not known. Authorities do not know whether he was drunk or on drugs, and toxicology reports on him and his son will not be available for three to four weeks, said sheriff's spokesman Deputy Royjindar Singh.
Aguilar had no criminal history, Singh said. "From what we can tell, he's never been arrested," Singh said...
"He wasn't acting like a crazy person, running around or screaming," Mota said. "He said, 'I've just got to get the demons out of him.' He was very calm.' "
The boy was beaten beyond recognition. His name has not yet been released. DNA tests will be conducted on him, Aguilar and the boy's mother to confirm their relationship, Singh said.
The mother was out of town Saturday night when Aguilar killed his son, Singh said...
These are only the incidents that I've personally run across in the year-and-two-weeks that I've been keeping this blog. The sad fact is that the killing and near-killing of children by exorcism happens with alarming frequency. It's equally alarming, at least to me, that people believe in demonic possession in the first place. Those who believe in such things are, I think, suffering under a form of delusional disorder and pose a danger to those over whom they have some degree of control.
It is my greatest hope that someday this bizarre and pernicious belief in possession will wind up on the trash heap of history where it should have landed at least 300 years ago. It is a belief that helps no one, harms everyone involved with it, and leads to tragedy time and time again.
There aren't any demons other than the ones certain backwards and ignorant segments of society convince themselves exist. They're voices in people's heads. Demons are a mental illness, not some independent metaphysical force. The evil in the world is the product of humans, not that of some infernal factory floor. It's far past time that civilized, enlightened, educated society stopped making room for this nauseating mythology. It deserves no respect and those who believe in it need treatment, not our assent — silent or otherwise.