The toxicology report on Sergio Aguiar, the California man who turned his two-year old son into pulp on a road near Turlock while telling witnesses that the child had demons in him, has been released. No drugs were found in his system. This confirms the prior observation made by investigators that no drugs were found on his person nor in his home or truck.
Dad who killed toddler wasn't on drugs, report saysBrief psychotic disorder? Maybe. How about a long-term psychotic disorder — belief in demons in the first place. As Trompetter notes, people afflicted with brief psychotic disorder lose touch with reality by definition, but this doesn't normally result in violent acts. It typically results in delusions. Adam Weir-Perry spent decades working with people who suffered from the disorder and wrote about it in his Roots of Renewal in Myth and Madness. When religious delusions manifested as a result of these psychotic breaks, the victims typically believe themselves to be a figure of religious importance, but they don't kill others based upon that.
Toxicology tests negative; behavior still unexplained
By ROSALIO AHUMADA
Toxicology tests came back negative Thursday for the Turlock man who beat his young son to death last month, adding to the mystery of why a father would commit such a heinous act.
Sergio Casian Aguiar, 27, had no drugs or alcohol in his system that might help explain his behavior, said Kristi Ah You, Stanislaus County chief coroner...
Investigators and co-workers said Aguiar had no criminal history or signs of mental illness, though witnesses on the night of the attack said Aguiar spoke of "demons" within his son...
Phil Trompetter is a psychologist who spent 30 years working with law enforcement agencies in Stanislaus County, providing police and forensic psychology...
Trompetter spoke Thursday about the case, but emphasized his hypothesis on Aguiar's actions was based on media reports.
"I don't want to sound like I'm diagnosing this guy," he said. "But it sounds like brief psychotic disorder ... a delusional belief that his son was possessed by demons..."
Trompetter, however, could not recall a case of the disorder resulting in someone committing "such a heinous act of violence."
Aguiar may well have suffered a break, but it was as underlying belief in the reality of demons that led to the brutal murder of his son. He might have lost his self-control, but this is what he stopped controlling. Belief in demons isn't the result of a brief psychotic episode; it's a part of established belief in many religions. It's a long-term psychotic delusion endorsed by the officials and leaders of those religions. Sometimes it's the basis of a religious career. It is disingenuous in the extreme to state that a belief in demons is so unusual that it must be the product of the sudden onset of a mental illness that previously showed no signs of having existed. Just ask the Texas Supreme Court; exorcisms are increasingly common, so much so that special laws protecting them have to be enacted and reviewed.
This story has been quietly slipping from attention. It shouldn't. This is an extreme case in terms of the result but not in terms of the underlying beliefs. As long as people keep concocting and believing in spirits that avoid confronting man's sole responsibility for the evils that exist in the world, we'll see horrors like that of Sergio Aguiar. It's not that rare. There are cases of death-by-exorcism reported every year in the United States and almost certainly at least as many in which the role of supernatural belief goes without notice.
Belief in demons is no different from children blaming the messes in their rooms on their invisible friends. It's time for humanity to grow up and discard this nonsense. We should hope for a day when nobody knows what words like "demon" and "angel" mean anymore.
There's no real mystery as to why Sergio Aguiar murdered his son. He gave his reason. He had to get the demons out. What's so mysterious about that? Priests say the same thing every day and nobody wonders about why they believe in such things and why they act upon those beliefs.