In an ongoing case that is both bizarre and heartbreaking, police are searching for the parents of a two-year-old boy who was starved to death by church members who believed he was possessed. The church leaders then later attempted to raise the boy from the dead in a resurrection ceremony that was videotaped. A brief clip of the disturbing ceremony can be seen below.
The church, called Congregacional Pueblo de Dios, was operated out of a home located in Balch Springs, Texas, and until now, authorities were not even aware of its existence. Police arrived at the home for a welfare check on March 26 after receiving a tip about the boy’s death. At that time, they were told that the child had died and a “rising ceremony” had been performed on his body four days earlier.
“We don’t know if this was to try and resurrect the spirit of he child and we don’t know if this was to try and resurrect the child themselves or what exactly that service or ceremony encompasses,” said Balch Springs Police Department spokesman Lt. Mark Maret.
So far, Balch Springs police have arrested Araceli Meza, also spelled Aracely, 49. According to police, Meza is listed as the church’s vice president and also claims to be a prophet able to communicate directly with God. Meza, who is not the boy’s mother, is also the woman on the video tape of the boy’s attempted resurrection. Meza has been charged with injury to a child by omission. Several other church members have also been arrested, and police expect to make further arrests as the case progresses.
Church members, who claim to believe that the boy was possessed by demons, reported that the boy was given water four to five times a day, but food was withheld from him for 25 days before he died on March 22. One church member claims to have tried to feed the boy, but says the church pastor “scolded her and forbade her from doing so.”
Once the boy died after being starved for 25 days, Meza, along with several other church members, attempted the so-called “rising ceremony.”
The video shows Meza holding the two-year-old boy — whom she refers to as “Benjamin” — in her arms while she recites prayers and incantations. “In the name of Jesus, I’m utilizing this oil to try to get him back to life,” she says in Spanish before anointing the dead child’s head. After applying the oil, she tells the boy that it’s time for him to wake up “right now.”
The boy, of course, does not.
According to court records, Meza told the police that she fully expected God to wake up the dead boy. After failing to do so, Meza, the boy’s parents, and several other church members took the boy’s body to Mexico for burial. Police suspect that the parents remain in Mexico, and are currently working with Mexican authorities in an effort to find them.
Congregacional Pueblo De Dios was formed in 2007, and is affiliated with the Hispanic Conference of Congregational Holiness Church, which is a Pentecostal denomination.
[Image via Twitter]