TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida sheriff said that his deputies took a mother into custody after she said she forced her children to drink bleach and killed one of them by choking her.
Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez said deputies responded to a church on Old Pleasant Hill Road for a possible homicide Sunday.
Deputies found the suspect, 36-year-old Joanne Zephir, and her 3-year-old daughter unconscious in the driver’s seat of her car while her 8-year-old was in the road outside the church.
“All three were transported to the hospital,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately, the 3-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital.”
The sheriff said that the 8-year-old survived after being treated at a hospital and was taken to a family member.
According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Zephir was wanted for attempted murder out of Orange County and was taken into questioning about the situation and about what happened to her children.
Lopez said Zephir told deputies that she was going to turn herself in but wanted to have time with her children first, taking them from her relative’s home.
“Several hours later, she called a family member and told her that she had killed her 3-year-old and that the 8-year-old was also going to die, and then she would kill herself,” the sheriff said.
Zephir told authorities she made both her children drink bleach from a “makeshift drinking glass” and choked the 3-year-old, according to the sheriff.
“The suspect said the reason for doing this to her children is because the victim in Orange County must have put a voodoo spell on her, making her harm her children,” he said.
Lopez said Zephir’s plans were interrupted when deputies arrived, saving the 8-year-old’s life.
The mother will be charged with attempted murder and child abuse. The sheriff said murder charges will be pending as authorities wait for the results from the medical examiner.