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Friday, October 4, 2019

The Pablo Martinez Child Exorcism Murder Case

     Pablo Martinez, his wife Romelia and Pablo's 6-year-old son resided in a small, one-story stucco house on the Pascua Yaqui Native American Reservation near Tucson, Arizona. The federally recognized Indian tribe operates its own criminal justice system that includes a police department, a prosecutor's office, a public defender's service, and a courthouse. Native American reservations are subject to federal law, therefore the FBI has joint law enforcement responsibility in these jurisdictions. Pablo Martinez was not a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, but his wife Romelia was.

     On Thursday afternoon, September 26, 2019, 31-year-old Pablo Martinez was supposedly giving his son a bath. The boy was a special needs student at the Lynn/Urquides Elementary School in Tucson. Mrs. Martinez, the 6-year-old's stepmother, heard loud gurgling sounds coming from the bathroom. When she tried to enter the bathroom to investigate, the door was locked. Pablo Martinez refused to let her in so she found the key and unlocked the door.

     What the boy's stepmother witnessed in that bathroom shocked her. Her husband was holding the child's head under the bathtub faucet as steaming hot water poured into his mouth. She yelled for him to stop, but the father said he couldn't, that he had to do what he was doing. At that point, Romelia Martinez called 911. (There are reports that Mrs. Martinez, before calling 911, called, but couldn't get in touch with, a local priest. Her first instinct to call the priest stemmed from the fact she believed, as did her husband, that the child was possessed by demons, and needed to be saved.)

     When members of the Pascua Yaqui Reservation fire and police departments arrived at the Martinez house, they encountered the couple waiting for them in the front yard. A first responder's question to Mrs. Martinez brought this response, "Talk to him," meaning her husband.

     Inside the dwelling, the officers found the boy tucked into his bed. One of the fire department responders propped the naked child on a pillow and tried, without result, to revive him.

     The unresponsive boy was rushed to the Banner University Medical Center in Tucson where doctors pronounced him dead. The drowned boy had burns on his forearms, elbows, and head from scalding water.

     In speaking to officers with the tribal police, Pablo Martinez admitted pouring hot water down his son's throat in an effort to cast out the child's demons. He said his son had been possessed by something evil that had caused what the father described as the boy's demonic behavior.

     In a followup interrogation by FBI agents, Pablo Martinez confessed to running hot water into his son's mouth for up to ten minutes. He thought the hot water would force the demons out of his son's body.

     On October 1, 2019, a federal prosecutor charged Pablo Martinez with first-degree murder. He was held without bail.

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