Archive for Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Police officer testifies family believed two children, ages 5 and 7, possessed by demons

August 14, 2012, 9:47 a.m. Updated August 14, 2012, 11:21 p.m.


Lawrence police officers testified Tuesday that they were told Adolfo and Deborah Gomez tied up and blindfolded their 5- and 7-year-old children in a Walmart parking lot in June because they believed the kids were possessed by demons.

Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin ruled at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing that the suburban Chicago couple should face a trial on two counts each of child abuse for the incident.

“This is not the type of punishment that a parent disciplines a child with,” Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Deborah Moody said in a closing argument accusing the couple of conducting inhumane corporal punishment.

The family was traveling from their home in Northlake, Ill., with their two younger children and three older ones — ages 12, 15 and 16 — to see a relative in Arizona before their Chevrolet Suburban broke down on Interstate 70, causing the couple and their five children to stop in Lawrence. Two days later, police were called when a shopper, Linda Baranski, saw a girl tied up near the Suburban.

“At that point, I thought it might have been some sort of abduction,” Baranski testified Tuesday.

Tuesday’s hearing provided more details about the events leading up to the scene late in the morning on June 13 outside Walmart, 550 Congressional Drive.

Demons, world ending

Detective Randy Glidewell said Adolfo Gomez, 52, told him in an interview shortly after the children were found that he had not used “alcohol, drugs or acid” for about a month prior because his wife, Deborah, 44, said she would leave him.

He also told Glidewell that he had been listening to a man he described as a “prophet” on the Internet. The family believed that the world was coming to an end and that their house in Illinois was possessed by demons, Glidewell said, so they tried to drive to Arizona to see the couple’s oldest son.

They had also sold their possessions in a yard sale before they embarked on their trip.

In Lawrence, according to Glidewell, Gomez said he believed the 5-year-old boy was possessed by demons partly due to shifting of his eyebrows and sticking his tongue out and the fact that he was misbehaving toward the other children.

Gomez told the detective he had tied up the boy once the night before his arrest and then that morning to keep him away from the other children.

But prosecutors argued the parents bound two younger children several times in the parking lot before they were arrested because they were acting up and interrupting a frequent Bible study the family had inside the Suburban.

“The children were misbehaving, and this behavior caused them to be tied up by their father,” Moody said.

Lawrence police Officer Hayden Fowler testified the 12-year-old girl said Adolfo Gomez required the younger children to be tied up periodically to keep their hands and legs from making a V-shape, which the girl said was a sign of the devil. The children’s eyes also were covered, and the family covered windows of the vehicle “because demons were outside the Suburban,” Fowler said. The officer said the girl also mentioned an attempt by the parents “to cast out the demons” from the two younger children, but she did not elaborate.

According to Fowler’s testimony, the 12-year-old girl had also said the family talked about not wanting to kill the demons because “if the demons were to die, then (the younger children) would die as well.”

Religious beliefs

Earlier in the hearing, an officer testified the couple’s 7-year-old girl said she asked to be bound because she was misbehaving and hitting her older siblings. The 5-year-old boy, who was found with a soiled diaper, told officers Adolfo Gomez had told him not to remove the bindings.

Deborah Gomez’s defense attorney, Angela Keck, argued her client was working to protect her children and herself from Adolfo Gomez.

But prosecutors argued Deborah Gomez did help bind the children. Officer Nathaniel Haig also said that when he came to the scene, Deborah Gomez was inside the store with a baseball bat, duct tape and two tarps in her shopping cart while the children were tied up outside.

“It’s pure speculation to assume that what she was buying had anything to do with any criminal intent whatsoever,” Keck said.

Prosecutors said Deborah Gomez also refused a request from police to go to the vehicle to talk to her children, who were too scared to get out of the Suburban.

“She had occasion to help, but she went shopping for duct tape, two tarps and a baseball bat.” Moody said.

Adolfo Gomez’s defense attorney Elbridge Griffy said the Gomezes’ actions were based on their own religious beliefs, and he suggested the children even felt safe being blindfolded and bound based on the family’s beliefs. He said officers testified the children were calm when they arrived.

“Whether you agree with that or not, families in the United States are afforded a very wide berth in how they deal with issues or religion, education and discipline,” Griffy said. “These parents were doing the best that they could do with the beliefs they had to protect these children. And these children knew they had loving and protected parents.”

Martin did agree with defense attorneys on one issue: She found prosecutors did not present enough evidence to support five counts each of felony aggravated child endangerment. Witnesses had testified about the conditions inside the vehicle the family was living in. Police said they found rotting food, bottles of urine and trash inside the vehicle.

“These children were living in deplorable conditions,” Moody said.

But defense attorneys said the children had no physical injuries, and the couple did provide food and water for them. Martin said conditions in the vehicle were “not ideal.”

“Certainly that’s an environment that may cause health problems, but the state presented no evidence as to what those health problems are,” Martin said.

Moody said prosecutors would instead file five misdemeanor child endangerment charges each against Deborah and Adolfo Gomez to match the two felony child abuse counts.

Adolfo Gomez also faces a felony obstruction charge for resisting officers when they approached the vehicle. Martin is scheduled to arraign the couple Thursday.


Joe Hyde 5 years, 8 months ago

Ms. Baranski, I believe your call to police saved the lives of at least two of those five kids. You done good. Real good.

booklover2 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh man, I'm so glad those kids aren't with those parents anymore. Talk about demons.....

ohjayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

Indeed. Too bad the parents couldn't see the demons their children were possessed by were themselves.

guppypunkhead 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm not afraid of "demons" but I sure am afraid of the Mr & Mrs Gomez.

Enlightenment 5 years, 8 months ago

What about the demons, devil, gods, angels, and other imaginary creatures that religions claim to be real? Put in the same context, it's not much different from the claims here. Sure, not all religions bind children, but there is equally caustic, harmful, and unusual practices.

fu7il3 5 years, 8 months ago

You are saying that religion has practices that are equally as harmful as binding children, then going to buy a tarp and a baseball bat, then doing whatever those items could be used for.

I get that atheists are anti-religion and love to let everyone know how little they think of it. But you cannot possibly believe that there is anything going on in a church in Lawrence even close to that level of harm.

These kids suffered horribly. Could have suffered even worse, and the only think you could think of posting was a shot at religion, in general?

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm not an atheist.

But, I'm aware that many of the beliefs and practices of organized religion are harmful, as well.

Many gay kids commit suicide because they can't reconcile who they are with the religious teachings of their church, or family, for example.

Enlightenment 5 years, 8 months ago

fu, just raising questions about the different religious beliefs and practices in which an outsider may consider strange, harmful, crazy, and mentally damaging. This is not a shot at religion, it's an observation. BTW, if I was to take a shot at religion, I could very easily point out the children victims in mainstream organized religions.

Local churches in Lawrence have crosses with statues of Jesus crucified, nails in hands and feet, puncture wound in his side, and thorns on his head, really gruesome. To someone unfamiliar with this religion, it could be considered crazy, maybe even similar to the perceived craziness in this case.

Also, I do have compassion for the children in this situation, but let's look at the big picture and not just one element of it.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

Some of the greatest evils man has committed against our fellow man has been done in the name of religion.

Some of the greatest good man has benefitted upon our fellow man has been done in the name of religion.

Stange thing, that religion.

wdl 5 years, 8 months ago

This ladies 911 call has had such an impact on so many lives enough can't be said about it! I don't want to hold trial in this posting but I know in my heart this womans brave actions saved the lives of these children. Too many times we get the news about the bodies being found somewhere. This one, relatively speaking, has a happy ending for the kids. As for the parents, I know justice won't be served. Although most feel they know their intent, proving anything really happened beyond child neglect will be tough.

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps they were having a "medical emergency" and were simply having a "reaction" to "medication" they had been "prescribed"?

There just weren't any gunshots involved is all.......well......not by the "bad guys"......

lainey 5 years, 8 months ago

Alceste-you always seem to comment to articles in such a negative way. I am wondering about your mental health status. You seem filled with hate and the need to put down others.

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

huh? Are YOU pointing a finger at yourself? Generally....when people point a single finger at someone......the other is compelled to ask....."Where are those other three fingers pointing?????" (The answer is they're pointing right back at you!) Suggest motivational levels of your own might need to be "modified"?

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 8 months ago

Obviously you did not read the article as your post makes no sense at all. The parents believed their children to be possessed by demons and were prepared to use any means to cast the demons out. They seemed to be honestly terrified by the demons that, in their minds, were lurking about them, waiting for a chance to bring them down. What I believe about demons is not really the point, is it? The fact is that the parents hold a bone deep belief about this and they are feeling and thinking things that most of us won't. It may be impossible to comprehend this thinking, but to those involved it is very, very real, and very, very scary.

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

so, frankie8, you're not a supporter of freedom of religion? Is that what you're trying to say?? Seems so.....oh well......

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 8 months ago

The kids effectively WERE possessed by demons (their insane parents). Luckily, they were saved from the demons by a good citizen and law enforcement.

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years, 8 months ago

These people have been watching too much TLC...

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 8 months ago

Thank goodness for indoor plumbing and bushes, right?

1029 5 years, 8 months ago

I thought all children were possessed by demons. That's why they always got that weird look on their faces.

Benthic 5 years, 8 months ago

Two kids tied up outside, two tarps, duct tape and a baseball bat in the shopping cart. So glad the witness called 911.

LadyJ 5 years, 8 months ago

What may have been next is a horrifying thought. Those two kids deserve the best life has to offer after this. No telling how many years of therapy will be needed and no guarantee that can repair the damage.

labmonkey 5 years, 8 months ago

Kids possessed by demons... I knew there had to be a logical explanation.

Grammaton 5 years, 8 months ago

Where's Sam and Dean when you need them?

ottawaway 5 years, 8 months ago

I seriously doubt if religion had anything to do with this. Sounds like these parents may be a little psychotic from to much drug & alcohol abuse. Linda, I am so glad for these children that you were a concerned citizen & became involved. I'm pretty sure these 2 children were going to be disposed of by these 2. Have these people by any chance been ordered to have any kind of mental evaluations because they sure sound mental to me.These children were fortunate not to lose their lives thanks to you Linda.

Enlightenment 5 years, 8 months ago

Ok, we don't know the whole story, so judgement shouldn't be passed.

The tarp may have been to protect them from rain when camping out, and we all know how invaluable duct tape can be for so many situations, and the bat may have been for the kids so they can get some exercise playing ball after a long day on road.

ottawaway 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't believe that was the reason considering these children were blindfolded & bound. Any ideas in why that is?

Enlightenment 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the blindfold was from when they played pin the tail on the donkey earlier in the day.

Enlightenment 5 years, 8 months ago

And maybe their hands were bound so they knew the property way to put their hands together when they pray.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually Enlightenment is right. We do not know what they were going to do with the stuff in the cart.. We truly don't.

Think about it. If we'd simply seen those items in her shopping cart and didn't know about the kids, would any of us have thought twice about them? Of course not.

Granted, we all have our suspicions...our personal opinions...but those simply aren't the same thing as facts. That's why we call the police, rather than simply take the law into our own hands because we've convinced ourselves that we "know".

Bike_lover 5 years, 8 months ago

I've got no doubt what they were going to do with a tarp, duct tape and a baseball bat. The woman who called the police is a lifesaver!

greenworld 5 years, 8 months ago

So how ironic they ended up in Walmarts parking lot, the evil empire of the world.

Loretta James 5 years, 8 months ago

they were up to no good thanks to the lady that called police hopefully they will go to jail and the kids can lead a some what normal life

Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 months ago

"Why don't the parents just claim that the State is attempting to violate their religious rights to use duct tape in a "spiritual exorcism parking lot ritual...."

I would. It might work. The new bs in Missouri would help them too. Poor kids.

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