June 21, 2012

Florida Teacher Had Teens Cut And Burn Themselves In Ritual To Release Demons



Danielle Harkins, 35, allegedly brought seven teens to a spot by the pier in St. Petersburg on Saturday, and began the strange religious ritual by starting a small fire, police told WTSP News.

The teacher then told the teens to cut themselves to cast out demons lurking in their bodies, and cauterize the wounds to prevent the spirits from returning, investigators said.

"There was apparently some chanting and then dancing around this fire that was taking place," St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Mike Puetz told Fox Tampa Bay.

Two kids were cut, and one sustained second-degree burns after the teacher allegedly poured perfume on his wound and lit it with a cigarette lighter, investigators told WTSP.

One of them was cut in the neck with a broken bottle and the wound was cauterized with a heated-up house key, authorities told Bay News 9.

Harkins taught literacy skills at the Lealman & Asian Neighborhood Family Center for four and a half years, according to the Miami Herald. All of the kids were former students of hers.

None of them told their parents what had happened, and they were reluctant to describe the details of the ritual with investigators, the newspaper reported. Police learned about the ritual after one of them texted a friend about it, and the friend told his parents.

"Obviously, it's very strange," Puetz told the Miami Herald. "The motivations for the ritual are very unknown to us."