Vilma Trujillo Garcia, 25, above, died yesterday in Nicargua just days after a bunch of deranged Christians threw her onto a bonfire because they thought she was possessed by the devil.
According to this report, an Assemblies of God Church pastor and four members of his flock have been arrested after the mother of two died of her injuries. She had been rushed to hospital in the Nicaraguan capital Managua with first-degree burns over 80 per cent of her body.
Her husband alleged she had been tied up and thrown on a bonfire by church minister Juan Gregorio Rocha Romero.
The incident happened in the rural community of El Cortezal in north-eastern Nicaragua.
Romero is claiming the dead woman threw herself on the flames to rid herself of “bad spirits”. He told a local paper:
God told her he was going to remove that bad spirit from her and asked us to start a fire because that’s where the spirit was going to be expelled.
Insisting no-one had touched Garcia, he added:
We were praying when we looked at her and saw she was on fire.
But Rafael Arista, head of the Assemblies of God Church, rubbished reports describing Mr Rocha Romero as a minister at the church. He said he was not registered with the church, adding:
We do not have organised churches in the place where this happened.
One of the four alleged accomplices – Eneyda del Socorro Orozco Tellez – is said to have told investigators during questioning:
God made a revelation to me. He told me to make a bonfire in the church patio and said we should take Vilma and tie her up next to the flames and pray so that the Devil left her sick body and threw itself on the fire.
Respected daily newspaper La Prensa said a police report on the tragedy had concluded the church minister had ordered worshippers to gather up firewood and start praying for her before his alleged accomplices threw her onto the flames.
Another of the five detainees, Franklin Jarquin Hernandez, told the paper Vilma had been possessed by a “bad spirit” after committing adultery.
It was a bad spirit that pushed her and she fell on the fire.
My wife spent eight days prisoner in that congregation and her sister told me that to burn her, they got some firewood together and then they pushed her naked on the flames. She’s got burns on her face, legs and arms and her kidneys and liver have been badly damaged.
The doctors have told me 80 per cent of her body is affected and they don’t think she’ll pull through. “I don’t think my wife was possessed at all. What they did to her was witchcraft.
The five suspects, branded members of a religious sect by other church leaders, are expected to be formally charged in the coming days after being transferred to Managua by police.
Police said they were treating the case as murder. A police spokesman, naming the three male and two female suspects aged 23 to 28 at a press conference, said initial investigations pointed to Vilma being kept prisoner in the church from February 15 and thrown on the bonfire earlier than first thought, meaning she may not have received immediate hospital attention.