A Northern California woman was arrested after allegedly “viciously” attacking her 11-year-old daughter while attempting to perform an exorcism on the child at a beach near Ferndale as roughly a dozen people watched, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
Around 9 a.m. Friday, a caller dialed 911 to report a child being attacked by the mother at Centerville beach, a sheriff’s news release stated.
The mother, identified as 45-year-old Kimberly Felder, had allegedly stripped the girl naked and was shoving handfuls of sand into her eyes and mouth, saying “she was trying to remove the Demons from the child,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Felder viciously struck, bit and choked the child in front of a crowd of about 10 to 12 people, the release said.
A local resident, identified as John Marciel, stepped in to restrain Felder and prevent the girl from further harm. Marciel struggled with Felder on the beach as the woman continued to strike her daughter with a piece of driftwood, according to sheriff’s officials.
At some point, Marciel called 911, according to the Associated Press.
Shortly after that, a sheriff’s deputy arrived and handcuffed Felder after separating her from the victim.
As deputies subdued the woman, Marciel further assisted by tending to the injured girl. She was hospitalized and treated for multiple wounds, including a severe injury to her ear.
The child has been taken into protective custody, AP reported.
“The worst thing was when we got the child away and into the sheriff’s truck, she said people drove by and nobody stopped,” Marciel told AP. “When you see something like this, it shakes your foundation and faith in people.”
Sheriff’s officials hailed Marciel for his heroism, crediting him with helping to save the youngster’s life.
“If it were not for the intervention and heroic actions of John Marciel, it is very likely that the child would have been killed by Felder,” the release stated. “The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer special thanks for his assistance.”
The Sheriff’s Office said it will request that Marciel be recognized with the Red Cross Life Saving Award.
Felder, meanwhile, was booked at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on suspicion of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, felony child abuse, and aggravated mayhem.
The incident remains under investigation, and anyone with information is urged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.