Florida Mom Who Forced Daughters to Drink Bleach Blamed Voodoo Spell: Police

A Florida mother who police say forced her children to drink bleach before ultimately killing one said she had been made to do it by a voodoo spell.

Joanne Zephir, 36, of Poinciana, admitted to making her 3- and 8-year-old daughters drink bleach and said she then planned to kill herself.

Her 3-year-old had also been strangled, police say.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez
Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez during a press conference about the case on May 12, 2022. Zenger

Officials say they found Zephir and her daughters outside a church on May 8.

Zephir had passed out behind the steering wheel of a car with her 3-year-old daughter unresponsive in the back seat.

Zephir's other daughter was found in the parking lot close to the entrance of the church.

All three were rushed to a nearby hospital, where the younger daughter was pronounced dead.

The older daughter was handed over to other family members.

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office took Zephir into custody for an outstanding arrest warrant in Orange County for attempted murder and aggravated battery.

Joanne Zephir arrest after daughter dies
Joanne Zephir, 36, allegedly blamed a voodoo spell for forcing her children to drink bleach, causing the death of her 3-year-old daughter and injuring her 8-year-old, in Poinciana, Florida, on May 8, 2022. Osceola County Sheriff's Office/Zenger

She is believed to have admitted her guilt in the alleged crime in Orange County to a relative earlier on.

Zephir is said to have been planning to hand herself in to the authorities over the warrant but said she wanted to spend time with her kids beforehand.

The sheriff's department said she phoned the same relative hours later and admitted she had killed her younger daughter.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez said she had told them "the 8-year-old was also going to die, and then she would kill herself."

When questioned, Zephir is said to have told officers she forced her children to drink bleach before choking the younger girl.

According to Lopez: "The reason for doing this to her children was because the victim in Orange County must have put a voodoo spell on her, making her harm her children."

The suspect is currently in custody at Osceola County Jail and is charged with a count of attempted murder and another of aggravated child abuse.

The first charge may be upgraded to murder pending the results of the post-mortem.

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office said on Sunday: "Death Investigation.

"On May 08, 2022, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office received a report of a suspicious incident just after midnight. Deputies responded to 4912 Old Pleasant Hill Road in the Poinciana area. Deputies located three individuals at the location.

"All three individuals were transported to a local hospital. Once at the hospital, one of the three individuals was declared deceased.

"The investigation is ongoing and it is an isolated incident and there is no threat or danger to the public.

"The Osceola County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to serving our community and increasing public safety. Anyone with information related to this case or any other similar incidents, please contact the Osceola County Sheriff's Office at (407) 348-2222."

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.