Man Throws Girlfriend’s Son Into a Fire, Thinking the Boy Was Possessed by a Demon

( — Deputies from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office in Florida shot and killed a man when he attacked a deputy with a rod after burning his girlfriend’s son, whom he believed was demon-possessed, the New York Post reported.

Sheriff’s deputies and Highlands County first responders were called to a scene in Sebring just after 4:00 p.m. last Tuesday after receiving reports that people were burning debris on the side of the road, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

Deputies arriving at the scene found 39-year-old Richard Myron Ham wielding two metal rods. When Ham refused to follow the deputies’ instructions, he was shot by a Taser. Ham dropped the rods and pulled the Taser probes out of his body.

Ham’s girlfriend, Lakenya Lavonn Phillips, 30, then picked up one of the rods and handed it to her boyfriend, who attacked a deputy, striking him on the head. At that point, another deputy fired his service weapon at Ham, who was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The injured deputy was also transported to a nearby hospital, where he was later released.

Phillips was taken into custody.

The initial investigation revealed that Phillips and Ham were burning her 9-year-old son’s possessions because they believed the boy was demon-possessed.

Witnesses reported seeing Ham place the child into the fire and cover him with a burning blanket. The boy, who escaped serious injuries, was placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Phillips and her son were reported missing and endangered in Wichita, Kansas, on December 6. It is unclear why they traveled to Florida. However, deputies found multiple firearms and drugs in the vehicle they were driving.

The boy later revealed that he had not brushed his teeth or bathed in about ten days as they traveled to Florida. He also said he had not eaten in at least 24 hours.

According to the boy, his mother and her boyfriend regularly used drugs, and Ham had previously threatened him with a knife.

Phillips has been charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, as well as battery of a law enforcement officer, violently resisting arrest, and child cruelty, and is being held in custody without bond.

Prosecutors informed a judge last Wednesday that they would also pursue felony murder charges against Phillips, arguing that her actions contributed to Ham’s death.

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