Federal authorities in Arizona have accused a father of killing his 6-year-old son by pouring hot water down his throat because he believed the boy "had a demon inside him."
Pablo Martinez is now facing first-degree murder charges. The 31-year-old lives on the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation, near Tuscon, with his wife and the child's adopted mother, Romelia Martinez.
The little boy and Romelia Martinez are members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, but the father is not.
Around 4:40 p.m. on Sept. 26, tribal authorities arrived at the Martinez home after getting a call about a burn to a child. The boy's parents were standing outside and, when police asked what happened, the woman, replied, "He can tell you."
According to the criminal complaint, Pablo Martinez told officers that they wouldn't understand and "were not in the right mindset or belief." After pressing him, the father turned around, placed his hands in the air, and allegedly said, "I did it."
Pablo Martinez explained that within the last week he noticed that his son had a "demon inside of him and that he needed to save him." The boy's adopted mother also told officers that the 6-year-old had "been acting demonic."
That Thursday, Pablo Martinez offered to bathe the boy and another child, his wife said. At one point, the other child left the bath, and Romelia Martinez then heard a gurgling sound coming from the bathroom, but the door was locked. She was able to get in and saw the father holding the boy under the faucet.
The woman told authorities that she screamed at her husband several times to stop, but he said that "he had to do it."
According to authorities, Pablo Martinez said that, during the bath, he "saw something evil" in his son and "knew he had to cast the demon out." The little boy was having "an unnatural fit of rage," the father said.
He "noticed that the hot water was casting out the demon," according to the complaint, and proceeded to hold the boy's head under the faucet for "five to 10 minutes."
At this point, his wife came into the bathroom, and she attempted to call the pastor, who didn't answer, investigators wrote. Romelia Martinez then called 911 and he tried CPR on the boy and poured cold water on him.
When Pascua Yaqui police and fire officials arrived, they found the boy in a back room, naked on a bed and propped up on a pillow. He appeared not to be breathing, and firefighters wrapped him in a towel and took him to the hospital, the complaint said.
Doctors at Banner University Medical Center pronounced the child dead an hour after officials arrived at his home and said that he had burns on about 15% of his body.
The FBI, which is conducting a joint investigation with the Pascua Yaqui Police Department, said the boy had burns on his head, arms, and elbows.
"The FBI has a strong, long-standing commitment to investigating violent crime in Indian Country. We are dedicated to working alongside our tribal and federal partners to protect all of our communities," Jill McCabe, a spokesperson with the FBI's Phoenix division, said in a statement.
The little boy was a student at Lynn/Urquides Elementary School and had special needs, KVOA reported.
In a statement on Friday, Principal Marisa Salcido said there would grief and counseling support to students and gave her "heartfelt condolences" to "the family and friends."
Pablo Martinez is in the custody of the US Marshal Service and appeared in court in Tucson for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
Federal public defender Michael Areinoff, who is representing the father, told BuzzFeed News that he could not comment on his case at this time.
Assistant US Attorney Jesse Figueroa, the lead prosecutor, said he could only comment "on what is in the record" and that, at this point, Martinez "is presumed innocent."