TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – A Florida sheriff said his deputies detained a mother after she said she forced her children to drink bleach and killed one of them by strangling her.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez said lawmakers had responded to a church on Old Pleasant Hill Road for possible murder on Sunday.

Deputies found the suspect, 36-year-old Joan Zephyr, and her 3-year-old daughter unconscious in the driver’s seat of her car while her 8-year-old child was on the road in front of the church.

“All three were transported to the hospital,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately, the 3-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The sheriff said the 8-year-old child survived hospital treatment and was taken to a family member.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Zephyr was wanted for attempted murder outside Orange County and was questioned about the situation and what happened to her children.

Lopez said Zephyr had told lawmakers she would surrender, but wanted to have time with her children first by taking them from her relative’s home.

“A few hours later, she called a member of her family and told her that she had killed her 3-year-old child and that the 8-year-old would also die and then commit suicide,” the sheriff said.

Zephyr told authorities she made her two children drink bleach from an “improvised drinking glass” and strangled a 3-year-old child, according to the sheriff.

“The suspect said the reason she did this to her children was that the Orange County victim must have cast a voodoo spell on her, which caused her to harm her children,” he said.

Lopez said Zephyr’s plans were thwarted when lawmakers arrived, saving the 8-year-old’s life.

The mother will be charged with attempted murder and child abuse. The sheriff said the murder charges would be pending as authorities await the results of the medical examiner.


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