Women disfigured 5-year-old to rid her of demon, police say
BROCKTON, Mass. — Two East Bridgewater women tied up, burned and disfigured a 5-year-old Randolph girl to rid her of a demon that was making her misbehave, according to East Bridgewater police. The women, who are facing multiple assault charges, also threatened to cut off the head of the girl’s 8-year-old brother in what police described as Haitian Voodoo rituals inside a home at 31 West Union St., in East Bridgewater.
The ritual was done upon the mother’s request, police said.
Peggy LaBossiere, 51, and her sister, Rachel Hilaire, 40, were held without bail Monday after pleading not guilty during their arraignments in Brockton District Court on charges of mayhem (the permanent disfigurement of a child’s face), assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a child with injury, indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, and threatening to commit a crime (murder). The women, who were arrested Jan. 26, appeared briefly again Thursday in court for a hearing to determine how dangerous they are. That hearing was continued.
In mid-January, East Bridgewater police were called by Randolph police to perform a health and welfare check on a Randolph woman and her two young children, a 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. The two had been staying with LaBossiere and Hilaire, at their apartment in East Bridgewater, according to the police report. LaBossiere is a client of the mother, a hair stylist. LaBossiere and Hilaire are identified as sisters in the police report.
At the East Bridgewater residence, police found the mother and children. The girl had a large third-degree burn across her face, according to the East Bridgewater police report. The mother told police her daughter had woken up with the burn a few days earlier and that it was caused by a demon leaving the girl’s body.
The mother said she is of Haitian descent and believes in the religion of Voodoo, which originated in Haiti in the 18th century and is centered around the worship of spirits.
“(The mother) stated that her children have been behaving badly due to evil spirits and that they perform prayers and use certain water and oils to make the demon leave,” according to a report by East Bridgewater Police Detective John Grillo.
During a subsequent interview with the children, the girl told police that she, her brother and mother went to LaBossiere’s house in East Bridgewater for a “sleepover,” where they stayed for multiple days and slept on air mattresses.
While there, LaBossiere and Hilaire tied down the girl on two occasions, securing her hands to a stick above her head and tying her feet together so she formed a cross, the brother told police.
“The victim stated that Peggy (LaBossiere) would lean over her and kiss all around her face like a snake and used a pointy object like a needle to cut her on her arm and collar area,” as stated in the report. “(LaBossiere) cut her enough so that she bled.”
LaBossiere blew fire over the girl’s face, using a stick on fire, as the mother and Hilaire held the girl down, the boy told police.
While tied up, LaBossiere put water and an unknown substance that looked like “it came from a green lemon” on the girl’s eyes, which stung, the girl told police. The woman left her like that until her mother returned from work. The report did not specify how long she was tied up.
In addition, LaBossiere threatened to cut off the boy’s head using a machete, as stated in the report. At one point, LaBossiere held a long stick to his throat, making it hard for the boy to breathe, police said.
LaBossiere made the boy undress and rubbed his entire body with a “plant-like substance” and blew fire over him, according to the report.
“He stated that she (LaBossiere) told him that he wanted to have sex with girls,” Grillo said.
Both siblings told police that they did not know why these things were done to them.
East Bridgewater Police Deputy Chief Paul O’Brien said cases like this, involving Voodoo, are rare.
Once police found the children at the residence, they were taken to the hospital. Both smelled of smoke. Doctors found a piece of string tied around the girl’s body and a doctor said the burn on the girl’s face would be a permanent disfigurement, according to the report. The children were taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families.
The mother was evaluated at a Brockton hospital and then sent to Pembroke Hospital for mental health treatment. At this time, there are no criminal charges filed against her, police said.
After the incident and before they were arrested, LaBossiere and Hilaire were evicted from the East Bridgewater apartment and moved to Abington, where they had been staying with a friend.
LaBossiere denied threatening the boy with a knife, rubbing the boy or putting a stick to his throat. But both LaBossiere and Hilaire told police they performed cleansing baths on the children, which included putting frankincense and eucalyptus oils and sea salt on their bodies while burning myrrh, according to the report.
Police found a warning printed on the used oil bottles, which stated, “Caution: Not for consumption. Avoid contact with eyes, skin or open flame. Keep out of reach of children.”
“(LaBossiere) further stated they have performed this for friends and family members in the past and that children are susceptible to the burning when an evil spirits leave the body,” as stated in the report.
A dangerousness/detention hearing for the women was held Thursday at Brockton Superior Court but was continued until next Wednesday.
Sara Cline is a reporter for The Brockton (Mass.) Enterprise.